Well, there are a lot of reasons. First, we all have an idea of how bread should taste and smell, so we’re always comparing gluten free versions to that ideal. Second, there are limitless versions of bread, so we would never be able to agree on a “perfect” version of regular wheat bread in the first place. And finally, gluten free bread can be made from so many different types of flour, in so many combinations, that narrowing the search down means wading through thousands of possibilities.
The Many Types of Gluten Free Flour
It’s no secret that going “gluten free” is terribly popular right now, so there are lots of new flours being introduced to the market, and to our tables.
Brown Rice Flour and White Rice Flour – commonly used in many gluten free products. Good nutrients and taste , but can impart a gritty, crumbly texture.
Rolled Oats – lots of health benefits, but can be contaminated with gluten as it is often processed in the same plants as wheat.
Nut flours – like Blanched Almond Flour – add a nutty flavor.
Coconut Flour – lower carb but can be heavy and dense, so should be mixed with something.
Bean flours – like Chick Pea and Garbanzo Bean flour – high protein, but can have a bitter aftertaste.
Seed flours – like Golden Flax Meal – can act like a laxative, so use sparingly.
Then there is potato flour, millet flour, arrowroot flour, sorghum flour, amaranth flour, quinoa flour, teff flour, buckwheat flour and many more. All of these flours offer certain benefits and drawbacks. How do you begin to narrow things down?
Well, good news, because there are some quality products out there now that can come very, very close to providing a bread that meets the ideal.
Pamela’s Bread Mix
To begin my quest for the best gluten free bread recipe, I tested Pamela’s Bread Mix. Yes, I know a mix is not technically a recipe, but it provides a great baseline for evaluating other recipes, and it’s just so darn convenient. When buying a mix, I don’t have to keep 7 (count them – SEVEN) different types of flours on hand just to make a loaf of bread. With Pamela’s Bread Mix, it’s all ready to go:
Ingredients: Sorghum Flour; Tapioca Flour; White Rice Flour; Sweet Rice Flour; Brown rice Flour; Natural Evaporated Cane Sugar; Inulin; Millet Flour; Molasses & Honey; Rice Bran; Sea Salt; Xanthan Gum.
I followed the high-altitude directions on the package, which only called for the deletion of 2 tablespoons of liquid.
- 3-1/2 cups Pamela’s Bread Mix
- 1/3 cup oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1 packet of active dry yeast
Use a heavy duty stand mixer with whisk attachment. Do not use bread hooks. In mixing bowl, combine the bread mix and the active dry yeast. In a 2 cup liquid measuring cup, measure 1/3 cup oil, crack in 2 eggs, then fill with warm water up to 2 cups liquid (regular altitudes add 2 more tablespoons of water.) Add this to the dry mix and yeast, then beat with stand mixer for 3 minutes on med/high. Pour into lightly greased 8″X4″ bread pan (a little smaller than a normal bread pan) and let dough rest for one hour.
Dough should rise but if not, will rise when baking. Preheat oven to 350º F. Bake for 60-70 minutes. As the top browned fairly quickly, I placed an aluminum foil “tent” over the loaf during the last 15 minutes. Let sit for 10 minutes, then carefully remove from pan and cool on a rack.
The loaf rose considerably upon baking, taking on a nice, light, airy texture. A crunchy crust formed on the exterior. The aroma was very similar to regular wheat bread, with only a hint of the farmyard sorghum smell. When sliced, the bread retained it’s shape and did not crumble. The taste was lightly sweet, with very little gummy texture from the rice flours. There was no detectable aftertaste. I was able to slice thin sandwich slices with no problems at all.
What a great way to start our quest! I was very pleased with this gluten free bread mix. It was extremely easy, and produced a high quality product that should please just about anyone seeking a gluten free alternative to wheat bread.
Questions? Comments? Suggestions for a review? Let me know in the comments section below. I’d love to hear from you!