The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Gluten-Free Dread?

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evth's picture
evth

Gluten-Free Dread?


 


 


 


Tried my hand at baking gluten-free bread, and it was indeed a learning experience for me. Having met a number of folks who are celiacs or who have given up wheat, I was compelled to start baking gluten-free goods. For background to my endeavor, an acquaintance of mine highly recommended that I try a gluten-free bread baked by a small Denver company called Udi's Handcrafted Foods. And I will say that this stuff is fantastic, despite the fact that it came out of the freezer aisle of a health food store. No disappointment here - just more inspiration for me to bake wheat-free.  After the summer months whizzed by, I noticed that my pantry boasted a gluten-free cache of sorghum, millet, chestnut, almond, sweet rice, quinoa, flax, corn, tapioca, arrowroot, potato and oat flours/starches (can't forget the xanthan gum or guar gum!!!).  That's all in addition to my usual glut of flours: unbleached or bleached all-purpose, cake, pastry, semolina, and the almighty bread. (Technically, it is not considered hoarding if you keep everything organized and eventually use it all.)


 


Continuing with this gluten-free bread story, I finally met up online with what I thought was an impressive recipe. I have only a simple understanding of why gluten-free breads are so dense and do not rise: without the gluten a "real" rise cannot occur. Well, in my bleary-eyed efforts the bread did not turn out like how I had hoped. Not that my hopes were completely dashed. It certainly was a special kind of bread - dense beyond recognition. No open crumb here. A cross between Irish brown bread and hard tack. Crude, I'll say. On the other hand, think captivating desert topography with its striking crackle of a crust and rich nut-brown color. As for another redeeming quality, it had an unusually wholesome and pleasantly nutty flavor. 


 


While the taste of this bread grows on you, unfortunately, it can weigh you down. Density was the culprit and may have gotten the better of this loaf. My friend, Eileen, calls this bread "gluten-free lead." I have to agree!


 


I still have my gluten-free stockpile and welcome any suggestions or recipes.


 


evth


 



 

Comments

Nickisafoodie's picture
Nickisafoodie

I see that Bobs Red Mill and King Arthur ofter gluten free flour.  Large quanities/50lb bags are available from wholesalers/bakery supply companies too.  Perhaps a premix is worth experimenting with given all of the product testing that likely occurs before these products are introduced into the marketplace...


Let us know how you make out as your journey continues!! 

evth's picture
evth

Will check out these G-F premixes and keep you posted.

Adriana's picture
Adriana

What an apt title!  I spent 5 years dreading the prospect of making a decent loaf but can say that after lots of experimenting and getting to grips with the issue, I feel my loaves are now worthy.  Of course the texture will not be exactly as true bread, but I think they are very worthy in their own right.  And the secret is....you need to select your gf flours carefully.  Each has a property that may contribute or detract from your loaf.  So for example, Tapioca adds chewiness, but add too much and your bread becomes rubbery.  Teff is fantastic and adds a lot of depth of flavour, but is also very heavy and can easily over power your loaf.  Sourghum is good, combined with cornflour and potato starch.  I personally hate the taste and texture of rice flour.  It makes everything taste gritty.  As far as help with getting some air into the bread, try adding a bit of Vitamin C (ascorbic acid).  You need the pure stuff, not the stuff you take when you're getting a cold.  Also xanthan gum for texture and sometimes gelatine- which I try to avoid, but it does add better texture.  If you are looking for some good recipes, try Bette Hagman- this will give you some good ideas- although I found a lot of the recipes are overcomplicated.  Oh and one last tip- really two- make sure you fill your tins (pans) no more then half way.  The other is not to overproof- you need to really be on top of this as once it's gone over, the loaf has had it.  The lack of gluten means there isn't enough structure to hold the loaf up and it all collapses into a great big nasty leaden mess.  But hey ho, good luck.  When you get a good loaf you will be soooooo happy!  Oh and PS....I'm running some gluten free bread and pastry workshops (in England) so if you are desperate, come join us for a fun afternoon of making the impossible, possible. 

evth's picture
evth

Great advice, Adriana. You are inspiring. G-F bread and pastry workshops in England - that sounds enticing to me. Maybe I will cross the pond again (some of my husband's cousins live in Yorkshire & near London) and enroll in your class one day. Do you have any online particulars re: your workshops? 


Thanks again or shall I say ta!

Adriana's picture
Adriana

Well I would be honored to have someone travel from across the pond to attend one of my workshops.  They are good fun and we get through quite a lot in 5 hours.  My next one is scheduled for 6 November in Abingdon, Oxfordshire- not far from the dreaming spires (Oxford) and then I am teaching at Richard Bertinets Cookery School in Bath on 10 November.  You may have seen his video featured on this site a little while ago.  You can access information on these courses on my web site which is called www.glutenfree4kids.com .  I also published a book called The Gluten Free Cookbook for Kids, last year.  This cookbook is all about making GF food accessible- lots of kid friendly, grown up friendly recipes that everyone will enjoy.  Ta ta for now and hope to see you in the near future!

evth's picture
evth

I can't make it to your classes in Nov but I am ordering your cookbook from Amazon. Can't wait. Love your website!

jbaudo's picture
jbaudo

Gluten Free Baking Classics by Annalise G Roberts.  The bread (and other recipes) in this book are really good (not brick like in the least and very flavorful).  It sounds like you have everything in your pantry to tackle most of the bread recipes in this book.  The cake recipes are really yummy too.  No one can tell the difference and rave about how good it is.  I am thinking of trying gluten free sourdough (there have been lots of posts about that here).  Stay away from most internet recipes - I have tried many and usually they are terrible.  There is one site that I like called "Living Without", they put out a magazine and there recipes are usually pretty good as well.  They have a bread recipe that is similar to the one in GF Baking Classics, here is the link: (sorry the spam filter will not let me post the link:(  Well, if you go to livingwithout.com there are lots of recipes: Champion Sandwich Bread, Potato Sandwich Bread, Oatmeal Maple Bread, Mock Rye Bread etc. You will actually have to search for these because they are not all listed in the recipe section.


This site has lots of other articles and recipes that might be helpful. There is a bricohe and a challah recipe as well but I haven't tried these.  Also, I haven't used a mix that I would purchase again - either they weren't good or they were too expensive ($7 for a King Arthur GF bread mix).  Good luck and just remember that gluten free bread does NOT have to be a brick.

evth's picture
evth

Thank you, jbaudo. I'm going to look into Roberts' G-F Baking Classics and the site you suggested. Your G-F encouragement is much appreciated!

Staffo's picture
Staffo

Hi evth, I started trying my hand at gf sourdough about a month ago.  Some of my experinces are listed here:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2520218049018.145854.1360316054&type=1&l=9d67aac61f

Don't give up!  look around, taste what you have done, read deeply and consider what others are doing and learn.  I am far from happy with my gf sourdough loaves, but it is a journey!  When I started I could bake bread (some of my recipes for bread using commercial yeast are here: www.recipesforliving.info ) but sourdough is a very different way of baking.  I can turn out other bread in a couple of hours.  Sourdough takes a day!  I thought I could use my other bread mixes and just substitute the starter for yeast.  Not so! Now I use a much simpler bread mix!  I found that a smaller number of ingredients carefull chosen resulted in a better loaf. No gums, just simple gf ingredients and water.

Technique is more important with sourdough.  With other breads I have a really simple approach - mix all the dry ingrdients, then add all the wet ingredients, mix, let it rise, knock it down, shape it, let it rise, bake it! 

GF Sourdough seems to require more thought and understanding of what is happening - so much to learn!   I have found this site (thefresh loaf.com) and www.sourdough.com really valuable resources for reading and learning about technique and other people's experiences.  For dough (flour) mix I have had to try out ideas, observe and learn from experience.  I have taken the view that the dough mix should be simple. If it isn't simple it becomes too difficult to replicate. 

I realise that I have entered the discussion a bit late, but I hope you are still willing to keep trying!

1deirdre1's picture
1deirdre1

Hi Evth 

Brand new to this or any forum for that matter .I have been baking without gluten for more than 20 years now . I thought my wheat based baking experience would help me but in fact it turned out to be a hindrance. I tried all my old recipes with all kinds of flour mixes with soso results . My bread didn't rise well and everything was crumbly and dry. I learned a few things along the way that may help you in your journey. 

First don't go for wheat dough consistency ; your bread dough should be like muffin batter , your muffin batter should be like cake batter everything must be more fluid . Since I discovered this my baked goods are moist and tender and my breads rise beautifully

Second never cut you bread until it cools unless you want a doughy lump

Third the addition of a applesauce will make your GF breads moist for days 

I have managed to make everything but croissants and puff pastry succesfully without gluten and I challenge anyone to know the difference I hope you find this helpful

Staffo's picture
Staffo

Hi Evth,

And 1deidre1,

I must correct 1deidre1's assertion:

"First don't go for wheat dough consistency; your bread dough should be like muffin batter , your muffin batter should be like cake batter everything must be more fluid"

I take my hat off to 1deidre1's 20 years of gluten free baking experience. I am sure that 1deidre1's batters produce moist and tender breads that rise beautifully.  However, I have developped gluten free breads that use doughs that can be kneaded like wheaten doughs. I also produce moist and tender breads that rise beautifully.  (I have included some links that have pictures of my breads, and some information about my approach.)  It is all in the gluten free flour mix (I have developed my own mixes) and the technique. 

When I use commercial yeasts (instant yeasts) my recipe is simple and very straight foward.  I have watched high school students use my recipes to produce excellent loaves that they were happy to have the school community test.  They even entered them in an inter-school competition!  Pictures and some notes on the student loaves can be seen here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2594383143099.148233.1360316054&type=1&l=4ff00e6d65
My point is that my technique with kneadable dough is simple and easily repeated with very good results.  Pictures of some of my breads can be viewed here: http://recipesforliving.info

When I use a gluten free sourdough starter - that I also developed - I use it with a kneadable dough.  The results are not yet as good as the breads using instant yeast, but I am getting there! My sourdough breads use my gluten free flour mix, salt and water. The story of my sourdough development is available here: http://sourdough.com/forum/first-attempt-gluten-free-sourdough pictures of my sourdough breads are here: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.2520218049018.145854.1360316054&type=1&l=9d67aac61f

I should also note that I don't use gums in any of my breads.

I have also developed some good gluten free pastry - including flaky pastry and I have started working on croissants.  I am confident that it is possible to make gluten free croissants with the right flour mix and the right technique. Pictures of some of my pastries can be viewed here: http://recipesforliving.info (I have not yet posted my flaky pastry - need to have the camera handy next time I bake!)

There is more than one way to make delicious gluten free bread!

Kindest regards,

Staffo

Biarine's picture
Biarine

I tried many gluten free flour but I never made a good load that soft and moist. My bread turn into dry, feel like sand and gritty too.