The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Gluten Free Baking

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Gluten Free Baking

I had a visit by a rep from my wholesaler, Downeast Food Distributors, who left a sample of a new gluten free bake mix to test some bread and pastry recipes. It consists of a mixture of rice flour, potato starch, sugar, salt and 5 different gums plus methylcellulose. This chemical array is necessary to enable the bread to rise at all and not fall apart.
I haven't tried it, yet, but I don't envy those poor people with celiac disease. I could go without a lot of things, but living without bread? Apart from that they have to pay a lot for gluten free goods: a 5 lb bag of bake mix costs 40 - 50 bucks - wholesale!

Comments

noonesperfect's picture
noonesperfect

Have you looked at the King Arthur gluten free products?  They're new, and so far not too badly priced.  For example, it's $6.95 for an 18oz box of bread mix, which works out to less than you were quoted by your wholesaler.  I have no idea of the quality, but I've always had good luck with KA products.


 


brad

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Hanseata,


Have you read any of the posts here from sharonk?   Here are a link to her blog: http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/17909/growing-gluten-free-sourdough-starter-refrigerator-milder-sour


I've done a bit of gluten free baking in the past, on a number of levels; homebaking, courses and consultancy all included.  I managed to get the additives down to just one [either methylcellulose @ 1%, or, xanthan gum @ 0.4% on total "flour" weight.   My "flour" mix consisted of Brown Rice Flour, Corn Starch, Maize Grits, Manioc Starch, Chestnut Flour and Soya Flour, and I used 80% hydration.   This was a straight dough recipe, and so I used fresh yeast [3.5%], salt [1.8%] and cider vinegar [5%] on flour.


I think Sharon has done a lot more research than me, and some of it may well be published.   I'd like to look more closely at her work, as she claims success without any need for additives.


I am totally with you in not being envious of people suffering from coeliac diesease.   Having to avoid wheat and other gluten products is harsh enough.   Finding satisfactory foods to eat as substitutes is even harder.   That's why I came up with my own formula for a tasty, functionasl and clean "flour" mix


Best wishes


Andy

sharonk's picture
sharonk

Hi All,

Thanks Ananda and Charles for mentioning my work. Yes, I have dispensed with the xanthan gum and baking powders. For whatever reason my breads are not crumbly and hold together fine without it. I use mainly rice, buckwheat, teff, amaranth, and sorghum. I use small amounts of tapioca, potato and arrowroot flour mainly because I personally have blood sugar spikes from too much starch flours. No blood sugar problems with the whole grain gluten free flours.

My breads are also free of dairy, eggs, soy and yeast. I created them to manage my own food sensitivities.

I am getting ready to publish my book but now offer a free recipe download of my starter and pancake recipe. 

 

 

 

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Sharon,


Thanks for posting here.


I'm interested in which of the ingredients you mention contribute to binding your breads together to prevent the need for a gum.


I would have thought arrowroot must be significant, as this is an excellent thickener; I guess manioc [tapioca] is simnilar, but has a less marked effect?


I've used rice flour a lot, and like the fact it has good protein content.


I need to experiment with the other flours that you mention, so far I haven't really uased any of them much; just buckwheat in the occasional mix of blinis.


Hanseata, the comment about making these products in a regualr baking environment is really important.   Some GF sufferers are so sensitive to the stuff, that just a tiny amount can make for a poorly time.   GF products, labelled as such, really need to be made in a dedicated gluten free factory/bakery.


Best wishes


Andy

sharonk's picture
sharonk

Hi Andy,


I'm not entirely sure which ingredient is doing exactly what because I think the way I make the sourdough starter and subsequent batter has a natural binding effect. The batters are always spongy even if they're soupy.


Never the less, I use flax seed, chia seed, and in some recipes small amounts of arrowroot or tapioca or potato but I use those more for thickening towards a slightly shiny doughy state.


Even in my Sourdough Bread #1, my first successful bread, there wasn't any flax or chia seed and it held together just fine. That bread has chick pea flour and that seems to make it spongy.


Cheers,


sharon

ananda's picture
ananda

Hi Sharon,


Thanks for your reply, and the return comment on chia seeds.


Do they behave similarly to flax seeds when soaked?


I've no doubt these are crucial to your success, enabling you to omit gums.   In the "additives" world gums are classed as "thickeners".   This is what I was driving at when I asked the original questions.   Gf needs lots of water, so thickeners are fundamental to success.


I'm really interested in the sour cultures, but am aware of a couple of drawbacks.


Firstly, any bean flour is eminently fermentable and would require regular use.   Secondly, and being totally honest, this aint going to happen.   I'm not gluten intolerant myself, and love wheat and rye far too much to omit in favour of bean.   That said, if I were to undertake any further gf experimentation, I know this would be my first avenue for exploration.


For all that, I really haven't a clue how it impacts on the structure of the paste.   BUT, you are far more of the expert here; I'd be interested to know what your thoughts are on this?


Best wishes


Andy

sharonk's picture
sharonk

Hi Andy,


Chia absorbs many times its weight in water so I believe it acts similarly to flax seed but not being as analytical as some of the people on this forum, I couldn't be more specific than that.


I've only used chick pea flour in my Sourdough Bread #1 and found that it added some sponginess to the bread. I have not fermented bean flours as a starter so I have no experience about that.


 


cheers,


sharon

ananda's picture
ananda

Sharon,


info on chia seeds is really useful.


Sorry, I meant chick pea flour really; that's the type of culture I've worked with as well.   My experience suggested it ferments even better than rye flour, and that's saying something!


Best wishes


Andy

hanseata's picture
hanseata

You are right, Andy, I know...


A friend of mine has a severe seafood allergy and can't even be in a restaurant where they also serve fish. Very sad.


I would be interested in making gluten-free breads, I find the comments here about different possibilities quite fascinating, but it's really not doable in my home kitchen based operation.

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Brad, this was fortunately a free sample (the manufacturer is Abel & Schafer) to try out the recipes that came with it. I was really stunned by the price!


I had read the posts you mention, Andy, and when I try those recipes from the mix I will definitely bake a comparison bread from scratch. Thanks for reminding me!


My daughter who works as pastry chef during her summer holidays just asked my for some gluten free recipes, and I gave her the link to TFL.


 


 

GF Doctor's picture
GF Doctor

Hi Hanseata,


I agree lots of Gluten free bread is expensive and doesn't look or taste like regular bread.


But there are exceptions:


Please check out my blog at: http://www.gfdoctorrecipes.com/2010/01/some-glimpses-into-future.html for the pictures.


I've come up with a GF sourdough that actually looks and tastes like typical wheat bread.


I use brown rice, sorghum, millet, sweet rice, and bean flours to create the growing medium for the sourdough.


I use 100 % hydration.


Then the actual bread is made with potato starch, tapioca starch, sorghum flour,  sweet rice flour, xanthan and guar gums, salt , sugar.


A long rise time, typical forming and this is the product.


It has been a long time in creation, but right now I am in converstation with one of the larger flour manufacturers to actually produce and marktet the sourdough food and bread mix.


I teach classes in Bellingham WA and will be doing a tour of classes this fall along the west coast of the US. 


If you have specific questions, feel free to write. GFDoctor@ gmail.com or follow me on Facebook at GFDoctor.


I am a gluten-free naturopathic physician.


Dr. Jean Layton


 


 

Charles Luce's picture
Charles Luce

Hello Hanseata. It sounds like the GF sample you received was unfortunately typical of many GF flour mixes. Fortunately those of us afflicted with celiac don't need to eat such "breads." It IS possible to make excellent GF sourdoughs using the same techniques as you wheat-eaters: ie - captured natural leavens, long dough fermentation times, and high temperature baking. My GF sourdoughs only require 2 grain flours, 2 root starch flours, salt, water and Xanthan gum. I believe Sharon Kane's formulas are similar, but she (I believe) dispenses with the xanthan. I find it essential as a gluten substitute but have shaved the % down to <1 %. As far as cost, yep, still a problem, but Bob's Red Mill has a liberal wholesale policy and flours such as buckwheat, millet and sorghum aren't too bad. Here's a link to my website for more information. And here's a photo:

hanseata's picture
hanseata

Charles, your gluten-free breads look more appetizing than I thought possible! I would like to be able to supply local natural food store that I regularly bake for with something like that. But is it doable at all considering some inevitable contamination by regular flours that I normally use?

Charles Luce's picture
Charles Luce

Alas, contamination is a serious issue for people w/ celiac disorder. You'd never be able to get the moniker "Certified Gluten Free" if you bake the product in a shop that has gluten-bearing flours (I suspect, at any rate.) Although if you look at products in your local supermarket freezer case you will see that some are listed as "gluten free but made in a facility that processes wheat." I don't know what the industry considers an acceptable level of contamination but I do know that many of us GF bakers can't attend pastry classes, etc, in "regular" culinary institutions b/c of all the flours in the air. Here's a link that might lead you to better information: (click)Also (I'm fishing for work here) I know that Portland is a bit far from NJ but I do have spaces available in my "added" June 11 workshop. (sorry for the crass commercialism)!

hanseata's picture
hanseata

I would definitely be interested if I could make it to NJ. I do baking classes, too, but regular ones. Its always fun, the participants engage in all kinds of interesting conversations while waiting for their breads to rise - last time I learned how to discern whether a skunk will spray within the next second, or whether you still have time to jump out of the way...

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi Hanseata,


Apparently, according to the blog 'Gluten free girl and the chef', May was 'Gluten free awareness month' in the USA - don't know if that influenced your distributor's choice? She reviews a few books on her blog, which deal with gluten free cooking in general. http://glutenfreegirl.blogspot.com/2010/05/gluten-free-cookbooks.html. She has quite a few baking recipes on her own site and recommends Hertzberg and Francois Healthy Bread in 5 for gluten free breads http://glutenfreegirl.blogspot.com/2010/02/gluten-free-crusty-boule.html


I haven't tried gluten free baking yet but have a good friend who is wheat intolerant, who I enjoy cooking for. She doesn't eat wheat bread although would probably tolerate a teff or spelt bread. However, on the cake front she certainly doesn't have a dour time, despite her allergy. She knows all the best pastry shops and cafés in London and tends to go for cakes that are traditionally made using other flours, such as Italian rice and nut flour cakes and Spanish nut flour cakes, which are often soaked in sweet syrups and are delicious.


In terms of gluten free resources on the net, my favourite is Canelle and Vanille, which people might know because it's often voted one of the best food blogs. The author is a highly trained pastry chef who just found she was whest intolerant. She doesn't tend to do bread recipes, but her gluten free cakes and pastries are gorgeous, probably due to her training. Some use xanthan gum but this latest recipe for cherry financiers doesn't and is also dairy free, as it uses a seed butter. It's also a great blog for food photography. Even made me want to grind up my own pumpkin seed butter! http://cannelle-vanille.blogspot.com/2010/05/rainier-cherry-and-pumpkin-seed-butter.html


Just a quick update. The current Canelle et Vanille page (1 June, 2010) features a gluten free bread recipe.


Kind regards,  Daisy_A

hanseata's picture
hanseata

That is a wonderful website, Daisy!


Now that I think about it - a favorite cake recipe of mine is, indeed, absolutely gluten-free. "Brauner Kirschkuchen" (brown cherry cake) contains no flour at all, only ground almonds - and it's absolutely delicous.

Daisy_A's picture
Daisy_A

Hi Hanseata


Gorgeous website isn't it - like cake for the eyes?! "Brauner Kirschkuchen" (brown cherry cake) does sound delicious also.    Best wishes, Daisy_A

hanseata's picture
hanseata

I'm just revisiting this subject, since I will be meeting with a friend who asked me to bake a gluten free bread for her. In your flour mix - are you using equal amounts of the different flours? What were your baking temperatures and times? 

I really would appreciate your help - I will also try Dr. Leightons sourdough bread recipe. Unfortunately everybody else wants to sell their products or recipes - very understandable since obviously a lot of research and work went into it - but I just want to bake a gift bread for a friend and not start a whole gluten free production.

Karin