I made a bold statement on Facebook and Instagram on Saturday morning. I said that I was going to make a GOOD gluten-free bread if it killed me! That tells you how DESPERATE I had become to find an answer to this dilemma in our family.
It may not seem like a big thing to those of you who don’t have to face this issue, but you’re going to have to trust me on this one….it IS a big deal. When everyone else is having french toast for breakfast, grilled cheese for lunch, and cheeseburgers for dinner and you’re NOT because it’s not even WORTH it when the bread you have to eat is so awful….it is a big deal.
It all came to a head for me last week when we decided at the last minute to have “breakfast for dinner” and I had no gluten-free bread in the house for my son Kell who has celiacs disease. I had forgotten to pick some up at the bakery in town (which is really the only halfway decent source I’d found up to that point) and every single mix I’d ever tried to bake at home had been an utter failure. I felt like crying.
I made up my mind right then that I would figure out how to make a GOOD gluten-free bread…yes, even if it killed me. :-) Which luckily it didn’t!
Saturday morning, armed with every gluten-free type flour I could get my hands on, and a handful of recipes I had spent HOURS researching online, I set out on my quest!
The stars must have been aligned in my favor that day…because the recipe that I came up with turned out far better than I ever dreamed it would! No exaggeration.
I won’t bore you (or me) with a lengthy explanation of why gluten-free baking is so different from traditional baking and what all the different flours are for and what they do and don’t do. There are OODLES of websites that go into that in detail. Just Bing it or Google it and you’ll be overwhelmed, as I was. Which is why for the LONGEST time I stubbornly refused to “get into” the gluten-free baking thing. It was just too complicated. But I finally was forced to swallow my pride. Relying solely on pre-mixed, pre-packaged or pre-made GF bread products all left me disappointed.
So the first step was to find a gluten-free flour blend to use in my gluten-free bread. Like I said, there are so many different flour types out there, it’s enough to make you want to go screaming into the night!
Rice flour, teff flour, soy flour, corn flour, potato flour, quinoa flour, tapioca flour, almond flour, coconut flour, bean flour….ahhhhhhhh….see what I mean!?!? How is anyone without a degree in the culinary arts supposed to figure this out? The only answer I have to that is to find someone whose opinion you trust and see what they have to say about it. Not an easy task when you don’t know anyone.
Hopefully over the last couple of years I haven’t led you too far astray in any of the ideas I’ve posted here and you will give me the benefit of the doubt on this one. I am not a gluten-free expert by ANY stretch of the imagination! But I am stating with 100% sincerity that this is the best GF bread that I personally have ever had. Will it be the LAST I will ever try? Certainly not. I’m sure there are even BETTER options out there…and I mean to find them all.
So enough blathering by me…let’s get on with this shall we? I can’t wait to hear what you think when and if you try it yourself.
Like I said, I started out my quest armed with a handful of recipes. One was called Championship Sandwich Bread from LivingWithout.com. There is no information on WHY it’s a “championship” bread…but it still sounded promising to me…and I was grasping at straws at this point anyway! Plus it was pretty straightforward, and on my first foray into this world of gluten-free bread making, I wanted to start with a simple loaf of bread. The “artisan” stuff could wait.
Reading through all the comments on this recipe and many others, I picked up some tips that were invaluable and I incorporated them into my final recipe. It’s like I always say….all “my” best ideas on this blog come from YOU, the readers! :-)
First things first….the gluten-free Flour Blend. This is adapted from the same website, LivingWithout.com
Brown Rice Flour Blend
Makes 4 cups
1⅓ cups brown rice flour
1⅓ cups tapioca flour/starch
1⅓ cups cornstarch
1 tablespoon potato flour
(I couldn’t find potato flour in the store so I just blended some potato flakes up in my Blendtec and that worked just fine!)
These are the instant mashed potato flakes I used after pulsing in my Blendtec blender about 5 or 6 times.
Mix all ingredients together.
OK, NOW, we’re ready to make the gluten-free Bread Recipe.
Jillee’s Gluten-Free Bread That Doesn’t Suck
4 cups Brown Rice Flour Blend (see above recipe)
1 tablespoon xanthan gum
1 tablespoon gluten-free egg replacer
2 teaspoons salt
½ cup powdered milk
3 large eggs at room temperature
¼ cup butter at room temperature
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
⅓ cup honey
1 package (2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast (not INSTANT dry yeast)
2 cups warm water
A couple of notes about replacements: If you are allergic to eggs you can replace the 3 eggs with: 9 Tbsp. water and 3 Tbsp. ground flax seed, or follow the instructions on the egg replacement powder.You can also make this bread using water instead of milk or a plain gluten free non-dairy milk.
Spray cooking spray into two 8-inch bread pans.
Add the yeast to the 2 cups of warm water and stir until mixed. Set this aside to activate while you mix the rest of the ingredients.
Mix the flour blend, xanthum gum, gluten-free egg replacer, salt, and powdered milk together in a medium-size bowl and set aside.
Put eggs, butter, vinegar, and honey in the bowl of your mixer. With the paddle attachment, mix together for about 30 seconds. The butter will be chunky, that’s OK.
Add half the dry ingredients to the wet mixture in the mixer. Mix just until blended, and then add the remaining dry ingredients and mix for another 30 seconds, until blended.
With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the warm water and yeast mixture, then turn the mixer to medium-high speed and beat for 4 minutes.
After the 4 minutes your bread dough should resemble thick cake batter.
Spoon the dough into your greased bread pans. Dip your fingers in water to smooth the top of the dough, if desired. Set aside in a warm place to rise for approximately about 50 to 60 minutes. While dough rises, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
When the dough has risen to about an inch above the top of the pans, place the pans in your preheated oven on the middle rack and bake for 45 to 55 minutes or until the bread’s internal temperature reaches 200 degrees with an instant-read thermometer. (This is very helpful! It’s hard to tell when gluten-free bread is done. But if you don’t have an instant read thermometer you’re going to have to use your best guess based on your particular oven.)
Remove the bread from the oven and let cool in pans for 10 minutes. Then remove loaves from pans and place on a rack to cool. (As you can see, I brushed the top of mine with butter when they came out of the oven.)
The anticipation at this point in the bread-making process was killing me! So far everything had gone SO well, but I was deathly afraid once I cut into this bread it was going to be the same bitter disappointment I’d felt so many times before. But I was still hopeful!
After allowing it to cool COMPLETELY (this is important! Don’t rush it and cut into it while it’s still warm or you will flatten it.) I very, VERY carefully started cutting it into slices. This is ALSO very important…let your bread knife do the cutting for you! You provide the “sawing” action, but let the knife blade do the work. Don’t press down, just keep “sawing” across the top until you get all the way to the bottom of the loaf and hit the cutting board. The bread slices will keep their shape much better this way!
Looks good enough to eat doesn’t it!? :-) Don’t believe me? Well, there’s little more I can do to convince you than what I have said here in this post…the rest is up to you to try it yourself and decide.
But I did put the bread through some very important “bread tests” that are demonstrated in this photo. The bread passed with flying colors! No other gluten-free bread that I have eaten to date has EVER been able to do any of those bread calisthenics! :-)
Oh wait, there was one more test….EATING IT of course! I immediately slathered a piece with butter and ate it. Once again, I almost started crying. But this time it was tears of joy instead of tears of frustration. It tasted like BREAD. Honest-to-goodness…bread.
Then I gave a piece to Kell, the REAL test, and he agreed. After that I tracked down everyone in the house that had a mouth and made them try it! (I let my grandpuppy Milo off the hook.) Everyone was in 100% agreement that if they didn’t KNOW it was gluten-free, they would not have been able to tell. V I C T O R Y!!
Last night was the final test….cheeseburgers for dinner. I can’t even recall the last time Kell has had a cheeseburger on bread of any kind. This was a pretty special burger. :-)
Please let me know if you try this recipe and how it worked out for you! I am so excited to be able to share it and hope that everyone has the same success with it that I did!