Adventures in (Gluten-Free) Bread-Making

Once upon a time, during a family dinner, my brother asked “which foods would you not be able to live without?

I immediately answered, “bread.”   I would not be able to live without bread, no way.  Bread is the best food in the world.  Covered in butter, toasted with jam, dipped in oil and vinegar.  My favourite was golden flax bread from Stonemill Bakehouse, and if I went to a restaurant, I could polish off an entire basket of bread by myself.

A couple of years ago, I was talking to a friend, and she told me she could no longer eat bread or dairy.  NO BREAD OR DAIRY?  This was the first I’d heard about celiac disease.  I expressed my deepest sympathies and thought to myself: “if I couldn’t eat bread and dairy, I would LITERALLY DIE because that would be the worst.”

It’s amazing how we can adapt when we need to.

I stopped eating gluten last May.  I remember getting a phone call from my boyfriend sometime during the first week.  He was at the grocery store near work, and he said, “I have good news and bad news.  The good news is that I found gluten-free bread!  The bad news is it’s as hard as a rock and it expires in October.”

No thanks.

I have found a couple of local bakeries that make good bread, but I’ve realized I don’t actually miss it all that much, and I rarely buy it.  I hardly flinch when they put the basket of bread in front of me at restaurants (they always put it in front of me).  I don’t get mad when we visit my boyfriend’s parents and everyone eats crazy bread in front of me.  I even choose to eat burgers with a fork, even though I’ve found a company that makes delicious gluten-free buns.

So it turns out I won’t actually die from lack of bread.  Amazing!

That being said, my mom got me a gorgeous Emile Henry ceramic loaf pan for Christmas, and I bought a KitchenAid mixer from Amazon during Boxing Week sales (it was 60% off! and I had gift cards!  it only cost me around $40!), so I’ve been wanting to bake bread.  FOR THE FIRST TIME EVER!

I spent ages trying to find a recipe, but all of the ones I found were for a bread maker, or they were flavoured (like pumpkin cranberry), or they used about 40 ingredients I don’t have, and I wanted to make something basic.  I ended up finding a recipe on the celiac.com forums and thought it looked pretty good (read: simple).  I’m not generally a huge fan of bread made from rice flour, but this was an experiment, not a Food Network competition (that’s a thing, right?).

Moments of panic during the bread-making process:

  • “It doesn’t say which attachment to use for the mixer!  Do I use the regular beater or the dough hook?!  AHHHHH!”
  • “It says to let the yeast proof for 15 minutes but it’s taking me longer than that to do the next step!  What if it’s sitting for too long?!  AHHHHH!”
  • “The recipe doesn’t say what kind of oil to use!  AHHHHH!”
  • “Where am I supposed to put the bread to let it rise?!  AHHHHH!”
  • “The recipe doesn’t say which size pan to use!  What if mine is the wrong size?!  AHHHHH!”

I was excited to see the bread rise.  Bread is so cool.  I love science.

I forced myself not to peek in the oven until the timer went off.  When it did, I saw this:

Holy crap!  Could this be a success?!

Yep, that looks like bread.  Magic!

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Sandwich Bread Recipe

  • 1 Tbsp yeast
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 1/2 cups warm water
  • 3/4 cup white rice flour
  • 3/4 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch
  • 2 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp oil (I used grapeseed oil)
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  1. Mix yeast, sugar and water in a small bowl.  Let it rise for 15-20 minutes. You should have at least 1 1/2 inch of foam on top of the water.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk all of the dry ingredients together.
  3. Put eggs, oil and vinegar in the stand mixer bowl and mix for 3-4 minutes, until the mixture is creamy.
  4. Add proofed yeast and all dry ingredients into egg mixture. Mix for 4-5 minutes with the dough hook attachment, scraping the sides at least once with a spatula.
  5. Line your bread pan with parchment paper.  Using a spatula, scoop the dough into the pan and shape into a loaf.  Let it rise for 50-60 minutes, or until the dough reaches the top of the pan.  At some point during this time, preheat your oven to 375F.
  6. Bake for 55-60 minutes.  Let it cool for 20-30 minutes before slicing.

Verdict:  Not bad!  It has a strong rice flavour that I don’t like, but it’s good covered in Earth Balance, especially fresh out of the oven.  It’s really, really soft with a nice crunchy crust.  I’m interested to see how long it lasts over the next few days.

Yay!  I don’t need to use my “kitchen failures” tag!

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