Thursday, January 6, 2011

Gluten Free Breads

So far, I have tried three different gluten free breads, from two different makers. 

One is Ener-G Foods of Seattle's White Rice Loaf.  I'm disappointed enough that I will not be finishing the loaf.  The packaging alone should have made suspicious: it was double bagged, rather like something toxic or dangerous.  (Sodium metal, for example, is often sold in a can within a can.)  When I cut open the inner lining, the smell of yeast was strong--and yet, something was not quite right about the smell--something sharp. 

As bread alone, the texture isn't right, and it is heavy, with a flavor that is just strong enough to be unpleasant.  Even smothered in strawberry jam didn't overcome the flavor.  It was barely tolerable when I used it to make French toast.  Even though this was $4.29 at Fred Meyer, I expect to throw away the last half rather than use it as food.  (There might be a case for using it as a structural/insulating replacement for Styrofoam.) 

The ingredients list does not sound bad: filtered water, rice flour, tapioca starch, high oleic sunflower oil, pear juice concentrate, yeast, methylcellulose (okay, that sounds bad), sodium carboxymethylcellulose (and it is all downhill from there).  Perhaps Ener-G's weakness is that it is not only gluten free, but also milk and egg free as well--leaving little room for substitution.

Much nicer is Udi's Gluten Free Foods of Denver, which makes both a white sandwich bread and a whole grain bread.  You are not going to mistake this for Wonder bread--or even a more traditional wheat or white bread, but it is close enough to conventional bread that you might persuade yourself that you are eating something made from wheat.  It helps a bit to toast the bread first, but even untoasted, it is a tolerable sandwich construction medium. 

I notice that the ingredients list is a bit different in what is in there, and what is the biggest components: filtered water, tapioca starch, brown rice flour, potato starch, sunflower oil, egg whites, tapioca maltodextrin, evaporated cane juice, brown rice syrup oil, tapioca syrup, yeast, xanthan gum, salt, baking powder, mold inhibiter, enzymes.

This was $4.98 for a one pound loaf.  As I have mentioned before, the ingredients (with the exception of xanthan gum) really aren't that expensive.  These are just not high volume goods, and are expensive (and probably quite profitable) for that reason.  I suppose it is time to see if I can start making this at home.


  1. Why not just go bread free altogether? It's not that hard to live without.

  2. We bought our daughter a breadmaker machine and some gluten-free mixes for Christmas, to get started. Hopefully, she'll find some good gluten-free homemade bread recipes, which will surely be much less expensive over the long haul.

  3. I've never tried gluten-free bread at home. My sister's husband has celiac disease and must be 100% g-free. She's tried several products and hasn't found anything satisfactory. Gluten, frankly, is what makes bread be bread.

    Udi's seems to be have the right approach. Xanthan gum can be a suitable replacement for gluten is some applications. If you wanted to try, 1 cup brown rice flour + 1/8 cup cornstarch + 1 Tbsp tapioca flour + 1/2 tsp xanthan gum is a rough substitute for 1 1/8 cups of bread flour.

    For chocolate chip cookies, you can't beat Alton Brown's Gluten-Free Chewy:

  4. My husband reads your blog and forwarded your post to me. Our two kids and myself are gluten free and we keep a gluten free home. I've been GF for about five years. We've seriously got this down to a science. You've already come a long way by finding Udi's. You should also try Pamela's Bread Mix. It's soft and has a wheaty flavor. For pasta, you've really got to try BiAglut. You'll have to order it, but it's perfect. I get mine from Gluten Free Trading Company. BiAglut changed our lives. (You can't eat it if you're allergic to peanuts because it's made with lupine flour, which is related to peanuts.) We found it about four years ago. We have non-GF people over for dinner and they have no idea it's any different and they go back for seconds. AND come over again and request certain GF pasta dishes. In fact, at one point my mother in law thought I made separate pasta for myself and everyone else was eating the real thing. Crackers - Ener-G Wheat Free Crackers. Most people don't try these because everyone who has started being GF goes straight for the Ener-G Biohazard Loaf. I admire your persistence in trying to make it edible. That stuff is rank. But with the crackers they have hit a home run. They're expensive but worth it. I've got a very neglected blog which I haven't written on since last July, but I have recipes on there for Contadina/Progresso-like seasoned breadcrumbs, croutons, and a flour mix recipe that you can use to make some of the Christmas cookies I'm sure you were missing over the holidays. So that's pretty much what we use on a regular basis. What is that? Six specialty products and most of the rest is just verified mainstream stuff. Here's my blog address - Take care. Nancy

  5. One of my neighbors has to avoid gluten. I'll ask him (or his wife) for any suggestions. They're buy-through-the-communal-farmer's-market types; they may have some different contacts.