Growing up, and even in adulthood, I always took bread for granted. It was just...always there. For sandwiches, or for if I had heartburn, or when I was a little queasy. Not something I made myself, really (except when I got a bread machine when I was a young adult), but always available. Either as homemade bread (my mom, my aunts, and my grandma all made it), or as sliced commercial bread. Bread was just...always there.
And then, when my youngest was in pre-school and my oldest in kindergarten, they brought home a stomach bug. Laid them out for a couple of days, and my husband out for about the same.
It knocked me on my ass for a week. There were five days where my entire digestive system just...shut down. No movement, no noises, nothing. And then, when I finally started recovering (first noted because things started grumbling loudly), I reached for a slice of bread.
Holy crap did that hurt.
I thought it might be because it was high fiber bread--you know, a little bit rough on the guts--and tried a tortilla, then saltines.
Nope. That virus had left me with a lasting issue with wheat. I still can't eat it without a lot of pain. My younger sister's got pre-celiac's,* so I guess my issue is probably permanent.
Great Value bread costs $1.32 for a 20 oz loaf of plain white bread. A loaf of Great Value gluten free bread is $6.74 for an 18 oz loaf. And it's not an apples-to-apples comparison, despite the weight being almost the same: the gf loaf is smaller. Visibly smaller, with slices less than half the size of the other one.
I...really don't like spending that much more for something that's...quite frankly not that good, and I'm the only one that needs it anyway.
So I started looking into making my own. It started with getting the bread machine.
Which...well. It sort of works, but not on the gluten free setting. See, it still punches down the raised dough. And gluten free bread dough will not rise again. So, I tried it on the rapid setting. And it worked. But the recipe was...not great. So I went hunting.
I found a lot of recipes for gluten free bread, in varying levels of difficulty. I snagged an easy one to try. And it worked. Tasted fairly decent, considering I grew up eating homemade regular bread.
It's actually just as easy to make in my stand mixer and oven as it is to make in the bread machine. Which is one thing I cannot say for wheat bread. Gluten free bread does not have to be kneaded, and
doesn't need shouldn't be punched down. So, once the dough comes together, you just...put it in the pan, smooth it down, and give it time to rise.
I did find one trick that I added that is stupidly simple, and makes an enormous, positive difference: beat the liquid ingredients until the eggs get sort of frothy. It makes for a much better texture than only mixing the liquid ingredients until the eggs are only just mixed in.
Gluten Free Bread
3 ¼ cups gluten free flour blend (I’ve used Bob’s Red Mill with great success, as well as whole grain options—if the one you pick doesn’t have a “gum” as part of the ingredients, add about a tbsp of xanthan gum)
1 tbsp instant yeast
1 ½ tsp salt
1 1/3 c warm water
2 large eggs, room temperature (they MUST be room temperature—gluten free flours will NOT absorb cold liquids at all)
2 tbsp + 2 tsp oil
1 tbsp honey
Preheat oven to 200 degrees, then turn it off. This works best for helping the bread rise. Crack the door so that it has some time to cool a little before you put your bread in to rise.
- Add all liquid ingredients to a mixing bowl (I use a Kitchenaid knockoff, and will probably get a Kitchenaid when I have to replace it), beat until frothy.
- Mix flour and salt together in a separate mixing bowl; add slowly to wet ingredients with mixer on low. Add yeast to the dough at this point.
- Run the mixer until you have a soft, sticky dough that looks kinda like cake batter, scraping the sides of the bowl often.
- Scrape the dough out of the mixing bowl into a glass or non-stick bread pan, oil your fingers, and smooth the top out (optional step—you can opt to not do that, but the bread will end up looking like the moon’s surface).
- Loosely cover the pan—you can use oiled plastic
wrap or waxed paper, or you can use a muslin dish towel—and set it in the oven
to rise. You’ll want it to be half again
larger when it’s done. Should take half
an hour in your warm oven. If you want to let it rise on the counter, that works, too, but takes twice as long.
- Uncover your bread loaf—it should be peeking up over the top of your pan—and bake at 375 degrees for about 55 minutes. Since gluten free loaves don’t really brown, you’ll want to check the internal temperature with a thermometer: it should be about 205-210 degrees.
There are variations you can do with this loaf--one of my favorites is that I leave out a quarter cup of flour blend, and add in a quarter cup of ground flax seed. It makes it taste better, and adds a bit of texture and fiber.
*She has the issue with gluten, but not the damage from having eaten it after the issue popped up.