There certainly are a lot of gluten-free baking mixes available now. I was at Whole Foods a couple days ago, and noticed that Bob’s Red Mill has a gluten-free bread mix out, and that it can be made by hand or with a bread machine. I’m a little bit skeptical about a lot of these mixes, mostly because we always seem to have much better luck with our own mixes, but since it’s Bob’s Red Mill and can be made in a bread maker, I decided to give it a go. (Side note: Don’t miss our bread machine information page.)
You may remember that we made scones with Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free baking mix. We found that the mix had a “beany” aftertaste, and several readers chimed in to support our opinion. So I was a little worried when I saw that Garbanzo Bean Flour was the first ingredient listed. Here are the ingredients: Garbanzo Bean Flour, Potato Starch, Corn Starch, White Sorghum Flour, Tapioca Flour, Evaporated Cane Juice, Fava Bean Flour, Xanthan Gum, Active Dry Yeast, Potato Flour, Sea Salt, Guar Gum, Soy Lecithin. For the record, the yeast isn’t mixed in. It comes in a little packet that is in the mix. If you give the mix a little taste, as one would expect, it tastes very beany, and is also surprisingly sweet. We decided to add some walnuts and chia seeds to our bread. Walnuts are great for flavor and also high in Omega-3 fatty acids. Chia seeds are the same seeds that go on those “chia pets” they sell at drug stores, and are also high in Omega-3.
The instructions on the package for making the bread with a bread machine are rather simple. You add milk, egg (and egg whites), butter or vegetable oil, and cider vinegar. The mix makes it very easy, and you’ll have everything in the machine in a couple of minutes. Our machine calls for adding the liquids first, then the dry ingredients, and then finally the yeast on top of the dry. The machine is supposed to bring everything to the right temperature, but we still raise the temperatures of everything before we add them, just so we don’t delay the yeast.
So we put the egg in some warm water, and also microwaved the milk until it was around 110 degrees. If you will be adding butter, you’ll want to melt it. We used grape seed oil. Once all the liquids are around the right temperature, you mix them up and you’re ready to go.
So how did it go? Well we were really amazed at how much the bread rose! We’re used to making bread and having it only raise a couple inches. Check out the difference between the photo on the top, which is from our gluten-free bread machine bake-off, using a flour recipe from Annalise Roberts’ book, Gluten-Free Baking Classics for the Bread Machine. The bottom photo is the loaf from the Bob’s Red Mill mix. That’s a really big difference! We had a little bit of trouble with the loaf shrinking a bit (which made the center of the top fall in a little), but not as much as we’ve had with other loaves that ended up getting big.
That’s really huge. We’ve become so used to eating short, rectangular sandwiches that this almost ends up being too much of a slice! So how is the bread?
Here’s a picture so you can see the texture. Fresh out of the machine, the bread was very light, and almost spongy. (It was a pain to slice until we let it sit longer!) When it was warm, I thought the bread was delicious (Sienna thought the bread was just OK, flavor-wise, though she was pretty blown away with how much it rose), and didn’t suffer from the same bean flavor that their baking mix did. I was especially enamored of the crust, which tasted a lot like real bread crust. When it cooled down, though, the bread definitely had more of a bean aftertaste, and was kind of dry. So like a lot of other gluten-free breads, you’ll find yourself toasting this bread before eating it. I was still very impressed with how fluffy the bread was, and how well it rose. The folks at Bob’s Red Mill must know a thing or two about making bread rise.
Final analysis: This mix makes a really good sandwich bread. There is still a bit of a bean aftertaste when you eat the bread alone, but in sandwiches it isn’t really a problem. As mentioned above, like most gluten-free breads, it definitely benefits from being toasted. One thing I don’t mention above is that the mix is very easy to use. If you’ve spent any time mixing your own gluten-free flours, you’ll know how a lot of them are so fine that they end up everywhere and can make a real mess. We haven’t really looked into how the price compares to mixing your own, but based on the price of the mix on Amazon, a loaf is going to cost five bucks. Finally, the Bob’s Red Mill mix gets five stars for rising and making fluffy bread.
We want to know: Got a favorite gluten-free bread mix? Have a different experience with this one? We’re especially curious to know if others feel the bread tastes too much like beans. Let us know in the comments.
Times we have visited: 1 (so your results may vary.)
Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars
Price compared to “regular”: Looks about twice as expensive as wheat-based mixes available online.