Our search for the perfect gluten-free bread continues with heavyweight contender Udi’s. Udi’s Bread is in Denver, and we heard about them way before this. As a matter of fact, they contacted us at some point, and then we got back to them, but we never really got it together to try some of their bread for a review until now. Now that you can buy their bread at Whole Foods in Portland, we figured it was high time for us to give them a shot.
Long time readers will know that we find store-bought gluten-free breads disappointing on the whole, and have resorted to making our own with a bread machine. Recently I’ve been doing a series of posts detailing our experiments with bread recipes from around the Internet, and how they work out with our tester Zojirushi bread machine in the Gluten Free Portland labs.
Udi’s markets their white sandwich bread as their original style, light and fluffy white bread. So we’re probably looking at something that will approximate American white bread. Here are the ingredients:
Filtered water, tapioca starch, brown rice flour, potato starch, canola oil or sunflower oil, egg whites, tapioca maltodextrin, evaporated cane juice, tapioca syrup, yeast, xanthan gum, salt, baking powder (sodium bicarbonate, cornstarch, calcium sulfate, monocalcium phosphate), mold inhibitor (cultured corn syrup, ascorbic acid), ascorbic acid (contains cellulose and cornstarch), enzymes. Contains eggs.
We’re becoming a lot harder to please when it comes to bread ingredients, and the first thing that jumps out at me when I look at this list is that two of the three gluten-free flours in use here are starches. The first being tapioca starch. It seems like there’s something about making gluten-free bread where you need starch to do it, so I’m used to seeing tapioca starch in bread recipes, but it’s not something you want to be eating lots of, and to me, having it as the first ingredient is not a good sign. A quarter cup of tapioca starch is 100 calories, has 26 grams of carbohydrates, no fiber, no protein, and basically no vitamins and minerals except a little iron. Potato starch is even worse. Compare this to a quarter cup of sorghum flour, which has 120 calories, and has 26 grams of carbohydrates, but has 3 grams of fiber, 4 grams of protein, and also has iron, and B-Vitamins. See the attached chart on this helpful page for more information about the nutritional value of alternative grains.
So OK. OK. Sometimes you just want some bread to make a hamburger or a PB&J and you don’t mind that it’s not really the best thing for you. Let’s talk about taste. Sienna and I both liked it. Being a white bread, it’s on the flavorless side. We didn’t find any strange aftertastes. As far as something you can buy at a store to make a sandwich out of, I would say that this bread has got the Trader Joe’s gluten free rice bread beat hands down. I would put it as equivalent or maybe a little better than Whole Foods own gluten free bread. Whole Foods has got a weird texture problem. Udi’s bread toasts OK and is good with some butter on it. As a replacement for white bread it does do the job, so we can see what the big deal is about.
When compared to bread that you can make at home, though, it’s still not really there for me. I would also say that you should check out Jensen’s Breads, which are available around town, are locally made, and are better.
We want to know: Do you have a favorite store-bought gluten-free bread? How about a preferred flour mix or bread recipe on the Internet? Send us a link. Let us know in the comments!