Product Review and Press Release: Rudi’s Bread

We got a press kit from Rudi’s Bread last month. They are announcing a partnership with the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness (NFCA), the details of which can be found in the press release included below. Along with the press release was a little sandwich box, some promotional material, and a loaf of Rudi’s Multigrain sandwich bread.

Rudi's Gluten-Free Multigrain Bread

Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery was launched by Boulder, Colorado, based Rudi’s Organic Bakery. They worked with the Gluten-Free Certification Organization to make sure that their products are safe and gluten-free, and also strive to use only organic ingredients. Here are the ingredients in their multigrain bread: Water, potato extract, rice starch, rice flour, sorghum flour, organic high oleic sunflower/safflower oil, organic evaporated cane juice, organic honey, egg whites, organic inulin, yeast, sea salt, xanthan gum, organic cornmeal, organic sunflower seeds, organic millet, organic flaxseed, organic molasses.

We’re diligent ingredient readers, so we both found it disheartening to see that the first three ingredients besides water were rice or potato products. We also noticed that the bread contains inulin, which regular readers will remember is a strange sweet-tasting indigestible fiber, most likely derived from chicory root and which basically amounts to a “natural” artificial sweetener. We also noticed that the only items that have flavor, the millet and molasses, are in the last three ingredients. So yes, what we have here is American white bread with a slight millet flavor to it.

Slice of Rudi's Gluten-Free wholegrain bread

We just happened to have some Udi’s bread around to give it a head-to-head taste test with, and found that they tasted about the same. Upon tasting it, Sienna immediately pronounced the Rudi’s to be “typical awful gluten-free bread.” I have to agree. It has to be toasted to become palatable. The texture is grainy. Besides the millet, there isn’t really much flavor to speak of. We do have to include the disclaimer that if you’re into tasteless white bread, then this might be something you would like. It certainly isn’t what we look for when shopping for something called “multigrain” bread, that’s for sure.

This is where we mention that locally-made Jensen’s bread really beats the heck out of Rudi’s (and Udi’s). Their bread is so amazing that I’m going to include a link to their list of where you can buy it, here. Also, we have to reassert our position that people who are serious about their bread should probably get a book on making their own and invest in a bread machine.

Unfortunately, we still can’t get Jensen’s at Whole Foods or New Seasons. So who do we like between Udi’s and Rudi’s? If you’re at Whole Foods, get their own gluten-free bread. It’s got a weird crunch to the texture, but the flavor is way better. Between Udi’s and Rudi’s, I would have to say it’s a toss-up. I liked the slight millet flavor of the Rudi’s, but the Udi’s had a better texture. Udi’s ingredients are less healthy, though, being mostly tapioca starch, brown rice flour, and modified potato starch.

Sorry Rudi’s. We do appreciate that you’re supporting the gluten-free community and also we did enjoy the package. We wish we had better things to say. Here is Rudi’s press release:

As you may know, there are an estimated 3 million people in the U.S. suffering from celiac disease, yet only 160,000 are diagnosed. We’re pleased to announce that Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery is working with NFCA to support education for the diagnosis of celiac disease, with our new Spread the Bread charitable program, which launched in late December.

For every dollar coupon downloaded, Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery will give a dollar to the NFCA, up to $20,000, to help in its efforts to better educate physicians in the diagnosis of celiac disease. Coupons are available on the Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery website and Facebook page.

We are also proud to announce the launch of our new Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery website. We hope this new website will provide all the detail you could need about our new gluten-free breads – from product ingredients and nutrition facts to local availability – as well as helpful information about local gluten-free events, a variety of gluten-free recipes, links to our partners and educational resources, including NFCA, the Gluten Intolerance Group, Celiac Sprue Association and Celiac Disease Foundation.

In addition to the website, we’ve also launched a new blog, Baked on the Bright Side, where we’ll be providing all of the latest news on Rudi’s Gluten-Free Bakery and the gluten-free community. We’re eager to hear what you think of the blog and website!

Product Review: Udi’s White Sandwich Bread

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.

Udi's White Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread

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.

Udi'd Gluten Free White Bread Slices

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!

Bread Recipe: Gluten Free Cooking School Sandwich Bread

Here’s our next candidate in the series of gluten-free bread recipes we’re reviewing here. We’re looking for the best gluten-free bread recipe that the Internet has to offer. This next one comes to us via Gluten Free Cooking School dot Com and is their “Really Good Sandwich Bread.” I picked this one simply because it came up as number one in a Google search and looked like a basic gluten-free white bread. As we’ll be doing with all the recipes in this series, we used our bread machine to bake it. (Shameless plug: don’t miss our guide to gluten-free bread machines.)

I’m not going to include the recipe here. I followed this one to the letter. To make the bread, you need to make up a batch of their all-purpose gluten-free flour mix, here, and then add basic bread ingredients that go in most breads. The one item that’s a little troublesome is that the flour mix calls for masa harina. This is a special kind of corn meal that you can usually find in the Mexican food area of your local supermarket. Masa is corn (usually hominy) that has been boiled with lime and water and then dried. In Mexican cooking, this is what corn tortillas, tamale shells, and other corn items are made from. Strangely, our local Whole Foods didn’t carry it. Fred Meyer transferred me all over the store looking for it, and finally told me that they didn’t have it. I ended up going there for something else later that day, and it turned out that they did have it on the shelf. The proportion of masa harina in the mix is pretty low, and I think that a person could probably just substitute a fine corn meal. Later note: we heard from the author that a better substitute is almond flour.

In the recipe, they tell you to throw the mixed ingredients into your bread machine and set it to the “80 minute setting.” This ends up being infuriatingly general. I would have liked to have known what that meant. For example, does that mean 20 minutes of rising and 60 minutes of baking? Or 20 minutes of kneading, 20 minutes of rising, and 40 minutes of baking? Who knows? Many times with recipes on the Internet, a person can check the comments section for more information or better ways of doing a recipe. Unfortunately, this recipe has almost 300 comments, half of which seem to be people discussing baking the bread without a machine. The more I read, the more confused I got. Later note: The author has updated the cooking time information so that it is very clear.

I would tell you what we did, except that it didn’t really work. We ended up having some bread machine problems, too. When we tried to program 20 minutes of rising and 60 minutes of baking, our machine turned itself off after the rising. It was another 20 minutes before we discovered that the bread was cooling instead of baking. Here’s what we ended up with (another short loaf).

White Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread

Definitely take my review with a grain of salt, because the bread didn’t come out the way it probably should have. That said, if you’re looking for a relatively flavorless, inoffensive, white bread then you’ve come to the right recipe. The bread by itself tastes a tad strange, but when paired up with other things the flavor fades into the background. The flour mix is basically corn, brown rice, and soy flour, which is probably more nutritious than some of the breads that are simply rice four and starch. So that’s a good thing.

On the down side, the bread doesn’t really brown in a toaster, and I wasn’t really impressed with it as toast. As a sandwich bread, we tried it with hamburgers, BLTs, and grilled cheese sandwiches with our Panini press. (After a month-long Panini grill search, we got a Cuisinart Griddler, which we’ve been very happy with.)

Gluten-Free Panini Sandwich

I’m kind of surprised at how popular this bread seems to be. Neither of us was very impressed by it. The bread is better than the Trader Joe’s gluten-free rice bread, but that’s not saying much. I personally preferred the Bob’s Red Mill Homemade Wonderful Bread Mix, which we reviewed here. A person would be much better served by the Teff Bread that we reviewed last time, our favorite gluten-free millet oatmeal bread, or any of the breads we’ve tried from Gluten Free Baking Classics for the Bread Machine by Annalise G. Roberts, which we reviewed here.

This is just a very long-winded way of saying that neither of us liked this bread, and I’m scratching my head over why it’s so popular. At the same time, it didn’t really turn out right, so maybe more testing is called for.

Easy to Make: 2 out of 5
Sandwich Bread: 2 out of 5
Toast Bread: 1 out of 5
Overall Score: 1 out of 5

We are always looking for another bread recipe to make. Do you have a favorite gluten-free bread recipe? Send us an email or leave a comment here!

Gluten-Free Bread: Dark Teff Sandwich Bread

I’ve decided to start a new series of posts dedicated to trying out different gluten-free bread recipes from around the Internet. Basically all the gluten-free bread you can buy at a store is unsatisfying, so we make our own using a bread machine. Here’s our guide to gluten-free bread machines. We also use the bread machine program recommended by Analise Roberts in her book about cooking bread with bread machines.

We already have a favorite gluten-free bread, but I think that it’s good to experiment and try new things. You never know when you’re going to find something better. This week I tried out an interesting recipe from the Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen. It’s their Dark Teff Sandwich Bread. I made some small changes to the recipe.

1 ½ cups warm water
1 package dry active yeast
1 teaspoon organic cane sugar
4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or grapeseed oil
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons ground flax seeds
2 cups teff flour
½ cup arrowroot powder
½ cup tapioca flour
1 ½ teaspoons xanthan gum
¼ teaspoons sea salt

I’ve bumped down the salt quite a bit and removed some of the sweetener choices. The star of the show in this bread is teff. Teff is known for being very nutritious. Among other things, it is high in phosphorus, has a very high calcium content, and contains plenty of iron, copper, aluminum, barium, and thiamin. Teff is also high in protein. Arrowroot powder and tapioca flour are both more starchy flours, and aren’t amazingly good for you. Here is nutrition information for teff, tapioca, and arrowroot.

Teff Flour for gluten-free bread

The recipe on the Whole Life Nutrition Kitchen’s site is for making the bread by hand, but my plan is to make all these recipes with our bread machine. Mostly because that’s the way it’s going to work for us in “real life.” As such, I’m going to rewrite the directions here. Basically, it amounts to mixing the dry ingredients and the wet ingredients. Then adding them to your breadmaker per the manufacturer’s instructions.

In addition to measuring, one thing we’re especially careful about is making sure that everything is the proper temperature. So the water needs to be between 100 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit. I’m pretty sure that everything else can be added at room temperature.

Teff Bread Loaf

Here’s the finished loaf. Yes. Yes. We were underwhelmed by the amount it rose. I want to keep in mind that a short loaf like this could very well be my fault. With bread, it’s hard to see something as a pattern until you’ve made the same recipe a number of times. It could also be the program I’m using on the bread machine. As could be expected from the amount it rose, the bread is pretty dense. Teff has a sort of sour nutty flavor, and the finished bread tastes almost like a mild dark rye bread.

Teff Bread Chicken Sandwich

The name of the bread includes “sandwich,” which to me means that it’s probably going to be a lighter bread that doesn’t have so much flavor that you can’t taste anything else in your sandwich. We found that to be the case with this bread. The bread doesn’t really toast much, but on the good side that means it isn’t easy to burn in the toaster. While it doesn’t exactly shine with some butter and honey or jam on it, the bread is very good for sandwiches.

Gluten Free Teff Bread with Eggs

My favorite application for this bread so far has been with eggs. There’s something about the flavor of the bread that makes it go really well with egg yolks. I bet it would make for a great egg sandwich. Sienna and I both liked this bread and we agreed that we should do some more experimenting with it. Here’s how it does with our new-fangled scoring system.

Easy to Make: 3 out of 5
Sandwich Bread: 3 out of 5
Toast Bread: 2 out of 5
Overall Score: 3 out of 5

We’re almost out of bread and are looking for another recipe to make. Do you have a favorite gluten-free bread recipe? Send us an email or leave a comment here!

Delicious Gluten-Free Pancakes

Welcome to Chapter XII in my quest to find the perfect gluten-free pancakes. These pancakes come courtesy of Gaile at Fidgety Budgie, which is another great Portland blog. The resulting pancakes are just the right density, and are hearty and delicious. Before now, I haven’t been able to find a gluten-free pancake that could compete with the combined taste and convenience of the frozen Trader Joe’s, but these may be the ones. She told me that she adapted this from the Culinary Institute of America Gluten Free Baking Book.

Gluten Free Pancakes

Blossome Pancake Recipe

First you make a batch of this flour mix:

1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup cornstarch
1/2 cup tapioca starch

Second, you make this pancake mix. In a mixing bowl, stir together with a whisk:

1 cup of the above flour mix
1/3 cup soy flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/3 cup sugar (less if you like)

Third, in a smaller bowl mix together:

2 eggs
1/4 cup melted butter
3/4 cup almond milk

Add the liquid to the dry ingredients, mix till there are no lumps. Cook on an oiled griddle or nonstick frying pan.

For the almond milk, I used an unsweetened store-bought milk, so there was vanilla in it. I substituted canola oil for the butter and used half the sugar and only 1/8 tsp of salt.

Cooking Gluten Free Pancakes

The batter tastes like edamame because of the soy flour, but don’t worry: The flavor somehow goes away when they’re cooked, which is a good thing. It does bear noting, however, that undercooked pancakes will taste bad. Like any pancake, there are a few secrets to success. Number one, test the pan beforehand with some drops of water. If they sizzle, then the temperature is right. If the drops jump around and sizzle, the surface is too hot. Number two, after putting the batter in the pan, wait for bubbles to come up to the surface and then flip. Number three, it is a scientific fact that the first pancake will not turn out well. As the chef, it is your duty to eat this pancake and thus not cause suffering to others.

I found that these brown quickly, so you’ll want to cook them a tad lower than usual. (On my stove I usually use 5 1/2 for pancakes and I turned these down to 5.) I have tried these without the soy flour, and while they’re good without it, the soy flour adds flavor and heartiness to the pancakes.

Many thanks to Gaile for sending me this recipe and also for graciously letting me post it here!

Spelt is Not Gluten Free

We don’t usually do this sort of informational post here, because we tend to focus on restaurant reviews, but lately I’ve noticed a trend where spelt is thought to be gluten-free. Unfortunately, spelt is a variety of wheat and contains the same sort of gluten. From the U.S. Food and Drug Administration website:

In the context of celiac disease, the term “gluten” is used to collectively refer to gluten in wheat, and to the proteins in other grains that have been demonstrated to cause harmful health effects in individuals who have celiac disease. These grains are wheat (including different varieties such as spelt and kamut), rye, barley, cross-bred hybrids (e.g., triticale, which is a cross between wheat and rye), and possibly oats.”


Product Review: Gluten-Free Mama’s Cookie Mix

I’m continuing to work my way through the gluten free flour mixes that we got samples of from Gluten Free Mama. Check out our earlier review of their Gluten Free Pancake Mix. Something I really miss is cookies. It’s funny, too, because there are a lot of gluten-free cookie mixes available now. There’s even a Betty Crocker Mix. I just haven’t got around to checking any of them out.

The other day I found myself at home with some time on my hands and a hankering for some cookies, so I broke out the mix. Here are the ingredients: Organic Evaporated Cane Sugar, White Rice Flour, Tapioca Flour, Potato Starch, Sweet Rice Flour, Almond Meal Flour, Aluminum-Free Baking Powder (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Sodium Bicarbonate, Corn Starch, Monocalcium Phosphate), Xanthan Gum, Sea Salt, Vanilla Powder (Vanilla Bean Extractives, Evaporated Cane Juice, Silica, Cellulose). It happens that these are the exact same ingredients that are used in their pancake mix, except that there is more cane sugar in this mix. There is also more salt. Mama’s figures that there are fifteen 100 calorie servings in the container, and that each serving has 100 mg of salt.

The cookies are a snap to make. Just add 1.2 cup butter, an egg, and 2-3 Tbsp of milk.

Then roll out on a surface with some rice-flour to keep the dough from sticking.

Cut out shapes and top with sprinkles, sugar, or what-have-you. I topped half of mine with sugar and half with shredded coconut. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 350* for 12-14 minutes or until edges start to brown.

I sort of separated the two batches and took a photo. They look kind of scared of each other here. While I wasn’t that excited by the Mama’s Pancake Mix, I did enjoy these cookies. Sienna did not like either product. She says that they have an nasty metallic after-taste. It’s somewhat rare that Sienna and I differ so much on a product, but there it is. On the plus side, that left more cookies for me! So, our verdict is maybe you’ll like them, and maybe not.

Get Gluten Free Mama’s Sugar Cookie Mix on Amazon. Many thanks to Gluten Free Mama for sending us these mixes to review. See our disclosure policy, here.

Gluten-Free Cooking Class at Bob’s Red Mill

Gluten-Free Class at Bob's Red Mill

A couple of weeks ago, we listed a bunch of gluten-free cooking classes, and decided to take one or two ourselves. So we signed up for the “Gluten-Free Baking with Tiff Mumma!” class at Bob’s Red Mill. Click here for their current class list (note that most of their classes are not gluten-free). Here’s the blurb for the class, which was two hours.

Let’s face it gluten-free baking can be a challenge, knowing which flours to blend and what to use as replacement for gluten can be frustrating. Tiff an avid gluten-free baker, is back to help put an end to your gluten-free baking challenges. Whereas many people view their diagnosis as the beginning of “living without” Tiff sees the transition to a gluten-free lifestyle as an opportunity to expand her diet to include a variety of grains. Her class menu will focus on: Banana Cake, Cinnamon Rolls, Potato Bread, Pumpkin Bread and Zucchini Bread. Come enjoy an evening filled with fabulous instruction and priceless baking tips!

As the title mentions, the class is taught by Tiff Mumma, who was diagnosed with celiac disease several years ago, and who also has family members with various food allergies. Tiff is a very enthusiastic instructor, and you can tell that she cares a lot about food and nutrition, as well as health. Each student was given a handout with recipes, a survey about the class, a Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free product brochure, and a complimentary package of their “Sweet” White Sorghum Flour. Sorghum flour makes up a large part of the flour mix that they prefer, which is Carol Lee Fenster’s flour mix. (Carol Lee Fenster is the author of 1,000 Gluten-Free Recipes and Gluten-Free 101, among other books).

Bob's Red Mill classroom

The classroom is large, and our class was full. It is set up for doing demonstrations. So there is a long cooking island at the front of the class with cameras set up over it. Two large monitors on either side of the class show what is on the island. They also have microphones and a speaker setup so there’s no problem hearing the instructor.

During the class, Tiff Mumma went through a demonstration of making four recipes from the recipe handout. These were gluten-free pumpkin bread, zucchini bread, cinnamon rolls, and banana cake. She noted that all of the recipes in the handout can be made without eggs. The handout also included recipes for cinnamon roll toppings, a cinnamon icing, and an old-fashioned potato bread.

It’s really wonderful to watch an experienced person bake and listen to their cooking tips. Our class was very inquisitive and a lot of people had questions for Mumma. Things we learned:

  • Before you stir everything together, make two separate mixes: One mix with all the sugars and wet ingredients and a second mix with the rest of the dry ingredients.
  • Ingredients should be room temperature.
  • Agave makes a good sweetener for quick breads, but is sweeter, so you need less. Start with about half and adjust for taste.
  • Let baked goods cool ten minutes in the pan and then additional time on a rack. This gives time for the texture to set up.
  • You can use applesauce as a binder in quick breads to substitute for eggs.
  • Another egg substitute is 3 Tbsp water and 1 Tbsp flax meal
  • Gluten-free flours should be stored in a dark place in airtight containers (although there is some debate that flours belong in the fridge).
  • Ever needed to flatten some gooey gluten-free dough? Pour dough onto a sheet of wax paper that has been heavily dusted with white rice flour. Dip your hands into cool water repeatedly as you spread the dough out with your fingers.
  • Gelatin is good in yeast breads for promoting a spongy inner texture and crisp outside.
  • Green pea flour is good for making cookies.
  • When making yeast breads, use an instant cooking thermometer to make sure your water is 110 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Guar gum and xanthan gum work better when used together – the tricky thing is getting the right proportions.
  • For a flaky gluten-free pie crust, substitute three tablespoons of vodka for one tablespoon of water in the recipe. The dough will be drier and easier to handle, and the alcohol will evaporate out.

An added bonus in our class was that we were sitting with a bunch of like-minded people who shared their own tips and experiences. A good time was had by all. During the class, samples of the breads and cinnamon rolls were handed out to everyone. The breads were really amazing (our one complaint was that the cinnamon roll seemed undercooked and needed way more cinnamon). Just when we thought the class couldn’t get any better, they had a drawing and gave out more gluten-free mixes.

Gluten-free cinnamon roll

It should be added that there are a lot of interesting products at the Bob’s Red Mill store. For gluten-free folks, they have baking mixes, flours, and oats. They have a full shelf of gluten-free cookbooks. The gluten-free mixes I saw were: brownie mix, shortbread cookie mix, chocolate chip cookie mix, pizza crust mix, chocolate cake mix, and a few bread mixes. The amount of stuff they have there is staggering. They even have bread machines (it would appear that they favor the Zojirushi and Breadman). This is a little off-topic, but it bears mentioning that Bob’s Red Mill has a separate area for making their gluten-free products to prevent cross-contamination, and also batch-tests their products.

They are planning to have two more gluten-free classes in the coming months. One in April and another in June. The class in April will be taught by Carol Lee Fenster. If you think that you might be interested, we recommend that you go for it. We’ll post more information on these as soon as we get it.

Product Review: Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Bread Mix

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.)

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Bread Mix

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.

Walnuts and Chia Seeds

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.

Ingredients in the Bread Machine

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.

Bake-Off Loaves

Bake-Off Loaves

Bob's Red Mill GLuten-Free Bread

Bob's Red Mill Loaf

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?

Slices of 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.

Gluten-Free Breadmaker Bake-Off!!!

In May I reviewed Gluten-Free Baking Classics for the Bread Machine by Annalise Roberts. Click here for the review. One of the things that came up in the review (and in the comments) was that the author basically says that the book was written with one bread machine in mind. That is the Zojirushi BBCCX20 Home Bakery Supreme Bread Machine. We were kind of disappointed but decided to test out the recipes using our Breadman Pro bread machine.

Roberts details a specific program for the Zojirushi that she claims is the best for the recipes in her book. Fortunately for us, the Breadman that we have is a little bit programmable. You can specify what they call “courses.” Different courses have different preheat, kneading, rising, punching, and baking times. Sienna was able to figure out which Breadman “course” was the closest to Roberts’ Zojirushi program.

After baking some bread with our Breadman and being impressed with the taste of these recipes, we had an idea. We thought that it would be interesting to get our hands on a Zojirushi and test to see if there really was a big difference in quality between bread made in a Zojirushi and bread made in a Breadman. We wrote to Zojirushi with our idea and they very kindly agreed to send us a machine for testing. Thank you Zojirushi! (Please see here for our disclosure policy.)

Differences Between the Bread Machines

Right now would be a good time to talk about some of the differences between the two bread machines. The Zojirushi has two paddles instead of just one. As a result, there tends to be less of a need to babysit the mixing process. Having two paddles means that there are two holes in the bottom of the finished loaf instead of just one. At the same time, the holes are a lot smaller and don’t tend to cut so far into the slices, so there isn’t as much “spoilage” with huge dents into the slices.

As mentioned above, our Breadman has pre-programmed “courses,” which are more like sets of instructions that govern preheating, kneading, rising, punching down, and baking. One course might have a longer kneading cycle, or punch down more times than another, for example. Thus you are limited to choosing between these predetermined courses. On the Zojirushi, you can program just about everything, and even choose to skip forward to the next step in a program. In this regard the Zojirushi is far superior to the other machine.

Some smaller but notable differences include: the Zojirushi is much more quiet when mixing; the pan on the Zojirushi is wider by maybe a quarter inch; and we felt that the manual for the Breadman is more helpful than the one for the Zojirushi. See our Bread Machine info page for more information about differences between bread machines for gluten-free cooking.

The Bake-Off

For the bake-off, we made sure to keep things as even as possible. All the ingredients came from the same place and were as equal in temperature as we could get them. We also measured very carefully to make sure that any differences in the bread would come from variations in moisture or proportion. We ran both bread machines at the same time in the same place in the kitchen. Here were our results:

Gluten Free Bread Machine Bake-Off

Breadman Bread Sliced to Show Paddle Hole and Texture

Breadman Bread Sliced to Show Paddle Hole and Texture

Zojirushi Sliced to Show Paddle Hole and Texture

Zojirushi Sliced to Show Paddle Hole and Texture

As you can see, the resulting loaves are almost identical in the photos. The Zojirushi loaf, as could be expected, was a little wider and thus lost a little height to the Breadman loaf. The flavor and texture of the two loaves was basically identical. We were disappointed with how much both loaves rose, but that’s something we’re working on and are starting to have some success with.

The Results

Surrey Books, the publisher of Gluten-Free Baking Classics for the Bread Machine, will be happy to know that our testing didn’t reveal any great differences between loaves using any of the recipes we’ve tried (so far) when cooked with a Zojirushi vs. a Breadman. At the same time, the Zojirushi very quickly became more popular in our kitchen than the Breadman. It is programmable, quieter, and does a better job of mixing the ingredients.

We want to know: Do you have any opinions about different bread machines? Any tricks or suggestions for getting gluten-free bread to rise more? Would you buy a bread machine because of a book? Let us know in the comments!

The Zojirushi BBCCX20 Home Bakery Supreme Bread Machine on Amazon

Gluten-Free Baking Classics for the Bread Machine on Amazon