Wherefore Art Thou, Gluten?

I talk about gluten a lot on this blog.  I’m a real big fan of it.  However, I was curious about trying to bake bread without it.  And I have a lovely, wonderful cousin who is gluten-free, and so I wanted to see what kind of bread I could make for her.  Let’s see how all this turned out.

I decided to use a bread mix for this loaf of bread.  At first, it felt like cheating to use a bread mix, instead of working from scratch.  But here’s my reasoning.  I just wanted to try out gluten free cooking.  I wasn’t quite ready to invest too much money or time in the process.  If you are so inclined, you can go out and buy the components of this mix separately, and stock yourself a nice gluten-free kitchen.  But, if you don’t feel like buying garbanzo flour, potato starch, corn starch, sorghum flour, tapioca flour, evaporated cane juice, fava flour, xanthan gum, potato flour, sea salt, guar gum or soy lecithin…you can just buy this mix.  Because that’s what’s in it.  I used Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Homemade Wonderful Bread Mix.  I generally recommend anything from Bob’s Red Mill.  The packaging is fun, Bob looks like a nice guy, and if you enjoy a variety of hot cereals, Bob’s Red Mill is for you.  The Mighty Tasty Hot Breakfast Cereal is delicious.  Evan prefers Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats.  This blog is in no way related to Bob’s Red Mill.  Just big fans.

The mix made this bread really simple to make.  For this loaf, you’ll need:

  • 1 and 2/3 cup milk
  • 1 whole egg, plus 3/4 cup of eggs whites (this took 6 eggs worth of egg whites)
  • 1/4 cup melted butter
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 yeast packet – included with mix

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Directions:

1.  Warm the milk to approximately 110 degrees, and whisk in the yeast.  Let it foam for 10 minutes.  I whisked it together, but it didn’t really foam.  I was a little bit concerned, but I forged ahead anyway.  Typical.

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Yeast included! What fun!

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Yeast and milk, not exactly foaming.

2.  Add eggs, butter, vinegar and yeast-milk mixture to bread mix.  Mix together for 3 -5 minutes.  (This bread is obviously no knead.  Because what’s the point of kneading? To develop gluten. No gluten here!!)

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This is my one egg and 3/4 of egg whites.  Since I separated them myself, I broke a little bit of a yolk and so the egg whites aren’t exactly all egg white.  Again, I was slightly concerned with how this could affect the bread, but I chose to just mix it together and forge ahead.  That’s the motto here.

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The batter was a little sticky.  Not going to lie to you, I got a little tired stirring it for the full 5 minutes.  I’m working on my upper body strength, but it’s not quite there yet.

3.  Grease your 9x5x3 loaf pan. Our loaf pan is a slightly different size.  Why this size pan exists, I have no idea.  

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4.  Pour the dough into the pan, and smooth the top with a wet spatula.  Then let it rise for about half an hour, until it is about level with the top of the pan.  It needs to rise in a warm place, about 80 degrees.  So I set it on top of the oven while it preheated.

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Somewhat smoothed out….this turned out to have consequences later. I probably could have smoothed it a little bit more.

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Sitting and rising on the stove where it’s nice and warm.

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It rose pretty nicely.  Things seem to be coming along pretty well.

5.  Bake at 375 degrees for approximately 60 – 65 minutes.  Do not under bake it.  After 10 minutes, cover with aluminum foil to prevent over browning.  To test for doneness, tap loaf with fingernail. A crisp, hard sound indicates a properly done loaf.  (This direction did not appeal to my precise, scientific nature (HA!) so I also tested the internal temp, figuring that it would set at about the same temp as regular bread with gluten, which is 210 degrees!)

Here’s where things took a bit of a turn. It turns out that I didn’t have to worry about the yeast being an issue…the bread rose in oven just fine….it actually got huge. Here’s what happened:

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What up, giant loaf of bread!

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It got a little over browned in the oven.  The directions read to cover it in foil after the first ten minutes.  I read it as cover it with foil for the LAST ten minutes.  So, it’s a little bit over browned.  My bad.  It’s also not exactly the smoothest top.   But I think it looks pretty cool.

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Check that out.  It seriously exploded over the top of the pan. It looks like a mushroom from Super Mario World.

So.  It looks like bread.  It smelled like bread while it was baking.  Folks, this is not bread. Evan and I tasted it, and we made my best friend Dillon taste it.  And it’s disgusting.  It’s so awful.  It’s offensive.  Evan said it tasted like eating a foam mattress.  We threw the loaf out.  We couldn’t even bring ourselves to try to make croutons or french toast.  I suggested maybe trying to feed it to ducks, Evan was worried it might kill them.

I thought, maybe, I’d try one last ditch effort and make toast, and put a bunch of butter on it.  This is what happened:

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The crust turned completely black, almost instantly.  The rest of it toasted to a golden brown that looked like toast.  But it wasn’t toast…it was something else.  How did this even happen?! This is some kind of demon bread changeling.   Some evil faery took our bread, and replaced it with this terrible impersonator of bread that intends to do us harm.

This bread was a failure.  I don’t know if I did something terribly wrong, or if this is just the sad fate of a gluten free lifestyle.  To my lovely cousin Brigid, I am so sorry.  I could not perfect a gluten free loaf.  I’m not sure it can actually be done.  I am officially retreating to the comfort zone of bread with gluten.

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2 Responses to Wherefore Art Thou, Gluten?

  1. Wow, that’s some loaf! I just bought a gluten free bread mix today, as I’m starting to experimenting with gluten free bread. Fingers crossed I have better luck than you 🙂

  2. Maggie, I was given a package of this mix a while back and decided to give it a try this month because I went gluten-free for the month of July just to see what it would do for me. I thought it was surprisingly good. Anyway … about the only thing I did differently from you was I used 3 whole large eggs instead of messing about with egg whites and I added a little extra milk. AND I used an electric mixer. I think perhaps those things gave me a smoother batter which resulted in a better texture. So if you ever have to make a loaf for a GF friend, you might try it. Right this very minute I’m waiting for a GF loaf I developed myself to come out of the oven. Could be a hit, could be a disaster, we’ll see! If it’s a hit, I’ll post it on my blog next Thursday. If not, well … maybe I should post it anyway! I’m not proud! 😀

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