The warm wafting aroma of fresh bread baking is one of the most comforting scents in the world. Breadmaking can be an exacting and time-consuming process and gluten-free breadmaking is especially so because of the lack of the gluten protein to give the bread bind and elasticity. I have several times experienced opening my bread machine in anticipation, only to find a lump of dense undercooked gluten-free bread. While a bread machine with a gluten-free specific cycle makes the work of gluten-free breadmaking much easier, pre-bought gluten-free bread mixes make the task even less daunting. There is a huge selection of gluten-free bread mixes out there, so we’ve collected Continue reading “Mixing it Up With Gluten-Free Bread Mixes”
It’s always interested to learn about what cultural dishes are naturally gluten-free. From Asian to Mexican-inspired fare, the rice-based foods of foreign cuisine are often (generally) safe for gluten-free consumption. Most recently, I have begun to explore the world of Indian food, and have come upon, in my opinion, a huge discovery!
One popular dish of Southwest Indian cuisine is called palappam. The bread-like product uses a combination of rice flour, coconut milk, and eggs to yield a product that literally translates into “milk bread;” and all the ingredients are gluten-free!
The bread is delicious when combined with other traditional Indian dishes, such as chicken curry. Furthermore, the reliance on herbs and spices to providing flavor to Indian foods contributes to the lessened risk of cross contaminators or gluten-containing fillings and preservatives.
Here’s a factoid for you: research shows that approximately 3 million Americans, or roughly 1% of the population, has been diagnosed with Celiac disease. This, plus the fact that many people choose to live gluten-free because of how it makes them feel, means that many more gluten-free products are showing up on the shelves of our local Safeways, Whole Foods, Ralph’s and Piggly Wigglys.
Udi’s is one of those companies that caters to us gluten-free diners. Its products include breads, bagels, granola, buns, cookies, muffins, pizza crusts, and cinnamon rolls. With these in the house you can almost forget you’re gluten-free! The products are easy to source and well-known and, in case you didn’t know this second factoid, its white and whole grain breads are the #1 and #2 top sellers in the segment.
The company has just introduced Millet Chia Bread and Omega Flax & Fiber Bread, which are fiber- and nutrient-rich, and fortified. I’m picturing a post-Thanksgiving turkey sandwich on these breads! Early 2012 will bring fortified muffin tops, fudgy Double Chocolate Brownie Bites and three flavors of frozen gluten-free pizzas.
More information on Udi’s is here.
So you buy a box of gluten-free bread mix to use in your bread machine, carefully follow the instructions, punch in the settings, and patiently wait for a beautiful gluten-free loaf of bread to emerge. Except, when you open your bread machine, you find a hard, sunken lump. It’s soggy on the bottom and, when sliced, reveals itself to be still raw on the inside. What went wrong? Well, there are inherent structural differences between gluten-containing dough and gluten-free dough, which means that gluten-free bread dough comes with its own unique set of rules. To make gluten-free bread in a bread machine successfully, we have to adapt the guidelines in the bread machine’s manual.
In our gluten eating days, we ate Nature’s Own whole wheat bread. It was soft, had a decent amount of fiber and didn’t contain any preservatives. To say I was blown away when I found out that Nature’s Own was introducing a gluten-free bread – two of them in fact – is quite an understatement. Even though this bread is not available anywhere except the Metro Atlanta area right now, I thought our readers might want to know how this new bread stacks up against other gluten-free options.
My sample breads from Nature’s Own arrived last week and right away I noticed that the feel of the loaf was not as soft or light as the breads from Udi’s. First up, I tried the Extra Fiber White bread with peanut butter on it. The bread was soft in the middle, but tough around the edge. However, the taste was incredible! It reminded me of the bread I ate growing up. Next, I tried a piece of the Multi-Grain bread for a cold open faced sandwich. Being able to see the seeds in the bread was a negative for me, but I tried to keep an open mind about the bread before tasting it. The taste was actually better than expected considering I don’t like seeds in my bread. For some reason, I could not really taste the seeds. Again, the middle of the bread was soft and the edges were tough. The bottom line for these breads for cold sandwiches for us is that they don’t compare to Udi’s or Canyon Bakehouse breads. If the edge of the bread was as soft as the middle, it would be a completely different story.
Obviously, most gluten-free bread tastes best when heated in some way and the same is true for the Nature’s Own gluten-free breads. In fact, the Extra Fiber White bread makes the best toast I’ve had in over four years. Taste is relative and again, this bread reminded me of the toast I ate growing up. Since we got several loaves of the Healthy Multi-Grain bread for our test taste, I used it to make cheese toast one day. In a word, the toast was incredible! As you can see in the photo, my cheese toast is more like cheese bread – just the way I like it.
Over the weekend, I whipped up a batch of French toast and without question, the Extra Fiber White bread made the best French toast we’ve had at home since going gluten-free. It is better than many gluten versions I’ve had as well. Due to the egg coating, the edges of the bread softened up quite a bit. It was not tough in any way.
Last but not least, the bread makes exceptional garlic bread. We took it into a restaurant here to do a little test and see how it fared in a super hot oven. I almost cried when I tasted it. Nature’s Own is sending the new breads to select Atlanta stores and each location only gets a few loaves each. At Kroger stores, it’s been found near the nut bin aisle and in the Nature’s Market section. The bread is fresh – not refrigerated or frozen. The shelf life isn’t very long since the breads don’t contain preservatives. The loaves put out on May 10th had a date of May 20th. That means if someone bought the bread on the 18th, they’d need to eat or freeze it within two days. Freezing the bread did not change the taste at all. Once it thawed out, it was exactly as it had been before freezing.
You can find the full nutritional information for the breads on the Nature’s Own website. The Extra Fiber White bread has more fiber then the gluten bread we use to eat from Nature’s Own – 11% of the RDA of fiber in one slice – 13% in the Healthy Multi-Grain. The introduction of these new breads could be a game changer in the world of gluten-free products. The R&D group wants to make the bread better – they want it to be softer around the edges just like we do. The bread is made in a dedicated gluten-free facility in GA and ships to the Atlanta stores at least weekly for now. They retail for $5.99 and being able to buy them in a regular grocery store makes it worth every cent for us. They may not have hit stores in your area yet, though, but there are nine more brands that sell-gluten free bread, several of which are in your town’s grocery store, in the Grocery Guide.
Let us know if you’ve tried the breads and if so, what you think of them. The comments will be sent to Nature’s Own in an effort to help them help us. The company’s goal is to roll out the bread nationwide eventually, but that will only happen if the test market in Atlanta is successful. That means the gluten-free set in Atlanta holds the fate of the rest of the (U.S.) gluten-free set in their hands – literally. Let’s show everyone how powerful the gluten-free market in Atlanta really is!