If you know my story, you’ll know how much I once loved bread.
I was a gourmet baker making various grain breads from scratch weekly. I made loaves, pizza doughs, and baked goodies. I had a blueprint for building my own outdoor brick oven. Then I went primal and never looked back. I thoroughly understand the detrimental effect of gluten.
Still, bread is good as a table extender — meaning it’s cheap and filling. It makes lunches and quick meals easier with sandwiches. And empty carbs are fine in moderation for my kids and my husband, if not for me.
Nobody needs gluten. Or bread, for that matter. But bread does make things easier. So, I have tried for years to find or make a bread without gluten for my family. I’ve bought paleo breads made with coconut flour or almond flour. They are ridiculous: expensive, too dense, crumbly, and too small for sandwiches.
I’ve followed a handful of recipes that use substitute thickeners. Nothing worked for me until this bread. It uses Namaste flour. What makes this flour work well is it already has xanthan gum in it. Xanthan gum is an acceptable food additive for me. Alone, it’s pricey. In this flour it’s reasonable (we buy Namaste flour from Costco). I don’t recommend anyone start eating this with every meal, because the high carb content will still stimulate your hunger and add to your fat stores. It’s gluten free but it’s still empty carbs, and rather high on the glycemic scale. It’s comprised of: sweet brown rice flour, tapioca starch, arrowroot powder, sorghum flour, xanthan gum.
But for a sandwich or with your eggs occasionally, it’s perfect. And this is a foolproof bread. You can’t ruin it! Let me tell you why.
A Comedy of Errors
When I made my first loaf, I found it a very wet, heavy dough. The recipe calls for whole eggs, vinegar, oil (I use coconut), and milk (I use cashew).
The dough is nothing like wheat bread. No kneading, no nice sturdy ball, no adding extra flour to remove the stickiness. It practically pours, and it sticks to everything.
So I made my first loaf in a silicone bread pan with lots of nonstick spray. I was excited–my first use of the silicone and my prescience to get them put me ahead of this sticky mess, right? The yeast was nice and foamy when I mixed it and the loaf rose well for 45 minutes. When I picked up the pan to put it in the oven, the very wet, heavy dough was VERY wet and heavy. It blooped over the side of the soft silicone pan onto the oven door.
OMG half the loaf gone and my gorgeous yeasty rise was decimated! What the hell…I smooshed all the dough back into the pan and baked it anyway. 30 mins covered with foil to prevent burning and 30 uncovered to let it brown just enough.
And the bread came out perfect. I am not kidding. Chewy and airy inside. Crunchy outside.
I was prepared for this crazy wet, heavy dough my second time. I used a metal pan. The rise was again good. In the silicone, the bread had expanded quite a bit horizontally as well as vertically. With the metal it was forced straight up and then over the edges a bit. It was a perfect “sandwich” shape!
So in the oven it went, and I stepped out on an errand. I set the timer for 30 minutes (halfway done when I would remove the foil and bake another 30 minutes). I returned later than expected to find the oven turned off and door open. Hearing the timer, my son had stopped the oven in the middle of the bake!
He’s a responsible boy. But he ruined my bread!
In addition to it cooling and unbaked, the nice rounded edges had broken off the top. That is, the bread had continued to rise when first put in the oven, as it does until the yeast is killed, and this wet sloppy dough couldn’t hold onto itself. My perfect sandwich shape was gone. What the hell…I’d finish it as is. No big deal, right? I removed the foil and restarted the oven.
Two minutes later my oven was on fire.
It’s been awhile since I baked anything. I had left the broken bread on the oven bottom and the pieces caught fire when I restarted. Thank god my son had actually turned off the oven when he had, or he would have been dealing with the fire instead of me! I tamped out the burning bits and let the oven cool once again, then scraped out the broken pieces, restarted the oven, and baked another 30 minutes.
And the bread came out perfect. I am not kidding. Chewy, airy inside. Crunchy outside.
That’s my tale of woeful baking inadequacy vs a no-fail recipe. A bread that withstood dumping, cooling, fire, heat extremes, cooling delays…and won. No wheat bread would have survived that.
I guess my baking skills are rusty, so I’m glad I found this flour.
The bread recipe is at the Namaste website. I made some modifications as I went. Be sure to do the yeast right. It’s the key, but the eggs and vinegar give you some help. Next time — my third loaf — I’ll add some flour and create two loaves. The single loaf in a metal pan is too much if you get a good rise. Learn from me. Don’t start your oven on fire.
[Edit: Third Bake
As mentioned above, I tried a third bake, this time adding 1/2c more flour (plus a little more milk and yeast) and making two loaves. Indeed, the bread came out perfect. Two perfectly sized loaves and no broken crust.
Granny’s Gluten Free Oven Baked Bread
3 ½ cups Namaste Foods Perfect Flour Blend
1 ½ cups milk, any kind
1 tbsp. cider vinegar
2 tbsp. oil
2 tbsp. honey or agave nectar
½ cup cornstarch, arrowroot or tapioca starch
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. yeast
¼ cup warm water
- Mix yeast in ¼ cup warm water and set aside for 5 minutes. Warm milk, add oil, honey and cider vinegar. Beat (room temperature) eggs and add to milk mixture. Add yeast mixture to milk mixture and blend.
- Add liquid ingredients to dry ingredients and blend on medium speed with electric mixer for 3 minutes. Pour into well greased loaf pan. Cover loosely with sprayed waxed paper or plastic wrap and towel and let rise for 30 minutes in warm place. Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Cover loosely with foil tent to prevent over browning and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for another 35-40 minutes. Let cool completely.