Have you tried making gluten-free bread in your breadmaker? Were you disappointed with the results? Perhaps it’s more important to change our mindset than our recipes in order to get a better loaf…
During our recent live breadmaking Q&A, members asked about making gluten-free loaves in breadmakers. They wanted tips on baking a successful loaf as their recipes were producing disappointing results.
But why is it such a big issue? Gluten is found in wheat, barley and rye, and triggers an immune reaction in people with coeliac disease that can damage the lining of the small intestine.
Coeliac disease is an autoimmune disease which, Coeliac UK says, is most commonly diagnosed between the ages of 40 and 60. By the time some people are diagnosed, they may be so used to eating ‘normal’ bread that gluten-free options seem disappointing. But why – are our expectations higher than they should be?
The worst thing since sliced bread?
Linda Smith, said:
‘I’ve just bought a Panasonic 256 breadmaker. I have to have wheat-free bread but no matter how well I follow the recipe/instructions, it doesn’t produce a decent loaf. I have tried three times using different recipes and the results are greasy, wet, flat and unappetising – disastrous! What am I doing wrong?’
But what do we class as a ‘decent’ loaf? Admittedly, if you compare gluten-free bread and a normal homemade loaf, the two look nothing alike.
Gluten-free bread is denser and has a closer crumb texture, as it’s the gluten strands in wheat flour that give bread its structure. Recipes have to compensate for the lack of gluten in flour by using other ingredients; and the flour itself (rice or potato can be used) makes the texture dry and crumbly.
And because the bread structure and texture won’t be the same, gluten-free bread is never going to look or taste anything like a normal loaf. So maybe gluten-free bread should be described as a gluten-free alternative, rather than ‘bread’?
Gluten-free bread on test
We wanted to put this to the test further, so we enlisted the help of expert baker Patrick Moore, of the More? Artisan bakery, to assess gluten-free bread made in two Best Buy breadmakers.
I’ve never made gluten-free bread, so when I saw the results I thought I’d done something wrong. They hadn’t risen as much, were almost brick-like in appearance and one was slightly sunken on the top!
Our expert, however, actually thought they were OK – for gluten free loaves. The texture and taste was more like a crumpet than bread, but both had a nice thick crust – and didn’t taste as bad as I was expecting. Granted, I wouldn’t swap my usual homemade loaf for them (if I didn’t have too), but I still went back for more.
How to improve your gluten-free bread recipe
Our expert’s advice on making gluten-free bread is to add an extra egg, or soak seeds overnight and add them in, or experiment with a little more (or less) water. And if all else fails Patrick recommends trying ready-mixed gluten free bread flour.
Most breadmakers now come with a gluten-free setting, but some don’t, so if you’re in the market for a breadmaker with a gluten-free setting we’ve just added this search option to our breadmakers reviews.
Do you make gluten-free bread in your breadmaker and have you any success stories you’d like to share? Do you think we need to lower our expectations in order to enjoy our gluten-free loaves?