/ Food & Drink

Can breadmakers produce a decent gluten-free loaf?

Gluten-free bread

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?

Jocelyn Droppa says:
29 September 2011

In my experience gluten free bread needs a more slow prove than ‘normal’ bread to give it the structure. I would try making it with chilled liquids and taking it out of the bread maker to prove and see if the results are different. I gave up on the breadmaker I used to have when I was first diagnosed because the GF function was a lot faster than normal bread – when it actually needs to be slower.

Daniel Lunn says:
30 September 2011

Your remarks on gluten free bread are interesting, but do not solve my problem and what is, I suspect, a problem shared by many others.
I don’t need gluten-free bread – I need WHEAT-free bread, and nowhere do you mention this in spite of Linda Smith (mentioned in your article) stating specifically that her problem is wheat intolerance. I can have rye, buckwheat, cornflour, oats, etc. and and I can even tolerate spelt. I have a bread maker, but nowhere can I find a decent recipe for, say, rye bread or spelt bread which doesn’t have wheat in it. I’ve just come back from Brittany where one of their traditional (and superb) breads is made from rye and buckwheat so I know it can be done but I cannot find a recipe for doing it in a breadmaker.
Would it be possible to persuade an expert to produce breadmaker recipes breads with grains other than wheat?

Katrhrein Curtin says:
1 October 2011

I very much agree that there is not enough advise on wheat free bread. Any help in that direction would be very welcome!

I hope you have found what you are looking for, before I knew I was gluten intolerant i tried making bread with spelt flour in a breadmaker, it was amazing, but because it rises so fast the best way is to use the “Dough” setting, let it rise once (proving) then let it knead then take it out and put it in a normal loaf tin to rise and bake it in the oven, it gives superb results. Some breadmakers have a spelt setting. Other than that the book mentioned by others for gluten free bread and cakes is ok but take notes as you use it so you can adjust the liquid to suit.

Joychip says:
1 January 2016

I use the following recipe and use the basic setting for a nice spelt loaf.
500g White spelt flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1teaspoon yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
300 ml water
1 tablespoon oil

Colette says:
15 June 2016

Spelt is in fact a form of wheat. Like other forms of wheat, spelt contains the gluten protein, and therefore isn’t safe for those of us who have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. Hope this helps!

Chris Gordon says:
30 September 2011

HI you need a Panasonic which will bake a proper rye loaf I think. Most breadmakers as you say use a mixture of flours. I happen to love rye bread and wanted a breadmaker which can cope with dark rye flour. I haven’t bought one yet though, so check the recipes online at Pansonic

Yvonne Coppock says:
30 September 2011

There’s a book called “Gluten-free Bread & Cakes from your breadmaker”, by Carolyn Humphries, available on Amazon. It has lots of bread recipes. My favourite is Mixed Seed Bread which is made with rice flour, but you need to experiment for yourself to see which you like. I add poppy seeds as well as the sunflower, pumpkin and sesame seeds she suggests, and I find the seeds help to disguise the fact that it’s not proper bread. She also recommends using Xanthum Gum (available from health food shops) to give something nearer to the consistency of wheat. The trick is to time your baking so that the bread is ready just when you want to eat it. You get the lovely smell of fresh bread and it tastes good straight from the breadmaker. However, after that it’s really only nice toasted. So slice it and freeze it, so you can take out a couple of slices to toast when you need them. Having said all this, since I discovered Genius bread (available at Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and health shops) I hardly ever make my own, because Genius is the nearest you can get to real wheat bread.

Jennifer Oatley says:
23 April 2012

Try Warburtons gluten free bread, obtainable from Morrisons. They also sell Genius. However I have to confess that Warburtons has the edge, it really does look and taste like bread, available in Brown and White. The proof, try and see for yourself. I really think Warburtons have found the answer to making a decent Gluten free bread.

mirmy says:
18 March 2014

our bread maker has broken down and I find that all Gluten Free bred from Supermarkets is extremely fragile and I am left with a bag of crumbs even the new Warburton’s range does this.

Labessane says:
28 June 2014

Store your loaf in the fridge in a large sandwich bag (Tesco). This will stop it falling apart and keep it fresh for much longer.

Susan Ripley says:
22 March 2018

So agree mirmy, my son accidentally bought me the wrong flour a couple of weeks back, he got me brown gluten free bread mix instead of gluten free sr flour so i could make some cakes. Well as i ended up throwing most my last gluten free loaf away due to falling apart and not much good for anything i decided to use the bread mix anyway. I so wish id kept the bag as it turned out really well, lovely, soft and didn’t fall apart when cut. All i can remember it was from Sainsburys and a brown bread gluten free mix. Had a proper method on the packet for using bread maker machine if required but also one for baking in ordinary oven as well. I used my bread maker, it turned out just perfect.I added a few herbs to give it a bit more flavour.

An old hand says:
30 September 2011

Diagnosed at 50, I was horrified at the taste of the “cake like” stuff bought, passing for Gluten free bread. In Australia, volunteering for the Coeliac society I was offered their “loan” bread-maker, a Panasonic, the only one to have a gluten free recipe, and it worked perfectly. When a neighbour passed on her Breville, I made hundreds of perfect loaves. Since returning to Britain, I am considering the Panasonic. Follow the recipe in the book, or now the updated models have a programme, much shorter cooking time and fresh yeast is needed, a mixture of rice flours, and do not forget the Xanthum gum, the binder. My son also a coeliac, baked his bread in a Breville, every week, perfect loaves. I used brown sugar for a better crust, and I can assure you perfect loaves can be made for years. In the Panasonic, you put all the ingredients in the pan, but the Breville I used, you mixed the wet ingredients and dry separately then combine before putting into the pan. Whatever brand I buy next, after almost a decade of new technology I would expect perfect loaves every time !

I have Lyme Disease, misdiagnosed by the NHS as chronic fatigue syndrome after decades of relapsing illness. Going gluten free is one of the things that has helped me. When I ate wheat I used to like heavier loaves, like the ones made by Cranks, so I’m not after a light fluffy type of loaf. I use the Doves Farm recipe from the back of their gluten free bread flour packet. I find I get a better loaf if I use brown bread flour and put the bread machine on the ‘normal’ cycle, not the ‘gluten free’ one. The loaves are bit on the heavy side, but the bread makes nice toast.

Fletchy says:
1 October 2011

I have been baking gluten free bread in a Morphy Richards breadmaker for years, mostly successfully though every now and again there is a dodgy loaf… however, I have used the Juvela Breadmix (available on prescription) most successsfully following the breadmakeer recipe… dry ingredients then wet on top… this produces a lovely light and airy loaf enjoyed by everyone who has ‘tasted’ it. My daughter was diagnosed as coeliac at around 2yo. Currently have lost the paddle! so stuck. To b.e honest the combination of flours, freshness of the yeast made the most difference to the success of the bread
I also used to buy flours from the local mill, rye, malt etc it made beautiful malt loaf, buckwheat ( no wheat or gluten)

I also used to enjoy a panasonic bread maker and several cookbooks for making delicious interesting breads until I developed a wheat intolerance. I tried all kinds of wheat and gluten free recipes without much success and gave up. The breadmaker gets now used when visitors come, and I resigned to glutenfree pancakes and the genius breads. I would love to have a breadmaker and recipes that can make glutenfree breads as good as the genius breads.
Please do some tests on both. A gluten free setting on the breadmaker is not enough. I would like to know how good the breads are that come out of it. I would love to be able to make my own tasty gluten and wheat free breads in a bread maker and happily invest in a new model, but I am weary of buying another useless peace of kit.

Having recently discovered that I have a wheat intolerance, I have been trying to make a decent gluten free loaf and I can assure you it can be done! My sister made a fantastic light gluten free loaf with Doves farm white flour .I have not managed to replicate this yet but I am ever optimistic and am experimenting with adding more or less water as I think this is partly the issue. I also use Caroline Humphries wonderful book and she advises that you use the normal bread setting not the Gluten free one. I have bought Gluten free rolls as they keep for a long time if sealed (Useful for taking abroad) and the best brown loaves are the GS range and unfortunately Tesco also make some nice GF bread. So you dont have to compromise but you have to accept that they do not have wheat in them so they are different.

geoff says:
3 October 2011

I tried to make a gf loaf in my panasonic but failed several times. (I was thinking of building a wall with them_)In the end I bought a tray for smallish deep cakes and mixed ingredients in a bowl; into the airing cupboard for 1 hour plus, before baking in the oven for half hour at 180-200. They rose after proving whether they were wet or dry mixes. Even non-coeliacs love them. I think the machine would work if one could vary the times to suit.

Carole Morrison says:
4 October 2011

I use a Kenwood breadmaker model BM250 to make my Gluten free bread using the Gluten + Wheat free brown bread flour from Dove’s farm. I use the medium loaf recipe on the back of the packet for machine brown bread then use the normal number 1 programme with medium colour. I find that if I slice the bread as soon as it is cold and put into bags of 2 slices then freeze them it keeps the bread fresh

Bashir Jivani says:
6 October 2011

I’ve been using my Morphy Richards breadmaker (a Which best buy! but from several years ago). It doesn’t have a GF setting so I use the normal one and the bread comes out lovely. Below is the recipe for the brown version (I think it is the Dove’s farm one). Enjoy!

Milk- 320g/14oz
Vinegar 1tbsp
Oil 6tbsp
Flour 450g/16oz
Salt 1tsp
Sugar 2btsp
Yeast 2tsp

You can use any type of milk and any type of vinegar and for best results weigh the ingredients where indicated. It is critical to use EXACT measurements (use electronic scales or measuring spoons – but don’t mix imperial and metric measurements). I also add 1/4 tsp dried vitamin c powder to help make it rise
1. Weigh the milk into a bowl then beat in the vinegar, oil and eggs. Pour this mixture into the bread machine pan.
2. Add the flour, salt and sugar to the pan and stir with a spoon.
3. Sprinkle the yeast on top.
4. Start the machine on a normal bread programme.
5. After a few minutes mixing, lift the machine lid and scrape down the sides of the pan using a plastic spatula.
6. Continue the machine on the normal baking programme.

Sarah says:
14 August 2012

Thank you Bashir Jivani will give this a go Sarah

Susan Ripley says:
22 March 2018

What type of flour did you use please?

Colin Richards says:
29 October 2011

With an old Argos breadmaker, I have found that one teaspoon of Xanthan Gum helps the consistency of the bread. My wife has also found that when she uses gluten free flour mix to make pastry, the handling of the pastry is made much easier when using about 1 teaspoon of Xanthan Gum.
Incidently, Xanthan Gum is now available on prescription.

Zena Powdrill says:
29 October 2011

I follow the Panasonic recipe fairly closely and must say that it produces excellent results for gluten free bread which can either be used fresh on the day or toasted the following one, or sliced and frozen andlater placed, straight from the freezer, into a toaster twice for superb breakfast/anytime slices. The great difference in preparing a gluten free loaf is to remember that the method is completely different, i.e. the ingredients are placed in the pan in strict order as follows: (recipe courtesy mostly of Doves Farm Gluten Free products)
Place following ingredients in the bread pan as follows:-

310 ml water
1 teaspn. cider vinegar
4 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium egg
1 medium sized egg white
450g (1lb) gluten free white bread flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspn salt
1 1/2 teaspns. Doves Farm Quick yeast or similar

The following is optional but really tasty
Place the following in the dispenser or add when prompted:
1 1/2 tablespoons each of the following:
Linseeds, sesame seeds, pumpkin seeds, poppy seeds, sunflower and (1 scant teaspoon of caraway seeds if desired)
Place in breadmaker on Gluten Free – Dark Crust setting for 2 hours.

The dispenser does not work on gluten free program

Terry Wilson says:
11 November 2011

My partner uses the Doves Farm gluten free flours and like others here found it rather dense and heavy. She has discovered, after acting on a hunch, that the loaf can be radically lightened with the addition of a heaped teaspoon of baking powder – just make sure you get the rice based one not the wheat. Also, use twice as much oil as usual. Give it a try!

Gluten Free Flour says:
19 July 2012

Some scientific papers suggest using something like this:

Corn Starch or Rice Starch 75%,
Rice Flour 17%
Animal Gelatine or Agar 8%

billy says:
8 August 2012

I have a Russell Hobbs model no 18036 breadmaker, it has a GF setting , i use Juvela white mix (on prescription) it makes perfect bread, the texture is a bit cakey but it tastes great, hope this helps.