I’ll take The Easy Way for $200, Alex.

A few weeks ago I shared a little about my ongoing transition of reducing gluten from my diet.  I have grown to really enjoy cooking from scratch and eating real food.  One thing I do miss (and my husband too), since we started trying to eat gluten-free is bread.  As of last July (2010) there have been precious few sightings of bread in our home (expensive gluten-free bread mixes I made in my breadmaker). When we do have bread, it usually only lasts a day or two because my husband and I go on a French Toast eating binge. It doesn’t take long for there to be crumbs left of our $5 loaf of bread!

Until now, I haven’t ventured too far into making gluten-free bread from scratch.  Not because I didn’t have recipes to try.  Oh, no.  It’s because I’ve been too thrifty (or, CHEAP) to buy a necessary ingredient in making any type of gluten-free bread: xantham gum.  Xantham gum is an ingredient that replaces the gluten you are trying to eliminate.  You see, gluten is what makes bread, bread.  Basically, gluten is a protein contained in wheat, barley, rye, and oats.  It makes that doughy/elastic consistency to flour.  Xantham gum has the same binding, the trouble is that it is very expensive.  Like $10-12 for a cup of it!   Finally, at the urging of my husband, I broke down and bought some last week. 

This weekend, I tried a recipe for sandwich bread.  I made 3 loaves and was very happy to discover that laziness actually paid of.  Let me explain.  This is the recipe I used to make 3 loaves of bread.  You can find it and many others here at: Gluten-Free Cooking School.  I also mixed and used the Gluten-Free Flour Mix mentioned in the recipe.

Really Good Gluten Free Sandwich Bread

1 Tbsp. bread machine yeast
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 ½ c. water (105 degrees or a little less than hot)

2 ½ cups of my gluten free flour mix
2 tsp. xanthan gum
1tsp. salt

3 eggs (or 9 Tbsp. water and 3 Tbsp. ground flax seed)
1 ½ Tbsp. oil
1 tsp. cider vinegar

1. Start by combining the yeast and sugar in a small bowl (I use the smallest in my set of three nested mixing bowls). Add the water while gently stirring the yeast and sugar. Let this mixture sit while you mix the rest of the ingredients – bubbles and foam should form if the yeast is happy.

2. Combine the flour mix, xanthan gum and salt in the largest mixing bowl and stir well.

3. In a third bowl, whisk the eggs, oil and vinegar until the eggs are a bit frothy.

4. By this point the yeast mixture should be foamy, so you can pour the two liquid mixtures into the flour mixture. Blend the dough with a mixer for 4 minutes.

Bread Machine Directions:

Scoop your dough into the bread machine and smooth the top of the dough. I bake my bread using an 80 minute setting that allows for 20 minutes of kneading, 18 minutes of rise, and 42 minutes of baking. However, since I don’t use the paddle in by bread machine, I’m effectively doing a 38 minute rise and a 42 minute bake. (The advantage of not using the paddle is that you don’t end up with a hole in the bottom of your bread.)

Conventional Oven Directions:

Scoop the dough into a greased loaf pan. Allow the dough to rise in a warm area until is about 1 inch from the top of the pan. Then bake at 375 degrees for 50 – 60 minutes.

Other Notes:

  • The masa harina in the flour mix for this recipe is usually available in the Hispanic sections of most grocery stores. Due to the way it is processed, masa harina is very absorbent and you cannot substitute corn meal or corn flour. You can purchase masa harina on Amazon.com if it is not available locally.
  • If you are allergic to corn then you can make the following substitutions in the flour mix: use tapioca starch instead of corn starch and almond flour instead of masa harina
  • If you are allergic to soy, then you can substitute any of the following flours for the soy flour in the flour mix: sorghum flour, garfava flour, or quinoa flour.
  • If you are on a dairy-free diet, then you may use soy milk or rice milk. Just make sure that they are gluten-free.
  • If you are allergic to eggs, use the flax substitute listed in the recipe, or follow the instructions on your favorite egg replacement powder. When I use the flax eggs, the bread is usually slightly wetter than otherwise.

One thing you need to understand: I love my bread machine.  I love it so much, in fact, that I don’t want to steal it’s thunder and take any of the work away from it! For the first loaf, I decided to go off the recipe once I got to the “Bread Machine Directions.”  I threw all of the separate wet and dry ingredients into the breadmaker at once and set it on the “Basic” cycle which includes 2 rises and lasts almost 3 hours.  I really didn’t know what to expect.

I was very happy with the end result, but I wanted to know if I was missing something and decided to make the second loaf following all of the directions.  The result was very disappointing.  I don’t think my bread machine has the setting that the author of the recipe used.  It was flat, uncooked in the middle and weighed at leat 5 pounds.  It was like the ugly sister to the first loaf.  I kind of felt sorry for it.  I still took a picture, though. 

I’ll let you figure out which loaf is which:

Uh, are you two related?


Since the second loaf wasn’t edible (and I heard my husband mention he’d been craving French Toast again), I decided to make another loaf the easy way!   I also wanted to be sure it wasn’t just a fluke. Once again, I was very happy to discover the same result:

A happy loaf of bread


The End.


One thought on “I’ll take The Easy Way for $200, Alex.

  1. Thanks for your comment! It seems we have some interests in common. 🙂 we eat mostly gluten free at my house (I’m gluten free since Nov 2007 – but will still make conventional bread for the boys) – also dairy and peanut free as my ds is allergic to both, I run, and sew, and do some yarn crafts … I’m going to enjoy looking at your blog too.

    Oh, you’ll find the xanthan gum lasts FOREVER. My first bag lasted almost two years. (I was hesitant to shell out that much money too.) Granted, I don’t make much gf loaf bread but alot of quick bread and pancakes. Also, you’ll find if you use a bunch of eggs, you don’t need as much xanthan gum.

    Have a good weekend!

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