When I was a child gluten free bread mixes were not something my mother could pick off the supermarket shelves.
In fact she had to send away for the flour as it was not easily available. I still remember the dry, crumbly, bread that she bought in cylindrical red tins for me. Yuck! We certainly have it better today.
You can follow a gluten free bread recipe, but here in the UK nearly all the big supermarkets or grocery stores stock a range of gluten free products, some branded, some bearing their own name. The same goes for other countries. Amongst these are a number of gluten free bread mixes but which one gives the best tasting loaf of gluten free bread?
I decided to try a number of them and share the results.
So what were my criteria for choosing the mixes? Basically, I went to one local town and visited a number of stores to see just what was easily available. I started with the brand name mixes photographed below.
This was the smallest box, containing 275gram of mixture. It is labelled free from wheat and gluten and requires water, oil and yeast to be added. No yeast was provided in the box.
The mix consists of cornflour, rice flour, potato starch, maize flour, sugar, soya flour along with gums and raising agents.
The back of the box gives instructions for making a loaf in the oven, along with very basic hints for using the mix in a bread making machine. It also gives a suggestion for sun dried tomato bread, which sounded nice. But for the purpose of this experiment I wanted to follow the basic recipes given on each pack.
The instructions were very simple and easy to follow. The method involved dissolving dried yeast in warm water and oil, pouring that mixture into the flour mixture and combining the two. I used my Kenwood food processor to mix all the gluten free bread mixes featured on this page.
The resulting dough was quite stiff and dry. The instructions called for a 1lb loaf tin, but mine was bigger (2lb). After leaving it to rise for 45 minutes I cooked it as per the instructions at 200 degrees Centigrade in my fan oven for 30 minutes.
The bread was springy, but quite dense with a crisp crust. It was pleasant enough to eat but had no particular flavour.
This mix came in a 1kg bag, complete with two sachets of easy-bake yeast (enough for 4 loaves of bread). Of all the gluten free bread mixes I tried, this one came from the closest to home. Glebe farm is situated just 15 miles from my house, although I actually purchased the bag in Waitrose.
This was the only brown bread of the mixes I compared. Glebe farm also offer a white gluten free bread mix.
The bag was labelled as being wheat free, gluten free, dairy free, soya free, egg and yeast free! There was also a small comment mentioning that gluten and wheat products were packed in the same building. This made me hesitate to include this product at first, but I then reconsidered, as I felt they wouldn't be labeling it gluten free, if it wasn't safe for coeliac's to eat.
The back of the bag gives lots of information. Perhaps too much as it made it difficult to focus my eyes on the actual version of the recipe that I had decided to follow.
There were instructions for making either a yeasted or yeast free loaf in the bread machine, a yeasted or yeast free oven baked loaf, and also hints for making the loaf without dairy or egg's in the ingredients. They had also included some yeast and shelf life tips. Very comprehensive!
The mix comprised of potato starch, brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, linseed, sunflower seeds, sugar, salt, xantham gum and guar gum. They state that it is free from methyl cellulose, GMO's and other chemical additives.
Additional ingredients needed for the basic oven baked loaf were milk, oil, and an egg. The mixture was wetter than the Mrs Crimbles mix and the seeds were very evident. The instructions said to leave it for 1 hour to rise before baking at the same temperature as the first of the gluten free bread mixes above.
As soon as it was cooked I cut a slice, as I love hot, freshly baked bread. I have to say it was delicious! Light, springy and well flavoured. A second slice followed the first in quick succession. I'm glad there is enough mix left in the bag to make three more loaves as I will definitely be using it again.
Here are both loaves made so far, side by side.
I will make up the other two gluten free bread mixes another day, and write up my findings. Please check back soon to see how they compared.