Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My Favorite Gluten Free Sandwich Bread

When I first started a gluten free lifestyle last summer, the thought of making homemade bread scared me. So for several months on our rare trips to Raleigh, NC (the closest town with a store that actually had a gluten free foods section) I would stock up on frozen gluten free sandwich bread. I quickly realized that there had to be a better way. It was simply too expensive and too inconvenient to rely on store bought gluten free sandwich bread.

I read many articles and several gluten free cookbooks for a good starter recipe on gluten free yeast/sandwich bread. I've always tried to focus on whole grains and healthier foods, so my first loaf (and the loaf I used for many months) was this loaf, which was originally a Bette Hagman recipe, which I revised for more fiber and nutrition.

I made the loaf in a bread machine that I borrowed from my mom-in-law. Bread machines are really wonderful (and now they even make several versions with a gluten free cycle) and are incredible time-saving devices. But after using a bread machine for several months, I just wasn't completely satisfied with the results. I couldn't afford a nice machine with a gluten free cycle, so I decided to try a homemade loaf with this recipe.

I really liked Elizabeth's easy recipe (and I highly recommend it for starters), and it showed me just how easy it was to make a gluten free yeast bread from scratch. I felt confident that I could bake bread successfully on a regular basis!

But I still wasn't completely satisfied. Some people had trouble with my revised recipe, saying the middle of the bread fell in the middle after baking and that the bread just didn't hold up on day 2 and day 3. I had to agree on that point.

So ever since, I've been on the lookout for a great gluten free sandwich bread.

I think I've finally found a loaf that I LOVE. Yes, I LOVE.

I love this loaf because it's soft like that white Sunbeam bread I used to love, yet I can pack it full of whole grains, so it's still good for you! AND, it's still as soft and pliable on day 2 and day 3 and beyond.. as it is the moment it comes out of the oven!! It is my favorite. I think my search is over for the perfect gluten free loaf.

I have to thank Sarah at Everyday Gluten Free for pointing me in the right direction on this loaf. The original recipe is located here, and I've changed it to reflect our use of whole grains and added fiber. I think the secret to this super soft and delicious gluten free loaf is the addition of Sure Jell, which is a pectin used to make jams and jellies. Sure Jell can be bought in any grocery store in the canning section. I never would have to thought to add this to a gluten free bread. A very small amount of Sure Jell is added to the batter in addition to xanthan gum and unflavored gelatin. This bread dough creates a delicious crumb, a great rise, and a perfect texture for sandwich bread! You do not have to toast this bread for a sandwich, it is the perfect texture without being toasted!! I am so in love!

My last note is that I've made this bread 4 or 5 times now and I'm taking a hint from Carol Fenster: I was very skeptical about this method at first, but I've started using smaller 8" x 4 1/2" loaf pans instead of my normal 10" x 5" loaf pan to bake the bread. By using smaller pans, I can make 2 loaves of bread out of one recipe (you do NOT have to change any of the recipe proportions)!! This is great for Michael and I because I'm usually the only one eating the bread and I can freeze the extra loaf -- so I waste less bread, and I think the texture of the bread and the crust come out much better! Also, I can mix up the dough, let it rise, and bake the bread in less than an hour! Awesome! Who needs a bread machine when you can make it yourself this quickly?

Favorite Gluten Free Sandwich Bread
Free of gluten and soy
Created by Carrie of
For a printer friendly version, click here

Dry Ingredients:
1 cup brown rice flour
1/2 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup tapioca flour
1/4 cup millet flour
1/4 cup potato starch
3 heaping tablespoons ground flax seeds
1/2 cup instant non-fat milk -or- dry milk substitute
3 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon unflavored gelatin
1 Tablespoon Sure Jell
1/2 teaspoon salt

Leavening/Proofing Ingredients:
2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 teaspoons brown sugar
1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees)

Wet Ingredients:
1 1/4 cup warm water (110 degrees)
2 eggs, room temperature, beaten
2 egg whites, whisked
1/4 cup smart balance margarine, melted
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

  1. Proofing the Yeast: Mix together yeast, 2 teaspoons brown sugar, and 1/4 cup warm water. Set this mixture aside to proof. It should become aromatic, bubbly, and appear to be "growing" if it's proofing correctly.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer whisk together ALL dry ingredients. Whisk or sift ingredients together thoroughly. Set aside.
  3. In a medium sized bowl whisk together all wet ingredients. Add proofed yeast to this mixture. If your yeast did not get bubbly and aromatic, start fresh with new yeast.
  4. Using the paddle attachment of your stand mixer on slow speed, gently pour wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix dough on medium speed for 5-8 minutes. Occasionally use a rubber spatula to push dough down the sides of the mixer bowl. While your dough is mixing, you can prepare your loaf pans. (Finished dough should resemble a VERY thick cake batter)
  5. Heat oven to 200 degrees and CUT OFF immediately. Spritz loaf pan (or pans if you are using smaller 8 x 4 1/2 pans) with non-stick cooking spray or olive oil.
  6. Pour dough into loaf pan (or pans -- dividing evenly).
  7. Spray a sheet of plastic wrap with non-stick spray and gently cover the loaf pan, with the sprayed side facing the dough.
  8. Place covered loaf pans in the warmed oven and let rise for 50 minutes to an hour for large loaf pan, or 30 minutes for 2 small loaf pans. The dough should have risen to the top of the pans. GENTLY remove plastic wrap.
  9. Heat oven to 350 degrees.
  10. Place risen loaf of dough in the oven. For a large 9 x 5 or 10 x 5 loaf, bake 45-55 minutes. For smaller 8 x 4 1/2 loaves bake 30 minutes. Crust should be light brown in color and a thermometer placed in the middle of the loaf should read around 190 for a finished loaf.
  11. Let loaf or loaves cool completely before cutting. 
  12. I store this bread on the counter for 2 days, if there is leftover bread after that point, I refrigerate or freeze remaining slices.
  13. Frozen or refrigerated bread slices and be made soft and pliable again by microwaving on medium power for 10-20 seconds.

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