Making bread can be a difficult venture. When you take away the gluten, the challenge becomes impossible at times. My attempts at baking gluten free bread have been numerous and disappointing at times. My main problems occur with the dough not rising properly and the bread cooling to a hard, gluten free rock. I have accumulated a lot of great tips throughout my baking adventures, which have helped me to bake better tasting bread that rises well and is a little softer. I have not found a gluten free bread that tastes as good as regular bread, but I hope to reach this accomplishment at some point. For now, I will continue to tweak my recipes and use the following tips when baking:
1. Always work with room temperature ingredients – yeast reacts better to warmer ingredients, which helps the bread to rise.
2. Use 1/4 cup of milk powder in bread recipes – this ingredient helps to add volume, texture and flavour to the final product.
3. Add 1/8 tsp ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to the recipe. Yeast reacts better in an acidic environment and this ingredient will also help to prolong the shelf life of your bread.
4. Add 1 tbsp mayonnaise and 1 tsp of fruit pectin to your recipes to add moisture.
5. Converting a recipe to gluten free requires the addition of more liquids due to the dry consistency of gluten free flours.
6. To rise the dough, turn your oven to 200 degrees. When it reaches this temperature turn the oven off and place a shallow baking pan partially filled with hot water in the oven. Lightly cover the loaf pan with a damp towel and place in the oven for 20 to 30 minutes or until the dough rises to the top of the loaf pan.
7. Gluten free bread typically does not last long at room temperature – once it comes out of oven, it hardens quite quickly. Once the bread has cooled, slice loaf and place in the freezer. Gluten free bread is best when toasted.
8. If you end up with a loaf of bread that is best used as a paper weight, do not throw it out. Gluten free bread disasters make great gluten free bread crumbs. Simply blend up the bread and place in a ziplock bag and put in the freezer. Tastes great for chicken or eggplant parmesan.