Baking Gluten Free with Hip Girls

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Gluten-free baking. The phrase is enough to set fear into the hearts and minds of even the bravest baker. Taking a simple thing like flour and replacing it with four or more different flours, adding gums, eggs, and who knows what else makes me want to just flee to the safety of the pricey gluten-free baked goods at Whole Foods.

But, because I knew there had to be more than met the eye, I invited my friend Kate of The Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking over one Sunday for an afternoon of bread baking and discussion.

The typical loaf of bread, of course, contains a simple ratio of flour, water, yeast, salt, and perhaps a bit of sugar. The yeast reacts with the gluten in the flour and they get all happy together without much extra work from us. The mixture of flours used in gluten-free baking don’t do that, which is why they need a little help from furiously beaten eggs and xanthan or guar gum.

Because I’ve heard quite a bit about xanthan and guar gums recently on various gluten-free blogs (not to mention Michael Pollan putting them in his “fake food” list) I asked Kate what she thought. “It’s a by-product of corn,” she said of xanthan gum, shrugging. In other words, it doesn’t bother her. Guar gum is a product of the guar bean. Both assist gluten-free flours in binding, and unless you want to do a lot of experimenting, they’re key ingredients in creating a delicious loaf of bread.

Now, I’m sure I’m not the only one who has had terrible, dry, crumbly pieces of gluten-free bread. Even companies that sell their product in stores seem to have problems creating something that is more palatable than cardboard. But Kate is doing a fine job of making breads even gluten-eating people like me gobble up. The bread we baked at my house is her Oatmeal Millet Bread. She usually makes it in a bread machine, so it was interesting to see how it would work out using my stand mixer and an oven. It turns out that when making the dough you want it to be quite stringy when coming off the paddle, and it’s much wetter and stickier than a gluten bread dough.

While it didn’t bake up tall (an error we think was due to converting for the oven) the flavor was fantastic. Moist but not gummy, and it had a sort of nutty flavor.


Kate with our finished bread
A fresh loaf of bread at my house disappears from snacking quickly, and this was no exception, especially after toasting. Of course, after we had our little session Kate came up with an even more delicious bread recipe, which she brought to our February ATXSwappers event. We quickly dubbed it Bread for the People because honestly? If Kate hadn’t brought it I would not have guessed it was gluten free. It just might make me go out and get a collection of gluten-free flours.

4 Comments

  1. AWESOME as usual. I just decided to go off gluten again and bread for toasting or sandwiches is always the thing that messes it up. Im excited to try this!!

  2. Although I’ve not known of any gluten free bread to really get the sort of rise & lightness that “regular” bread has, I’d say the big deal breaker for me is usually flavor. If this bread tastes as good as it sounds like it does, I’d consider that a big victory!

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