The Humble Loaf

The Humble Loaf

Product Review: Gluten-free Bread

Wondering how to get by without your bread fix?

Whether you’re one in every hundred people who have celiac disease or just try to avoid the weariness, aches, and bloating often associated with gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley, rye and malts), we’ve got some options for you.

Meet your new friends: rice, garbanzo bean, and fava flours; and tapioca, potato, and corn starches are the ingredients most often substituted for wheat in bread. We tested five of the most popular gluten-free bread offerings available (two are mixes and may be prepared in a bread machine or by hand with an electric mixer, and three are ready-to-eat); we rated their textures, tastes, and affinity to the wheat breads we know and love.

Bob’s Red Mill Homemade Wonderful Bread Mix $4.29; add milk, eggs, butter or oil, and cider vinegar (can be dairy free)

Food for Life Brown Rice Bread $6.19; vegan

King Arthur Flour Glutenfree Bread Mix (and Pizza Crust) $5.99; add butter, milk, and eggs, or substitutes

Rudi’s Multigrain Sandwich Bread $5.99; soy and dairy free

Udi’s Whole Grain Bread $5.29; Dairy, soy, and nut free

Okay, so they’re all FREE of lots of stuff, but what do they have going for them?

Clearly the packaged goods are the easiest choices. Tip: every slice was at least slightly (and sometimes vastly) better toasted. Rudi’s was perhaps most like a kids’ loosely textured sandwich loaf, but with some grown-up seeds. We preferred it with olive oil as it was on the dry side. Udi’s tasted a little nutty and also suffered from the dryness factor. Food for Life’s Brown Rice option was much firmer and denser than anything else we tasted and not exactly a favorite.

King Arthur’s, with a crispy, rustic-looking crust, was the most appealing visually but scored a bland vote on the flavor scale, while Bob’s offered the best taste, hands down. Its lighter, sweeter flavor was delivered with a brioche-like texture (thanks to several egg whites) and encouraged daydreams of the perfect French toast. Worth the effort to make it again.

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