Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Gluten free bread and Expandex, a whole new ball of wax,

I continue to sing the praises of Expandex, it's the best stuff ever. I know I have complained about GF bread a number of times. Frankly, it's horrible for the most part. A lot of it tastes like cardboard and for the caloric load you'd probably get a better sandwich if you cut up a cereal box and put mayo on it.

I have tried every brand out there. The real issue is that GF bread dries out really fast and is only good for a day or two, three if you're going to make French toast or grilled cheese, or perhaps a Reuben. The best brand I have found, might not be the best brand for you, because it's local and it usually can be bought fresh, or at least not frozen. Freezing bread doesn't help it stay moist, it only puts off the mold a bit.

My biggest gripe honestly is the price I have to pay for a loaf of bread. They are small, they are stale and they are EXPENSIVE. $7+ a loaf $10+ from a bakery, and really what are you going to do? Have you seen the online pictures of homemade GF bread. Barf-o-rama. Small shrunken dense loafs of grit. Blah.

I haven't been making a lot of bread lately, even though I have discovered Expandex, because the sandwich rounds were working out fine. Today I made a loaf of bread. I turned it out, let it cool and then made a sandwich. Grilled cheese is back. I think it's the best GF bread I've had so far, and it's not like I've been sitting around not looking. I don't know how it will stand the test of time, I assume it will be fine tomorrow and a little stale on day three or four.

Previously, I claimed that you don't need a whole lot of Expandex, and that's true, but the more you use, the better your results. I guess it really has to do with what you're trying to do. I think that the more volume and puffyness you want the more expandex you need. I made cupcakes and took them to an event where people were munching away, commenting on how good they were. It came out that I use an all natural maple extract to make the cupcakes and they were like where do you get that? I told them where, and the website is a specialty flour company that I like a lot. Then one girl was like "so you use King Arthur flour" and I had to tell her that no, my cupcakes are gluten free. I don't normally say anything because if I do say something everyone gets their panties in a bunch and starts to think they're not any good, EVEN THOUGH they were just munching and commenting on the AMAZING cupcakes I made, thirty seconds ago. It's in your head. Gluten is the enemy of cake. Cake flour is so low in gluten that it's virtually gluten free. Good cake flour is 5-7% protein (gluten is protein), and in comparison bread flour is about 13%, just to put that in perspective for you. To help a little more a cup of wheat flour has about 13 grams of protein in it, and cup of rice flour has about 9 grams. It's not that there's a big protein difference, it's kind of about the type, and when you make cake, less is more. You also know, I'm sure of the care you have to take when making a cake not to over mix it, as you create gluten when you stir your batter and glutenous batter = rubbery cake.

I've gotten off onto a tangent, the point is that cakes and cookies and things like that are so easy to make GF it's silly so tell people as they will eat your baked goods and not know that they are wheatless. Wait, unless you go putting horrible things in them. I mean, sorghum, soy flour, brown rice (wtf, when did cookies need to be healthy?), some people put garbanzo bean flour in THEIR COOKIES! No,no, no, bad cook! You will use only white, ultra fine rice powder. No potato starch, just a little Expandex, tapioca starch, only use butter flavored Crisco, you can figure it out if you do that.

Bread is another ball of wax, it's not the same at all. Bread needs gluten and quite a lot of it. Expandex has leveled the playing field a bit. As you know I use a gluten substitute that you can purchase in stores and online, and if you haven't yet, you should because it's better than using gums because it has other things that commercial bakers are using and that make their breads a little better.

Before we begin, lets talk about bread pans. A lot of people like pan de mie pans. They are usually really long though, and that means they won't work as well. You need a smallish, tall sided pan. I have one specific for gluten free bread. Now, I'm not all into having a special pan for this, and a specific tool for that, but as I continue to bake more and more gluten free things I find that specialty pans work much better. So I have the special bread pan for baking gluten free loaves (thanks Mom!), I have a special pan for French bread, I have special cake pans and I'm thinking of getting a muffin top pan or a special pan for hamburger buns, because you just need the special pans. The point is, stop whining, suck it up and purchase a good pan.

Expandex Gluten Free Bread


1 C. Expandex
1 C. GF flour blend (make your own, or whatever)
1 C. Sorghum flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1 Tbs instant yeast
3 Tbs powdered buttermilk
2 Tbs sugar
1 tsp. Kosher salt
2.5 oz Organ Gluten Free Gluten
1/3 C. Shortening
1 egg
1-2 C. warm water


In a stand mixer place all dry ingredients and turn on mixer to stir and add shortening. Let mix until it resembles cornmeal. Whip the egg and 1/2 C water together and add to the mixer. Slowly increase speed and add water to make a thick batter. The batter needs to be beat til very smooth and homogenous.

Grease up a bread pan. Put a quart of water (I use a quart jar) into the oven and turn it on for a couple minutes. Then turn off the oven and put your hand in it to make sure it's not too warm. Place the bread in the oven and let rise for about 30-40 minutes. When your bread is about doubled take the water out of the oven, LEAVE THE BREAD IN THE OVEN, and turn the oven on to 350 degrees and cook till it reaches an internal temperature of 200 degrees. It will take about an hour.

Cool on a rack or towel for about an hour, slice, butter, jam? maybe honey, serve.

Yes, I admit, I use a thermometer because the bread is so stupid expensive (yet still cheaper than purchasing it) to make and dries out if you over cook it at all.
If you need to turn the oven on a little while rising

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