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Gluten/Wheat Free Bread Issues

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Ok, so I am baking my own wheat-free bread. I am using Pamela's Artisan FLour blend and mostly going by the recipes in the "Gluten Free on a Shoestring" book.

My bread always falls a little bit after baking. The one that falls the least is the brioche, which has a lot of eggs. But even that one will do a little drop. And I have noticed one issue that affects all of the breads: they will often have larger air pockets at the top of the loaf, and at the bottom of the loaf, the air pockets will be very tiny, making the bread dense and gummy at the bottom. Anyone know what causes this? I've read that it might be over-raising, but I follow the book instructions.

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  1. As someone who's been working on a whole grain sandwich bread obsessively, I'll take a stab at those questions!

    Falling a little usually comes down to two things: the dough is too moist, or there is not enough binder (such as gums). It may actually be that the recipe you're making has less flour than the recipe the author wrote. Flours are really hard to measure accurately using measuring cups- the measuring cups can be off (and, having tested a bunch of sets, even the expensive ones!), people measure differently (the technically correct way is to scoop the flour into the cup with a spoon or another cup, then level it off with a butter knife or other flat edge, but who knows if the person who wrote the recipe did it that way...). This matters more with some flours than others, and especially with finely ground ones. With tapioca starch, for example, if I dig the cup directly into the bag of flour, I can end up with 30% more flour by weight than if I scoop and level. The way to get around this is to use a baking scale. They are really not as intimidating as they seem. They're like 25 bucks, for a good one, and take two minutes to learn how to use. If you already are weighing, just keep records as you increase the flour, to make sure the recipe is reproducible. Either not enough flour (/too much liquid) or not enough binder could be causing the gummy line as well. Basically, the weight of the dough on top is overcoming the strength of the dough matrix. If you opt to start by increasing the binders rather than increasing the flour or decreasing the liquid, I'd recommend small increments. With xanthan, for example, often I end up going in 1/8 tsp increases, because a 1/4 tsp increase changes the recipe completely.

    3 Replies
    1. re: jvanderh

      jvanderh- I always use a scale when baking.

      I don't use xanthan gum, at least not right now. I use Pamela's Artisan Flour blend, and since making this post, I've started adding a tablespoon of psyllium husk powder to the flours when I make a loaf of bread. I've also started adding a second rise (first rise overnight in the fridge, second just before baking). I'm also baking at a slightly lower temp and a bit longer (to make sure the bread gets cooked in the center and bottom without the outside burning), and letting the breads cool for about 10 minutes in the oven with the burner off and the door propped slightly open. I might add a bit extra flour next time.

      Unfortunately, what I think it really comes down to is that the recipes in the book I am using (the first "Gluten Free On A Shoestring" book) were not adequately tested. I tried a recipe from Land O Lakes the other day and it had a much much better texture.

      Thanks for your comment!

      1. re: reptilegrrl

        Could be. I checked out Pamela's, and it looks like it has guar in it. If you're following recipes that call for a general flour blend, they may be assuming one that doesn't have any binders? Or if you're following a recipe that calls for a specific flour blend, but you're using a different one, yours may have less binder than theirs, which would make more sense than the first scenario for collapsing bread. Or if the cookbook doesn't actually give weights, you may be converting differently than the author. I don't often use guar alone. In general though, if it's collapsing, it's either too much moisture, or not enough binder, whether that's xanthan, guar, flax, psyllium, chia, cooked flour, whatever :-)

        1. re: jvanderh

          They call for "any gluten free all-purpose blend", and say to add xanthan if the flour doesn't have it. I thought the guar gum would stand in for xanthan gum, but it really doesn't. Psyllium helps.

          I do think these recipes have too much moisture, which is just one of the many problems with this books.

    2. I wonder whether your oven temp is "as displayed" on the gauge? My experience with GF cake and loaf baking is that variations in the oven temp made a difference. I ended up buying a thermometer.

      1 Reply
      1. re: KarenDW

        I use an oven thermometer :) It usually agrees with my oven, but every once in awhile the oven will spike.