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Lisa16

6 Bread/cake Disasters In A Row- Advice Needed

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I am a newbie. I have been trying out the prepackaged stuff experimentally to see if I can live with it.

I have been having some trouble in the bread/cake area. After trying a few pre-made loaves (heavy as heck, similar to hammers! Tres yuckie.) I quickly decided to try a few bread mixes, with some bad results. I have a new 2 lb oster bread machine.

I started with the Chebe packs-- the red one with chese came out very well, but a girl cannot live on cheese rolls alone. The green package was way too dry (like little dry rocks!) and the yellow mix came out on the dry side too. The trouble is that if you don't cook it long enough it seems like the insides are still not done. Any thoughts about what went wrong? Nor is it a very good bread for, say, sandwiches.

Then I got a cake mix from the gluten free pantry. I followed the directions, but the cake was absolutely not done in the middle (when I turned it over to get it out of the pan, the whole middle fell out and it was still raw. However, the edges of the top were done to the point of nearly burning. What gives? This never happened with a regular mix!

New I attempted the gluten free pantry french bread/ pizza dough mix. Not only did that mix cost over 5$, but it took nearly 4 hours to make in the newly christened gluten-free bread machine. And to top it off, it was inedible-- quite similar to one of the pre-made loaves I bought early in consistency, flavor and texture. It was almost grainy. So that was a bust. Let's see if my squirrels eat it!

So thinking it might be a question of the gluten free pantry mixes, I decided to try Bob's Mill's cornbread mix. Looked easy-- just add eggs. oil and milk. I made it up and again, it was nearly inedible. Not only was it not a sweet cornbread, but the texture was really grainy (very different than a normal cornbread-- I was expecting something more in the way of a yellow cake in terms of texture). It also cooked very fast on top. Another 5$ down the drain (or to the squirrels!)

So my question is, is this happening because different flours react/ cook up differently (and I just don't understand tham yet?) or am I really doing something fundamentally wrong? Before my diagnosis, I baked in the past with regular flour and made stuff like this sucessfully-- lots of bread machine breads (different machine) and cakes, pastries and cookies. Or is it really just a matter of patience, trial and error? Or perhaps is one simply better off trying to make breads from scratch?

I need to find an easy (meaning not a lot of steps) every day bread recipe I can live with that won't cost a fortune and will turn out reliably! Or is something like that just a dream? I know there are some of you out there who have years of experience with this... a little advice here would be welcome. I need to figure something out before school starts again in the spring.

Dairy, soy and eggs are okay for me.

Lisa

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I don't know why this didn't appear on the forum. I am replying to see if that puts in up there.

Lisa

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I just made delicious bread with the "favorite sandwich bread" mix from gluten-free pantry and it came out great. Try it! In general I really like this brand, but I haven't tried the cake or pizza dough mixes. I don't have a bread machine though, so I just did it in the oven.

I also hate the premade breads. Plus the slices are teeny! I've never tried Chebe so I can't help you there. And I haven't had great experiences with Bob's Red Mill products in general. But you could try adding some honey to the recipe to make it sweeter and moister. Also if your baked goods are coming out heavy, try using carbonated water in place of the liquid. As for the cake, was your oven at the right temperature? What sort of pan did you use? I've found that Pyrex works best for gluten-free baking rather than metal because of how it distributes the heat.

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I used teflon cookie sheets for the chebes, a mikasa pyrex type pan for the cake and a teflon square pan for the corn bread-- that is what the recipe wanted.

perhaps I just have to get used to the new flours (they seem to be denser and not as elastic.)

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I find they need lower temps than their gluten counterparts. Are you pretty familiar with baking in general? I don't want to be insulting to you and talk about water temp and rising times and the like. I'm surprised you didn't like the GFPantry French bread. I've made it and found it to be light and fluffy. One thing these gluten-free mixes need is a good, long hard beating! :P I use a stand mixer and run it at least three minutes. Test things and if they aren't done turn down the temp and cover it with foil. I personally think the temps and directions on these mixes are more guide lines.

What setting are you using on your bread machine?

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I find they need lower temps than their gluten counterparts. Are you pretty familiar with baking in general? I don't want to be insulting to you and talk about water temp and rising times and the like. I'm surprised you didn't like the GFPantry French bread. I've made it and found it to be light and fluffy. One thing these gluten-free mixes need is a good, long hard beating! :P I use a stand mixer and run it at least three minutes. Test things and if they aren't done turn down the temp and cover it with foil. I personally think the temps and directions on these mixes are more guide lines.

What setting are you using on your bread machine?

I used the french bread setting, which made it 3hours and 50 minutes. If I understand correctly, it needs a longer rising time and if tou can flatten the loaf/ bun out more it will cook more evenly. I found a site called "the bread doctor." After reading a little there, I think perhaps the cake pan was too deep for the cake mix. And perhaps the problem was the setting on the bread machine (I figured the machine knew what it was doing!) I did open the machine up and stir the ingredients together more with a spatula until it was consistent. It is also possible I used the wrong type of vinegar (would that matter very mcuh? I figure the only difference would be flavor.) I do have some baking experience with regular flour, but not with the gluten free flours, so go ahead at talk water temps and rising times! I will not be offended! And thank you...

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Okay, so just some general baking temps. All of your ingredients, except the liquid you use, should be at room temp. Cold flour and eggs will weaken the raising power of the yeast and gluten-free bread needs all the help it can get. The fat you use should be cool but not so warm it's runny. Granulated bread machine yeast is the most forgiving yeast. It can be plunked in with your dry ingredients and isn't so sensitive to water temp to "bloom." In the store it's call bread machine yeast and usually comes in a small, brown glass bottle. To rise bread you need a draft free warm place. A good way to do it is pre heat your oven to it's LOWEST temp. Turn it off as soon as it reaches temp and open the door for maybe two minutes--while you're getting the bread ready to go. Cover it with towel and put it in the warm oven give it a 30-45 minutes. You're looking for about double. It is better to be slightly under risen than over as over will fall late in the baking. Typically you should cut the temp by 25 degrees if you're using glass pans.

Really, I have my doubts about how well a bread machine does with gluten-free bread. I would say the absolute longest kneading cycle would be best. Be sure and shake up the mix very well to distribute the flour mix evenly. I have found that smaller loaves do much better--think of quick bread size slices. It's tough to get much height without the gluten structure to support it. I'm not sure the big square shape of a bread machine pan is best for gluten-free bread. You can use your machine to mix and knead and then divide into two loaf pans. Alternately, free form into a long baguette shape, keeping it as even as possible. Always poke it with a toothpick and knock on it to test doneness. It should sound hollow. If it doesn't, drop your temp about 25-50 degrees and give it 10 extra minutes. gluten-free breads can stand the overbaking.

I haven't found the vinegar to matter. I use apple cider or red wine because those are the one I like to eat on salads

I hope this helps you. Ask away if you have questions. Ironically, I was an accomplished baker before diagnosis. I don't eat much gluten-free bread because it's hard on my healing insides. But I'm getting the feel for it pretty quickly.

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i routinly make the Pamelas amazing wheat free bread, but I don't use a bread machine, I use an electric mixer and the dough is pretty light and fluffy, and when I let it rest for 60 minutes, i set it on top of an electric heating pad set to medium (trick of mu great grandmother), I use silicone baking pan and follow the baking directions, it's always turned out perfect--eery time, ande i take all my ingredients (even the flour) right out of the fridge.... I always make the Bob's cornbread, but on an accident one day, I had no milk, but I did have vanilla soy milk, so I used that instead. My non-celiac husband said it was the best cornbread he's ever had. Since then, I always add 1tbs vanilla to my milk and then drizzle the top of the batter with honey before baking. It's not super sweet, but I make honey butter to go with it, there's NEVER leftovers!

sorry for mistakes, few margaritas later....

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i routinly make the Pamelas amazing wheat free bread, but I don't use a bread machine, I use an electric mixer and the dough is pretty light and fluffy, and when I let it rest for 60 minutes, i set it on top of an electric heating pad set to medium (trick of mu great grandmother), I use silicone baking pan and follow the baking directions, it's always turned out perfect--eery time, ande i take all my ingredients (even the flour) right out of the fridge.... I always make the Bob's cornbread, but on an accident one day, I had no milk, but I did have vanilla soy milk, so I used that instead. My non-celiac husband said it was the best cornbread he's ever had. Since then, I always add 1tbs vanilla to my milk and then drizzle the top of the batter with honey before baking. It's not super sweet, but I make honey butter to go with it, there's NEVER leftovers!

sorry for mistakes, few margaritas later....

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Thanks for the help!

Let's see.. as for the temperature issue, the oil was room temp but the eggs and milk were cold. I used the yeast that came with the package, but I did buy the bread machine type. It is sounding more and more like the bread machine is not the way to go with these mixes. I have another B's Red Mill mix (the "wonderful gluten free" mix that I will try without the machine bake cycle today and if that is a bust (my feed the squirrels campaign is on full force!) then I will try the whole thing without the machine. Maybe with buckwheat flour (I found some yesterday.)

Does it matter that we are currently pretty cold outside (single digits to teens) with quite low humidity? It has been this way awhile. I am getting the idea that gluten-free bread is quite a complicated thing.

As for the cornbread, I will try it again with the honey and vanilla. I suspect it is the grit of the corn meal he uses in the mix that is objectionable to me. I lived in the South for several years and got used to the sweeter type cornbreads there. Perhaps I will try with a different mix or a different corn meal.

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your help! I am in the stage of this where I am trying to keep eating as I was, just substituting gluten free products for the regular staples. There is a steep learning curve and it is so expensive. I admire anybody who has learned to live with this aspect of it and has done it successfully over a long period of time.

Lisa

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Lisa, don't feed all of your mistakes to the squirrels. Have you seen the prices for gluten free bread crumbs? If you have any recipes that call for bread crumbs (I have a family favorite casserole) or you like stuffing, save your mistakes . . . process them or chop them or whatever and toast them in the oven and freeze them. I will admit that in the beginning, I had some mistakes that weren't worth saving :P

I use Annalise Roberts Bread recipe but for off the shelf mixes, we like Pamela's amazing wheat free bread (we also love their pancake mix). As far as cake mixes go, I use the gluten-free yellow cake recipe off of allrecipes.com . . . yummy . . . I make them as cupcakes and they freeze well.

Also, if you are making anything from scratch . . . the finer ground rice flours produce a much better product (ie NOT gritty). For white rice flour, I buy mine at an asian market (finer and cheaper). For brown rice I buy the Authentic Foods SuperFine Brown Rice flour - outrageously priced but it is good.

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I also wanted to throw out . . . When my daughter got her diagnosis, I went right out and bought a bread machine. In the beginning, I couldn't tell if my problems were from my chosen recipes or from my bread machine. I decided to shelve the machine for awhile until I figured out what it was suppose to look and taste like and then try it in the machine.

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I have the following to offer....

In my pre-gluten-free days I used a bread machine and didnt like the recipes, not to mention it was a real pain to get out of the machine... I used my old recipe and let the machine mix, knead and rise it, but would pop it into a regular bread pan to cook in my own oven, it seemed to come out much better, but I hope they have improved the machines since then!

I do not like the breads yet, so have stuck with other things simular, my favorite is listed below:

Coffee Cake

(from gluten free for dummies by dana korn)

Cake:

1/4 cup canola oil

2 eggs, beaten

1/2 cup milk

1 1/2 gluten-free flour (i used Bobs red mill)

1 1/2 tsp Xanthan gum

1 cup sugar

1 tsp baking powder

nonstick spray

topping:

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 tbsp gluten-free flour

2 tsp cinnamon

3 tbsp melted butter

1) preheat oven to 375

2) in large bowl combine oil, eggs and milk

3) sift in the flour, xanthan gum, sugar and baking powder (never sifted mine mixed it up and tossed it in)

4) Spray 9inch square pan and add cake mixture.

5) in a small bowl combine the topping indredients and sprinkle over top of cake batter

6) Bake for 25 minutes use toothpick inserted in center to check for doneness.

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.....and I take all my ingredients (even the flour) right out of the fridge....

Your a rogue baker, a real rebel! ^_^

best regards, lm

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I'm so new at this I hesitate to offer an "expertise" (cuz I don't have much!! :-) ), but I tried the Bob's Red Mill bread mix in my OLD (1993!!) Oster bread machine and it turned out good. Then the machine died, and I got a new Zojirushi one because I liked the idea of the regular horizontal shape bread shape it produces and it also has two kneading blades, AND it has programmability. Thus far I've only made one bread mix in it....the Pamela's one, and it's turned out wonderful, very much like "real" bread. We gobbled most of it down at dinner, while it was still warm (yum!), but the remainder of it I sliced up and put in a plastic bag, and it was great the next day. I used the medium brown crust setting...maybe I'll try dark to see how it turns out. The medium wasn't dark at all.

I also haven't done custom settings yet....I just did the basic white cycle which had a long kneading time and 3 risings, total of 3.5 hours start ot finish. Also, my particular machine has a preheat period which allows cold ingredients to slightly warm up before everything starts to mix. If your machine doesn't have that, I'm sure it would be good to make sure eggs/milk/yeast etc. are up to room temp before starting everything.

One thing....I read that you should add 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar to each loaf of bread....somehow it helps in the chemistry of things (and gives no vinegar taste or anything). I've done that both times, although I think it isn't in the Pamela's instructions.

The mixes are costly.....but so are the ingredients to make your own. Expecially the xanthan gum...I paid nearly $12 for an 8 oz bag (Bob's Red Mill). Presumably it would last quite awhile, though, since you don't add a lot in each recipe. I just went to the health food store and got the xanthan gum, asmall bag of guar gum ($5), a bag each of brown rice flour and white rice flour, plus tapioca flour, potato starch, and a couple of other mixes and I spent $30. I'm going to keep track of how many loaves I get from all this. And I hope the loaves turn out as good as the two mixes I've tried.

My family liked the Pamela's more than the Bob's mix....Bob's uses bean/fava flour and they thought they tasted that a lot (I didn't so much). Pamela's doesn't use the bean flours, so it tasted better to them. I guess I liked it better, too. I was just so happy to have such great bread again I wasn't paying a lot of attention to under-flavors. :lol:

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I wanted to add some additional ideas to rescue flops. It can make very good french toast. Have you ever made an egg casserole? Layer the buttered, sliced bread with shredded cheese and crumbled sausage/ground beef if you eat it. Whip up some eggs and water and pour this over the bread mixture. Bake in a 350 oven until it looks browned on top and bubbly. The mistakes are so dry they really hold up to this treatment. You can vary it the taste as well. Use Mexican cheese, green chiles and taco seasoned beef. Or, mozzarella, drained, diced tomatoes and chunked pepperoni. Kind of endless and a good way to use up bits and pieces.

Please don't be discouraged by the baking thing. You can do it, it just takes some getting used to. Explore alternate ways to eat--lettuce wraps and pancake wraps come to mind. You may find you are less inclined to eat the substitutes, especially if it takes a lot of effort.

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I agree with what others have said...

1. I've always had to adjust my oven temp. and the length of time that I cook gluten-free breads. We've just moved, and I'm still "playing" with this new oven.

2. You may want to buy an oven thermometer. They are cheap. Just hang it off the oven rack. This will tell you what temp. your oven is "really" cooking at.

3. Small loaves cook more evenly. Instead of a deep cake, make two shallow round cakes (and stack). The same goes for bread: try mini loaves or muffins a few times. It will raise your gluten-free self-esteem (or it did for me anyway); it was nice to have bread that tasted good! As you learn, your full loaves will improve.

4. Let the bread fully cool before you cut it or it will sometimes loose it's shape (i.e. "deflate").

5. Adding 1-2 teaspoons of clear geletin (in the Jello section) to your bread may help. Some cook book aurthors recommend sifting your flours before you measure them in order to make the breads lighter. However, I usually just use a whisk and whisk my flours before measuring...just to insure that the flours aren't packed down before I measure them.

6. I've had better results with homemade bread than anything I've made from a bag. My breads also seem to turn out better in the oven. However, plenty of people here use bread machines with great success; I'm just not one of them.

Hope some of my tips were useful. I've been right where you are...we all have. I still have days (or weeks) where my breads are a total flop!

Blessings. -Julie :)

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Thank you for the words of encouragement and good advice! I truly appreciate them. I am so grateful for this forum!

The Bob's Red Mills "wonderful homemade gluten free bread" out of garbanzo bean flour was edible-- I free formed it on a cookie sheet after snatching it from the bread machine just before "bake" kicked on. It was pretty wet dough (very sticky!). I covered with foil, but the bottom did almost burn and stuck to the teflon (the top half of the loaf was okay-- overbrowned, but edible nonetheless.) I warmed everthing and followed a lot of the advice above. I used melted butter instead of oil.

I will print your replies and keep them in the kitchen. The next attempt will be a scratch loaf made using gluten-free flours next, without using the oster. I will not give up-=- I simply can't.

:lol: Lisa

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