Lately I have been thinking a lot about bread. Several of my colleagues greatly enjoy quality bread, and their enthusiasm for the qualities of “the loaf” have rekindled my own passion for it.
As a child, my mother would make a loaf in her bread machine each week. We bought flour by the 25-pound bag at Sam’s Club or Costco, and learned early on that the “thump thump thump” sound during the mix cycle meant the dough was too dry. It was an exciting moment to be the one who heard the high-pitched beep of the machine, signaling that the bread was ready to be removed (and eaten).
Our machine had an up-and-down vertical pan, rather than the long or horizontal one, so there was only one piece of bread with a fluffy crown (and only one heel piece). I tried to eat this piece as soon as the bread was done, and can still remember the anticipation of waiting for a fresh hot loaf.
This bread was also what my school lunch sandwiches were made on, and my fresh-loaf enthusiasm did not translate to the school cafeteria. At the time, I looked longingly at the thin slices of bread that had uniform tiny air bubbles. By comparison, my bread slices were huge, unwieldy, and uncool. Packaged and individually-wrapped were definitely the trendy way to eat.
Now, I cringe thinking about the foods I wanted to bring with me. I wanted dunk-a-roos, every flavor of cheeto, single slices of american cheese, zebra cakes, and bread that would last until the world ended. Some of those foods still hold nostalgic places in my heart (really, just the zebra cakes) even if my taste buds question my choices when I try and eat the food.
I realize, (and if you are reading this, mom, screenshot the page) that my mother was right. I will restate, just to give all of the teenagers’ mothers of the world an additional shot of righteous satisfaction, my mom was right.
The bread I ate was simply better. My bread was fresh, and tasted amazing. It spoiled, which meant that there were no preservatives which would hang out in my body for the next eternity. The ingredients came in ginormous bags, creating less packaging waste (and as an added bonus, we used reuseable containers!). And, the weekly ritual of waiting for the machine to spit out a steaming loaf of bready goodness taught me valuable lessons about my food. Food is made of ingredients! The ingredients are combined with some level of skill and knowledge to make more complex foods! And sometimes, the best foods in life are the ones you need to work and wait a little for.
This brings me to today. Now, I have my own bread machine. There are more fancy functions, and the pan is a standard bread pan, so I don’t have the fluffy crown piece to eagerly await with each loaf, but the joy of bread is the same. Only now, I also want to make sure I have a dependable, allergy-friendly recipe that is just as easy as the one from my childhood. Some simple pleasures never get old.
After some experimentation, I realized that my go-to gluten and corn-free flour (from Trader Joe’s) functions really well in one of the basic recipes provided in the manual to my bread maker. (Though as a note of caution, during the knead cycle, I needed to add water. Watch your dough to make sure it has enough liquid! The dough will actually look too watery, when it is just right). Also, the beautiful crown that rises over the top of the pan seems to be the mythical unicorn of gluten and corn-free bread machine bread. Occasionally I will get a picture perfect loaf, but more often than not I don’t. If it tastes good and looks recognizable, I am happy, but know it might look different than a “regular” loaf of bread
- 1 ⅔ cups water + extra
- 4 ¼ gluten free flour (I used the Trader Joe’s mix)
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 tablespoons mild flavored olive oil
- 2 ½ teaspoons active dry yeast
- Assemble the blades in your bread machine pan, making sure they are firmly seated (if they come apart).
- Put all of the wet ingredients into the pan first. This will prevent the yeast from being fully activated too soon!
- Add the flour on top of the wet ingredients, spreading so that the water is fully covered. With the last quarter cup of flour, create a volcano shape on top of the other flour, including a small indent in the top.
- Place the yeast into the volcano hole.
- Program the bread machine for the gluten free loaf option, and a medium crust.
- During the knead cycle, check the dough. The dough should look a little too wet, not quite fully cohesive. This is okay for gluten free bread. If it isn’t wet enough, add a tablespoon of water at a time, waiting for the water to incorporate before adding more. I suspect that different machines may contribute to different evaporation of water, so watch your loaf the first couple times you make it.
- Wait until the loaf is finished, let sit 15-20 minutes (gluten free baked good stick more than glutenous baked goods and need time to cool)
- Slice and enjoy!