I have a feature on the fan page on Wednesdays called What Can I Do For You Wednesday. Folks can ask questions, and I answer them. I have decided to move non time-sensitive questions (help! My cake is overflowing the pan! What should I do?!) over to the blog so that more folks can get the benefit from the answers.
If you have a question you’d like me to address in an upcoming What Can I Do for You Wednesday post, please fill out this short questionnaire.
And here we go.
Can I Convert Bread Machine Recipes to Gluten-Free Recipes?
Debbie’s aunt wants to know if converting bread machine recipes to gluten-free recipes is possible and if so, is it easy.
I do not do gluten free baking, but I wanted to try to find an answer, so I turned to my go-to gluten-free baking experts.
Janice Mansfield is the chef/owner of Real Food Made Easy in Victoria, BC. You can find her facebook page here. Janice specializes in gluten free everything, and I am always amazed at the breads, pie crusts and cakes she turns out. Among other things, Janice works out of a completely gluten-free kitchen and provides personal chef and catering services to her very fortunate gluten-free clients. I have “seen” her cupboards in a Google+ hangout on air, and I can attest to the fact that she owns every flour known to mankind!
Debra Smith is one of the two voices and talents behind SmithBites, a food blog based in Indiana. She has been gluten-free for medical reasons for three years and is learning all the time how to adapt her old favorites to fit in her new way of eating. Her sister also has both Celiac disease and Crohn’s disease, so the need to provide truly delicious, nourishing gluten-free food is of utmost importance.
To any of you who have recently been diagnosed with Celiac disease or with gluten allergies/intolerance and are feeling sad, Debra says that she has become a better cook and baker since she was diagnosed and that she has never felt deprived by being gluten-free.
Jeanne Sauvage is based in Seattle, and her blog, Art of Gluten-Free Baking is on the Celiac Disease Resource Center‘s list of approved websites. Aside from being approachable and knowledgeable, she is also the author of Gluten-Free Baking for the Holidays and the upcoming Gluten-Free Wish List: Sweet and Savory Treats You’ve Missed the Most(September, 2015).
I’m turning over the rest of this post to them and printing the discussion we had on facebook when I asked for help with this question. I hope that Debbie and her aunt find it helpful and that it can help other folks too who also want to know about converting bread machine recipes to gluten-free recipes. I’ve only made minor changes to capitalization and such. Otherwise, these responses are in the experts’ own words.
Janice: the short answer is no. GF bread doughs that will do well in a bread machine are quite slack (like a thick cake batter), with completely different hydration rates than a wheat-based dough. You don’t need to knead, but you do need to mix well to 1) fully hydrate and activate the xanthan gum if you’re using it (as well as any other binders) and 2) get a nice smooth consistency and begin to hydrate the starches and 3) introduce air. Even if you could convert the recipe, it will taste quite different than the original wheat-based recipe, as GF grains each have quite distinctive tastes – I combine flours based on both the protein levels I’m after as well as the flavour profile (e.g. teff works well in mock-ryes)
Most newer bread machines have a GF bread setting on them – it bypasses the 2nd rise. You also need to scale up the recipe as most of the pans are larger.
What kind of bread is this person trying to make? There are good recipes out there, as well as a few decent mixes if they don’t have a lot of baking experience.
[Converting a bread recipe to gluten free is] not overly difficult, but there are a few things to keep in mind. GF Jules did up a post outlining some of the major things a little while back: Tips for Making Better Gluten-Free Bread (my note: excellent primer)
Jeanne: If it’s of any help, I have instructions for how to do a couple of my loaf breads in my bread machine with tips (from me and my readers) on how to adapt those techniques to other machines: Bread Machines and My Loaf Bread Recipes (my note: yes, it is very helpful)
Debra: (in response to mention of gf mixes) I’ve not been impressed w/the mixes for flavor – they can perform well but the flavor is lacking and as (Janice) said, by day 2, pretty awful. It’s also why I prefer to do my own blends based on the flavor profile I’m trying to achieve. Having said that, I do get questions from people who want to bake something for their GF friend or family member – in which case I’ll recommend King Arthur or Cup-4-cup mixes.
And there you have it. What starts as a pretty clear “no” works its way around to the exceptions to the no. That’s the way my brain works, too, because rarely is there a cut and dried answer to baking questions. Glean all the information you can from this post if you are gluten-free or cook/bake for someone who is. Here are my takeaways:
- Gluten-free bread dough is more of a batter than a dough.
- There is no need to knead since there is no gluten to develop, but the mix of flours and gums needs to fully hydrate so complete and thorough mixing is crucial.
- There are a ton of gluten-free flours out there, and a mix of several to many might be what you need to get the flavor you are looking for.
- Most newer bread machines have a gluten-free setting (That is so cool to know!)
- Read the blog posts linked in the discussion. They will help you.
- King Arthur gluten-free mixes and Cup-4-Cup (formulated by one of Thomas Keller’s pastry chefs) will work just fine for someone who doesn’t want to get into blending their own flours.
Thank you so much to my buddies Janice, Debra and Jeanne for taking the time to help me out. You guys are the best!
I hope you’ve found this short discussion helpful, and if you have a lot of gluten-free questions, please go straight to one of these ladies. You can find them on twitter here or reach them on their blogs, linked above:
I put you in their hands not because I don’t want to help you, but because you don’t need me as your middleman. Debra, Jeanne and Janice are experts and more than happy to help!
Thanks again. Have a lovely day.