Wednesday, June 1, 2011

My Best Gluten Free Oatmeal Bread Recipe

Loaf of Gluten-Free Oatmeal Bread Baked
My Best Gluten Free Oatmeal Bread

When I first went gluten free, I stuck to mostly simple whole foods like meats, poultry, fish, eggs, fruits, and vegetables. I took the advice of many on the Delphi forums and gave up dairy products for the first 6 months to give myself a good chance to heal. After a few weeks, in the middle of a diet break, I began wondering if it was possible to create anything gluten free that even closely resembled something made with wheat.

Most people on a low-carb diet use one-minute muffins made from ground flax seeds. They are bread-like and gluten free but nothing close to the real thing. Those who haven’t eaten wheat bread in a very long time rave about most low-carb imitations. Mostly made with pure wheat gluten, and therefore not gluten free, low-carb breads are spongy and have a funny off flavor. So I wasn’t too optimistic, since most low-carb creations that attempt to replicate high-carb foods fail miserably.

I found a similar phenomenon among the gluten-free crowd. At that time, I used a website called Recipe Zaar, which went through a transformation about a year or more ago. It no longer exists in its original form. Today, it can be found at Food.com, but I have a lot of issues attempting to navigate the site. Recipe Zaar had hundreds of gluten-free recipes that were posted by folks actually following a gluten-free diet, but the few I tried didn’t live up to their reputations.

I did experiment with a banana chocolate-chip bread recipe that crumbled, but tasted good, and in the process discovered Gluten Free Girl. Now Gluten Free Girl didn’t create the banana bread recipe I found, the gluten-free cookbook author Robyn Ryberg did, but GF Girl had tried it several times and offered her own suggestions for improving it. So I next went in search of her blog.

At her blog I found her best homemade bread to date (not what she uses today), tried it out a couple of times (once the way the recipe was written and once with the white-rice flour mix I was then using), and both attempts made passable bread. So I hauled out my wheat grinder which had never been used to grind wheat into flour (only dried corn and black soybeans) and went to work whipping up a couple of containers of both white and brown-rice flour.

That recipe was what I used for a long time. My in-laws whom I was living with back then shot off a couple of flea bombs inside our house about a year ago. Because of that, I lost all of my possessions, including my wheat grinder and everything else in my kitchen. I'm extremely allergic to pesticide residue, and we were not able to clean the mess the fog left behind. I was pretty much at the mercy of pre-made bread mixes.

Pre-made bread mixes are convenient but extremely expensive. I paid something like $6.99 on sale for the mix and another $5 to have it shipped. I didn’t realize I was going to pay so much, since Amazon had it listed as a 6-pack of mixes for $6.99, but that’s what it ended up being. I don’t remember what the name of the mix was, nor do I blame that company for the mistake Amazon made, but it was a popular brand. Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to its reputation. It rose well in the oven but completely fell, and it didn’t taste good either.

My experiments all went like that: one failure after another. We tried what we could get locally, flour mixes and bread mixes from Utah's Blue Chip Group, Now, and Bob’s Red Mill, because I wasn’t so sure that making my own flour mix was the cheapest way to go. But nothing worked in my recipes. I finally realized that it didn’t matter if it cost more to make up my own mix. That’s what I needed to do.

So I went to Vitacost online and spent hours looking through their gluten-free product offerings and found a good price on Arrowhead Mills’ organic brown-rice flour. I soon discovered it didn’t work quite like white-rice flour does. It takes more flour and more xanthan gum than white-rice flour. However, through trial and error I’ve been able to figure out the principles. Experimenting with my own combination turned out to be cheaper than those pre-made flour mixes since there was no way of knowing how much xanthan gum was in a pre-made blend.

It hasn’t been easy, but after several months of trying a variety of things, I’ve come up with a decent loaf of bread that turns out perfect every time. So far, it’s the only combination that works. Maybe that’s because of our altitude and level of humidity. I don’t know for sure, but even simple alterations like using cane sugar instead of the honey make a noticeable difference. We’ve eaten many sunken, twisted bread shapes over the past few weeks, but so far, this is my best gluten free oatmeal bread recipe yet.

Quick oats work the best, but the old fashioned variety works well too. Just make sure your oatmeal is certified to be gluten free since Quaker Oats and other major brands of oatmeal are highly contaminated with wheat.

*Please note that when I first created this recipe I wasn't dairy free, so the recipe does call for instant potato flakes. I don't know if there's a brand that doesn't contain dairy. If there is, could you pop me a comment down below and let me know which brand you used? Thanks! 

Best Gluten Free Oatmeal Bread

Ingredients:
  • 1/4 cup warm water
  • 1 tbsp instant yeast
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 cups brown rice flour mix
  • 1/4 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/4 cup instant potatoes (Idahoan)
  • 1/2 cup certified gluten free oats
  • 1 tbsp xanthan gum
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup warm almond milk
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 3 eggs
General Method:
  1. Place warm water in a small cereal bowl. Add sugar and yeast. Stir, and then set aside.
  2. In a medium-sized bowl, stir together brown-rice flour mix, sorghum flour, instant potatoes, gluten-free oatmeal, xanthan gum, and salt. Set aside.
  3. Grease an 8-1/2 x 4-1/2 inch bread pan with shortening or cooking spray. If using cooking spray, make sure you don’t use what’s called “baking” spray. Baking spray has wheat flour in it and is not gluten free. Set the pan aside.
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine warm almond milk, oil, honey, and eggs. Whisk until well blended. Stir in yeast mixture until well combined. Add flour mixture.
  5. With an electric mixer fixed with dough hooks, beat the batter for a good 3 minutes on medium speed. 
Most recipes will tell you it should look like cake batter, but if you live at high altitude like me (we’re at 5,800 feet), that much liquid will make your bread either fall flat or cave in on the sides and bottom when you take it out of the oven. If you live at a lower altitude, you may find the bread too dry. You might need to add additional milk. The following picture is about the consistency it should be for it to work well. The dough should be softer than a typical wheat bread dough but thicker than cake batter:

What Gluten Free Bread Dough Should Look Like
After beating for about 3 minutes, scoop the dough into the prepared loaf pan. Gluten-free bread dough only raises once, so don't allow it to raise in the bowl first. Squish the dough down slightly with a spoon (to eliminate any holes) while leveling off the top of the loaf. Make it as flat as you can. While wheat dough will fill in spaces, gluten-free bread dough won’t. Make sure it completely fills the pan evenly or it will come out a bit lopsided like mine did.

Loosely lay a piece of plastic wrap over the top and allow it to rise in a warm environment for about 1 hour, sometimes less. You don’t want it to rise any higher than a little bit over the top of the pan like the following picture:

How High to Let Gluten Free Bread Dough Rise
When the dough reaches the top of the pan, I start preheating the oven to 350 degrees. When the oven is ready, the dough has generally risen enough. Since I’m allergic to natural gas, I use a countertop oven that doesn’t cook quite as hot as a regular oven. If you’re using a gas oven with a glass pan, you’ll want the heat a little bit lower, about 325. If you have a metal pan, you can use 350. 

After allowing the oven to preheat, pop the bread into the oven and bake for around 40 to 45 minutes. We like our bread a tiny bit underdone so it stays softer. So I use the 40 minutes mostly. When I’ve cooked it for 45 minutes, I didn’t like the texture as well.

Allow the bread to sit inside the loaf pan for about 5 or 10 minutes before turning it out onto a rack. It will cool best laying on its side. You can cut this bread the same day, but allow it to cool for a couple of hours first. Generally, we have nice soft homemade bread for dinner on the day I make it, or nice soft sandwiches for lunch, because after that – like almost all gluten free breads – it needs to be toasted.

I haven’t tried freezing the bread yet. Maybe that would keep it soft, to wrap the individual slices well and then thaw them as needed. We don’t mind sandwiches made with toasted bread, but since my next major project will be to turn this recipe into a good hamburger bun, that’s probably what I’ll have to try.

Additional Posts You Might Like:

Gluten-Free Hamburger Buns

How to Make Homemade Jam Without Pectin

Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Cornbread

3 comments:

  1. Greetings from Scotland! I enjoyed reading your articles.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This looks great, looking forward to trying it. Thanks for sharing it.

    Michelle

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  3. Thank you for the recipe-with no strings attached-for GF oatmeal bread!
    The Lord loves a cheerful giver and I am thankful that you 'gave' the recipe cheerfully. On my second try, I got a loaf that didn't collapse, adding probably 1/4 c. of my standard 6-2-1 all purpose flour mix and no potatoes. I like the idea of Oatmeal and wonder about using some Oat bran, as well.

    ReplyDelete