Bread, and particularly sandwich bread, is a staple food because it makes a meal so easy. Just throw on some peanut butter and jelly, or ham and cheese and you’ve got what most of us would call a meal.
Losing the bread that we love is the hardest part of going gluten free and staying gluten free. Because of that, the next several emails in the course will cover topics relating to gluten free bread.
Should I Bake My Bread Or Buy It?
Thankfully, we now have many options for procuring good gluten free bread. You can buy gluten free bread at the grocery store, or bake it at home using a mix or your favorite recipe. The best option for you will depend on how much time you have, how much money you’re willing to spend, and how picky you are about your bread.
The Cost of Gluten Free Bread
If you’ve looked at the price of gluten free bread and flours, you’ve already had the experience of a near heart attack. Yes, it is expensive! And, it’s expensive because it takes a lot of extra work on the farmers and manufacturers part to make sure that the flour, dough, and bread stay gluten free until they get to your home. So, just accept that you’re never going to buy a $1 loaf of bread again.
That being said, there are ways to make gluten free bread less dear. Store-bought bread is generally the most expensive, but you can sometimes find coupons for it in the store or online that make the price more manageable.
Gluten free bread mixes are pricey as well, but they are often more widely available in stores than pre-baked breads and individual gluten free flours.
Most of the time, homemade gluten free bread will win the cost competition. I just calculated the per loaf cost of my Finally, Really Good Gluten Free Sandwich Bread recipe and it came out to $3.01 per loaf, and that’s for a pretty large loaf of sandwich bread. (I don’t have a loaf handy, but I think it weighs around 24 oz. after it’s baked). In comparison, a 12 oz. loaf of Udi’s gluten free bread (which is one of the best pre-baked loaves) costs about $5.85.
Finding Good Gluten Free Bread
If you’ve tried gluten free bread and thought it was horrible, let me start by saying that it’s not all horrible. I’ve eaten plenty of delicious gluten free bread since going gluten free. You just have to have a little patience and diligence to find it sometimes =)
The quality of storebought bread is improving (thank God!!). Udi’s and Rudi’s are our favorite brands and you can often find them in the freezer section of large chain grocery stores or health food stores. Whole Food’s gluten free bread is also good. Enjoy Life’s GF bread was dry and crumbly when we tried it this winter. Against the Grain Gourmet makes a mean gluten free baguette!
You can make an incredible variety of gluten free breads using mixes. There are so many GF bread mixes on the market right now, and they use a lot of different flours and recipes. You’ll really be amazed at the different tastes and textures that you can get in gluten free bread. Finding a bread mix that you love is simply an exercise in trying different mixes and seeing what you like.
The best gluten free bread that you will ever find though, is the gluten free bread that you make at home. (Homemade wheat bread was always better than the store bought loaves too, right?) Making gluten free bread at home is really not at all difficult once you have a good recipe and a little practice.
Finding the Time for Gluten Free Bread
Obviously it’s faster to buy a loaf of bread. Store-bought bread wins this one hands down. However using a packaged mix cuts down on the time to some extent. Baking bread at home takes the most time, but later in the course I’ll show you how to save time making GF bread at home if you’re using a recipe.
Finding the right gluten free bread option for you will be a balancing game. Once upon a time we only ate gluten free bread that I baked at home. Now that we’re traveling, we’ve been using more mixes. When we visit our families at the holidays, we often buy pre-baked gluten free bread at the grocery because it’s the most convenient option.
If you’re new to gluten free, don’t get discouraged. Based on what you’ve just read, figure out whether buying bread, baking from a mix, or baking bread from scratch makes the most sense for you. And then start small; try one bread and see if you like it. If you don’t, it’s not the end of the world. Find another option and try it.
If you’ve been gluten free for long time, then I want you to try something completely new this week. If you always bake your bread from scratch, try using a mix or buying a pre-baked loaf.
Why should you do this? Because there is still so much that we can all learn about gluten free baking. If you make great gluten free bread from scratch, try a mix that uses flours that you don’t normally use and see if you can pinpoint what differences that makes in the bread.
Try a few different store-bought loaves and study the ingredients. What does that recipe do differently than you normally do? Does it change you idea of what gluten free bread can be?
– Mary Frances