One of the more frequent questions that I get from readers who are starting a gluten free diet is, “Which bread machine should I buy?” There are a ton of choices and it can be rather overwhelming to try to sort through the option. The cost of bread machine does not make the decision any easier.
I’ll make things easier for you though: You don’t have to have a bread machine! Knowing what I do now, if I were to have refurnish my kitchen, I wouldn’t buy a bread machine.
Because the most important thing in gluten free bread baking is getting the consistency of the dough right. In order to do that, I need to mix the dough well and be able to adjust the amount of liquids. I can do those things better when I mix the bread by hand.
Now, I could bake the bread in the oven or bread machine once I have it mixed (and I’ve done both many times). But why go to the extra expense?
If I were to refurnish my kitchen, here’s what I would buy. A good loaf pan, a good baking stone, a decent hand mixer, a baking thermometer, and an oven thermometer, and a digital scale. That’s all you need for baking delicious gluten free bread!
But I thought you had to have a bread machine!
If you’re still unsure, here are the pros and cons of using a bread machine to bake gluten free bread.
Pros of Bread Maker
- it’s less scary than baking bread in a loaf pan
- you turn it on and then it beeps when it’s done – no thinking
- you can program it to start baking at a certain time (if you don’t use milk or eggs in the recipe)
- bread machine pans are not as long as standard loaf pans, so the bread rises higher
- it doesn’t heat up your house in summer, like the oven does
Cons of Bread Maker
- you have less control over the entire process
- your bread will have a hold in the bottom from the blade
- bread machines are expensive
- it doesn’t warm up your house in winter, like the oven does
But I really want a bread machine!
If you’re deadset on buying a bread machine, here’s what you need to know. First off, don’t buy a used bread machine or take a hand-me-down from favorite aunt. You need a bread machine that has never seen a grain of wheat flour. (You might need to read that sentence again if it didn’t sink in totally.)
Here are the other features that I’d look for:
- A bake setting with only one rise since gluten free bread only needs to rise once
- Good mixing capabilities – gluten free bread dough is more like a batter and it needs to be thoroughly mixed for 3 – 4 minutes. The knead cycle on some bread machines just doesn’t get the job done.
- The ability to program a custom cycle would be awesome – that way you can control the length of the knead, rise, and bake times.
Alright, You’ve Convinced Me! What Should I Buy Instead?
Okay, here’s what the minimum equipment you need to bake gluten free bread, and to bake it well (I’ve linked to some Amazon search results for each suggestion):
- a set of mixing bowls (small, medium, and large)
- a hand mixer (it doesn’t have to be fancy)
- a 1.5 lb loaf pan (I like Chicago Metallic)
- a baking stone (at least 1/2” thick)
- a digital scale (for measuring ingredients accurately)
- an oven thermometer (to make sure the oven is the correct temperature)
- and a baking thermometer (to determine when the bread is done)
This is probably not the list of equipment that most bloggers would tell you that you need. But, if you want to have the highest probability of success, this is the equipment that will help you make the best gluten free bread!
There aren’t any assignments for this lesson. But, if you haven’t studied the bread ingredient lists from the last lesson, you need to get to work. The next couple of lessons are all about the ingredients that go into gluten free bread, with a special focus on bread that will work if you have multiple food intolerances.