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Gluten-Free Bread Machine Tips

Gluten-free bread machine tips
Warm, gluten-free bread with sorghum flour, just baked.

Need to troubleshoot a gluten-free bread machine disaster? Here's a few key tips on baking gluten-free bread in a bread machine.

Match your g-free bread recipe or gluten-free bread mix to your bread machine (pan sizes vary). Are you baking a 1.5 pound loaf? Or a 2-pound loaf? Check manufacturer's instructions for loaf sizing. Often, "short" loaves are the result of not enough dough for the size of the pan.

Use a good recipe. Or a tasty gluten-free bread mix with superior ingredients (sorghum flour, brown rice flour, almond flour, millet, to name a few). Not all recipes and mixes are created equal. A bread based on white rice flour and potato starch is never going to be amazing. Honestly. Remember that starches are dirt cheap for manufacturers (hence their popularity). But they're also devoid of nutrition, texture and flavor. So choose wisely. Because the cheap stuff still sports a hefty price tag (the gluten-free market is booming, after all). So why not go for the higher protein, more flavorful gluten-free flours?

More tips:

Use room temperature ingredients. Cold ingredients inhibit the yeast, and shorten the rise. Warm up cold eggs briefly in a bowl of hot water.

Follow instructions for the ingredient sequence, adding dry and liquid ingredients to the bread pan in the order recommended by the manufacturer. Some machines need the liquid added first, some require the dry ingredients first.

For best results, whisk together all the dry ingredients before adding them to the bread machine.

I always add slightly less liquid to the machine at first. During mixing, I check the consistency of the dough to see how wet it is. I add more warm water only if it needs it. Weather (especially humidity) affects flours. Flours can get dampish- and if so, you'll need a tablespoon or two less liquid.

Even though you are using an "automatic" machine, sometimes machines need a little help. Check the pan during the mixing cycle and using a soft spatula, scrape down the sides of the bowl to incorporate stray flour, if you need to.

Some cooks like to remove the paddle before the bread bakes. To do this, reach in after the mixing cycle stops (right before the rise cycle) and remove the paddle. Smooth over the disturbed dough with wet fingers. Note- this may make your loaf shorter. I don't think gluten-free dough enjoys being disturbed (I've had better luck with the rise leaving the paddle in).

Once the loaf is baked- remove the loaf from the pan as SOON AS possible. The longer gluten-free bread sits in a bread machine, the soggier it gets. It steams.

If your loaf feels soft or under-done in the center, gently remove it from the pan and place it directly on the center rack. Bake it at 350 degrees F for another 5 to 10 minutes, until it firms up. This will also give it a pleasing, crustier crust.

If the loaf sinks, it may indicate a wet dough. Use less liquid next time.

For me, the dough works best when it resembles a thick muffin batter.

Vegan or egg-free? Please note that egg-free gluten-free loaves do not rise very high in bread machines. The loaf will usually be denser, and shorter.

If your bread machine does not have a gluten-free cycle, try using a rapid cycle with a single rise. Gluten-free breads don't require two rises. (Although, having said that, I once baked a killer gluten-free loaf with a two-rise cycle, by mistake. Go figure.)

Here is an excellent bread machine with a gluten-free cycle- Cuisinart CBK-100 Programmable Breadmaker

All things told, after years of using a bread machine, I now use my oven more than my bread machine. I use a glazed ceramic loaf pan, and bake bread in a 350 degree F oven. Works beautifully.

Here's the exact loaf pan I use to bake bread: Good Cook 9-Inch Ceramic Loaf Dish

Gluten-free bread baking is an art, not a science. Weather, moods, oven differences, and mischievous fairies can all wreak havoc, even with the best recipe.

If your gluten-free bread flops, don't beat yourself up. Keep a light heart. Make breadcrumbs.

Try again tomorrow.

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