We've had a few successes with bread recently. This weekend, we made a loaf of sandwich bread using Pamela's Amazing Wheat-Free Bread mix in our breadmaker. The bread really lived up to its name -- it bakes up as a golden colored, pliable loaf, that is reminiscent in taste of packaged wheat sandwich bread. It was less crumbly than other breads we have tried. As with many breads (with and without gluten) it was at its peak the first day and the day after. On the first day, we were able to fold over a slice to make a peanut butter sandwich -- this doesn't sound like an accomplishment unless you have spent time with gluten-free bread. It remained fresh sitting out on our counter in a zip lock bag from at least Saturday until Monday -- as of Monday, it was gone because the gluten eaters in our home were using it too. Right now, you can order the mix from Amazon at a great price, 6 for about $20.
Tonight we tried "artisanal style" gluten-free bread. Some time ago, there was an article in the NY Times food section about a new way of baking bread which requires a long rise time. Home bakers in the gluten-free community started experimenting with this as well -- check out the posts on the Delphi forum, for different variations. What most recipes have in common is that you let the bread rise for a long time, 12 hours or more, and you bake it in the oven at a high temperature, using a pre-heated Dutch oven or covered pyrex dish. The result if a nice, crusty loaf -- usually. My first effort (which was not based on a Delphi forum recipe) was an unmitigated disaster -- dry and acrid. My family made polite noises of appreciation, but when I tasted it myself I let everyone off the hook and chucked it all out. Tonight's effort was much better. I modified Misha's recipe from the Delphi forum, http://forums.delphiforums.com/celiac/messages?msg=57977.4, with some additional modifications.
"Artisanal Style GLuten-Free Bread"
1/2 cup sorghum flour
1 1/2 cups Annalise Roberts brown rice flour mix (1 cup finely ground brown rice flour, 1/3 cup potato starch, 1/6 cup tapioca flour)
1 1/4 tsp. xanthum gum
1 tsp. salt
4 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. yeast
2 tsp. olive oil
1 cup lukewarm water
Mix flours and dry ingredients in a mixer (or by hand). Combine water (I had microwaved it for about 30 seconds) and olive oil, and add to the dry ingredients. Mix for about 3 minutes. Dough should look like thick cake batter. Smooth dough together with a spatula to form a loose shaped ball. Spray top with oil, cover with plastic wrap and a towel, and let rise. I let it rise for about 9 hours (it can be longer than that too).
Approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes before you want to serve the bread, put a covered pyrex dish (I used 2.5 quart) or cast iron dutch oven in the oven, and set the oven to 450 degrees. Allow the pan to heat for about 30 minutes. Remove the pan from the oven very carefully -- it's really hot. Transfer the dough to the pan (I didn't grease the pan tonight, although I will probably try that next time because it stuck.) Bake covered for 20 minutes, and uncovered for about 20 minutes, although start checking earlier to prevent the bread from browning too much.
This makes a fairly small, crusty loaf but it can be doubled. Feel free to experiment with different combinations of flours. Also, the rising time isn't precise -- you can bake it earlier or later. I mixed up the dough before leaving for work, so we could bake it for dinner; some people mix it up that night before they want to bake it, and allow the bread to rise for close to 16 hours.
(Note -- we just made the artisanal style bread again tonight, Thurs., and it was delicious once again. I used a somewhat different flour mixture, based on Annalise Roberts bread mix suggestion -- 1/2 cup millet flour, 1/2 cup sorghum flour, 1/3 cup cornstarch, 1/3 cup potato starch, 1/3 cup tapioca flour. The batter seemed a bit gloppier, but it still rose. I sprayed the pan with olive oil before putting the bread in, and it didn't stick. Yeah!)