Soft Sandwich Bread, Gluten-Free

by Jeanne on April 22, 2010

Please take a moment to read the recipe fully before you make it.  BEFORE YOU ASK A QUESTION IN THE COMMENTS, READ Troubleshooting Baking ProblemsESPECIALLY IF YOU: made any (I mean any) ingredient substitution; are baking at high altitude; don’t use xanthan gum; are using different pan.  Also, above is a photo of the bread.  This is how the bread should look if you use the recipe exactly as I have written it.

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Those of us in the gluten-free world always need good bread recipes.  I grew up in a pretty bread-centered household.  Since I wasn’t diagnosed with gluten intolerance until I was an adult, there was no reason not to eat bread.  And eat it we did.  Morning, noon, and night.  I shudder to think about what this was doing to my system.  I’m guessing many other gluten-free people would say the same.

Like many middle class kids growing up in the U.S. in the 70s, the most common type of bread we had in the house was white bread.  You know–the kind of bread that is so soft that you could squish a slice of it into a ball that is about the size of a ping-pong ball.  My siblings and I loved that bread.  I had it in the morning as toast, during the day in a sandwich, and in the afternoon slathered with butter for an after-school snack.  See?  I’m not kidding about the morning, noon, and night thing.

As an adult, my tastes in bread have expanded, and I love many types of bread–multigrain bread, baguetteshamburger buns, soft dinner rolls, you name it.  I love it all.  And I’ve been working on developing gluten-free versions of all of these things (see the links to each item).  But I have to admit, I still have a place in my heart (and on my taste buds) for that soft sandwich bread of my childhood.  I’m thrilled to announce that I have developed a recipe for gluten-free bread that is like it!  I have to say–this is really good bread.  It’s soft.  It’s squishy.  It’s tasty.  Girlfriend has declared this her favorite bread.  Whenever I make it, she insists on eating it with only butter–she says it’s too good to put jam on it.  This is high praise coming from my jam-loving daughter.  She even declined to put honey on it.  That’s how good it is.

One thing I really like about this bread is that it is really good eaten just plain.  When I say plain–I mean it.  I mean without toasting and without any spread.  Of course, I will never hesitate to put butter on something that even vaguely requires it, so I butter this, too.  But the thrilling thing is that you don’t NEED anything on this bread to make it yummy.  It just is. Hooray!

For info on how to do this bread in a bread machine, see my Bread Machine post.

For info on why I use xanthan gum versus guar gum or seeds for a gluten-replacer, see my Let’s Talk Gluten Replacers post.  Please read this post before leaving a comment or emailing me questions about substituting for xanthan gum.

For recommendations on how to substitute for ingredients, please see my post on Substitutions.

If you use an EGG SUBSTITUTE, chances are that your bread will RISE AND FALL a bit or will not rise as high as mine does. 

For info on and answers to questions about baking problems/questions (or problems/questions you anticipate having before even trying the recipe), please read my Troubleshooting Baking Problems post before leaving a comment or emailing me with questions.

I bake at sea level.  This means that I need extra “oomph” to get gluten-free breads to rise.  If you are baking at high altitude, I recommend that you experiment with reducing the amount of baking powder in the recipe (or eliminate it altogether) as well as reducing the rising time as you will probably need less time for the bread to rise.  Or no time.  You may want experiment with baking the bread directly after placing the dough in the pan.

If you don’t have a stand mixer: Use a hand mixer (don’t worry about the lack of the paddle attachment on a hand mixer).  If you don’t have a hand mixer, use a large, strong spoon and elbow grease.

As of 8/14: I will no longer answer questions about rising and falling of the bread.  I’ve answered those questions a million times in the comments.  If you are concerned about this, you need to read this post and go to the appropriate Baking Tips/Troubleshooting section for more info.  Also, look at the photo of the bread at the top of this post–this is what your bread should look like.  It probably won’t have a traditional high dome like wheat bread does.

Soft Sandwich Bread, Gluten-Free

Note (9/13): I’ve added extra instructions in response to various comments I’ve been getting.  Therefore, many of the issues folks have reported have been addressed and are fixed.

Ingredients
3 cups (420 g) Jeanne’s Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mix
2 tsp xanthan gum (this is in addition to the xanthan gum in the flour mix)
4 tsp baking powder (reduce or omit if baking at high altitude)
1 tsp salt
4 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 tablespoons active dry yeast (I like Red Star) or fast acting yeast (either is fine)
1 1/2 cups (355 ml) warm but not hot (about 110 degrees F) milk (or milk substitute, or water)
2 teaspoons vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)
1/4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
2 extra-large eggs (about 1/2 cup/120 ml, room temperature
extra olive oil and tapioca flour for the pan

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C/Gas Mark 5.  Oil and flour a 9 in by 5 in by 3 in loaf pan (standard US loaf pan).  I use a metal pan.

Place warm milk/water into a small bowl.  Whisk in 1 tablespoon of sugar until dissolved.  Whisk in yeast until dissolved.  Set aside to proof (get foamy and verify the yeast is working).

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, xanthan gum, baking powder, salt, and the remaing 3 tablespoons sugar.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place eggs, olive oil, and vinegar.  Beat for a few seconds to combine.  Add the yeast mixture.  Beat a few seconds more to combine.  Add the flour mixture.  Beat on medium high for 3 minutes.

Scrape mixture into your prepared loaf pan (it should be a thick batter) and smooth the top.  Place in a warm, draft-free spot to rise until about half again its size in bulk (not quite double)–about 30 to 40 minutes at sea level.  Basically, you want it to look a bit puffed up.  I usually do this on top of the stove while the oven is preheating–this allows the oven’s warmth to help the bread rise.  Watch it–don’t let it rise too much.  It should only rise to the top or a bit above the top of the pan.

Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes.  If the top of the bread is getting too brown, place a tent of foil over it.  Bake for another 10 minutes for a total of 30 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool in pan for 5 minutes.  Then carefully turn out onto rack to cool completely.

To store:

Store at room temperature (do not store in the fridge–that will cause it to go stale more quickly).  I store mine directly on the cutting board, cut side down.  If you need to store it longer than a couple of days, I would cut the loaf and then wrap it well in plastic wrap and then freeze.  That way you can remove individual slices without defrosting the whole loaf.

Enjoy!
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