What should you do on a slightly hungover Sunday? What else but put two market-leading gluten free breads head to head in a taste-off!
I was lucky at the Allergy & Free From show to sample two new breads – those by Fria, and the new recipe Genius bread. Since then I have taken some home and have been truly amazed at the quality of these two products, force feeding them to the beleaguered husband with cries of “OMG you have to try this!” – so rather than bore you with a raft of ecstatic bacon sandwich pictures (I swore I’d never be the type to tweet my breakfast), I decided to make the two white loaves compete for my affections!
Round 1 – Buying the Bread
Convenience of finding a gluten free loaf is important – and as the imported brand, Fria suffers here as it has not yet fully launched in the UK. My loaf was from a small, friendly Swedish grocer in West London which I tracked down on the interweb. Whilst this was good fun (and I found lots of other exciting products to try!) for most of us this won’t be possible. Until the ongoing Twitter campaign for Ocado to stock Fria bears fruit – Genius wins on the convenience stakes, as I can find it in all of my major local supermarkets.
Genius wins this round on price too, by a hair – Genius retails at £2.90 a loaf (Ocado), wheras imported Fria for £3.25.
Fria picks up some points for being a frozen product – I generally freeze all of my loaves anyway, so this is a great way to keep the bread fresher; and presumably cut down on preservatives.
Round 2 – Admiring the Bread
Ogling my slices from every angle reveals two lovely but different specimens. The Genius Loaf has a finely bubbled bouncy texture, and a nicely browned dusted floury crust. The Fria loaf is a richer, yellowy colour with a golden crust that has my mouth watering whilst imagining melted butter. Both have a good loaf-shape (unlike my home-baked attempts). To pick the two apart, out comes the tape measure!
Now, size isn’t everything, but those Fria slices sure are diddy! The Genius loaf is the first gluten free-bread which has (almost) proper sized slices, which makes it much more versatile and sandwich-worthy. Well done Genius.
Round 3: Scoffing the Bread
This is a close-run round. Both breads are superb, and I even involved my control-taster (aka GEH – gluten-eating husband) said they were excellent breads in their own right. They are the first I have had that I happily eat as a snack with just a smear of butter and nothing else.
The Genius loaf is very similar to most ‘normal’ white sandwich breads; it’s 99% there in the normal stakes with a fine, moist texture and a slight sweetness. Joyfully when you squidge it with a finger, it squashes rather than crumbles in a way that evokes feeding more to myself than the ducks c.1987. It makes a mean bacon sandwich, and I can’t wait to wrap it round some fish fingers.
Fria, on the other hand tastes slightly more moist and fresh, and is indistinguishable from a proper fluffy bakers bloomer. Thrillingly, it has a real crusty crust, even after defrosting in the microwave. This is begging to be dunked in a hot bowl of soup with melty butter.
Winner: Fria (just – I’m a sucker for a crust)
Round 4: Guiltily Reading the Label of the Bread
By now I have eaten quite a lot of bread and butter, so my thoughts turn to my health. I was pleased to read that the new Genius recipe has reduced calories & sugars, so checked out the labels. Not much in it per 100g, but the Fria brand has slightly less calories, sugars and fats; whereas Genius packs in more fibre – which we coeliacs often lack. It’s worth noting that the Fria bread contains wheat starch, which is fine for me, but not for those on a wheat-free diet. Another close-run round; but Fria wins by a hair.
Overall Winner: It’s a draw!
I will be keeping both in my freezer from now on – it’s so exciting to find such a raised (hur hur) bar in the bread stakes!