When I was initially diagnosed with coeliac disease, the lovely chap who is now my Gluten Eating Husband rushed out to buy me a shiny bread machine with a gluten free setting. What a keeper! Since then I have experimented with many recipes, flours and mixes; but never quite hit upon the perfect one- so I thought it was high time to pit some of the widely available machine-mixes against each other to find out which produces the best gluten free white loaf. We used the following 5 criteria to judge the mixes:
- Is the mix idiot ‘proof’? Quality of instructions, need for additional ingredients
- What is the size of the rise? Time for the tape measure!
- Does is make a nice slice?
- Nom-ability? Flavour, texture
- Last-ability? Most bread machine loaves are best eaten on the day made, but as the only coeliac in the household, extra longevity is a bonus
Bonus points were also awarded for suitability for other diets e.g. egg, soya or yeast free. Contenders, ready!
Glebe Farm Gluten Free White Bread & Pizza Mix
Some guesswork required here as it says ‘yeast free’ and ‘egg free’ on the packaging, but then directs you to add yeast and eggs! So whilst this was the cheapest mix, it required more additional ingredients than the others. Perhaps my yeast was not the right amount or my ‘warm’ water was not the right temperature as this loaf barely produced a rise. This was a tightly textured but soft bread with a nice firm crust. It wasn’t crumbly, sliced thinly, and had good round rich flavour- somewhat brioche like – so delicious as a snack with jam.
Overall score: 5/10. Bonus points awarded for stating soya and dairy free.
Delicious Alchemy White Bread Mix
I waited on tenterhooks for this loaf, as the uneven dough in the machine rose into a thing of beauty, with by far the best loaf size of our contest. The Delicious Alchemy loaf was fluffy & soft with a thin but crusty crust. It had a surface a bit like a moon landing, but was fairly easy to slice thinly and was slightly squeaky – the result of psyllium husk. On the first day this was one of the best wheat-free white loaves I have tried, however by day 2 – disaster! I barely touched it before it went ‘poof!’ into a pile of crumbs. All was not lost, as it made a marvelous treacle tart, but this is definitely one to eat on the day of baking.
Overall score: 6.5/10. A bonus point was awarded for stating ‘dairy free’ on the packaging. Not suitable for egg, soya or nut allergies.
Helen’s Brilliant Bread Mix
The Helen’s mix is obviously one that has been made with bread machines in mind, with very clear instructions on the packaging which I found myself referring to for all of the other bakes! The rise, however, was a little disappointing. The resulting loaf sliced thinly and looked slightly mottled, more like a half-and-half loaf than a white loaf. It had a moist even texture and a slightly yeasty taste. It was best eaten on the day of baking, but made pretty good toast on day 2.
Overall score: 7/10 No bonus points were awarded as the loaf contained egg, soya and whilst there were no milk ingredients, it was stated not suitable for dairy allergies
Orgran Easy Bake Bread Mix
£2.60 from Goodness Direct, or available on prescription
You can always rely on Orgran to product a pretty decent product with very few allergens, however this means that there are multiple different ways to make this bread depending on whether you are able to add milk and eggs. I ended up emailing the company to get bread machine instructions – so not terribly user friendly! I opted to make the loaf with egg, but without milk (using water instead). This bread was perhaps the most ‘cakey’ of the bunch, but it had an impressive texture and size considering the lack of yeast, good flavour, and was still going strong a few days after baking.
Overall score: 6/10 Also free from egg, yeast and dairy. (Although we made the egg-containing option)
…and the overall winner
£2.00 from Tesco
Another one that required you to add your own yeast! Despite some early clumping of the sticky dough around the mixer, this mix produced an evenly risen loaf. It had a softer, chewier crust than the others, with a good bouncy, squeezable texture. It was a little bland, so would be best for sandwiches or topped. This was the best loaf on day 2, and made lovely toast. This often-overlooked brand is usually tucked away on the Tesco shelves, but scored well in all rounds, making this our best overall loaf.
Overall score: 7/10 Bonus point for containing no egg ingredients.
Notes: All mixes tried used these criteria:
- All mixes have to be widely commercially available
- All mixes do not contain dairy ingredients (as I am currently following a dairy-free diet)
- All mixes are wheat as well as gluten free (as codex wheat starch produces a vastly different result from my experience)
- All mixes were made to the manufacturers instructions using my Kenwood bread machine