6.06.2012

{ratio rally} sandwich bread


I need to get something off my chest.

I'm getting tired of rustic, artisan bread.

That feels like a really bad thing to say. As if, by saying it, I'm also implying that I'd like to throw out all the artisan cheese, and the small-batch organic fruit preserves, the heritage pork, the farmer's market bounty, and everything else the current food revolution has brought our way.

No. Obviously not. I love all of it, and the whole truth is that I'm not actually done with gluten-free artisan bread, just finding myself needing more. More flexibility. More versatility.

More everydayness.

You see, I love the hearty, rustic breads I've learned to make over the past couple of years. I love the yeasty, nutty smell they exhale into my kitchen while baking, the chewy toothsome texture, the feeling that I'm being good to my body by feeding it all those different whole grains. Slices of them toasted and slathered with butter, nudging my morning eggs away from the center of the plate, are perfect. Alongside (and dunked into) a bowl of steaming, thick soup, they're comforting. And they make great cheese toast.

But sometimes, when I decide to give up some pride and be honest with myself, I'll admit that I don't really like those breads for sandwiches. Or French toast. They're useless for bread pudding, and they don't make good croutons. Versatile they are not.

But, stubborn one that I am, I resisted taking the next step and actually doing something about it, so loyal was I to artisan crusty boule.


It took the challenge of the Gluten-Free Ratio Rally to give me the kick in the pants I needed to finally admit that sandwich bread — soft, bendy, mild-flavored, adaptable sandwich bread — was urgently required.

If you had asked me before I starting working on this bread recipe what my top priority for it was, I'm sure I'd have said flavor. And that's still important to me. But now, having the benefit of the final loaf in front of me, and the memory of so many loaves of long-ago-consumed gluten-full sandwich bread behind me, I can definitively say that I am most excited and impressed by its springiness and bendiness. Truly, I was amazed when I held the first slice in my hand. Kalen was so impressed, he couldn't stop playing with it.


This bread can be folded. It can be twisted. It can be sort of scrunched in your fist, which you might find yourself doing unthinkingly when your children energetically launch into their 708th fight of the day. And then it boings back to its original shape.

Writing it out like that, it almost sounds too weird. Like it's rubber bread, and might bounce off your plate. I assure you, it's not rubbery. Or tacky or gummy or sticky. The interior is dry, with a nice crumb, not at all dense or coarse. The crust is firm and crisp, just enough to provide a good contrast to the loaf's tender insides. (It doesn't come close to the crust on that epic crusty boule from my childhood, the one so hard it knocked a not-yet-loose-tooth out of my mouth and flung it across my grandparent's kitchen, pinging it off the refrigerator before I had time to realize what was going on.) And it happens to taste really good, like a faintly sweet honey-oat bread.


The fact that it compresses gently when you take a bite of it, then springs back up, reinflating itself, should just be the icing on the cake.

Except that, in the often-frustrating realm of gluten-free sandwich bread, it suddenly seems like the most important thing in the world. The novelty will wear off eventually, I imagine. But until then, you can find me reveling in soft, untoasted sandwiches, tender, eggy French toast, and, especially, plain ol' bread and butter.


Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread
Yields one standard 8½ x 4½ inch loaf

I am so grateful to this month's host, Karen, of Cooking Gluten-Free, who challenged us Rally-ers to come up with our best versions of gluten-free bread. I know I wouldn't have made time in recent weeks for bread experimentation without her motivation! There is a great group of bloggers participating in the Rally this month, so be sure to check out the links to all the other entries that Karen has posted on her site!

This recipe makes such a lovely loaf of sandwich bread, I know that I'll probably be sticking to that for a while. However, I did try baking it as a boule, the dough shaped and risen on a piece of parchment, then put — parchment and all — directly onto a hot pizza stone in a 425ºF oven for 45-50 minutes. It was wonderful. Its adaptability is yet another reason I love this recipe!

The ratio for this recipe is approximately 4 parts flour:3½ parts liquid:1 part egg

100 grams tapioca starch
63 grams light buckwheat flour (I use this brand; darker buckwheat flour will yield a different result)
53 grams brown rice flour
40 grams certified gluten-free oat flour
1 packet (2¼ teaspoons) active dry yeast
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
½ teaspoon psyllium husk powder
110 grams whole milk, heated to 115º-120ºF
110 grams water, heated to 115º-120ºF
1 large egg, room temperature
2 tablespoons canola oil
2 tablespoons honey

Lightly grease an 8½ by 4½ by 2½ inch loaf pan and set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine all dry ingredients and mix on low until thoroughly blended.

Gently whisk together the remaining ingredients and, with the mixer running, slowly pour the wet into the dry ingredients. Mix on low until combined, then increase speed to medium and beat for one minute.

Scrape the dough into the prepared loaf pan, and use wet fingertips to smooth out the surface. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and let rise in a warm, draft-free spot for 2-2½ hours, or until the dough has risen to the top of the pan.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Remove the plastic wrap, and bake the bread for 55-65 minutes, or until the bread makes a hollow sound when you thump it on the bottom. (I took my loaf out of the bread pan for the final 15 minutes of baking, and set it directly on the pizza stone that lives in my oven, because I wanted a crispier crust. Leave the loaf in the pan if you prefer a softer crust.)

Cool bread completely on a wire rack before slicing into it. (This is the hardest thing in the world to do. I suggest you leave the house and go run errands. Or at least occupy yourself with a complex project with the kids!) Wrap airtight, and store at room temperature.

69 comments:

  1. Wow--I am indeed impressed with your results and so excited that someone else (with such talent)has invested time to help us all enjoy GF bread everyday!
    Karen

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    1. Thank you, Karen! I give all the credit to the psyllium husk powder - I love baking with that stuff!

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  2. Hmmm, I have not yet tried psyllium husk powder... must get me some. Then bake some of your bread! I love the spring!

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    1. It really does seem to do magic things to gf baked goods. Sometimes I forget to use it, and I almost always regret it!

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  3. Okay, I'm definitely going to look into psyllium husk powder. This is just too good of a bread recipe to ignore.

    Besides its amazing binding and Houdini qualities, are there any health benefits to p.h.p.?

    Thank you for sharing, Tara. I always love your entries.

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    1. Thank you, Morri! Psyllium is high in both soluble and insoluble fiber - it's actually the main ingredient in Metamucil! It's definitely a good-for-you addition to gf baking.

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  4. Springiness and bendiness in bread, I love it! Great job for this bread challenge. I'll have to hunt down some of that psyllium husk powder.

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    1. I get psyllium husk powder in the bulk section of my local natural foods store, though I'm sure you can also find it packaged. Just make sure you get unflavored psyllium, unless you're looking to add a citrus note to your baking! ;)

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  5. Hi, I commented on this on another post, but I'll say it again: it's easy to grind your own buckwheat flour from raw buckwheat (not kasha, which is toasted). I use my coffee grinder and get a nice light fluffy buckwheat flour. And it's fresh. And it's cheaper! Win win!

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    1. I've heard several people mention how much they enjoy freshly-ground buckwheat, and it's something I'm interested in trying. The buckwheat flour I use in this recipe, however, is from a very particular variety of buckwheat, called silver hulled buckwheat. I find that I like it so much more than "regular" buckwheat that I use it exclusively now! In terms of grinding my own, I'm not sure if there is a commercial source for raw silver hulled buckwheat, and I doubt that I'd be able to grind it as powdery fine as the flour I buy is. But thanks for the useful tip!

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  6. Wow, this bread is SO impressive!! I love its flexibility... I think I also will need to hunt down some psyllium husk to try this!!

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    1. I hope you can find some, Jenn! I think you'll be impressed with how it affects your baking.

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  7. This looks great. I better step up our psyllium husk game! I've only used it in a couple recipes, but need to experiment more with it. Thx for the added inspiration!

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    1. Thanks, Charissa! How have you been using psyllium? I'm finding that whether I prefer it on its own or blended with xanthan gum depends on the particular item I'm baking. Interesting, isn't it, to experiment like this!

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  8. This looks lovely! I know exactly what you mean about sometimes needing that softer, mildly sweet, richer kind of bread - it looks like your recipe really hits the spot. And with plenty of whole grains too!

    I was surprised by this month's rally to see how many people are using psyllium now - it really does help texture immensely without being all crunchy like flax. (Unfortunately the only way I've found it packaged is with the words "Fiber Supplement" in huge letters across the front!! Maybe eventually some company will package it for baking...)

    P.S. - Thanks for the tip about the buckwheat flour! I've never seen the light variety for sale before. Does it taste the same as "normal" buckwheat, or is it milder?

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    1. Yes, it still has a respectable amount of whole grains! I wanted to make sure the whole grain/starch balance didn't tip too heavily towards starches. As for the psyllium, I haven't seen any packaged specifically for baking, but several natural foods stores I go to have it stocked in their bulk section, so I can bring some home without having to look at Metamucile-type labeling. ;)

      I find the buckwheat flour I use to be much milder than the darker, toasted buckwheat flour that's commonly sold. It also tastes less nutty to me. I think it's a great addition to flour blends, adding structure and an ultra-fine texture, without imparting a very distinct flavor.

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  9. "Leave the house and run some errands" - I love it. On trial #3, I should have done that, but my insatiable curiosity led to a fractured loaf, half in & half out. :) This bread looks wonderful, Tara. Thank you for your wonderfully easy writing voice - informative, anecdotal, and inspiring. This post was truly a pleasure.

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    1. Thank you so much, Jonathan. It means a lot to know you enjoy my writing.

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  10. Thanks so much Tara. I cannot wait to try this. I have been craving french toast. - Shirley

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    1. I've been craving French toast, too. I think you'll find this bread perfect for it. Please let me know if you try it!

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  11. Wow, this is amazing bread. I must make some of this! Thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thank you, Caleigh! I hope you enjoy it!

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  12. Your bread looks amazing Tara! I've been having great results using psyllium husks too. It definitely gives baked goods that bend factor! In my latest pizza dough recipe I've been using it in place of gums altogether and am gob-smacked (like you with this bread) at just how bendy it is! Wonderful stuff. Off to check out everyone elses bread recipes now xx

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    1. Yes, Emma, I've also been replacing all of the gum with psyllium in some of my baked goods, and with fantastic results. My next batch of bread is going to be gum-free! Fingers crossed that it works just as well as the current incarnation...

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  13. Oh my god - this bread is so good! Thank you so much. In fact, there is no way in the world that I can thank you enough. This is the very bread I have been yearning for! Baked up beautifully. Made great sandwiches yesterday. Made incredible french toast this morning. Really wonderful stuff. Thank you so much.

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    1. Mary, your comment makes me so happy. I'm so glad you like the bread! Thank you!

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  14. This looks so good!! Thanks for sharing :) Sorry I couldn't join the rally this month, but I look forward to reading everyone's recipes!

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    1. Thank you, Heather! Sorry you couldn't participate in the bread Rally, but hopefully you'll be back next month!

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  15. I made a loaf of this last night, and it is AMAZING! So good in fact, that the half loaf that was left this morning became french toast. I'll be making 2 more loaves today to get us through the week. Thank you!

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    1. Oh, thank you Kirstie! I'm so happy to hear you made the bread and loved it. Enjoy having a week full of bread!

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  16. Can you please give the measurements for the flours in cups?

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    1. Actually, since I rarely bake by volume, I didn't measure the flour out in cups. And since the Ratio Rally is all about using weight-based ratios for our work, thereby allowing any baker to substitute ingredients by weight according to their preferences/needs and still end up with a successful product, the weights of the flours are particularly important here. Shauna/Gluten-Free Girl has a great list of reasons for switching to baking by weight here:

      http://glutenfreegirl.com/why-we-dont-use-cups-in-our-recipes/

      If you'd like to do an approximate weight-to-volume conversion for this recipe, there is a link to a gluten-free flour weight-volume measurement chart here:

      http://realfoodmadeeasy.ca/gluten-free-baking/gluten-free-flour-weight-volume-measures/

      I hope this helps! Thanks for stopping by!

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  17. my bread did not rise and in fact looks absolutely NOTHING like yours. And crumbles.
    Any ideas? What did I do wrong?

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    1. Oh no! How frustrating for you. Without any other details, it's hard for me to help troubleshoot what went wrong. Did you use the exact same ingredients? Measure by weight? What was the temperature/humidity like on the day you made it? How old was your yeast? Did you use a thermometer to get an accurate temperature on the water/milk? All of these factors could have affected the outcome of your loaf. Feel free to email me - abakinglife@gmail.com - and I'll try to help you figure this out.

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  18. Omgosh this looks AMAZING! Definitly the best gluten free loaf I have seen yet and I want to try it but I don't consume dairy. Do you think I could use almond milk or maybe goat milk? I might tough it out though because I just have to try your recipe after at least 5 failed GF bread recipes.

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    1. Thank you! I think goat milk would be a great substitute. Almond milk would probably work, too, but flavor-wise I'd lean towards goat!

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  19. Hi this loaf looks beautiful but I am hoping I can substitute a dairy free milk like coconut milk or almond? Also if I use online conversion charts for grams to cups because I don't have gram measuring utensils. Thanks!

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    1. I would try almond milk before coconut, unless you're going for coconut-flavored bread. And while I can't guarantee successful results with volume-based measurements, you can use this chart for approximate weight-to-volume measurements for gluten-free flours:

      http://realfoodmadeeasy.ca/gluten-free-baking/gluten-free-flour-weight-volume-measures/

      I hope this helps!

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    2. I substituted with Almond Milk Vanilla (or regular would be fine as well) and it came out BEAUTIFULLY!

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  20. I'm alergic to buckwheat...what do you recommend I use in its place.

    Thanks from very hot southern Cal.

    Thaïs

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    1. Quinoa flour is a great buckwheat substitute. Good luck!

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  21. Impressive! I can't believe how bendy it and squishy it looks. I have to make this one day!

    Amazed,
    Jenn

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  22. Bread is always a hard one to crack, this looks awesome! My name is Cindy and I blog over at Vegetarianmamma.com I wanted to invite you to link up your recipe at our Gluten Free Fridays Recipe Link up party! It happens every Friday and we'd love to have you join us with some of your awesome recipes! You can find this week's link up here: http://vegetarianmamma.com/gluten-free-fridays-recipe-party-2/
    Also be sure to link up your blog on our Gluten Free Bloggers directory. You can reach the directory by clicking the "glutenfree bloggers" tab on our blog! Thanks, Cindy :)

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    1. Thanks, Cindy, and thanks for the invite!

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  23. I have made this recipe a few times and it has hands down the best texture of any gf bread I've made thus far (in the past 6 months since needing to go gf.) I was curious if you tested any batches using all psylium husk and no xanthan gum, how it turned out, and why you decided to use both in the recipe. Also thought the baking soda was unusual for a yeast bread and noticed the lack of vinegar. I'm relatively new at this gf baking thing and just trying to learn all I can. Thanks again for the great recipe.

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    1. Hi Carly,

      Thank you so much! I'm so pleased to hear you like the bread.

      I have tested the bread with all psyllium and no xanthan, and it's not QUITE as good. The texture, while still fabulous, doesn't have quite as much spring to it, and is a tiny bit crumbly. Because I am able to eat xanthan without any issues, I prefer to use both it and psyllium in the bread to get the best loaf possible. However, if you are trying to avoid xanthan gum, by all means just leave it out and up the psyllium by another 2 teaspoons (or even 2.25 teaspoons - I sometimes use a bit more psyllium than xanthan gum in bread recipes) and you should be good.

      And about the baking soda: I actually call for baking powder, which doesn't need an acid to react to, just moisture and heat. It helps the bread hold on to the rise it gets from the yeast. I've found that sometimes gluten-free breads will rise nicely, but deflate a bit as they bake - the dough just doesn't have the same strength as gluten-full bread dough - and the baking powder is a little extra insurance that I end up with a nicely domed loaf of bread.

      Good luck with your baking!

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  24. Hello,
    This bread looks wonderful! Can I make this in a bread machine?

    Thanks!

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    1. Hi Leah,

      I've never made gluten-free bread in a bread machine before, but my experience with those machines makes me think this recipe wouldn't work well in one. The order of ingredients is so different from the standard wet-on-bottom-dry-on-top ingredient layering in a bread machine, plus the batter needs to be thoroughly beaten for a while, which I'm not sure a bread machine's little paddle could handle. If you decide to forge ahead and try it anyway, please let me know how it turns out! But if it doesn't work, please do try to make it according to the recipe - it's such a wonderful bread, I'd hate for you to give up on it just because it's not suitable for a bread machine!

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  25. My sister introduced me to this recipe. I have made 3 loaves in 3 days for my dear GF daughter who does want to take sandwiches to school. The rest has been eaten by other GF members (and not) of our family for breakfast, snacks, etc. I simply cannot keep it for longer than 24 hours! The nice thing about this bread is that if I make it the afternoon before, it still has a lovely texture the next day. I needed to make a few tweaks for ingredients I didn't have on hand - quinoa flour for oat flour - with very pleasing results. Thank you.

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  26. Why do you cover it with plastic wrap?

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    1. Covering the dough while it rises keeps the top from drying out. You could also use a damp tea towel, but I tend to reach for the plastic wrap first, being somewhat neurotic about making sure stray fuzz (that might be on the towel) doesn't get in my bread. But either way works!

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  27. First up, congrats for creating a wonderful gluten free bread recipe and second so much appreciation for you in sharing it! Though I do have to make some adjustments due to food intolerances, and have a couple of questions for your advice in what to do. Starters I'm intolerant to oats what would you suggest to replace the oat flour? Where I live Buckwheat is hard to find, would using millet flour be ok to replace buckwheat flour? And can I use sorghum flour instead of rice flour? I take psyllium husks daily to keep me 'regular' as I suffer from IBS, but it is not a powder persay, it has lots of flaky bits in it, should I use as is or I can grind in my coffee grinder (which has never been used to grind coffee lol!) to make more of a powder? I can not get hold of xanthan gum but I do have guar gum, is that ok to use instead? Bread recipes I have tried in the past all recommend adding vinegar to the recipe, something to do with having an acid to aid in feeding the yeast????? and yours doesn't, just wondering why? Sorry to bomb bard you with so many questions but with attempts in the past and some good and bad, it can be quite a costly event and that's what I'm trying to avoid, here in New Zealand to buy a loaf of gluten free bread is $8!!!!!!! look forward to your response! Thank you!

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    1. Hi Samantha! Here are the easy answers: the psyllium husks are fine, no need to grind them. Since writing this recipe, I've switched to using the husks instead of the husk powder (they're cheaper here) and they work great. And no need to add vinegar - in very small amounts it acts as a dough enhancer, helping you get a higher rise out of your bread, but this particular recipe rises so well (and the final product is so light and tender) that I've never felt it needed the extra boost from vinegar. EXCEPT . . . you also need to change the flour composition a lot. You want to switch out every whole grain in the recipe, and I have no idea how that will affect the final product. I was going to suggest sorghum to replace the oat flour, until I read further and saw you wanted to use that as a replacement for the brown rice flour. The rice flour has the benefit of adding just a bit more starch to the flour ratio, even with it being whole grain. I wonder if corn flour (not starch) would be another good substitute? Feel free to change up the flours as much as you need to, but know that I can't guarantee you a successful loaf of bread, having never altered it that much myself. As long as you keep the total weight (and thus the ratio) of whole grains the same, though, I think you should be able to turn out a tasty loaf of bread, even if it's not quite the same one, in flavor and texture, that I make. I'd love to hear how things turn out for you! Oh, and as for the xanthan/guar switch, that should be fine, too. I don't use guar gum, but I hear from people who do that it's interchangeable with xanthan gum. The texture of the final product might be slightly altered, but not so much as to make the recipe not work. SO, all this said, I think if you're concerned about how all the substitutions will affect your loaf of bread, you might want to try adding a teaspoon or two of vinegar as a form of insurance, as it were. Just add it with the rest of the wet ingredients, and keep an eye on the dough - it will probably rise more quickly! Good luck! $8 for a loaf of bread is pretty ridiculous, so I hope you're able to bake a great loaf on your own for a lot less!

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  28. Thanks so much for the reply Tara. Great news about the pysllium husk and guar gum, thanks for that! I have found buckwheat flour though its a wee bit on the costly side but I really want to follow your recipe as close as possible to ensure same results (I want to twist my bread like in the photo above, lol!) I'm not sure whether it is a light or dark buckwheat flour, it seems to be a limited flour here but its all I could find. I have got brown rice flour also! The only thing I am going to have to do is replace oat flour with sorghum and I pray to the baking gods, it will still have the same outcome. I'll flag the vinegar for first try to see what the outcome will be following your recipe. Very excited!!!! Thanks again and I'll let you know how I get on!!!

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  29. How do I make this using cups not grams of things ???

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    1. Unfortunately, for a recipe like this, there are no easy conversions from grams to cups - the amounts are so specific they don't translate into cups, half-cups, and such. A kitchen scale can be had for as little as $15, though (and sometimes less, if you check thrift stores!), and is well worth the investment. Not only can you bake more (and with more accuracy, leading to better and more consistent results), but measuring the ingredients and clean-up is easier and faster, too! Good luck!

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  30. Hi, I made this in a bread machine and it worked beautifully. I have a cuisinart machine with a gf cycle.

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    1. Excellent news! I'm very happy to hear that. I've been wanting to get a bread machine with a gf cycle, and knowing this recipe works in one is extra motivation for me to look into it. Thanks for checking in and letting me know it works!

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  31. Does 110 grams of water, measure out according to the conversion table (i.e. same as flour)? Not sure how to figure it?

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    1. I'm not sure which conversion table you're using, but converting a liquid from weight to volume is different from converting flour, since their density is different. A cup of water weighs approximately 236 grams, while a cup of milk weighs closer to 244 grams. In comparison, the weight of a cup of various flours is usually in the 100+ gram range. This illustrates the importance of using a scale for truly accurate results. Hope this is helpful!

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  32. Have you ever made this with instant yeast? All I have is instant yeast and I'm wondering if the shorter rise time will affect the way the bread turns out? Or does that not matter?

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    1. Sorry about the delayed response - hopefully you forged ahead without me! I think instant yeast would be fine in this recipe. Let me know if you try it!

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  33. I want to make a larger loaf using a 9.5x4.75x4 inch pan (which would increase the volume by 36%). Would you recommend adjusting the baking temperature/time and if so what do you suggest?

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    1. Sorry about the delayed response - hopefully I'm not too late to help! As long as you increase the ingredients proportionately to fit the pan, the recipe should still work. You'll probably need to bake the bread longer, but I wouldn't adjust the temperature. Just keep an eye on it, and if the top begins to look too dark before the loaf is done, cover it with foil. Good luck!

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  34. Super delicious and fluffy!!! The one recipe made 4 rolls and a loaf. My favorite GF bread so far!

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  35. THIS WAS AMAZING! I had just about given up on making a soft and tender loaf of GF bread for my daughter until I found this post. THANK YOU so much! I really do appreciate the hard work and testing that went into getting this just right and very, very do-able. Thanks for recommending the right buckwheat. I got that and I always work with Extra finely ground brown rice flour which I believe helps with all of the texture of my GF baked goods.

    After sweating through GF on a Shoestring's Bread book and failing miserably despite having spent a small fortune, I feel so positive about GF bread again with your very simple and successful recipe.

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