One of the things it was really hard for me to give up when I went gluten-free was rye bread. It is really difficult to find good gluten-free bread that is already made, but it is almost impossible to find gluten-free rye bread.
Before I start the review, I would like to say that I am not a fan I of xantham gum in bread. I do not like the texture that xanthan gum produces. In my opinion, the texture is spongy and sticky. There is gluten-free bread that is premade that does not use xanthan gum. I do have a sensitivity to it, but I can tolerate it in small amounts. Having said that, let’s get on with the review.
I came across an advertisement for Luce’s artisan bread mixes in Gluten Free Living magazine. I decided to order the rye bread mix which cost me $7.95 plus shipping. This is actually pretty reasonable, considering a loaf of gluten-free bread can cost upwards of $6.
After receiving the package yesterday, I was wondering if I could make the bread in a loaf pan. The bread kit comes with a baking bag which goes directly into the oven. This means that the loaf is more like a baguette than a sandwich loaf. I had some questions about how to shape the loaf and how to bake it. I called the company directly and was put on the phone with the owner of the company, Charles Luce. I asked him if I could bake the loaf in a loaf pan. He told me that I probably could, but no one had ever attempted it. He did give me pointers on shaping the loaf and baking it using the bread bag. He told me there was a video online of his wife baking a loaf of bread.
This gave me the confidence to try using the baking bag that came with the bread mix. So this morning I set out to make the bread.
I found instructions on their website that were a bit more detailed than the instructions included with the baking kit. It was pretty easily to make.
The baking kit includes the bread mix, a baking sheet which is made from parchment, a small bag of white rice flour for dusting, and a baking bag.
All you need to do is add a cup of warm water to the mix and let it sit for five minutes. When you stir the mix at that point it should have the consistency of mayonnaise. If the dough is dry, you can add additional water one tablespoon at a time. You then need to beat the dough 50 strokes. You do not need to use a mixer although you can if you’d like. I did not as it was not that difficult to stir the dough. At this point you need to preheat your oven to 400°. The instructions state not to do this until to dough is shaped and ready to go into the oven.
The dough is easy to spoon out onto the parchment and shape with a wet spatula. The difficult part is sliding the dough into the bag, but I managed to do it. You then place the bag directly on your oven rack, not on a baking sheet. Charles explained that this allows heat to circulate and form a nice brown crispy crust. The bread bakes for 85 minutes. When baking a loaf of bread in a loaf pan it generally takes 60 minutes. But I followed the instructions and let the loaf take its time to bake.
After 85 minutes, I tested the bread according to the directions which stated that the bread should be nutty brown in color and sound hollow when tapped. The bread passed both of these tests. I removed the baking bag as instructed and place the bread on an elevated rack to allow air to circulate. Instructions online state to wait two hours before slicing the bread. The instructions included with the baking kit state to wait four hours. I have to confess I only waited an hour and half before slicing the bread. I guess I was really excited to try it. The instructions do state that this could be the case, however, I doubt the spongy texture would change, even if you waited the required time.
Unfortunately when I sliced the bread the texture was not what I expected. The inside was gummy and spongy. As I mentioned before, this is due to the xanthan gum. I decided to try the bread anyway as I had gone through the effort to make it. I do have to say that I have never seen such a great crust on a gluten-free loaf of bread. However, the bottom crust was a bit overdone. I probably could have baked in a few minutes less.
I spread some smart balance spread onto the bread. I had to break pieces off to eat it as I have some dental issues (the crust is hard). The proof as they say is in the tasting. Does it taste like rye bread? Not exactly. You have to realize that they are using rye flavoring and not rye itself, as rye contains gluten. But taking this into consideration, the flavor comes close. The addition of caraway seeds helps. But unfortunately, the xanthan gum upset my stomach. I also do not think the bread will hold up to freezing and reheating. If the bread is reheated in the microwave the crust will become even more chewy. There is no way to put baguette shaped bread in a toaster unless you have a toaster oven.
In conclusion I admire Charles Luce for creating this company, and creating these artisan breads. Just because I don’t care for the texture doesn’t mean you should not try it. It was very easy to assemble and bake. There are very few steps to follow to make this bread. If you decide to bake loaf of this bread, or one of their other artisan breads, please comment your review.