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Healthy gluten-free bread made easy

Donna J Washburn, PHEc and Heather L Butt, PHEc are the authors of 125 Best Gluten-Free Recipes; Best Gluten-Free Family Cookbook; Complete Gluten-Free Cookbook; 250 Gluten-Free Favorites; & 125 Best Gluten-Free Bread Machine Recipes.

gluten-free grains

Being diagnosed with celiac disease or gluten intolerance and having to adapt to a gluten-free diet can initially seem an unpleasant sentence to a grain-free diet. However, there are many great tasting gluten-free grains that can replace the wheat, rye and barley products you now have to eschew. Bread is a staple in the American diet and, though gluten-free varieties can be purchased at the store, you can easily make your own gluten-free breads at home. If you have a bread machine, your healthy gluten-free bread baking just got easier. Here’s more on gluten-free grains and how to bake gluten-free bread in a bread machine.

Tips for baking gluten-free bread in a bread machine

1. Get to know your own machine

Not all bread machines are made alike. Some require you to warm liquid ingredients and eggs, some knead intermittently, and some allow you to change the baking cycle times and temperatures. To learn about your bread machine, read the user's manual.

If you don't have a bread machine but plan to purchase, choose one that bakes either a 1-1/2-pound (750 g) or 2-pound (1 kg) loaf and has at least one of the following program choices: both a Dough Cycle and a Bake Cycle; a Programmable Cycle; or a dedicated Gluten-Free Cycle. Neither the 58-minute nor the 70-minute Rapid Cycles are long enough to rise and bake loaves successfully.

2. Measure ingredients accurately

Gluten-free recipes can be temperamental, so be sure to measure all ingredients accurately. Even an extra tablespoon (15 mL) of water in a baked product can cause a gluten-free bread recipe to fail.

3. Sift your starches

Gluten-free flours and starches must be well mixed or sifted together before they are slowly added to liquids, as they have a fine powder-like consistency and lump easily.

4. Mix accordingly

If your bread machine has a Preheat Cycle, keep the top down until mixing starts, so the heat does not escape. As soon as the liquids begin to mix, add the dry ingredients, scraping the corners, sides and bottom of the baking pan and the kneading blade while adding. Continue scraping until no dry ingredients remain and dough is well mixed. Some machines require more "help" mixing than others.

5. Let the kneading begin

The consistency of the dough is closer to a cake batter than the traditional yeast dough ball. You should see the motion of the kneading blade turning. The mixing mark of the kneading blade remains on top of the dough. Some doughs are thicker than others, but do not adjust by adding more liquid or dry ingredients. The kneading blade needs to be removed at the end of the long knead to prevent the collapse of the final loaf. The dough is sticky, so rinse the rubber spatula and your hand with cold water before removing the blade. Smooth the top of the loaf quickly.

6. Gauge the temperature

At the end of the baking cycle, before turning the machine off, take the temperature of your gluten-free loaf using an instant-read thermometer. It should read 200 degrees F (100 degrees C). If it's between 180 degrees F (85 degrees C) and 200 degrees F (100 degrees C), leave the machine on the Keep Warm Cycle until the loaf is baked. If it's below 180 degrees F (85 degrees C), turn on the Bake Cycle and check the internal temperature every 10 minutes until the proper temperature has been achieved.

Bread machines make delicious gluten-free breads as close as your kitchen counter. The ability to bake your own gluten-free whole grain breads will ensure that your family is well-fed and help them meet their recommended daily needs of whole grain goodness.

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