The Great Gluten Free Bread Machine Experiment - Part 4
Today's results are a bit denser, with zero gummy texture, a lot like a multigrain bread, and it's a great source of dietary fiber. So far the success rate has been 3 out of 4, but at no time has it been easy or "set it and forget it" which is the promise of bread machines. And I hit yet another snag. As a result I'm considering a different machine. I'm noticing that a lot of people say similar things in reviews where families have tried two or three different models before settling on one that works. That's a bit of a problem, I would think, for the manufacturers. Either we expect too much, or they aren't giving us enough.
There also seems to be a trend in bread machines toward one or two high end options and tons of cheap models with limited flexibility in baking. I've soured on my purchase decision and have regretted buying a cheap model. I didn't think it was that cheap really. There are models out right now in the $65 range and I was tempted to try one. However, I'm more confident of good results from a machine that has two paddles instead of one. That leaves me with only a few options, the Breadman, the Zojirushi, and the West Bend.
If you're thinking of buying a new bread machine, learn from my example and skip the Cuisinart until they improve it. Or choose whichever budget model seems to have the best customer service. At the moment it seems to me that the Hamilton Beach bread maker ($65 or so) has the most responsive customer service, judging by the responses to complaints in Amazon.com reviews. But it wouldn't hurt to give their customer line a call and ask a simple question or two just to see how they are.
In comparison to yesterday's wet porridge like bread, this is wonderful. In comparison to two days ago, it's, just different. I'd definitely call this a "healthy bread" because it contains so many things known to be healthy, flax, chia, buckwheat, coconut flour, among other ingredients. The texture is not wet or gummy at all, the only complaint anyone might have is that it's a bit dense. It's not dry and not moist. The texture is strong enough to hold a sandwich easily. It won't crumble. It toasts (toast twice if you use a low setting, or use a high setting). It tastes good with salty butter or sweet jam. It's an all around loaf, even if it's not very tall.
However I did have a problem while making it and this is the full disclosure of that story:
I've had so many problems with mixing in this bread machine that I decided to take the mixing out of the equation and mix it myself. It turned out a bit stiff looking so I was glad I had taken gram measurements this time for nearly all the ingredients. (There's not much point using grams to measure 3 eggs but most of the other ingredients have grams.)
I placed the resulting dough ball (which was the perfect texture for kneading) in the bread machine and saw this:
Hmm, not mixing well, or even kneading at all. Then I made a mistake. I added a bit of water thinking it would mix in. No hope of that at all. Here's the result:
Crater-ville! The water softened up the bottom of the dough ball, and the paddle just had a grand old time spinning in its own track, doing no kneading. So I kneaded the dough, took the paddle out, replaced the loaf and left it to rise. Meanwhile, I shopped for a new bread machine. I think I'm done when I have to knead it myself. That's beyond insulting.
The funny thing is, I couldn't find any advice anywhere online that showed this problem. Google has stopped giving search results that include Q&A sites like Fixya, Stackexchange, Quora, etc. so I had to use Metacrawler to see those results. Even when I finally found the appropriate places to look, hardly anyone has mentioned this problem, and when they do, it's not about this crater formation, it's about the paddles being frozen and not moving.
But I did find a video showing someone who added water to their machine and ended up with the same visual effect, which confirmed that my mistake was adding water after the dough had already formed. That was definitely a gotcha that should've had a mention in the user manual, certainly under "troubleshooting." But there was nothing.
Why use a bread machine anyway?
There are many reasons why I want to make a bread machine work in my life. I've baked bread the long way and I love to do that. But my spine no longer wants me to stand up straight, and I get winded just walking the length of my house. Kneading is fun and I love it, but it hurts now. Bending over is a roulette of dizzy spells. So having something on my counter that requires no reaching for parchment paper and pans, no preheating of oven and bending over to load/unload it, no kneading, etc... that's helpful right now. When/If I recover, I'll go back to something more active.
There's another reason. People with Celiac disease already have enough issues with food. Why make them go through the ritual of baking the long way when a machine could fulfill the duty with only a small loss of quality? Gluten free bread is around $8 a loaf right now, near me. It can be as much as $11 if it's an "artisan" loaf. I've paid $15 for a local baker's truly wonderful loaf of gluten free bread. I don't begrudge anyone the profits, but I can't do that forever. Hardly anyone can.
And there's another reason still. As people get older, the chances of latent Celiac genes becoming active increases. In the US, 1 in 133 people has Celiac already active. But that says nothing about how many people have the genetics. And because it's one of those things that activates, the elderly are the largest group of people with Celiac. The elderly have the greatest need for gluten free, yet they can least afford it. And the difference between baking bread the long way and using a bread machine could make the difference for someone.
And another reason: Not everyone tolerates xanthan gum. But if you eat gluten free, it's hard to avoid it. Only by baking for yourself can you fully avoid it.
So having a decent bread machine is important to a certain group of people. That's why I'm dedicated to finding a way to get along with a bread machine, even though it does things like you see in the image above. I literally couldn't find any advice for that sort of problem anywhere. I puzzled it out by watching youtube videos until I saw someone do what I did and realized why that crater had formed. But it should never have formed at all.
I think people deserve better equipment than this. I ended up kneading that dough by hand and that's the whole purpose of having a bread machine in the first place. I don't expect artisan results, but I do expect that I can at least avoid the kneading part if I buy an appliance designed to do that. And maybe it's a pipe dream, but I also expect a decent manual that tells you the timings of the kneading and rise portions of each cycle, so you can plan what you want to use.
The bake time of bread machines is also too short. Most machines have a standard bake time of 30-45 minutes, and you can extend it by 30 min. If you want it longer, like a gluten free loaf may need 90 minutes, you'll have to stalk the machine and start another bake cycle, at the moment that it stops baking. Ending the bake cycle too quickly with a gluten free loaf can lead to underdone centers, and worse, the top can crater down and deflate if the bread is not done enough. It can look beautiful, but if you're not using an internal thermometer, you can't tell whether the center is done.
Bread machines should come with built in sensors for the temperature of the loaf. You already have paddles in there, find a way to add a temperature sensor to it. Or add a drop down sensor. Don't make me fiddle around with a temperature sensor, your product should be automatic. The baking should not stop until the sensor says it's 210 degrees F in there.
In the process of looking for solutions I came across many resources, so I thought I'd share a few with you:
King Arthur Flour Bread Machine success (general, not gluten free)
BakerPedia is now my new mini obsession
Bread Machine Digest Visual Guide for Troubleshooting Bread Machines
Fascinating visual guide to hydration level in (gluten) breads:
For sourdough lovers, there is this visual guide (again for gluten bread)
Gluten Free "Multigrain" Bread (Machine Experiment 4)
Machine: Cuisinart CBK-110
Setting: (was)Whole Wheat (became) Dough/ Rest 90 min / Bake
1 Packet Yeast (about 8 g or 2 and 1/4 tsp dry ordinary yeast)
1 1/2 Tbsp sugar (35g)
1/2 cup warm water (about 98degrees F, 128g)
1 1/2 cup water (400g)
2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp psyllium (30g)
1/4 cup chia seeds (50g)
1/3 cup flax seeds, ground (60g)
1 cup Namaste Flour (150g)
1/2 cup (scant) Almond Flour (50g)
1/2 cup (scant) Coconut Flour (50g)
1/2 cup Buckwheat groats, ground (100g)
Grind anything you need to grind (ie. buckwheat groats)
Combine ingredients under "B" above, to create the "gluten free sponge" and allow to stand so gels can be released, for one minute.
Combine yeast ingredients under "A" and set aside to "wake up" the yeast
Combine ingredients under "C" the flours.
With your hand, combine the "sponge" with the flours until well mixed, then add the yeast and mix all together. Work in about three batches of adding flour, seeking out and crushing any lumps.
The doug should hold together and be sticky at this point. Add to the bread machine insert, and press down on one side so the paddle will catch. DO NOT ADD WATER after this point. If the dough seems too stiff, take it out and mix water into it by hand, but don't make a puddle at the bottom of the machine after there is a dough ball formed.
Set to Dough setting.
At the end, check rising, if it has risen up to the edge , bake. If not, then remove paddle. Wait at least 30 minutes to check for more rising. If it's still rising, allow it to remain for another 30 minutes to 60 minutes. It may not reach the edge of the insert but this isn't meant to be a fluffy bread.
Bake when the dough has had sufficient time to rise (about 60 min at least).
After baking, allow the bread to stay in the machine during 30 min of the keep warm cycle.
Remove carefully to a cooling rack or counter with a kitchen cloth to prevent soggy results. Allow to cool entirely (90 min +) before slicing.
Flavor: reminds me of multigrain bread
Uses: jam, sandwiches, side dish for soups/stews, hearty snack, tasty fiber supplement
Let me know what you think!