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Bread for Thought

August 23, 2011

I am not a baker. My mom is a wonderful baker but I somehow did not learn that set of skills. So, after a celiac disease diagnosis, I was certainly not first in line to practice gluten free baking. Thank goodness for gluten free brownie mixes from Trader Joes!

However, a month or so ago my husband and I sat down yet again to assess how we could reduce our grocery store spending. We took a close look at what we are buying and one item stood out with large dollar signs – gluten free bread. Between toast for breakfast and sandwiches for lunch, our family was consuming almost a loaf per day of gluten free bread. At an average cost of $4.50 per small loaf, that’s $72 per month on gluten free bread. Talk about a latte factor.
So I decided to bake my own gluten free bread. Did I already mention that I am not a baker?

It was not a successful Sunday afternoon. I borrowed a friend’s Kitchen Aid mixer, followed the apparently foolproof recipe and produced inedible bread. Sigh. That’s not how I am wanting to spend my weekends.

On to Plan B. I started researching bread machines. I am not sure how we functioned before we could type “best gluten free bread machines” into Google and start reading. After much deliberation, I decided on the Zojirushi BB-CEC20. Some bread machines have a specific gluten free cycle (which the Zojirushi does not) but apparently it is more important to have dual kneading blades as gluten free dough can be very hard to mix. I found that out firsthand with the Kitchen Aid mixer as I tried to scrape sticky dough off the blades. I held my breath as I placed the order – it’s a $200 investment – and waited with anticipation for the bread machine to arrive.

Bread Machine

The Zojirushi is black and stainless steel and looks good on the kitchen counter. Which is where it sat for a week while I plucked up the courage to use it. A friend had given us a Gluten Free Pantry bread mix and I decided to use that for my first experiment. The box told me what ingredients to use and I threw them in in the order recommended by the bread machine manual. That took all of five minutes.

I then called the 1-800 number on the manual and reached a lovely customer service representative who patiently helped me to set the gluten free cycle into the memory of the machine. The conversation was comical. Me: “I don’t see the red light you are referring to” Her: “Is the machine plugged in?” Me: “Oh. Good point”.

After a five minute conversation with her, I pressed the start button. My favorite feature of the Zojirushi is the large viewing window. The kids and I peeked in often during the two and a half hours that it took to make the bread. How fun to see it rising and browning!

When the timer beeped, I opened the machine, took out the loaf pan and turned it over. Out popped a hot, crusty loaf of gluten free French bread. After letting it cool slightly, we tasted it. Oh my goodness. Heaven on a plate. With a piece of sliced cheese, and a small glass of wine, I could pretend I was in a park in Paris. The whole family enjoyed it and as it was a big two pound loaf, it lasted twice as long as the gluten free bread I used to buy.

Gluten Free Bread

The Zojirushi manual also has gluten free bread recipes which I plan to try. And my hubby brought home a whole grain gluten free bread mix from Bob’s Red Mill which is next in line for baking.

So maybe I am a baker after all. I just needed the Zojirushi bread machine to bring out my talents.

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