Bread for Thought

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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. 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.