Bob’s Red Mill Hearty Whole Grain Bread Mix

Last night Michelle had a hankering for nutritious whole grain bread. Naturally my first thought was “Yay, I get to try out my Williams-Sonoma Goldtouch® Nonstick Perforated French Bread Pan“. I wasn’t sure how it was going to turn out, since 1) I’ve never made french bread before, and 2) gluten-free breads aren’t known for their, um, fluffiness. Well, imagine my surprise when this turned out as well as it did.

Let me first say that if you just follow the instructions on the package, you cannot go wrong. The bread turned out “moist, fluffy, delicious, and bursting with flavors” — just as Bob’s Red Mill claims! I also liked the fact that it’s milk-free (not quite dairy-free, since you have to use 2 eggs.) And, even though I managed to screw up the instructions (I added a Tablespoon of cider vinegar instead of a teaspoon), the bread still turned out phenomally. It is the next-level of homemade bread! (Juniper, eat your heart out!)

Besides Bob’s Red Mill Hearty Whole Grain Bread Mix, the main ingredients you’ll need are:

1)  1-3/4 cups water
2)  1/4 cup oil (I used organic extra virgin olive)
3)  2 eggs
4)  1 tsp. cider vinegar (I used Bragg’s apple cider vinegar)

You can also use a bread machine if you want — I didn’t, and I don’t think you need to drag out your bread machine for this. And remember, I screwed up, in more than one way. The water I used to dissolve the yeast was probably too warm (it never foamed). After mixing the bread, I scooped it out directly onto the bread pan — without greasing it (the pan was supposed to be non-stick anyway.) And then I stuck the whole thing in the oven at 100°F for 30 minutes to let it rise (instead of 45 minutes at 75°F). Then, I left the bread in the oven and turned it up to 375°F, and baked for 45 minutes (instead of 1 hour). But, I figured that since we were making two smaller loafs than one big one, the amount of oven time was appropriate. Besides, I didn’t want it to burn too much. Needless to say, it was the longest 45 minutes ever, because the whole house smelled like a real bakery and we just want to taste that hot bread as soon as it came out of the oven. (“What do you mean we have to let it cool completely before slicing?”)

The loafs don’t look all that pretty, but boy, were they tasty! We had some last night and again this morning. What I hadn’t mentioned is that I also added a handful of pumpkin/sunflower/hemp seeds to the mix — for that extra nuttiness. It was delicious. This is definitely a keeper!

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Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free

A couple of weeks ago, we decided to try some of Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free stuff. I have always been really fond of bread, and even though I don’t suffer from wheat allergies, I can’t help but equate gluten to wheat. When it comes to bread, if I eat it once, I’m goingt to want it again. This is completely non-scientific, of course, but my reasoning is that it’s one of those vicious cycles where you can’t feed your cravings enough. Kind of like sugar. Except I love bread like a hundred times more than sugar.

I’m not much of a baker. My desire to bake pretty much died at the tender young age of 13 when I made my first cherry pie. It was so bad that, get this, Tammy the dog would not even eat it. Anyway, I decided to give it a go — after all, how bad can it be if it’s already pre-mixed. Plus, there are all those 4/5 stars with all the glowing reviews. I decided to make the bread first. I didn’t have any milk handy, but I did have some half-and-half. And almost exactly half of the amount of what the recipe called for. So, I diluted the half-and-half by half, and added water to make up the difference. Only much later did I find out that adding water to the half-and-half doesn’t exactly equal milk (something about the milk fat content.)

 

I took this picture before I pulled the bread out of the oven, as Michelle exclaimed “It’s not a soufflé, you know.”  Indeed, that loaf retained its full shape and size the whole week after. It was huge — twice as much bread as I was after.  It was a dense loaf — something I would have expected of a darker mix, like rye or pumpernickel. But it had a really nice flavor and a sweet aroma. While it was good, it was not great. I suppose that for a sandwich or toasts, it would have been ok. However, I was looking forward to that crusty sour-doughy french bread. Oh well.  I would probably make this again, if I could figure out how to cut it in half. (And now that I’ve purchased some active dry yeast, maybe we can try it again next weekend.)

We had much better luck with the pizza. Again, the crust was not really crusty as much as it was “noodly”, but it tasted really good! And with the right toppings, the pizza would be downright acceptable. Again, it was twice the amount that we needed, so we made two pizzas, two nights in a row! The first one was a combination (pictured below) and had sweet italian sausage that I rolled up into little balls, Louisiana hot links instead of pepperoni, chopped basil, shredded fresh mozzarella cheese. The second pizza was a caramelized onion, mushrooms (shitake, crimini, white, beech), goat cheese combo. Both were instant hits. On a scale of 1 to 10, we would rate this as an 8.5 and would definitely use Bob’s Red Mill Pizza Crust mix again. The best thing about the mixes (both bread and pizza) is that you don’t have to knead, punch, roll, or any of that — just mix and go.

Over the weekend, I bought a french loaf pan from Williams Sonoma. They carry a line of Goldtouch Nonstick bakeware that I really like a lot. It’s heavy duty, and as the name suggests, nonstick. Anyway, I’m going to look up recipes for GF French bread and see if I can make some. Unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it…we also picked up a copy of Tartine, the famous cookbook from the famous bakery in San Francisco, whose 3,000 loaves of bread sell out within an hour when the doors open in the afternoon. We’ll just have to see…..the book even has a recipe for Vietnamese sandwich bread, bánh mì. Hmmmm…maybe I can concoct a GF version of this.