Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Trials and Tribulations of Baking Gluten Free Bread.

It has been nearly 2 years since I created this blog as a catalog for all my research I had collected over the years on how to bake gluten free bread and I still find myself discovering new things, some good and some not so good, each time I bake a loaf of gluten free bread. So I feel compelled to share these discovers to help those out there still trying to successfully bake gluten free bread.
Since my first bread recipe I postedwhich back then I had great results with, as time passed I was finding faults with my loaves. Also I was still surfing the net looking for new information, new recipes, new methods to create the ultimate gluten free bread.
I started searching for latest recipes that were being posted on blogs and found this one that took my interest. Adapting the recipe to my needs, after several attempts I was successfully baking again. Well as time passed my improved recipe was developing faults once more. I was getting a great rise but then once in the oven and on removal, my loaves were sinking. I queried everything I was doing and finally settled for the fact that the environment and the ovens played a essential part in my bread successes and failures.
When I first posted the recipe, after trials of successful attempts, it was in the middle of winter. As I continued to bake through the months, the weather got warmer and more humid and that was when the sinking business started. Also as a professional house sitter, my baking wasn't always using the same oven. Every oven has it's own uniqueness in heating and this too was affecting my bread.
Going back to the original Fork and Beans recipe, I attempted another loaf following the recipe true to form as much as possible, with the exception of using my own gluten free flour blend and halving the amount of chia seeds with psyllium husks. This time I was at my own home using my oven and it is on the cusp of winter, so the weather was cool and the air clear. My kitchen was warm but not stuffy.
I felt like a mad scientist - measuring, weighing, grinding, sifting, thermometer'ing' and controlling just about everything I could while making the bread. It rose beautifully and strong. I could see the fullness in the top of the risen dough, it didn't look puffy or holey. Nervously I placed it into the preheated oven and hoped for the best. Under an hour later it was looking fantastic. It didn't sink! The loaf was still standing strong and smelt heavenly! But its not until you slice into the bread that you know you have won and this you have to wait till the bread is completely cooled. The next day I took my serrated knife and gently started cutting into the bread...........I wept with joy! Success!

Getting back to the start when I said I felt compelled to share my discoveries, these discoveries are the essential keys in successfully baking a loaf of gluten free bread. In no specific order:
The Environment - depending on where you live, northern hemisphere, southern hemisphere, low altitude, high altitude, these factors play a part in bread baking. Amazingly enough it's true. The climate between the two hemispheres are quite different and climate means how much or how little moisture there is in the air and the extremities of temperature depending on what season it is, these factors affect the dough's habitat just like it affects us. The altitude is a matter of gravity and since we are working with something, yeast, that rises working against gravity, if you live in a high altitude place you may experience your bread rising quicker than stated in the recipe and vice versa for low altitude.
The Ovens - as I said earlier being a housesitter I have used several ovens for my baking and each time I have different results. Some ovens work hotter than others, some are fan ovens and some maybe older and have leaks in the seals allowing for heat to escape and making the ovens thermostat work over time resulting in a inconsistent heat. This just requires patience and getting to know how your oven works and adapting your baking time and temperature.
The Actions - these things are what you do to bring the recipe together, those little tips you find along the way that you feel has helped you with baking your bread. Don't ignore these the next time you go to bake your next loaf, write down specifically what you did and why, and work on your skill, your craft each time you bake. I have followed the same recipe yet chose a different method or did something different in the instructions for whatever reason and have noticed the results to be either wonderful or not quite what I was hoping for. All take part in the results.
The Will - this can only bestowed by yourself. Don't lose faith if you are having failure after failure. Research. Ask questions. Try again. Don't be scared to let go of those little things that were working for you and are now not. Find new ones. Try new recipes. Experiment. This is the only way you will become a successful gluten free bread baker, trust me!
Now If you have read this lengthy post hoping to find perhaps the clue, the secret in baking gluten free bread well there isn't one. It's all trial and error my friends. And eventually if not sooner, the trial and error will be tried and true! And if you didn't read this post and went scrolling down looking for the recipe, well it's not here, that's the next post. But please do read this as it will help you with your baking ventures.....................and stay tuned.