Category Archives: Gluten Free Baking

Bob's Red Mill Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin Bread Mix

Review of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin Bread Mix

For anyone who must eat gluten free and who loves bread, life can be extremely challenging. Ready-to-eat gluten free breads are tasteless, often dry, and don’t have quite the texture you’re expecting. Homemade recipes often turn out crumbly and don’t hold together like bread should. And never mind the flavor…oh my!

Yet, gluten free options are growing in the marketplace. And that’s to be expected…the demand is growing for assorted reasons. After being disappointed about gluten free recipes and options many times over, I decided to try once again to enjoy bread, and review the product at the same time.

Today’s test is on Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Cinnamon Raisin Bread Mix. (Please note that I have no connections with the Bob’s Red Mill company, other than buying their products at the supermarket.) Here’s my two cents…

Price. First of all the price seems hefty, at just under $5 a bag where I purchased it. However, when comparing it to the price of ready-to-eat gluten free loaves, it was comparable. So I suppose that’s about all one could ask.

“Hidden” raisins. When I picked up the package I couldn’t see any raisins. No matter how I jostled the bag around I couldn’t see any raisins, so I guessed they were in a separate pack inside, even though the directions didn’t mention any raisin package and they weren’t among the added ingredients I needed. Well, the raisins were there…just “hidden.” When I emptied the package into my mixing bowl, the raisins were there, and they were plentiful! They were well coated with the flour mixture, so they just weren’t visible while in the bag. Thanks, Bob!

Ingredients. The bag includes a separate yeast package, which is to be expected. Other than that, you add warm water, eggs and oil, in a specific order, proofing the yeast first. Very reasonable and most people would have those few ingredients on hand.

Ease of mixing. The instructions recommend using a stand mixer, which I have. With that appliance, the ingredients blended extremely easily and quickly into a smooth but rather thick batter. Without a stand mixer, it will likely involve  a lot of hand mixing to achieve the same smooth texture achieved with the stand mixer. The package says it will be like cake batter. No so to me. IF it was cake batter, it’s so thick I expect you’d have a really dry cake on your hands. It IS smooth like cake batter, but don’t expect it to be as thin because it’s much thicker than that.

Raisin Bread Ready to Rise

Raisin Bread Ready to Rise

Baking pan. The instructions call for a greased 9×5 nonstick loaf pan. I do not have a nonstick loaf pan. Instead I have a good quality aluminum loaf pan. With that, I greased it well with a pat of real butter and hoped for the best. No issues…the bread released easily after baking without any sticking whatsoever. Yeah!

Rise time. The instructions call for allowing the bread to rise in a warm place for 45 to 60 minutes until the dough is level with the top of the pan. Mine took 53 minutes to reach that point. So, Bob is “right on” here.

Baked Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Baked Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Baking time. Bob calls for allowing the bread to bake for 60 to 65 minutes until it reaches an internal temperature of 205°F. This bit of instruction may present issues with some people who don’t have an instant read thermometer (which in my life, is a kitchen essential). I baked the bread for 60 minutes and noticed it had pulled away from the sides of the pan. The internal temperature was close. I declared it to be done.

Cover with aluminum foil during baking. The instructions call for covering the loaf with aluminum foil while baking after it begins to brown. I did not have any foil at the time, so I baked it without the foil. I noticed that the bread was nicely browned when it was finished baking…not too dark. However, the top was very tough and dry. It was hard to poke the thermometer through the top of the bread to test the temperature. SO, apparently the foil recommendation is there not for browning, but for maintaining moisture in the loaf. I suggest you use the foil!

Sliced Raisin Bread

Sliced Raisin Bread

Allow bread to cool before slicing. This is a standard recommendation with all baked breads, and it’s no different here. If you cut bread while it’s hot (as delicious as it is), moisture escapes through the cut section and the bread will be dryer than it would have been otherwise. So, give it time to cool before slicing.

Ease of slicing and bread texture. To my absolute delight, this bread sliced easily despite the tough top crust (from my not using foil during the baking). The slices stayed together and didn’t fall apart as so often happens with homemade gluten free bread. The slices even looked like regular bread, or at least they were a very close second. Even the tough top crust was easy to slice with my serrated bread knife. Thanks again, Bob!

Taste. The taste was fair to me, not absolutely great and wonderful. To my surprise, the bread was moist, so that was a real plus. First I tasted it plain with nothing on it. Secondly, I toasted the rest of the slice and put (real) butter on it. It toasted well in that it browned nicely and held up during toasting. However even with butter, the taste was still a little bland. To me (and maybe not to you), it needed a little more cinnamon to give it a flavor boost. Gluten free flours are very tasteless and it’s often necessary to boost up flavorings to give the baked goods the flavor you’d expect. More cinnamon would have masked the bland flavor of the flours/starches used in the mix.

Baked Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Baked Cinnamon Raisin Bread

Overall. Overall, I think this is a good product and I will buy it again. It does take some time to make in that it’s a slow riser and slow baker. However, as long as you’re home, you can do other things during the down times. The price is comparable to other gluten free breads and mixes that are available, so it’s not unreasonable. The flavor could stand some improvement, but that’s likely to be said about all and any gluten free baked goods. A little cinnamon and sugar on it will go a long way in making you feel like you’re eating regular raisin bread.

Thank you, Bob!
Judi 🙂

Gluten Free Bread Muffins

Gluten Free Bread Muffins

Many people have gone gluten-free these days for assorted reasons. No matter what the reason, one thing that is often missed is bread. No matter what is said about bread in the news, even though its form may have changed, bread has been a staple in the diet of people for eons. If you enjoy bread and suddenly find yourself trying to do without it, life is just not the same! Nothing quite takes the place of bread.

I’ve explored gluten-free bread recipes and have found this one to be a winner. It’s a recipe I developed after a NUMBER of trial runs. It works baked in a loaf, but even better when made in a regular size muffin tin. This bread is not sweet, so it goes well with meals. The recipe is as follows.

Watch the video below for my special tips on making this bread successfully along with details of how to make it in a loaf. Enjoy! Judi

Gluten Free Bread Muffins
Makes 12 Regular Size Bread Muffins (or 1 loaf)

14 oz gluten-free flour blend (that contains NO xanthan gum, guar gum, nor yeast)
4 oz gluten-free oat flour OR almond meal/flour
3 Tbsp plain psyllium husk powder
2 Tbsp granulated sugar
1-1/2 tsp salt
2 Tbsp baking powder
1 cup almond milk (or any milk you prefer)
1 cup water
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (or any vegetable oil you prefer)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl; set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the liquid ingredients. Add liquid mixture to the dry mix and stir until well combined.

Lightly coat a regular size 12-cup muffin tin with nonstick spray. Scoop 1/3 to 1/2 cup batter into each muffin cup, dividing the batter evenly among all cups. Allow batter to “rest” as the oven preheats.

Place top rack of oven on the middle shelf. Preheat oven to 350ºF. When oven is heated, place muffin pan into oven and bake for 20 minutes. Remove pan from oven and allow muffins to cool in the pan on a wire rack. Enjoy.

Bread may be stored, tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for one or two days. For prolonged storage, wrap each one tightly and store in the freezer until needed. Allow bread to thaw at room temperature or very briefly on a defrost setting in a microwave oven.

To see tips on how to successfully make this recipe or how to bake it in a loaf form, see the video below! Judi

No Bake Pecan Pie Bars (Gluten/Grain-Free)

When I first discovered Larabars, I fell in love all over again. How delicious and wonderful to have such a treat, especially one that’s gluten and grain free! After eating only one bar, I decided to recreate them my way and enhance their nutritional value. (After all, I AM a nutritionist!)

So, here’s my version of a No Bake Pecan Pie Bar. As you can see in the video (link below), I make mine smaller than most people. This is to remind me that even though it’s yummy and full of good-for-you-things, it’s still a “treat” and therefore, the serving size should be limited. Hence, smaller bars, smaller pieces. I TRY (and I admit it’s hard) to limit myself to one small piece at a time, preferably as a mini dessert after a meal.

If YOU prefer larger bars and want to make a larger batch, the recipe can VERY easily be increased by any increment you want. If you opt to make a bread-size loaf pan bar, I suggest you line the pan with plastic wrap before placing your mixture into the pan to form the bar. It would be MUCH easier to remove that way. Enjoy! Judi

No Bake Pecan Pie Bars (Gluten/Grain-Free…and Yummy too!)

1/2 cup chopped dates
2 Tbsp water
1/2 c pecans
2 Tbsp almonds
2 tsp flax meal
2 tsp ground chia seeds
Pinch of salt (optional)

Place chopped dates in a small bowl. Pour 2 tablespoons of boiling water over dates and allow them to soften for about 5 minutes until most of the water has been absorbed. Alternately place chopped dates in a small microwave safe bowl. Add 2 tablespoons tap water. Microwave about 30 seconds, until water has boiled. Remove and allow dates to soften for about 5 minutes until most of the water has been absorbed. Do not drain any remaining water, nor blot the dates dry on a paper towel.

Place all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Process until ingredients are well chopped up and blended.

With a spatula, remove mixture to a large piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap. With spatula, form into a bar shape. Wrap tightly and place in refrigerator overnight to firm up and flavors to blend.

Slice into small pieces and enjoy!

Note: This recipe can easily be increased so it can be formed into a loaf pan for larger size service pieces.

Chocolate Brownie Bars (No Bake, Grain Free)

Recently when I was grocery shopping, I felt like trying something new. I grabbed a couple Larabars. They looked interesting and I had never tasted one before. I opened one for dessert after supper that evening. Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!! One bite and I was hooked! It was awesome–delicious but not overly sweet, and the ingredients weren’t all chemicals or adulterated foods! They even passed the husband test!

With that, I looked on the Internet for recipes for such bars. They were everywhere. BUT, what I noticed was that the recipes were basically the same. All mimicked the original Larabar. Because of my nutrition background, I decided to work with it a little to boost the nutrient value even more. For starters, I came up with the recipe below. Chocolate Brownie Bars are no bake, grain free, no soy, etc. I added flax meal and chia seeds to boost the nutritional value, while cutting down a bit on the added chocolate chips. You can add more if you want, but I felt less was best here (from a health standpoint).

So…try them for yourself. They’re really easy and quick to make, and oh-so-yummy to enjoy. The recipe can easily be increased to make more at one time. I recorded a YouTube video and placed the link below, so you can see how they’re made. Enjoy! Judi

Chocolate Brownie Bars (No bake, grain free)

1/2 cup chopped dates
2 Tablespoons water
1/4 cup walnut pieces*
1/4 cup cashew pieces*
2 tsp flax meal
1 Tbsp semi-sweet chocolate chips
2 tsp unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tsp ground chia seeds
Pinch of salt**

Place chopped dates in a small bowl. Pour 2 tablespoons of boiling water over dates and allow them to soften for 5 to 10 minutes. Alternatively place chopped dates in a small microwave safe bowl. Add 2 tablespoons tap water. Microwave about 30 seconds, until water has boiled. Remove and allow dates to soften for 5 to 10 minutes. Drain any remaining water from the dates, but no need to pat them dry on a towel.

Place all ingredients in a food processor or high-power blender. Process until ingredients are well chopped up and stick together.

With a spatula, remove mixture to a large piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap. With spatula, form into a bar shape. Wrap tightly and place in refrigerator overnight to firm up and for flavors to blend.

Slice into small pieces and enjoy!

Note: This recipe can easily be increased so it can be formed in a loaf pan for larger size serving pieces. Line the loaf pan with plastic wrap before placing mixture into the pan. Wrap the formed bar with the excess of the same piece of plastic wrap before placing bar in the refrigerator to firm up.

* Walnut and cashew pieces may be natural or roasted and salted

** Omit added salt if walnut or cashew pieces are already salted

Flatbread (Gluten and Yeast Free)

Gluten Free and Yeast Free Flatbread

Flatbread (Gluten and Yeast Free)

In my quest to expand my horizons into the gluten-free world, I developed this recipe for a gluten free/yeast free flatbread. I’m calling it “flatbread” for lack of a better term. Actually, it’s more like a cross between a flatbread and a focaccia bread. It’s not truly either, but somewhere in between. It’s a very low-rising bread that is baked in either an 8×8 pan (half recipe) or 9×13 pan (full recipe) and ends up about 1/2″ thick, almost like a slice of bread. Hence, after being sliced into whatever size square or rectangle you want, this bread makes a good sandwich bread or one on which to spread your favorite goo or sandwich filling and enjoy. It is even good plain! I’m enjoying it and my husband has even dared to try a slice. He did so without complaining, so it passed the “husband test.” Yippee! The recipe is in a .pdf downloadable form on my website at HandMadeInIowa.com. (Look for the “GF Flatbread” recipe.) Or, you can opt to view it below. I’ve also recorded a YouTube video to show how it comes out. See below.

Let me know if you give this a try! I’d love to read your comments. Enjoy, Judi

Flatbread (Gluten and Yeast Free)
Makes One 9×13 Pan

292 grams gluten-free flour blend of your choice*
1 tsp psyllium husk powder*
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt

1 egg
3/4 cup + 2 Tbsp warm water
1/4 cup vegetable oil of choice
2 Tbsp honey
2 Tbsp apple cider vinegar

In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients; set aside.

In a small bowl, combine the liquid ingredients. Add liquid mix to the flour mixture. Stir well until smooth. Pour batter into a greased 9×13″ baking pan. Allow batter to rest as oven preheats, about 10 minutes. If needed, the top of the batter may be smoothed out with wet fingers.

Preheat oven to 375F. Bake about 20 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean when inserted in the middle. Allow to cool in the pan on a wire rack. Slice and serve. Wrap leftover bread air-tight. May be stored in freezer for extended preservation.

*The flour blend used in developing this recipe consists of the following:
127 grams sorghum flour
60 grams millet flour
63 grams white rice flour
42 grams tapioca flour

Note that the flour blend does not have xanthan gum, nor any binder added. That is why the psyllium husk powder has been added to the recipe. If your flour blend has xanthan gum in it, you may omit the psyllium husk powder. If your blend does not have xanthan gum in it and you do not want to use the psyllium husk powder, feel free to use 1 teaspoon (or equivalent) of whatever binder you prefer to use.

Moist Gluten Free Cinnamon Muffins

Moist (Really!) Gluten Free Cinnamon Muffins

Moist Gluten Free Cinnamon Muffins

Moist Gluten Free Cinnamon Muffins

Here’s a spin-off recipe from my Basic Gluten Free Muffins. These muffins have cinnamon added to the batter plus a cinnamon crumb topping. They’re absolutely delicious and really not hard to make. Like my basic muffins, they’re sweetened with dates and have little added oil, yet they’re moist and delicious. The crumb topping does have a little brown sugar in it, but very little compared to the usual fare. FYI…The GF flour blend used in developing this recipe was a mixture of equal parts of millet flour, brown rice flour and white rice flour. No xanthan gum was added to the mixture, nor the recipe. It truly isn’t needed. (ALL of my gluten free recipes will be developed without xanthan gum as it gives me wicked headaches!)

Please DO give these a try and let me know how they work for you. To download the full recipe, visit my website at HandMadeInIowa.com. See below to watch my video on how to make the muffins. Enjoy! Judi

Basic Gluten Free Muffins

Delicious, moist gluten free basic muffins

Basic Gluten Free Muffins

Well…I FINALLY did it! After about 15 trials (really!), I finally hit the right combination of ingredients for a delicious, moist, gluten free muffin that’s sweetened only with fruit and has little added oil. This was no small task, since this professional baker has always baked only with wheat flours in the past. Gluten free baking is an entirely different process and most of what was learned in traditional baking simply went out the window.

I wanted to develop a muffin sweetened only with fruit in response to the recent recommendations to cut our sugar intake. So…does this muffin contain sugar? Yes, but it’s from fruit. Does it contain refined sugar? No. I wanted to create a muffin without refined sugars, and with less oils, to make a lower calorie, more healthful baked treat. Of course, it had to be moist and tasty. I did it.

Also, this is a great foundation recipe that could easily be adapted into countless variations. Nuts, fresh, frozen or dried fruit, other flavorings, and even savory combinations could be added to alter this basic recipe. Use your imagination and try it!

Even better, this muffin was made without xanthan gum, guar gum or any other such additives. It simply doesn’t need it. The pectin in the fruits, the egg white, and flax meal all work together to bind the ingredients so the finished product isn’t crumbly. I learned along the way that xanthan gum and I don’t get along…it gives me serious headaches. Hence, any gluten free baked item I make from here on will be free of xanthan gum.

For your information, the gluten free flour blend I used was my own mixture of 1 part of sorghum flour, 1 part of millet flour, 1/2 part of potato starch, and 1/2 part of arrowroot powder (all by weight, not measure). I don’t think it’s mandatory that your flour blend be identical to mine, as long as it has roughly the same proportion of “heavy,” “light,” and “starchy” ingredients. It contains no xanthan gum, nor any other such ingredient.

Note! If YOUR gluten free flour blend DOES have xanthan gum, feel free to use it in this recipe. I believe it will turn out just fine, even though it really isn’t needed in this muffin.

I’ve uploaded a video on how to make this delicious muffin. The link is below. Also, you can click here to download the full recipe (Basic GF Muffins) from my website. Give this muffin a try and let me know if it works for you! Judi