This survey was requested by readers looking for inspiration. Gluten-free bread is not usually as tasty as regular bread, but there are plenty of good options on the shelves.
Finding a flour as a substitute for wheat, barley, and rye is challenging. We looked for bakeries that might produce gluten-free, but for many, the requirements and restrictions are so rigorous they choose not to have a separate, designated area from other produce. Some bake gluten-free only. Mhk Hpmc
A piece of gluten-free bread and butter is often not very appetising, but toasting generally improves the flavour and texture. Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose (HPMC), listed as E464, and xanthan gum are used in many products as emulsifiers and thickening agents. These ingredients help to lighten the bread and provide elasticity in the absence of gluten.
Two tasters had digestive wind problems after the tasting, which could be attributed to eating 16 samples in one session. A few slices a day is unlikely to cause problems, but it's good to be aware. It’s a matter of personal choice whether to go for taste or soft/hard texture and whether or not you like your food with as few additives as possible. All breads will keep in the fridge for almost a week.
Denise’s Delicious Oat Soda Bread 580g €4.50
Milk combines with gluten-free oats, rapeseed oil, lemon juice, salt and soda bicarbonate to make quite a light texture with plenty of flavour. Potassium metabisulphite is listed as a possible allergen. A linseed and almond bread mix is handy for small scones, small loaves or one large one (€7.90 for 450g). Made in Cork, we found in ABC, English Market, Cork.
John McCambridge Soda Bread 550g €3.67
A blend of 38% buttermilk with pea flour, gluten-free oat flakes and oat flour, sweetened gently with coconut sugar works well. No xanthan gum and the raising agent is listed as sodium hydrogen carbonate which is baking soda/bicarbonate of soda and not generally known as an allergen. A good likeness to the brand’s regular soda bread. Made in Rathcoole Co Dublin.
White and brown gluten-free flours, yeast, milk, eggs, butter, milk, cane sugar, and salt make for a simple list which, though a little dry, has a good texture. Xanthan gum is its only additive. It cuts well and has natural flavours. Good for hummus. Tasters approved. From the Quay Co-op, Cork.
Rice flour, water, salt, yeast, and roasted lentils blend with corn starch and sunflower oil for a light bread with a good, natural texture. No additives listed. The flavour compares quite well to wheat bread and can be used in sandwiches. Liked by all tasters. Bakery also produces gluten breads. Available via NeighbourFood, we bought at Cork’s Coal Quay Saturday market.
The Natural Foods Bakery 440g €5
Brown rice flour, chickpea flour, salt and yeast combine for a dense bread which feels brick-like but is softer inside and slices thinly and easily. A nice, clean flavour which was delicious topped with tomatoes and mashed cooked broad beans drizzled with olive oil. From the Natural Foods Bakery, Blackrock, Cork.
M&S Food Made Without 4 Soft White Rolls 300g €4.30
Good to see rolls available for burgers that have fairly good flavour with some stickiness in the mouth from the base of rice flour with hydroxypropyl methylcellulose listed as E464. Also xanthan gum. Even more, we liked the gluten-free coffee and walnut cake (€6) and the seeded thins (€3.50).
Just Free Multigrain sliced pan 400g €1.69
The 6% mix of golden millet, brown linseed, sunflower, poppy, and quinoa adds interest to a base of rice flour, tapioca starch, and potato starch. The slightly claggy texture is typical of many of the breads tasted. More interesting ingredients black treacle, prune purée, sugar beet fibre, wholegrain maize flour gave it an edge at a fair price. Made in Britain, we bought in Lidl.
BFree Wholegrain sourdough loaf 350g €3.49
In a base of 20% sourdough rice flour, maize starch, 11% whole grain buckwheat flour, there is a little more substance here than some, though with a hint of that sticky feel in the mouth. Higher than most tasted, sugars are 4.4% from rice syrup and invert sugar syrup. Made in Dublin, we bought in Dunnes Stores.
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