If you’ve become attached to working with bread machines prior to going gluten-free and you’d like to keep using your current model, or if you’re in search of just the perfect model for gluten-free baking, there’s good news and there’s bad news.
The bad news
Nearly all bread machines are designed for gluten-based breads, not gluten-free breads. Using a traditional bread machine to make gluten-free bread is like trying to boil pasta in the microwave. It can be done, but not without a lot of babysitting, finagling of directions, asking the machine to do things differently from what it was designed to do, and producing different results. And while bread machines are supposed to be time saving, you’ll find that making a gluten-free bread in a bread machine doesn’t necessarily save time off the clock. First, bread machines are designed for two risings. Many gluten-free yeast breads require only one rise. And if you don’t have a machine where you can control the cycles so you can bypass the second cycle, you’ll waste time watching over it. Also, machines with the ability to control the cycles typically cost more.
The good news
Consult gluten-free baking books and you’ll find some savvy tricks to outsmart the machine and possibly be on your way to enjoying a good gluten-free loaf. For example, because gluten-free bread batter is sticky and dense, many say a heavy paddle will work best. And despite having a nonstick bucket, still augment with some spray or butter to prevent a not-so-desirable release. Tips can be found to help you with this gluten-free baking challenge in a traditional bread machine if you are set on using one. Carol Fenster has an arsenal of tips on how to outsmart the traditional bread machine in her book Gluten-Free 101, Easy, Basic Dishes Without Wheat and Ener-G Foods provides some advice on their website, www.ener-g.com.
Manufacturers are now taking notice of the need to design their new models with gluten-free bread settings, and more models are bound to appear on store shelves in the future. Currently, Cuisinart has a machine with a gluten-free setting, as does the Breadman TR875 2-Pound Stainless Steel Breadmaker.