Tastier and Cheaper: Save 58% on Gluten-Free Bread by Making it at Home
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As someone who eats more PB&Js than he drinks glasses of water and thoroughly enjoys a good beer or 10, the thought of ever living without gluten had never crossed my mind. But then I met my partner, who was diagnosed with celiac disease as a teenager. And darn it if I just didn’t fall in love and have to say goodbye to (most) gluten.
For many, being gluten free is more than just a trendy diet; it is a necessary lifestyle change. For those suffering from celiac disease, an intense autoimmune disorder that affects about 1% of the population, gluten attacks the intestines when ingested.
Exposure to gluten over time can lead people with celiac to develop Type 1 diabetes, multiple sclerosis, migraines, epilepsy, various forms of cancer and more; immediate symptoms of exposure include diarrhea or constipation, joint pain, vomiting, abdominal pain, painful rashes and fatigue, among others.
My partner, Nick’s, gluten intolerance is so severe that he shouldn’t eat off a plate, dine with a utensil or even use a refrigerator or microwave that’s been exposed to gluten.
So when we moved in together, I had to give up gluten entirely (except for my beers, which are safe in bottles, hallelujah). The most difficult part for me was getting used to gluten-free bread, which crumbles easily, doesn’t taste like bread and is incredibly expensive.
At Kroger, we can get a decent half loaf (yes, they’re sold in half loaves!) for $6.49, making a whole loaf a whopping $12.98. As you can imagine, that adds up quickly, especially when you’re a 26-year-old guy whose only talent in the kitchen is making sandwiches.
Luckily, gluten-free bread is much tastier and cheaper if you make it at home. You can bake gluten-free bread in an oven, but if you regularly bake gluten-free bread, I highly recommend investing in a bread maker. We bought our Hamilton Beach bread maker, which has built-in gluten-free functionality, for around $45. The ingredients in our recipes below only cost $5.39 per loaf, so the bread maker practically pays for itself after about seven loaves — and the time savings are incredible.
Nick was kind enough to share two gluten-free bread recipes with me, adapted from “Gluten-Free on a Shoestring” by Nicole Hunn — one for the oven and one for the bread maker.
Homemade Gluten-Free Bread Ingredients
The ingredients to make gluten-free bread can be pricy, but they will last you a long time and are essential for baking and cooking hundreds of gluten-free dishes.
3 cups gluten-free flour: $3.00
2 ¼ teaspoons xanthan gum: 62 cents
3 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast: 77 cents
¼ teaspoon cream of tartar: 5 cents
2 tablespoons sugar: 3 cents
2 teaspoons salt
1 ½ cups milk: 20 cents
¼ cup butter, melted: 40 cents
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar: 1 cent
2 large egg whites, beaten: 20 cents
You can easily replace the first six ingredients with a gluten-free bread mix. Surprisingly, the overall cost comes out to be the same.
Nick and I tend to prefer using the bread mix because you just can’t beat the taste, consistency and convenience. We use Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free Homemade Wonderful Bread Mix, which we get at Kroger for $4.59. We do, however, follow our own recipe with it.
- Total homemade cost: $5.38
- Total cost with pre-made bread mix: $5.39
- Total cost of two store-bought half loaves: $12.98
Gluten-Free Bread in a Bread Maker
Your bread maker should have instructions regarding the order of the ingredients. Before adding your liquids (milk, egg whites, apple cider vinegar and melted butter), whisk them together in a bowl.
After entering the ingredients, set your controls and voila! You’ll have gluten-free bread in no time.
Gluten-Free Bread in the Oven
As a lazy chef, the bread maker is my preferred option. Nick sometimes still enjoys playing Martha Stewart and bakes our bread in the oven. Here is his step-by-step process:
- Thoroughly grease a 9-by-5-inch bread pan with butter.
- In a mixing bowl, combine dry ingredients: flour, xanthan gum, active dry yeast, cream of tartar, sugar and salt.
- One by one, add your liquid ingredients while using your mixer’s paddle attachment to mix in the ingredients. Keep your mixer on low and ensure each ingredient is thoroughly mixed before adding the next. The order doesn’t matter here. When you’re finished, you should have a thick mixture that sticks to the bowl.
- Now’s the fun part. Turn that mixer up to high speed and mix for about 5 minutes — doing so “activates the xanthan gum,” according to Nick. Careful, batter may fly. Nick likes to use a towel to cover the mixer, especially if I’m in control, to prevent a tasty mess for our dogs to lick up.
- Once you’ve had your fun with the mixer, transfer the dough over to your bread pan and let it sit for about 30 minutes in a humid environment, or until the dough rises to the top of the pan. Heat the oven to 375 F at about the 20-minute mark.
- Place the pan in the oven and bake it for 60 minutes.
- Let the bread cool for about 10 minutes — or as long as you can keep your hands off it — before digging in.
Gluten-free bread doesn’t have to crumble in your fists, and it doesn’t have to break the bank either. After mastering the basics, you can even play around with different bread types or spice up your basic recipe with honey, various seasonings and more.
Timothy Moore loves gluten, especially in the beer variety, but he loves his partner even more, so he was willing to give it up, except for the beer variety. He, his partner and their two dogs currently live gluten-free in Nashville.