Here’s my initial post as a food blogger! So exciting. Learn more about my baking resume here.
First, a note on formatting. I tend to take a recipe and then modify the living daylights out of it with either flavour substitutions (e.g. butter for margarine) or allergen substitutions (e.g. egg substitutes). My posts will read more like a journal than a recipe, in a way. After all, baking is personal. Here goes!
At the time of my writing this, my loaf is in the oven. And I am nervous as all get out.
In my first ever attempt at gluten free loaves a year ago, all I did was take a herb loaf recipe and swap out the flour. OOPS. It ended up browned on the outside and raw on the inside (I could mold it into shapes!) and didn’t rise at all. It broke my confidence with trying gluten-free baking that requires rising. So this is my chance at self-redemption… my opportunity to move beyond cookies and squares. (I make a mean gingersnap – future blog post for sure!)
A couple weeks ago I successfully made gluten-free vanilla cupcakes. I learned the secret of letting the batter rest. This allows the gluten-free flour to soak up the liquids in the recipe and really ‘absorb’ into it, creating better cohesion so that the stickiness that allows dough to form air bubbles can occur. I also learned that you need to mix the living daylights out of gluten-free batters, for similar reasons. For cupcakes, I used an electric beater until my arm got sore. Unlike gluten/wheat doughs, you can not overmix gluten-free doughs. Mix away! This is the best stand-alone tip I have for successful gluten-free baking.
The cupcake success helped my get the nerve to try a loaf again. That, and I had 5 small overripe bananas and can’t bring myself to throw them out.
In this, my second ever attempt at a gluten free loaf, I picked a recipe specifically for gluten-free flours. Although this is not my normal strategy in gluten-free baking, this may have been my ticket to ride. I just peeked inside the oven after 43min of baking, and the loaf is ridiculously tall. It has risen to about double the height of the pan…. it went from about 3″ in the pan to 3″ above the lip at the top. I am now certain that I overfilled the pan – but it rose, it didn’t do the mushroom thing that cupcakes tend to do – so I am not too concerned. Just need to add a bunch more baking time.
Loaf’s done! It’s now a dark brown colour and I would be worried about burning if I left it in longer (worry about it being raw inside is kind of making me force the baking time to the higher end of the scale). It’s fallen significantly in the 3 minutes it’s been out of the oven, and I am now remembering my mom cooling her loaves sideways on a cooling rack to prevent falling… oops! Hope it doesn’t compress too much. But it smells delicious!
I just tried to shake it out of the pan about, oh 20 minutes before I should have. It kind of fell apart a bit. Way too hot. But it’s fully baked and smells like heaven! Let it cool before you try to move it around, kids. Mine just lost any opportunity for a nice photo post-first-slice.
Anyways, have at it! Gluten-free loaves aren’t as scary as I thought. Happy baking!
**UPDATE**: The next day, after leaving it to cool overnight, I have the following recommendations to add:
- Use three and a half to four bananas. 5 makes it WAY too moist, it almost doesn’t seem like a dough. And I used 5 small ones with the brown bruised parts cut off.
- Please, please, please leave it in the pan until it’s almost entirely cooled. Mine fell apart. But it tastes AMAZING. My boyfriend’s already eaten half of it.
The original recipe was found at Bob’s Red Mill Easy Gluten Free Banana Bread. My modified version is below.
Bob’s Red Mill Easy Gluten Free Banana Bread
1/3 cup canola oil
2/3 cup brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract *
1 3/4 cups all-purpose gluten-free flour **
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
sprinkle of salt ***
4 mashed ripe bananas
1/2 cup chopped pecans or walnuts (I used pecans)
Preheat oven to 350.
Grease a loaf pan. Mine is what I consider to be a normal loaf pan size, about 4″ by 8″ ish. So long as you modify the baking time accordingly this should work for muffins or larger pans too. I overfilled mine… wouldn’t recommend filling it over 2/3.
Cream together oil, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in large bowl.
Add flour, xanthan gum, salt, baking powder and cinnamon to egg mixture, alternating with bananas. Make sure to pre-mix the xanthan gum and gluten-free flour before adding it to the wet ingredients.
Hand-beat until smooth. Batter will be gooey – not liquid like cupcakes but definitely not a dough.
Stir in nuts.
Batter will be somewhat soft. transfer to pan(s).
Bake loaf for about 45min, then check at 15min intervals. My loaf took 75 minutes (1hr 15min)
*I’m not fake and neither is my vanilla. My favourite way to obtain vanilla is, if you have friends or family heading to Mexico or area, bribe them to bring back real vanilla. It will dramatically improve the quality of your baking. Fake extract tastes horrendously chemical to me now. In Mexico it’s dirt cheap so affordability stops being an issue. Plus you can buy a half-litre at a time. It’s stellar.
** I used the common “Bob’s Red Mill” brand, but I am rather confident that any mix that includes a good proportion of rice flour and potato flour would probably work fine.
*** I try to minimize salt in my baking. I basically get my salt grinder out (love me some sea salt! Full of wonderful minerals) and put a fine dusting over the batter. I find salt is very seldomly missed if it’s let out of sweeter baking, or lowered in ‘dose’. And goodness knows most of us get enough salt in the rest of our diet to not miss a bit here or there.