I think our story begins like many of my readers’:
My husband had digestive trouble on and off for years. We tried playing detective but never came up with any real answers.
We would eliminate a few things, or add more supplements; and the discomfort would subside a while…until the next episode hit. The strangest part was having years go by between episodes; until he got older.
Think back two decades ago, before gluten was a buzz word.
This all came to a head in February of 2012: After dealing with severe abdominal pain for days, we found ourselves sitting in the ER. We knew it must be serious, based on my husband’s usual (stubborn) attitude about doctor visits.
After ruling out gallbladder issues, the doctors had very little to offer us. They had weak theories, but none of them involved possible food allergies or sensitivities.
Becoming Gluten Free
I had been dabbling with gluten free cooking on and off for a few years when we decided it was time to test this as a possible trigger. At that point, hubs was willing to try anything that eliminated the pain. Pain can be funny that way; it has a way of making us agree to abnormal things.
He went gluten free–cold turkey–and lo and behold, he got better!
The silver lining in this saga was that my husband became pain-free. Hallelujah!
The bad news: he loves bread, cookies, and pizza…but who doesn’t?
On a side note, it can be a bit overwhleming – not to mention depressing – to discover that an entire food group (which you happen to like) is entirely off-limits. There is also a big difference between “choosing to be gluten free” and “having to be gluten free.”
For me, gluten free is a choice; no sweat. No real need to be concerned with cross-contamination, places I might eat, which foods I should take when traveling, etc. So if I happen to have gluten, big whoop, life goes on. However, if you have to be gluten free for health reasons, a mistake can have dire consequences.
Cooking Gluten Free
Cakes, quick breads, and cookies are rather easy to adapt to the gluten free diet. However, I quickly discovered that ANYTHING made with dry yeast is a monster in itself.
When I first tried baking gluten free bread (mainly for sandwiches), my efforts were not rewarded. In fact, the results were abysmal. My breads were dense (as in “adobe brick” dense) and crumbly.
I needed bread like yesterday and I couldn’t produce one edible loaf (unless you were one of my chickens).
I fell back on store-bought gluten free bread (not all of which are tasty) and Pamela’s Gluten Free Bread Mix & Flour Blend.
My Review of Pamela’s Gluten Free Bread Mix
On the plus side, Pamela’s Gluten Free Bread Mix is handy and easy to use. On the downside, it takes longer to make a loaf than regular (as in wheat flour) bread. It took me two and a half hours to produce one bread and it can tastes a tad gritty. I am used to eating whole grain breads so the grittiness is not a huge issue for me.
Unlike regular bread, there is only ONE rise and the dough resembles cake batter more than bread dough. None of which were problems.
In the end, you do have a nice size loaf of gluten free bread which doesn’t crumble or fall apart (a huge plus). The bread kept well, plus I had no trouble slicing it thin enough to make a decent sandwich.
Hubby liked the taste and the texture, which is always a win. As any good French woman, I mourned the fact that this was not a French baguette; until I remembered I could still eat French bread (when I visit my relatives).
Overall, we were very pleased with Pamela’s Gluten Free Bread Mix & Flour Blend and would definitely use it again in a pinch.
More Good News
The package says that you can use this flour mix for making bagels, pizza crust, pie crust, cookies and other gluten free goodies. I’m a tad embarrassed to say, I’ve only used the mix to bake bread.
Overall, it seems to be a well-rounded gluten free flour mix.
My Gluten Free Bread Experiment Update
You’ll be happy to know that my recipes matured beyond “adobe brick style bread.” I have now successfully created, and baked, my own loaf of gluten free bread. It is not dense, and is actually quite tasty. You can find the recipe here:
Blessings to all and bon appetit.