At the beginning of July, I was chosen to be a Brand Rep for Rana’s Artisan Bread and was very excited to find a parcel waiting for me on my return from a week in sunny Cornwall. I admit, I have never baked gluten-free bread before, so I admire Rana’s company for picking me to be one of their Reps. I suppose the other way of looking at it, would be if I can bake it with no experience of baking anything intentionally gluten-free, then anybody should be able to!
When I undid the package I found a small bag and a sheet with photographs of six easy steps to take in order to make the bread (there were more detailed instructions on the back of the packet of bread mix). On opening the bag I was surprised to find inside a sheet of parchment, together with a parchment bag. This was a great idea and meant I didn’t have to fiddle around with loaf tins or lining baking trays, instead I could get straight on with the loaf.
It really couldn’t have been simpler. Step one consisted of emptying the contents of the bag into a bowl and adding 215ml warm water. It was a case of stirring the mixture together until combined and then leaving it to stand for 5 minutes – enough time to put the kettle on and make a cup of tea! After 5 minutes the mixture had to be stirred vigorously for a minute. I was surprised to see how thicker the mix had become in that time and how elastic it was too.
Step 2 – place the dough onto the sheet of parchment – but hang on what about the kneading I hear you all say – the beauty of this little loaf is that there is no need to knead! Once you had tipped the dough onto the parchment, you had to use a spatula (that had been dipped in water) to smooth and shape the dough. This actually turned out to be quite easy, I admit I was a little worried to begin with thinking it was just going to stick to the spatula, but it didn’t and very quickly I had a little loaf of smooth shaped dough. To finish I sprinkled the top of the loaf with some Banana Flour (which I had also been sent by Natural Evolution Foods) and which is also gluten-free and some poppy seeds. The last thing to do was to score the top, which I did struggle with as the dough is quite sticky, but I managed to do this by dipping my knife in a little banana flour first. The parchment sheet with the dough still on it was then put inside the little parchment bag and the end folded over to seal it. This was left to prove for an hour. The only drawback here was you couldn’t actually see whether or not anything was happening to the loaf, but on further reading of the instructions, there is a note to say that the loaf will not rise during proving, so there wouldn’t be anything to look at anyway!
With 10 minutes of the proving time left, I put the oven on to preheat at 200c. Unfortunately my oven doesn’t allow me to turn the fan off and Rana does state that if you can, turn the fan off. Into the oven went the loaf, still in its little bag. I was surprised to see that you had to cook it for 90 minutes, it seemed a long time, but I must admit the smell wafting around my kitchen for those 90 minutes was heavenly.
Once the time was up, the loaf was removed from the bag and I was pleased to see it had a lovely crust and left to cool on a rack.
Once cooled it was time for a taste test. Having never tasted a gluten-free loaf before I was intrigued to see what it was like. I’m pleased to say I wasn’t disappointed. It had a slight malty taste and my husband loved it with blackcurrant jam. Lucky for us there was some left a couple of days later (and it still tasted fine) to enjoy with a homegrown heritage tomato salad. It was delicious dipped in the balsamic vinegar dressing.
Although this only makes a small 350g loaf of bread and costs £3.99, I think it is the sort of bread that you would savour for a special occasion and not for every day. I think it would go very well with a cheeseboard.
I must admit I can’t wait to try baking a different loaf very soon.