The yummy homemade GF loaf I just made!
Breads. We love ‘em, but not always when they’re gluten-free, right?
To get a really good loaf of gluten-free bread, we’ve always had to make them from scratch (and boy are those good). But if you want to walk into a store and buy a loaf of pre-made gluten-free bread, until recently there haven’t been any truly palatable options.
Frozen gluten-free loaves have historically been called "bricks"
Gluten-free store-bought bread is nearly universally found in the freezer section of specialty food stores and more progressive groceries; it is rarely found “fresh” on the shelves. On the one hand, it’s nice to have a loaf of bread in the freezer for those “emergency sandwiches;” on the other though, frozen is never as soft and moist as fresh.
Given that universal truth, I have been pleasantly surprised recently to taste some new offerings from gluten-free bread producers. As noted in my earlier posts, I poured over the samples at Natural Products Expo West, but I also have been doing some extra homework on the side, tasting more breads at other expos and trying some others at home. I’m happy to share with you some of my exciting finds that you can now ask for in stores near you!
My caveat at this point though bears repeating: I am judging these breads against one another, not against fresh homemade bread. Refrigerating bread, and to a lesser extent freezing bread, will dry it out. All of these breads (with the exception of one, which I’ll get to in a moment) are better toasted than “fresh from the freezer,” but you could try a light zap in the microwave instead. In that case, I recommend wrapping the bread in a paper towel and reheating it at a low power, just until warm.
Again, to recap: I offer my reviews on only the newly released products I tasted. Trust me when I say that I tasted many, many more, but I don’t think anyone is well-served by a negative review. All of the reviewed products contained egg, but were dairy-free.
(See my Intro to Expo and my philosophy behind my reviews, as well as my other new product reviews on Granolas & Bars,
Gluten-Free Baking Ingredients, Gluten-Free Main Dishes and Gluten-Free Cookies!)
Udi's at Expo West with chef Robert Landolphi
The stalwart in the gluten-free bread business has recently, and now solidly, become Udi’s Gluten-Free Foods (the same company, but different facility as Udi’s Organic Bakery – not gluten-free). Most people have tasted their breads by now, and there’s nothing new to report on those, but they did launch several new products at Expo West which I was able to try for myself.
Udi’s introduced hamburger and hot dog buns (“classic” hamburger and hotdog, and “whole grain” hamburger), but they were serving the buns with mounds of pork barbecue, which as a vegetarian, didn’t excite me. I did manage to get a nibble of an unadulterated bun, but the products that really caught my attention though, were their new “Ancient Grain Breads” — “Omega-Salba” and “Millet-Chia.” Both Salba (a variety of chia seed) and Chia seeds have recently garnered a lot of attention as super nutritional ingredients, particularly prized in gluten-free products. Millet is another seed that has been popping up in many muffins and breads, offering crunch and a nutty taste along with protein and fiber.
In Udi’s new breads, these yummy ingredients add real flavor that I haven’t tasted in any other pre-made gluten-free breads yet. As someone who has been unimpressed with the “light white” gluten-free breads on the market thus far, these “Ancient Grain” additions are most welcomed.
By the way, if you’re looking for an Udi’s coupon, you needn’t go far. Nearly any search in Google for anything remotely gluten-free will turn up a pop-up ad or link to an Udi’s $1 off coupon. But to save time, here’s the perma-link to save a buck on Udi’s, any time you need. (Note – signing up for the coupon signs you up for their email list, as well).
Glutino is smart. Genius, in fact. They decided not to reinvent the wheel and instead went “across the pond” to partner with Genius Breads. For those of you who haven’t heard of Genius Gluten Free, they have been making big waves with their gluten-free breads in the UK for years, and even launched a £3 million advertising campaign last year. Knowing all this, I was super excited when I got to taste their new bread, “Genius Gluten Free by Glutino,” at Expo West. I’m going to reserve judgment for now though, as I think the samples I tested had been sitting out too long at the show. Let me know what you think if you get to do your own taste-test.
My friend, the Healthy Apple - crazy for Rudi's Breads!
Another fan favorite, Rudi’s has a prolific offering of organic (not GF) as well as gluten-free bread choices. I love that their gluten-free breads are certified by the GFCO.
Tasting their breads in the past, they certainly hold their own in this category , so I was excited at Expo to sample their just-released multi-grain hamburger and hotdog buns and even a pizza crust. Unfortunately, when I stopped by at Expo West, the only gluten-free offerings at Rudi’s were grilled cheese sandwiches. I have nothing against a grilled cheese, but as someone who must avoid dairy (and let’s not forget most celiacs are lactose intolerant!), it would have been nice to just be able to taste the bread. What’s more, frying bread in butter, with melted cheese in the middle, isn’t the purest way to showcase a bread. Chime in when you get to taste their new products and let us know how you like them!
I was really excited to taste Canyon Bakehouse’s new offerings. I sampled nearly everything they had and was pretty impressed overall. Their hamburger buns, however, were outstanding. I haven’t tasted anything this good in pre-made gluten-free bread … I’m going to say, ever.
These truly rivaled homemade buns; I wouldn’t hesitate to buy these for a picnic full of gluten eaters. Soft, not crumbly, and toasting wasn’t necessary! That’s right – pre-made gluten-free bread that doesn’t need to be toasted. Way to go, Canyon. I’m really looking forward to trying your mock-rye when it is released soon, as well. I expect great things!