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If there is one thing that scares people off going sans gluten, it’s having to break up with bread. And if you’ve had the misfortune of ingesting some of the more underwhelming substitutes on the market, you’ll know these fears are completely justified.
I have no idea how a consumer watchdog hasn’t knocked on some manufacturer’s doors and said, “Excuse me, are you aware the product you’ve labelled as ‘bread’ is actually just dust cut into slices?”
The irritating thing is that gluten is pretty much essential if you want your bread to have the structural integrity of a crusty French baguette. This lack of ‘glue’ results in substitutes going one of two ways – they’re either like honking onto a bit of dry wall or they’re so packed full of binding agents you need a chimney sweep to get the remains off the roof of your mouth when you’re done.
So, if you give up gluten are you destined for a life without bread? Not quite – but it’s fair to say you are going to have to make a few compromises….
If you think size matters, you’d better get over it
Sometimes I wonder if the gluten-free baking society got together and decided that for gluten-free bread to be ‘regulation’ it had to be somewhere between the size of a postage stamp and a square of toilet paper. Needless to say, if you’re used to a giant piece of Tip Top, you should probably start to familiarise yourself with the idea of smaller portions (which isn’t a bad thing).
The positive, however, is that gluten-free breads are often full of waaaaay more nourishing ingredients than other breads so you’ll feel fuller for longer (even if it looks like you’ve made a sandwich with a couple of biscuits).
Going out for milk and bread may now require your credit card
If you’re used to paying $1 for a loaf of bread then take a seat because the gluten-free stuff is usually around the $7 mark (which by my calculations is about as far from ‘free’ as you can get). Maybe I’ll take back my above judgement on size…if the loaves were any bigger I probably couldn’t afford them.
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Get used to liking your sandwiches toasted
The trick with gluten-free bread is to toast it within an inch of its life. It doesn’t burn (here’s hoping that isn’t because the secret ingredient is fire retardant) but if you really cook the hell out of it, it gets much closer to the consistency of real people toast and actually tastes really good. I usually put mine through the toaster twice on high and it comes out perfect….plus you don’t have to stand over the sink scraping the burnt bits off anymore because you went to the toilet and forgot about it. In fact, you could probably leave it in the toaster on high for 3 days and it’d still be edible (I’m not sure if that’s a good thing).