I’m not a baker. Most people can either cook or bake. I can claim to be a good cook, but when it comes to baking, let’s just say that I’m lucky that my pies turn out so well.
Baking is a science – it’s meticulous and exact. I cook by throwing things together and experimentation. I don’t like to use exact measurements, I don’t have the proper equipment half the time, and my “let’s substitute this for that and see what happens” mentality leads to great entrees, but terrible, terrible cookies.
That said, since going gluten-free, I sometimes want bread. Like for the mussels I’m cooking for Husband. So I got some gluten-free french bread mix from Whole Foods last night and decided to try my oven mitts at making a decent crusty loaf.
(Speaking in hindsight, I can say that you should probably not try this at home, and get baking tips from someone who actually knows what they’re doing. But ANYWAYS…)
Ok so I got it pretty well mixed, despite no mixer, and no dough hook. I didn’t have cider vinegar, so I used White Vinegar. I’m not sure what the difference was. Also it seemed too dry, so added a splash more water. (We can see how this is going already, eh?)
I was instructed to pour it into a 9×12 loaf pan. I don’t have a loaf pan, but I DO have a cute retro quart casserole dish. So I used that. The box said to wrap it with saran wrap but I was out of that. So I covered it with a dish towel… shhh… go to sleep, little dough. See you when you rise…
YIKES! It rose! It rose a lot. Past the top of the dish. I felt like Woody Allen versus the pudding in Sleeper. Maybe there was too much dough in the pan? I considered cutting some of it out, but it just had such a nice round, bread-looking top, I didn’t want to ruin it, aesthetically speaking. Being an artist, I’m actually more of a visual chef than a tasting chef. (I know you’re not supposed to do that, but I live on the edge.) So this looked good so far. Perky, even.
Next I needed to brush an egg wash onto it to give it that golden crust. I don’t have a pastry brush. But, being an artist, I DO have a paintbrush. So I used that (it’s clean).
Then I put it in the oven. Now… I SWEAR I put the oven on 275. But somehow, after 40 minutes, when I went to check the bread… the oven said 225. DOUGH! I opened the oven and…
I turned the oven back up to 275 and let it bake for another ten minutes, but I had a feeling this bread situation was turning pretty bleak. Awhile later, I took out the now-oozing loaf. It was like the dish was filled with cooled lava. The instructions said that the bread was done when it was golden brown and “hollow-sounding when tapped on.” I don’t usually go around tapping on loaves of bread, or hollow objects in general, so I had little frame of reference. But our Dog often sounds hollow when we pat her stomach, and my bread sounded about the same level of hollow-ness. I figured it was done.
(I trimmed off the extra loaf-overflow to try to make it more uniform.)
When it was cool, I cut into it to try it, but the texture was very gritty. Like very fine sand. And it was not fibrous, chewy, and the kind of bread you pull apart. It was more…biscuity. But not the flaky kind. The crumbly kind. The kind of sandy kind.
I made Sandy Biscuits.
Gross. Husband pointed out that Sandy Biscuits was a really great porn star name. And, like many sex professionals, Sandy ended up dismembered and put into plastic bags. She’s currently in my freezer. RIP, Sandy.
From now on, I think I’ll buy my gluten-free bread already made.
To be fair, Sandy Biscuits makes for an ok Sunday brunch, with gluten-free gravy.