Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Gluten-Free Bread Baking Debacle

I should have known better than to get cocky about baking bread and non-gluten bread, no less.  "How hard can it be?" Famous last words.  Ha!

This was the first clue that something had gone terribly wrong.  

The bread rose over the sides of the pan.  I have never baked bread before, so I thought I could just put a pan under it and it would turn out okay.

The plus side:  what was edible was actually quite good.

And this is from a commercial bread mix, albeit, a Serbian commercial bread mix with directions in Serbian.  Trying to be proactive prior to baking, I took the package to my Serbian lesson so the teacher could help me translate it.  I'm finding that Serbian baking instructions are actually for, um, bakers.  Which means, they leave out what us non-bakers deem necessary and actual bakers already know; for instance, the instructions say to leave the uncooked bread until it's 2 to 3 times larger.  It doesn't give you an estimate time for that process (30 minutes?  2 hours?  Am I supposed to stare at it until it grows or check back every 5 minutes?).  Also, measurements aren't so precise.  I love the fact that they bake like my mom and I used to bake when I was a kid.  Did anyone else just use a spoon that you actually use to stir tea and a tablespoon that you use to eat cereal to measure baking ingredients?  The Serbs still do.  They just call them "coffee" and "soup" spoons.  From what I've read, though, with non-gluten baking, measurements need to be precise.  So maybe the error was in there somewhere.

Serbian Instant Yeast
Another possibility was in the translation of the yeast quantity (by the look of the explosion above, this might be the ticket).  The yeast I've found here comes in tiny envelopes of 7 grams each.  We translated the ingredients to say: 15g yeast (1/4 of packet).

So here comes the tricky part of baking overseas (and I'm not even converting liters to cups!), translating the translation.  I believe I incorrectly translated this translation to mean that there were bigger packets out there of 60g each and that I needed a quarter, 15 g, for my recipe.  Makes sense, right?

Taking a closer look at the yeast envelope now, I can see in my broken Serbian, that it says to use half a 7g packet, so 3.5g, for 500g of regular wheat flour.  Ah.  So, 15 grams of yeast was a bit too much for my 300g of non-gluten flour?  Ya think?

 Maybe "15g yeast (1/4 of packet)" means a quarter of 15g, or 3.75g.  Who does that? 3.75g.  The Serbs.  How exactly do I measure 3.75g?  Serbs would roll their eyes and say, "It's about a half of a packet."  Oh.  Duh.  (Remember the coffee spoons?)

Dang.  I'm trying not to be discouraged.  Everything I've read says that non-gluten baking is difficult. And that's without cultural and language differences to boot.  Good thing we're going to be living in Serbia a while longer.  Back to the kitchen.  I'll let you know how half a packet of yeast works.

I've been humbled.


  1. LOL...wish I had been there to watch this explosion! You can do it, Stephanie! I look forward to your first "perfect gluten-free loaf of bread" picture! Love you!


    1. It might not look pretty, but more of it will be edible next time. That didn't sound too cocky now, did it? I don't want to jinx it again!
      Thanks, Dee! Love you!


Postcard Poem: My Serbian Mayfield