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Gluten-Free Bread Showcase.

For those who are unaccustomed, gluten-free bread is kind of terrible.  It’s like the bread can’t commit to being bread.  It starts out strong – looks good, smells good – but once you try to make a sandwich out of that sucker, it falls apart into a crumbly mess in a matter of milliseconds.  For the last year, I’ve been entirely gluten-free (and I feel better for it – more here on the how and why), and over the course of my gluten-free adventures, I miss proper bread the most.

There are some decent options, though, and they’ve been tested by adults (Chris and I) and kids (Birdy) alike.  Here are some of the top contenders in the Sparling household:

Udi’s is the first kind of gluten-free bread I’ve ever tried, and I want to like it more than I actually do.  It’s not bad, but it’s my least-favorite option.  The pieces of bread themselves are tiny, the bread can’t hold up unless it’s toasted, and when it comes into contact with peanut butter, it becomes sludgy almost immediately.  But it will do in a pinch, and the other Udi’s options are infinitely better than their actual bread.  (Like the hamburger buns.  Those are legitimately awesome.)

Rudi’s is slightly better than Udi’s, but the similarity in names confuses the hell out of me.  Are Rudi and Udi brothers fraught with conflict who once had a unified bakery but then split off and created their own gluten-free fortresses?  Whatever the case,  Rudi’s bread is slightly studier than Udi’s but with the same “better when toasted” consistency.  The pieces of bread seem slightly bigger than Udi’s on the whole.  This brand is a little better but only marginally.

Three Bakers was my favorite bread until two weeks ago (more on that in a second).  This bread is decent in size, better than Udi’s or Rudi’s in consistency, and doesn’t have to be toasted in order to be tolerated.  This bread can hold up to cold cuts and doesn’t shrink and die when touched by condiments.  Three Bakers hold up pretty well when compared to the other kinds.  And it makes bangin’ French Toast.

 

For a long time, the frustrating fragility of gluten-free bread had me baking my own bread, and the preferred bread mix was Pamela’s.  While I’ve made my own bread from scratch before, it takes a reasonable amount of time, and Pamela’s mix on the gluten-free setting for the breadmaker works really well.  It’s thicker and more moist (worst word ever but it applies here) than the store-bought breads, but it falls apart pretty easily when not toasted.  (Sensing a theme here?)

Two weeks ago, though, I found a real winner.  A REAL WINNER.  The Schar brand of bread popped up in the gluten-free section of our local grocery store and holy shit, this stuff seems legit.  It can hold up without being toasted, which is the first kind of GF bread I’ve found capable of unlocking that achievement.  It has a consistency and texture closest to regular bread (in my opinion) and it stood up to the sandwich-in-a-cooler-on-the-beach-for-five-hours test.  I realize I’m holding this stuff up against a strange standard of failure (“This bread sucks the LEAST!”), but it’s been the most successful substitution I’ve found in my 12+ months going gluten-free.

The main drawback to all of these options?  They are pricey.  $5 or $6 for a loaf of bread is ridiculous, which prompts us to buy less of it and embrace other non-bready options more.  But the gluten-free world keeps expanding, and as someone who dove in headfirst and ditched a year’s worth of bellyaches, I’m wicked grateful for these options.

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. Aw, we use that green bag Udi’s. Did you try it as a grilled cheese? Maybe that is why the people here like it.

    Another weird thing about RUDI (in addition to the rhyming name) is that Rudi’s offers things that DO contain gluten also. Who buys those?

    Do you have Two Little Buns at your farmer’s market? They make good rosemary bread & have a very cute logo.

    http://www.twolittlebuns.com

    We recently tasted ten breads (as toast) with our GF neighbors, and our winner was a weird raisin-seed bread from the Seekonk Stop & Shop’s experimental snob section. (<—FWIW.)

    08/20/15; 1:11 pm
  2. Jim #

    Maybe I missed something (and that is entirely possible), but are you Celiac? I hope this trend toward GF foods for non-dx’d Celiacs soon dissipates. I don’t think the products taste good and many of them are not as healthy as the traditional gluten-containing versions. That’s my 2 cents!

    J.B.

    08/20/15; 9:46 pm
  3. If you have a Trader Joe’s, their gf bread is actually really good! (And only $4-something.) The white is better than the multigrain, unfortunately (white bread gives me memories of school lunches where the mayo from my tuna salad soaked into the Wonder Bread holes and made it squelch when you bit) but it really does taste like actual bread, and doesn’t fall apart.

    It probably does squelch, though.

    08/20/15; 9:47 pm
  4. Wow!! Actual GF bread that can be eaten w/o toasting it??!!! Im glad U have found an option that all of the Sparlings like!!!

    I’m trying the same experiment that u did for similar reasons. I tested negative for Celiac, thnakfully, but I still have GI issues that r more than bothersome & ur blogging about ur own experiences is giving me hope that it’s possible that I may be able to find some relief if I can adapt to a GF diet.

    Thanks for sharing ur experiences in the GF world!!!!

    Sandy

    08/21/15; 12:23 am
  5. Alicia M #

    These are very useful, thanks for the review! I also prefer udi’s buns to their bread. If you’re ever in the dc area there is a gluten free bakery called Rise you should check out. They make a few kinds of beead there that are really good and can be eaten without toasting.

    08/21/15; 4:39 am
  6. Ohhh, new bread to try! How many carbs in a slice?

    We actually really like Udi’s bread here. It also happens to be one of the lower carbs bread we’ve tried. But we are always game for trying new gluten free products. I

    08/21/15; 11:11 am
  7. Kerri Sulcov #

    Looks like you have yet to try what I consider the best gf bread out there: Canyon Bakehouse 7-grain. I find it at a Whole a Foods and occasionally Target. I also enjoy their burger buns. If you want an amazing gf English muffin, check out Joan’s GF Great Bakes. Love the multi-grain.

    08/21/15; 11:36 am
  8. dpcfmander #

    Since gluten makes me so violently sick, I’m a lot more open (desparate?) to “bad bread”. I rotate between most of those brands mentioned in the article, just for variety in my sandwhiches (and laziness, because it seems each type of store only sells one or two brands…). Don’t have any trader joe’s or whole foods or anything like that, so I’ve learned to be happy with those large name brands of bread.

    However, what I really wanted to say is that our Food Lion carries (remember I said how only certain GF brands are carried at certain stores here?) Glutino brand bread in the freezer. And for me and my accepting tastebuds, is it MILES better than udi/rudi/3 brothers/3 bakers. It’s light and fluffy and kinda taste like sourdough bread if I mind-squint! Haha!

    08/21/15; 4:30 pm
  9. Lisa #

    Schar has a great ciabatta roll!!! Their bread is good but he ciabatta rolls are delicious! And I agree about the other brands.

    08/21/15; 4:49 pm
  10. Christine #

    I love the Scar brand!! It actually stays together and it doesn’t have an aftertaste like a lot of GF breads.

    08/21/15; 9:53 pm
  11. Diedra #

    For the person who wants the gluten free trend to disappear, unless you are diagnosed with celiac, I want to educate you that non celiac gluten intolerance is a very real thing and has many more people suffering than anyone even realizes. People with autoimmune thyroid disease should avoid gluten as well. I am thankful for many of the products out there. I eat healthy , but it is nice to be able to have a treat that is similar to a gluten containing product. We should be able to indulge in a chocolate chip cookie or a piece of cake too. I love Schar breads and their pizza crust!!

    09/21/16; 3:55 pm

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