I was recently asked if I would test and review some products for Delicious Alchemy - a UK company which specialises in producing gluten free bread and cake mixes and breakfast goodies. I love trying new gluten free food, so I was more than happy to give them a try.
A week or so ago, I made a Vanilla-Blueberry Cake using the Delicious Alchemy Vanilla Sponge Mix. This being the first time I had ever used a cake mix, I didn't know what to expect, but I was very impressed with the result.
Although I generally make my own bread at home, since going gluten free I have tried the occasional bread mix, hoping to find a convenient, quick alternative to the various processes that accompany the full home-baking experience. Because decent bakery-bought gluten free loaves are so difficult to source, baking gluten free bread can become a bit of a necessity. Whilst they definitely have their place (and we do keep a handy loaf and pack of rolls in the freezer), most commercially-produced gluten free loaves tend to be dry and crumbly and I find it difficult to eat without drinking copious amounts of water.
So what of the Delicious Alchemy Brown Bread Mix which was part of my box of goodies?
As with the cake mix, the instructions were easy to follow, although the type was small and quite difficult to see (with my ageing eyes). The mix only required the addition of oil and warm water, so even the most phobic of kitchen visitors should be able to bake bread!
To test the parameters of the mix a little, I wanted to make something a bit different from a basic loaf and settled on plans for walnut and sultana bread as I thought this would compliment the 'rustic' expectations I have of brown bread. To enhance the walnuttiness, I replaced the vegetable oil in the ingredients list with walnut oil and then simply added chopped walnuts and sultanas to the bowl prior to mixing.
One of the things that was instantly noticeable about the dough was that it was much firmer than many gluten free bread batters and mixes. This was a good thing, and although still not kneadable, it gave great potential for making shaped bread and rolls. Seeing an array of possibilities unfolding before my eyes, I moulded most of the dough into small round rolls (pressing the rest into mini loaf tins) and cut a cross into the top of each. If you use lightly oiled hands when rolling bread dough in this way, it not only ensures you don't end up with very sticky fingers, but also gently coats the surface so that when baked you have a lovely crusty shell.
All of the changes I made turned out to be good ones and I have to say that (hand on heart) this is one of the best commercial gluten free bread mixes that I have tried. Not only did it hold its shape and end up looking like a proper dinner-type roll, but the colour, texture and flavour were very good too. Most gluten free breads tend to be quite 'cakey' in texture. This one was nicely dense, but soft with a good chew that made it feel more substantial, wholesome and like..... well..... bread!
I cannot say whether it would have had the same success as a loaf, but as rolls we were truly impressed. The addition of the walnuts added a lovely contrasting savoury nutty crunch, a subtle earthy aroma and a very flavourful mouthful. Set against this, the soft, moist sweetness of the sultanas complimented the texture of the loaf beautifully.
Pulled apart, these rolls would be fantastic for dipping in oils and vinegars. The rolls tasted great straight with butter or cheese and were also perfect with a thick slathering of honey. They froze well too, which ensured they stayed fresh beyond the day of baking!
I would definitely use this mix again....... There are so many more possibilities here..........
Walnut & Sultana Rolls
1 x packet Delicious Alchemy Brown Bread Mix
2½ tablespoons walnut oil (use vegetable oil if you don't have any)
350 ml hand-hot water
75g walnuts - rough-chopped
- Line two baking sheets with baking paper.
- Gently tip the bread mix into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre and add the oil and water. Gently stir to bring the ingredients together.
- Add the chopped walnuts and sultanas. Use a mixer with a dough hook attached and 'knead' for 5 to 10 minutes (scraping down the sides half way through) until you have an evenly-combined, smooth dough.
- Using lightly oiled hands, break off pieces of dough and roll into balls about 6 to 7 cm (2½ inches) in diameter. Flatten slightly and carefully score a small cross in the centre of each roll.
- Glaze with a mixture of milk and a little oil and cover lightly with cling film. Set aside in a warm place to prove for 20 minutes (it won't rise much at this stage).
- Place in a COLD oven and turn on to 200 C/400 F/Gas 6. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the rolls are risen and lightly browned on the top. A skewer inserted will also come out clean.
- Remove from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool.
With thanks to the Delicious Alchemy team for sending me the samples to try. I was not required to write a positive review and all views expressed here are my own.
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