- the "GF fix" - This is a crude approach where additives are used to create a 'gluten like' appearance of bread (this is perhaps the most common approach),
- "anything goes" - This approach uses every available gluten free ingredient to create a healthy gluten free aura (this is also a very common approach), and
- "real bread" - a more considered approach where thoughtful understanding the qualities of ingredients leads to the development of bread that looks, tastes and feels like bread.
Spend a little time reading food labels in the supermarket and you will find that many foods contain these gums.Because gums are so common in "industrially" produced foods it can be difficult to avoid them, unless you choose to maintain a very strict diet.
I know it is not easy to develop good gluten free bread, but it seems to me that using gums to stick the ingredients together is just a bit lazy! Besides that, if my digestive system is already damaged by gluten, I am not sure that I want to start filling it with gum.
I must admit, I find the "anything goes" approach a bit baffling. These recipes have so many ingredients, and often they use gum as well. It is difficult to work out what each ingredient is contributing to the bread. Does a small amount of this or that ingredient it enhance the flavour, the texture, the appearance or some other esoteric characteristic of the bread? It really is difficult to tell. I am just a simple man, and I like to understand how a recipe works. So, when I am confronted with a long list of minor ingredients I struggle to make sense of the recipe, especially if it doesn't work first time.
What I look for is a "real bread" approach. Real bread has very few ingredients, and each ingredient makes a very real contribution to the loaf. I look for bread that has its own characteristic; something that defines it as a bread of value. I look for variety in styles of bread that depend on ingredients and technique. The bread may be made with sourdough, or it may be leavened with commercial yeast, but it must be distinctive. It must have ingredients that give it a flavour and a character that is confident enough to stand on its own.