Long title that Not your Ultimate Guide to Gluten Free Bread, potentially an off putting one too! Who would want to read a guide to Gluten Free Bread that’s not advertising itself as ‘Total’ ‘Ultimate’ or the ‘Best’ … truth is, what you’re about to read is a realistic guide to all the white loaves that Bethany and I could buy within a 10 mile radius from various well known supermarkets. Kind of your average Joe review by a nearly 40 year old and a painfully honest nearly 12 year old.
Remember, unless someone has scoured the planet and brought a loaf from every supermarket, independent bakers and online suppliers, then no, their guide is neither ultimate nor total…and they didn’t have a Bethany to act as their critic!
The Gluten Free Bread Contenders
Here they are in all their glory, for this review I decided I wanted to make it a Bethany friendly exercise therefore I opted solely for the white gluten free bread varieties. Future reviews may well take place, but I know for sure that Beth would not partake in a brown bread or seeded variety. Watch this space! In total there were 12 loaves to test, 11 were purchased and the 12th (Juvela) was on prescription.
What’s the damage?
In total the 11 loaves we brought cost £26.40 … compare that to your glutinous everyday variety worth 85p and you’re looking at approximately £9.35 for 11 loaves, bit of a breath taking difference. Factor into that the miles covered to get said loaves (31 miles in total) and the cost goes up even more. Of course, unless you have an insatiable desire for Asda Free From (the furthest loaf for our home address) then you’re not necessarily going to clock up those miles but the point is it’s not your average scenario of ‘I’m just popping to the corner shop to buy a loaf darling’!
The fun bit…
So, are you ready? working from the top left to right and so on here are our thoughts. I remind, nay warn you at this point of Beth’s utterly blunt honesty!
Asda Free From|400g|RRP £1.50|Fibre 6.0|Carb 48g
The slices looked lovely on first impression, no huge gaping air holes and spongy to the touch. We decided that the smell reminded us of an old antique or furniture shop, I’m not sure that’s a bad thing, just not what you’d expect from a loaf of bread! Bethany was adamant that on tasting she could taste a chalkiness to it, I hold my hands up to her intricate knowledge of the various tastes of chalk given her Pica and accepted her opinion. The texture was a tiny bit chewy and we both agreed that the texture improved once toasted. In fact, the toasted version appealed to the eye even more.
Genuis White Sliced Sandwich|535g|RRP £2.90|Fibre 9.3|Carb 47g
These slices had the largest holes in by far but looking beyond the ‘gaps’ in the bread the slices looked relatively normal, almost like the real thing! Beth’s sniff-o-meter set to work and she exclaimed ‘chicken soup’! Again, I had to agree, although I’d never have come up with that connection myself. The texture was not at all dry and we both felt it was light and fluffy. Once toasted the smell took on a whole new life, amazingly it smelt almost fishy! I’m not quite sure how that can be but there you have it! We were a bit disappointed with how the slice toasted, certainly not a palatable golden brown. Despite the odd observations above, I’ll give you a spoiler right now: this was Beth’s favourite!
Genius White Sliced|350g|RRP £2.30|Fibre 7.7|Carbs 34.7g
I’m not sure if the photo illustrates how teeny these slices are? I’m almost afraid to tell you what we though of this loaf. Here goes; the bread smelt of the inside of a cardboard box, the texture was very dry, it looked like a natural sea sponge, tasted bizarrely of mayonnaise and was worse toasted. There! I said it! Moving on….
Juvela White Sliced|400g|£Available on prescription|Fibre 2.5|43g
Having said the last loaf was teeny, this was teeny-weeny! The smallest slices we tasted and oddly still up there with the 400g loaves in weight, this speaks volumes about the density of loaf! Beth calls bread like this ‘handbag bread’ it happens a lot, where the top crust comes away from the rest of the loaf to create slices with handbag handles! This is the lesser handled handbag, believe me, we’ve seen more impressive slices of it’s species! This bread has an unnatural whiteness about it, and toasting it makes very little difference indeed. It smells like pencil sharpenings (another delicacy Beth likes to nibble in her free time) and tasted the most salty of all the breads. The texture was bizarre, it almost melted in our mouths into tiny sand-like particles. When toasted I preferred it and found it became chewy with a taste that was not unlike eggy bread…I like eggy bread! Beth does NOT like eggy bread!
Kelkin Sourdough|200g|RRP £2.00|Fibre 6.4|Carbs 41g
This was my wild card and I was looking forward to trying this, it looked interesting but I knew Beth would not be a fan. The colour to the crust was very appealing and it smelt like malt bread. The taste was not unpleasant but I was surprise at how sweet it was, there was a definite black treacle taste to it and sadly it was quite dry. The toasted version was much nicer … although it has to be said; not a toaster friendly shape! I imagined this would be lovely accompanying a hot bowl of carrot and coriander soup….mmmmmm, carrot and coriander soup! I’m hungry now!
Newburn Artisan|400g|RRP £3.50|Fibre ?|Carbs 36.3g
This is a handsome looking loaf. I loved the dark crust. We both liked this loaf and it had a nice ‘bready’ after taste according to Beth…the last bite of real bread Beth had was when she was 5 years old so I guess she can still remember? The texture was bouncy and light but we felt it was the slightest bit on the dry side. The slice toasted beautifully and had a breadstick aftertaste, not at all unpleasant. I feel like I want to write more on this loaf but I guess less is more in this case…to me it tasted like, well, like bread!
Newburn Sourdough|400g|RRP £3.50|Fibre ?|Carbs 39.1g
I thought this was going to be my favourite, the truth is the last loaf (Newburn Artisan) was my favourite. I was impressed with how this loaf looked and cut. You may have guessed by now but I love crusty bread and this was super crusty especially when toasted. What let the bread down for me was that it tasted bland. It was Beth that pointed it out and once I’d got over the beauty of the bread I reluctantly had to agree. I liked it much more toasted and this time there was a delicate fruity-sweet taste to it.
Sainsbury’s Free From|400g|RRP £2.00|Fibre 4.3|Carbs 50.2g
This looked like a lovely slice of bread but sadly the texture didn’t match the appearance. The bread disintegrated in the mouth and had an unexpected creamy/milky after taste. The bread cracked easily and although we were not spreading the bread with butter (we wanted to taste all the breads naked) I know that this bread tears easily when making sandwiches. Beth announced that this loaf smelt like chicken fried rice, I could see her point, oddly that’s the second loaf that’s had a chicken smell to it! This bread, like many before was far better toasted and became a lot more sturdy in texture for it’s grilling!
Please note: I brought the old version of this bread, I am not sure if the newly branded loaf is different?
Schar White Sliced|300g|RRP £2.50|Fibre 7.3|Carbs 45g
We always began with the sniff test through out this whole process, we were slightly nervous of the fact that this bread smelt like fish food! Needless to say we carried on in the name of research! The texture was fairly dry and spongy, even a bit chewy. To look at, it almost looked like a slice of Madeira Cake. The after taste was not unlike savoury crackers which wasn’t unpleasant but again, it taste much, much better toasted.
Tesco Free From|550g|RRP £2.00|Fibre 5.3|Carbs 46.2g
This loaf was a whopper! the largest to be tested and therefore we had guessed the best value. What’s that saying about best things come in small packages? This loaf smelt strongly of vinegar, tasted very bland despite this and had a texture very similar to a washing up sponge…for the record, Beth hasn’t taken to eating washing up sponges…yet. Then you toast it and some kind of miraculous metamorphosis takes place and the toast is delicious and to me it tasted like real bread!
Udi’s Tiger Loaf|400g|RRP £2.50|Fibre 4.2|Carbs 48.6g
This was another loaf that had a distinct smell of vinegar which is clearly used as a raising agent. The initial impression was that it sliced really well, had a good crust albeit not a hard crust and the bread looked inviting. Can you sense a ‘but’ coming? The taste was quite bland, the texture was very grainy and although toasting gave it a good crispness, it was still grainy inside the slice. The kind of grainy when you spend the next few minutes smacking the top of your mouth with your tongue! Shame!
Udi’s White Sliced|400g|RRP £1.70|Fibre 7.0|Carbs 44.7g
There’s a definite theme running through to two Udi’s loaves we tested and that theme is vinegar. However, the taste was ever so slightly sweet, the texture was quite like eating cake, it looked good and had a lovely bounce to it and toasted brilliantly and at only £1.70 you can’t really argue with that.
Bethany liked the Genuis Sandwich White Sliced, I liked the Newburn Artisan, Lewis wasn’t all that bothered, the cheapest was the Tesco loaf, the most expensive were the Newburn and the best value was Udi’s White Sliced. The dining room looked like we’d had a food fight and Beth and I retired to the sofa groaning due to the sheer volume of bread we’d eaten…
…hence Lewis’ wise decision NOT to partake in our Not your Ultimate Guide to Gluten Free Bread