Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Product Review: The best GFCF dinner rolls ever!

I really mean that! The BEST ever. Do you have any idea how many different gluten-free recipes and brands I’ve used over the past several years? A lot! Do you know how many times extended family and friends have paid me fake compliments as they choke down the GFCF bread bricks that I serve fresh from my oven?

It usually starts out with me saying something like this:

“I tried another new gluten-free, casein-free, soy-free, egg-free, nut-free bread recipe! I hope it turned out okay!"
They reply back with something to the effect of:
“Well, for gluten-free they aren’t bad.”
Uh huh. Sure. Great way to dodge the fact that they taste like crumbly, heavy cardboard. I think I’ve only ever heard a truly positive remark once. It was in regard to a box mix I tried out last Christmas - Gluten Free Pantry’s french bread and pizza mix. It was decent enough. Generally speaking, we no longer go out of our way to eat bread because gluten-free varieties are always so disappointing.
But things are different now. I found the bread mix that puts all other gluten-free bread mixes to shame. I first tried it last month for Thanksgiving dinner with my parents. I made rolls again last night for an early Christmas dinner with my husband’s dad and his family. Do you want to know what the response was? It wasn’t the polite, “these rolls are better than the last ones you made” kind of remark. Oh no, indeed! We had entire conversations about how awesome these rolls were. The response was overwhelmingly positive! For Thanksgiving, we ate all the rolls in one sitting. No leftovers! That was a first! For our early Christmas dinner last night, I made a double-batch (anticipating a good response) and there were only a few left over. By golly…we have success!
I was introduced to this mix by my good friend, Granny Lala, an allergen-free baker. She is most definitely in the know! After she and I did some beta testing on some new sandwich rolls in her commercial kitchen one night, she was extremely generous and sent me home with a sample of this mix to try.
I know you’re dying to know what the brand is and where to get it. Are you ready? Go get a pencil.  

I tried out their Avena Pane Country Oat bread mix. It is so good, you won't believe that it’s gluten-free. (No offense to the “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” people…) There is a legitimate gourmet foodie/chef in my family, and even she was raving about how the rolls had an excellent flavor and texture. Everyone was impressed. And, that’s a hard thing to do with gluten-free!

I like the fact that Maninis uses organic and non-GMO ingredients and that the mixes are made in an allergy-free facility. And, for me, it’s even better that they are local. It’s always nice to be able to buy a good quality product from someone in your own neck of the woods!  

Maninis has 4 bread mixes and they even have a pasta mix. Their fresh gluten-free pasta is now being served in some of the finest restaurants in Seattle. That should tell you how good their products are. All of their mixes are available for purchase online. If you live in Washington State, there are several retailers who now offer their mixes for sale.

I did some quick math, and if you consider the price of the mix and how many loaves it will make (even including shipping costs!), I would save about $1 per loaf of bread if I use their mix instead of buying a very small, overpriced GFCFSF loaf of bread at the store. One dollar per loaf of bread is a significant savings! And, since I live in Washington, my savings will be even more than that since I can buy the products locally and won’t need to pay shipping.    
I stayed fairly close to the recipe provided on the back of the package. I typically do not use eggs, but lately we’ve been experimenting with eggs on occasion, and the boys seem to be tolerating them much better than they used to. I plan to make a regular loaf soon instead of rolls, so when I do, I’ll try it with an egg alternative. I know that Granny Lala has been experimenting with the Maninis mixes without using eggs, so I’m not worried about the substitutions changing the final outcome.
The only change to the recipe I made was adding a little bit more yeast and some sugar to feed the yeast while it blooms in the water mixture. So, if the recipe calls for 2 teaspoons of yeast, I added 1 more teaspoon to equal 3 tsp. Then I added some organic sugar to the warm water to equal half of the amount of yeast. In the case of my example here, it would be 1 ½ teaspoons of sugar to 3 tsp of yeast. The yeast mixture was very frothy and creamy and it yielded some wonderful results.
The rolls started out level with the top of the pan.
To make the dinner rolls, I oiled up some muffin pans and used an ice cream scooper to drop equally-sized dollops of dough into the pans. I covered the rolls with plastic wrap and a slightly damp towel, and let the rolls rise about double the time listed on the Maninis recipe – approximately 2 hours. Then I put the pans into the oven and baked the rolls at 375 for about 10-13 minutes. The time varied, depending on if I was using my toaster oven or regular oven. I took the rolls out when they had a nice golden color. Next time I will try baking the bread at 350 for a few more minutes, just to see if I get an even better result.
This is all that's left over from 2 batches of rolls! YUM!
I have to say that this is the first time I have been genuinely impressed by a gluten-free bread mix. It’s been hard to get excited about bread since we made the change to gluten-free. I can honestly tell you that I’m looking forward to making more of the Maninis bread soon. In fact, I can hardly wait.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, Maninis has no idea that I’m writing this post about their products. To the fine folks at Maninis, if you are reading this, you may have noticed that I love what I've tried so far and I would not be opposed to getting some more of your mixes to try! J            
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