Battle of the Bread – Gluten Free Bread Review

 gluten free loaves

Hey folks!

So it’s been a while since I first decided to post this review, up to the final finished article of today.  I went a bit gung-ho initially and started to buy every gluten free loaf I laid my eyes on, until I realised that it would take far too long and be far too expensive to review them all so I settled for one type of loaf and finally decided to focus on Multigrain/seeded, wholemeal bread.

After that, the next issue was buying the loaves or maybe I should say procuring them. Because I wanted this review to be comprehensive, I went in search of every gluten free seeded loaf currently on the market in the U.K. to buy and although they were technically for sale, they weren’t always easy to find. I did realise however, that if I did a review solely based on availability Genius would win every time but lucky for you I didn’t…

battle of the bread

What I did instead was call my local Tesco extra at least once a week and take a trip down there twice a week before and/or after work, in search of the next gluten free elusive loaf on my list.  It was quite a task.

I went for Tesco because well it’s close by and it’s an ‘extra’ so it generally has more things in stock and I find Tesco to be better for the most variety of branded gluten free goods than other supermarkets who prefer to focus on their own brand products.

Next nugget of wisdom: The availability of gluten free branded loaves was/is quite erratic.  It was quite literally here one day and gone the next..

and the next…

and the next…

so my search culminated in a trip to the Allergy-free show in Liverpool where I was able to pick the last few remaining loaves and test them on my return home.  Just to let you know, I bought all the loaves myself, except for the Just:Gluten Free Bakery loaf, who when they heard about my review were nice enough to provide me a loaf for free. Thanks guys!

Right!

Now the method’s out of the way, on to the madness..

Let the games begin!

I’m gonna go for descending order, with the top dog at the end. There were six loaves in total. So it’s from 6 to 1.  Please note the availability section in the real world actually means nothing, as they may be available at the supermarkets but not stock the particular brand you’re looking for or stock the brand only for it to be ‘temporarily unavailable’ every time you pop in to grab a loaf.

Also bear in mind there will be a variation in price, depending where you buy and where you live.  Tesco extra gluten free loaves for example are more expensive than a normal Tesco store. All loaves froze well so I didn’t add that as an extra category.

6.  Udi’s Gluten-Free Multiseed Bread

IMG_9607

Price: £3.00

Available in: Tesco

Ingredients: Tapioca Starch, Water, Rice Flour, Mixed Seeds [9%] (Sunflower, Linseed, Poppy), Potato Starch, Rapeseed Oil, Humectant (Glycerine), Egg White Powder, Black Treacle, Psyllium Husk Powder, Thickener (Hydroxypropyl Methyl Cellulose), Yeast, Potato Fibre, Salt, Dextrose, Caramelised Sugar Syrup, Preservative (Calcium Propionate).

Any other benefits?

Nope

This bread brought me back to the Dark Ages, when Gluten-Free bread was a brick like mass that needed to be blasted into life with help from an overzealous microwave. ‘Refreshing the bread’ is what they call it these days. In short, I wasn’t impressed.  Chalky, grainy, texture, with a bitter aftertaste that lingers in the mouth long after you’ve finished a slice. This surprised me given the addition of psyllium husk powder, which usually results in a better chew and feel or texture.  The texture was O.K. much stiffer than the other loaves and needed to be warmed/toasted before eating.

5. Newburn Bakehouse (by Warburtons) High Fibre Seeded Farmhouse Loaf

IMG_9603

Price: £2.99

Available in: Asda, Morrisons, Tesco, Sainsburys, Waitrose, Ocado, Tesco Express, Dial-A-Chemist, Booths

Ingredients: Water, Tapioca Starch, Seed Mix (8%) (Sunflower Seed, Linseed, Millet Seed, Poppy Seed), Potato Starch, Pea Protein, Yeast, Rapeseed Oil, Egg White Powder, Stabiliser: E464; Maize Starch, Vegetable Fibre (Psyllium), Cornflour, Sugar, Calcium Carbonate, Concentrated Fruit Juice, Rice Starch, Salt, Humectant: Vegetable Glycerine; Preservative: Calcium Propionate (added to inhibit mould growth); Natural Flavouring, Caramelised Sugar, Iron.

Any other benefits?

Dairy Free

You can pretty much copy and paste what I wrote above and apply it to this loaf, same acerbic assault to the tastebuds, slightly better but still ropey texture. It was the largest slice out of the bunch though, so good value for money in size at least.  The best way to describe this bread would be, the Pinocchio loaf, that is, a loaf that really wanted to be real life bread but missed the crucial meeting with the Fairy with Turquoise Hair. I wanted to like this loaf, I really did but it just screamed imitation. It was close but no cigar, one magic spell short of completion.

4. Just: Gluten Free Bakery Good Seeded Bread – sliced

just be gluten free bakery good seeded loaf

Price: £2.29 – £3.09

Available in: Wholefoods, Just: Gluten Free Bakery online

Ingredients:Water, Tapioca starch, Rice flour, Rapeseed oil, Potatoes, Psyllium husk, Pumpkin seeds (2.4%), Humectant: Glycerine, Brown linseed (2.4%), Stabiliser: Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose, Yeast, Maize flour, Sugar, Salt, Organic quinoa seeds (0.7%), Poppy seeds (0.6%).

Any other benefits? Low sugar content, Vegan

This bread wasn’t bad. It fulfils a need. It’s the type of food you’d eat to survive but not necessarily to enjoy.  It takes a little longer to toast than other gluten free loaves because of the low sugar content. 1 minute and 53 seconds exactly in my toaster on level 4, or four minutes according to their website. I’d happily eat this loaf straight out of the packet but for best results and taste, I’d advise you to toast it first.  I also noticed it has a Use By rather than a Best before date (like the other loaves) and decided to test it to see the difference and sure enough, like a crumb-filled Cinderella, once you go past midnight of the Use By date, it is Game Over and the mould takes the stage to quickly decorate the loaf. (Something to bear in mind). Overall I found it to be just blah.  There was a bit of a blandness to the overall taste, it felt like a watercolour that had been left in the rain. I needed more flavour and was left feeling underwhelmed, but basically satisfied.

3. Genius Triple Seeded Sandwich Loaf

Genius Triple Seeded Sandwich Loaf

Price: £3.00

Available: Literally EVERYWHERE! i.e Tesco, Sainsburys, The Co-operative, Morrisons, Ocado, Genuis online, Waitrose, Asda

Ingredients: Water, Tapioca Starch, Rice Flour, Potato Starch, Vegetable Oil, Sunflower Seeds (4%), Maize Starch, Linseed (2.5%), Psyllium Husk Powder, Millet (2.5g), Humectant: Vegetable Glycerine, Yeast, Caster Sugar, Methyl Cellulose, Dried Egg White, Poppy Seeds (1%), Salt, Maize Flour, Rice Starch, Preservative: Calcium Propionate.

Any other benefits? Dairy Free, and easily available

Imagine your best night’s sleep in a 5 star hotel, wrapped in silky soft sheets, that mould with and literally melt into your body.  That, my friends is the texture of this bread, suuuuuuper soft, like an expensive pillow filled with goose feathers.  As for the taste? Sweet is the first word that comes to mind, a bit too sweet for my liking if I’m honest.  The overall taste almost became a background to the texture. There were hints of nuttiness, a whisper of wholegrain flavour with a dominant dulcet flavour stealing all the headlines. No chew to speak of because the doughy, squishy texture melted in your mouth.

But wait…

Don’t rush to the supermarket just yet…

On delving deeper into the loaf, I soon remembered the reason I boycotted Genius a while back…

You guessed it.

This was one of the better slices!

This was one of the better slices!

It was the huge, preternatural, mind-the-gap, cavernous holes which even London Underground would be ashamed of.  The further down the loaf I went, the larger the holes.  This wasn’t the first, second or the third time this had happened to me or others for that matter and I know that, if you complain,  Genius apologise and send you a voucher for money off another crumbling loaf broken bag of soft croutons, of the same quality. I’ve always loved Lucinda and supported her from the beginning but the Genius loaves masquerading as bird seed show a real lack of quality and value for loyal customers who have paid 3 quid for one loaf. Sort it out guys, this has gone on long enough.

2. Fria Grova

IMG_9600

Price: £3.75 – £4.50+

Available in: Fria Stockists

Ingredients:Wheat starch (gluten-free), water, syrup, modified corn and tapioca starch, yeast, vegetable oil, thickeners: locust bean-, guar-, tara gum, pectin and E 466, sugar beet fiber, linseeds, salt, emulsifiers: Lecithin (rapeseed) and E 471 (veg), psyllium husk, flavouring (natural), caraway.

Any other benefits? Edit: 12/11/14  Dairy free, vegan

Fria, Fria Fria min kära Fria! This bread is bliss.  This bread is home.  This bread is comfort and childhood memories.  This, dear readers, is a loaf. It’s for those of you who want a denser, filling ‘meatier’ loaf with good spreadability (I challenge you to eat this with a splash of Nutella and not finish the loaf!)  It’s strong on taste, texture and flavour and tastes like a real wholesome loaf of bread, freshly baked from your local baker.  It’s sturdy and makes a good solid sandwich, but it’s still soft with a great texture.  It tastes healthy and clean and doesn’t feel processed.  This to me is bread at it’s best. Good chew, good crust and elasticity.  It pretty much blows all the other loaves out of the water.  I guess the downsides are: 1. It’s not easily available and can’t be bought in supermarkets.  2. It’s frozen so can never be eaten directly from the pack unless toasted or defrosted. 3.  It can be pretty dear, especially if you don’t internet shop.  I get mine at TotallySwedish for almost a fiver a loaf.

Edit 12/11/14 Fria products contains wheat starch ( which is wheat with the gluten and protein removed).  Wheat starch isn’t a coeliac friendly ingredient for a number of coeliacs as some residual gluten can still find its way into the starch, I’m not coeliac and have had no reaction to it, but please be aware that it may affect you the same way gluten does.  Don’t try it if you’re unsure.

NÙMERO UNO IS…….

DS Specials Wholesome seeded loaf

DS Specials Wholesome loaf

Price: £2.50

Ingredients: Maize and Rice Starch, Sour Dough (23%): (Rice Flour, Water), Water, Cereals: (11%): [Rice Flour, Millet Flour (2.3%), Quinoa Flour (1.6%)]; Apple Fibre, Rice Syrup, Sugar Beet Syrup, Sunflower Oil, Soya Flakes (1.8%), Sunflower Seeds (1.8%), Linseeds (1.7%), Soya Bran (1.7%), Millet Flakes (1.2%), Yeast, Soya Protein, Thickeners: (Hydroxypropyl Methyl Cellulose), Honey, Sea Salt.

May also contain Lupin

Available in: Waitrose, Morrisons, The Cooperative, Tesco

Any other benefits? It’s the cheapest! Edit 17/11/14: Dairy free, Egg free, Suitable for vegetarians, vegan

I took one bite of this loaf then found myself compelled to sing a little ditty to this soon to be sacred springy, loaf, because that’s literally all it takes, one bite, to transport you to gluten free heaven.

Ladies and gentlemen

This Bread Is The Truth.

IMG_9620

It ticks every box.  The perfect ratio of crackling crust to soft loaf and oh was it soft! Elasticity, chew, flavour, and the Perfect Texture. Have it fresh, have it toasted or use it to make a sandwich. I confess I ate three slices in quick succession before I realised what I’d done.  This loaf is the pringles box, or tear and share loaf that never gets shared.  It triggers that non-stop amnesiac emotion of eating that you get from a huge bag of popcorn that you start eating at the cinema but can’t remember finishing.

I have to say I was pretty surprised.  I’d pegged Fria to win this bread battle before I’d even started tasting the others and I’ve bought and eaten DS specials seeded loaf (Fresher for Longer) before, but they’ve clearly improved on the recipe because I would not have forgotten a taste like this so quickly.  My only issue, is the packaging.  It’s SO annoying.  Why put in the little tray that stops you from being able to tie and preserve the bread at the top? I don’t get it.  It seems like they tried to resolve it with a sticky bit that you’re supposed to peel and seal, which doesn’t quite do the job.  The next issue is it’s actually pretty difficult to find. (Edit 20/11/14, I’ve been told that Tesco have expanded distribution and the loaf should be available online from 1.12.14) I got mine from the Allergy Free Show North, then kicked myself for not buying more. O.K. one more thing that might bug people.  (Yes I’m aware that’s three issues now) but I thought I should warn you that the slice is pretty small, even smaller than a Fria loaf, which is one of the smallest on the market, but small size seems to match good taste and flavour so it didn’t really bother me. Tiny issues that can be easily resolved.  Go out and buy it.  Gfree heaven is one contactless beep away!

Hope you enjoyed that my dears and let me know if there are any loaves I missed out and tell me which of these six are your favourites.  I’m sure there’ll be huge differences of opinion!  Till we meet again…

P.S. I’m planning a review of gfree white loaves and some Christmas specials in the near future.  Email me or FB me or just leave a comment if you’d like any more reviews to be done.  Gracias amigos! xx

If you’re more of a home baker and don’t like to buy gfree loaves, try this on for size.  Simply replace the milk with water

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21 thoughts on “Battle of the Bread – Gluten Free Bread Review

  1. Oh dear, now third attempt so I hope not all of my three replies will get posted!

    Wanted to say, great review and very helpful. I went to Waitrose today in search of the DS loaf but alas, there weren’t any so I will try again based on your recommendation. No pressure eh?

    The fria loaf you mention contains wheat starch (called Codex) which is unsuitable for about 20% of coeliacs. I would be concerned about youngsters or newly diagnosed eating products with codex as it can cause damage to the gut lining. It’s contentious because Coeliac UK and companies who manufacture prescription breads advocate it’s use- but thought you may want to highlight this so that people are aware. Shame because the Fria bread sounds really nice, but I wish they would take the codex out.

    Kind regards,

    Adriana

    • Hi Adriana good point. I’ll add it in as an edit, it did briefly cross my mind to mention it in the review but the hearts in my eyes got in the way! I went to a gfree conference some time ago for Glutafin bread which also contains wheat starch and a number of people brought up the issue, so it’s only fair to mention it in the review, so people are fully informed before making their choices. Thanks for the comment and good luck with the search. I’ve only ever seen the DS loaf in Morrisons and lately, i haven’t seen it at all!

  2. Very interesting review, thanks for posting. I too am quite a fan of the DS loaf – my caveat being that the slices are very small. However, my no. 1 is your no. 5🙂 I am a big fan of Newburn Bakehouse seeded bread. I wonder if the type of bread we ate before diagnosis plays a part here. My regular bread at that time (5 years ago) was the Burgen soya & linseed loaf – this probably had quite a close texture. Genius is way too soft and “light” for my taste, even if it wasn’t full of holes. Thanks again🙂

    • I can’t even remember the last time I ate a gluten loaf, but I do remember I was a strictly wholemeal kind of girl, but you might be right, our bread tastes could lean towards what we ate before, it’s been maybe 10 years now, so I can’t really remember, maybe a Kingsmill wholemeal loaf? But bread is quite subjective and I agree with you about Genius, too much air not enough…bread! Thanks for the popping by

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  4. I prefer the DS loaf too AND it doesn’t have egg in it……whenever I manage to find it, I buy all of it on the shelf because I know I won’t get it next time I go shopping!!!!!

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  6. No mention of Sainsbury’s own multi-seeded loaf, the only one my husband will eat. I’d be interested to see how it stacks up against the DS loaf so I will have to track one down and find out, unless you’ve tried the Sainsburys one?

    • Hi Sarah, I was going to do an own brands post and pit supermarket own bread brands up against each other. I’ve tried the Sainsburys seeded and didn’t think much of it, but that was a while back. The DS loaf is lighter, so if you like a heavier loaf and have no problems with wheat starch, you could go for Fria or maybe even the Just loaf which would be closer to Sainsburys seeded.

  7. Good review, you make the point about holes in the bread and I have had this with Genius, Warburtons and Tesco bread – it annoys me so much when you pay £2.50-£3 a loaf to find massive holes in it. Last time i complained to Genius about this they said it was something to do with the oven being to hot which causes the air pockets to form. I find it scandalises that companies think they can charge so much for such a low quality product. I agree with the Udi’s review every product I have brought from that company has been been a one time only, the bagels are dense and horrid and the roles out of 4 in a packet one was eatable when cut the others just feel apart. Personally I find the tesco own brand bread to be about the best and find the seeded loaf the best all rounder.

    • Thanks Ianhrp! A lot of people seem to like the Tesco brand of gfree bread, I’m definitely going to be trying it soon. I discovered today that Udi’s products are frozen in the States but somehow became ambient in the lost-in-translation crossover, which may be where some of the issues lie. I’ve given up on Genius but it does seem to be a common problem with big batch gluten free bread manufacturing. I think it’s when the bread hasn’t been mixed well and the yeast reacts to moisture, but at that price, excuses aren’t good enough. We need solutions and fast. Thanks for your thoughts🙂

    • Have tried most of them and I like Tesco’s own brand seeded loaf best with Sainsbury’s own brand in second place. Big problem is getting to the supermarket and finding the ‘own brand’ bread shelf empty when you know that your freezer stock at home is almost gone. I’m slightly embarrassed about my loud, tetchy comments in Sainsbury’s last week, (it does get you that way sometimes!) to a blameless assistant, about them having kept their gf pizza base price label stuck on the shelf for 2 weeks with no pizza bases ever appearing. The unfortunate recipient of my tirade tried to be helpful and suggested I could make a pizza using their gf pitta breads. I calmed down then!

      • That was quite sweet of him/her? It took me two months to write this post because of lack of availability! The loaves are either here or gone, indefinitely. I’ve heard a lot about the Tesco loaf so will most likely be featuring it and the Sainsburys one in a future post. Thanks for your comments. BTW, if you haven’t tried the ds loaf, I have a giveaway runnning at the moment. Check out my homepage, the post is called gluten free giveaway

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  11. I enjoyed reading your review on G.F. bread and I agree with a lot of your comments. I had been reduced to eating rice cakes…but i recently happened to come across Burgen G.F. bread recently, which is really nice, holds its shape and has a lovely flavour, available in Asda and some Sainsburys.

    • Hey Vanda! Thanks so much for your comment. You’re absolutely right! Burgen bread is amazing! but it wasn’t out at the time I did my review and I’ve subsequently found it not always in stock. It’s certainly a goodun

  12. Hi your review was informative and interesting. Lord there are so many ingredients in these loaves. I bake bread with 4 ingredients 5 if I add sugar or honey. Flour yeast salt and water Everything I bake is organic too where it can be organic I would not go near any shop bought bread GF or otherwise. Wendy

    • Hey Wendy! Thanks for stopping by. Yes, this review actually made me buy a lot less bread. There can be a lot of nasties in gfree food. Please feel free to share your recipe. I’m always on the look out for good bread recipes🙂

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