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…
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!
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…….
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.
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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