This gluten-free loaf pan has changed my (baking) life.
And there's not an ounce of hyperbole in that statement.
Up until now, I've used a variety of pans to bake bread: metal, glass, aluminum, ceramic, super cheap metal, super expensive I-don't-even-know-whats-it, and so on. Some have been brand new, the latest recommended "it" thing of the baking season, while others are treasured relics handed down through the generations. Each type has its own set of quirky baking behaviors, but for the most part they all come in the same two sizes (8.5 x 4.5 x 2.5 or 9 x 5 x 2.5) and require greasing and/or flouring to prevent sticking.
Until King Arthur Flour (KAF) did something mind-blowing--at least for me as apparently I've been hiding under a baking stone and didn't know about the quality of baking pans KAF offers until now. I have struggled with making gluten-free yeast bread, specifically with loaves not holding their shape once they rise over the top of the pan the way gluten-containing dough does. If you allow the gluten-free loaf to rise past that 2.5" wall, it spreads out over the sides and deflates.
To get a taller loaf that doesn't collapse, one needs a taller pan.
I tried modifying my existing pans by building up aluminum foil sides to extend the walls, but they weren't consistent and always resulted in a loaf with chunks of aluminum foil embedded in it's sides. After countless attempts of bread pan hacking I gave up and hit the internet. Wouldn't you know, there does exist a bread pan with extra tall sides, and this thing is blinkin' amazing.Gluten-Free Bread Loaf Pan - 9" x 4" x 4" by King Arthur Flour
Not to get too cheeky, but with gluten-free bread baking, size does matter. When you are not using xanthan gum as the replacement for gluten in bread, the size and shape of the pan is critical. Gluten-free bread dough rises just as tall and proud as any gluten-containing dough, it just falls back down during the baking process because it lacks structural support. This is why having a narrower base (4") helps because it forces the dough up higher, giving it less space to spread out. And to keep it from spreading and flopping over the sides of the pan, the sides need to be up higher than the bread goes. The pan's tall sides provide the support for gluten-free dough (batter) to fill out and hold up.
The results? Beautiful domed no-gum gluten-free bread.
Mistake Leads to Discovery
Going back to the greasing and flouring thing, when the pan arrived I immediately washed it and whipped up a batch of my gluten-free yeast bread dough. In my excitement, I failed to grease the pan. My heart dropped as I realized I'd missed a step too far into the rise, and there was nothing I could do but wait. I resigned myself to the task of carefully scraping between the hot pan and the fragile loaf with a butter knife, hoping not to accidentally puncture the bread wall and causing it to collapse, post-bake.
The timer dinged and I rushed to the oven, anxious to see if the tall walls had contained my bread, but prepared to wrestle it free from the pan. I opened the oven and stood there in a bit of shock. Not only did the bread retain a nice domed shape with a golden crust, I found that the bread had uniformly pulled away from the sides of the pan. Gently, I tilted the pan and one of the most beautiful little bread loaves I've ever seen plunked into my hand. It was perfect! It was gorgeous! It was burning the heck out of my hand but I didn't care. I could have cried. So my bread making sistren and brethren, I implore you to do yourself a favor. Go get one of these miracle pans. It's completely turned my bread baking experience around and I could not be happier for this purchase. I'm going back for another!
Note: this is not a sponsored post nor am I compensated in any way by KAF. I'm just a huge fan.