Gluten-free maven Anna Sobaski is the creator and founder of the aptly named baking mix line, Breads from Anna. We had the pleasure of trialing several varieties and can safely say that these blends rival their wheat-based cousins.
At last check, one Breads from Anna baking mix contained dairy, the Classic Bread Mix, but the remainder are not only free of dairy, but nuts and soy, too. The selection includes a variety of quick breads, yeast breads, pancake & muffins, crusts, and of course, a brownie mix. Thus far, we’ve sampled the following …
Breads from Anna Dairy & Corn-Free Bread Mix
This is by far the best gluten-free yeast bread I have ever had! In fact, it rivaled my (former) homemade wheat bread. The crusty exterior housed a perfectly soft and “glutinous” center that could easily fool any non-GF consumer. The finished product was light and flaky, but still had the “substance” I would expect from a somewhat hearty loaf.
Now, for the confession… I would have loved a bread machine on hand when preparing this bread mix. As to be expected, producing award winning gluten-free bread does not involve just adding oil and water and baking for 30 minutes. There were detailed steps to follow. Had I been better prepared, things might have gone smoother, rather than turning my kitchen into a war zone.
The mix itself is filled with a myriad of all natural ingredients, and a package of yeast is stashed within the bag. From there, I needed sugar, apple cider vinegar, olive or coconut oil, eggs (see vegan note below), and non-dairy milk. I meticulously followed the instructions, which were a bit more intricate than I had anticipated. I opened the mix at 11am, and the loaf was on the rack cooling at 2:30pm. In other words, this isn’t one of those foods to “whip-up” an hour before mealtime.
My first challenges came with the dough, which was very sticky and goopy. It kept riding up the beaters on my mixer, and the bits that escaped were like glue on the counters and myself. Unlike the traditional kneading of yeast breads, Anna’s Bread Mix is just spooned into the bread pan to rise. Sounds simple enough? Let’s just say, by the time I had wrestled all of the dough into the pan, I looked remarkably similar to my husband after his first (failed) attempt at home linoleum installation.
At last, I had the pan set aside for rising. Aside from the ominous mess awaiting me, there was still one thing bothering me, the smell. The bread dough had a strong scent that I didn’t find particularly appealing. Luckily, after a single rising (it rose remarkably well), I popped the loaf into the oven, and the scent mellowed into a more pleasant note.
I checked the loaf about 10 minutes early, and became panic stricken when it looked burnt! All that effort, wasted. To add insult to injury, it was insanely stuck to the sides of the pan. It took me at least 10 minutes to pry the loaf loose, no exaggeration.
I was positive that this would be a mix I would never trial again. Then… I tasted it. Amazing! My frustrations, the anguish, it all vanished as I bit into this incredible chewy, flaky, moist, tender (yes, all at once!) piece of bread. Honestly, this was some of the best bread I have ever had, period. In my mind, Anna suddenly rose to the ranks of gluten-free goddess.
As I went for another slice, I thought maybe…just maybe…I will trial this mix again.
Breads from Anna Yeast-Free Bread Mix
Gluten-free bakers never cease to amaze me, and Anna is no exception. She has created a perfectly textured bread that is not only suitable for gluten-free and dairy-free foodies, but also those with any allergies or intolerances to corn, soy, rice, potato and yeast!
I must admit, I was a bit skeptical at first. I quickly blended the Breads from Anna yeast-free mix with oil, rice milk, and eggs as instructed. From there it was straight to the bread pan for baking, easy enough. Yet, it just didn’t look right. The dough was very soft and had to be spooned into the bread pan. But who am I to question the gluten-free pros? As directed, I popped it in the oven for 70 minutes. Boy, am I glad that I did. The loaf turned out perfect! In fact, it looked identical to the picture on the package (a rare occasion – this is actually the picture from the package).
It was really a cross between a yeast bread and a quick bread. The texture was incredibly soft, “glutinous”, and not a bit dry. The flavor was mostly savory, with just a touch of sweetness. I was sure I detected some fresh herbs, but there was not a pinch in the ingredients. Regardless, it was delicious.
Warm from the oven, the bread was a bit crumbly. However, on day two I was able to slice absolutely perfect ¼” to ½-inch thick slices with ease. The light sweetness kept it from melding with some of the more delicate flavors, such as smoked salmon. Yet, it went beautifully with the usual toppings (“butter”, jam, peanut butter). For sandwiches, this Breads from Anna bread made fabulous PB & J’s and deli meat classics. Of course, I also found myself snacking straight from the loaf.
Breads from Anna Banana Bread Mix
Both Tony and I were amazed that this banana bread was gluten-free! The texture was perfect. It was very moist and delicate, yet not too crumbly. This could easily be mistaken for a wheat flour-based bread. Although I do not follow a strictly gluten free diet, I love to bake, and I like to mix up the grains I use. In fact, I have trialed many a gluten-free breads, but never with results that would compare to Breads from Anna. Equally pleasing, the flavor is a delicious blend of unique, yet healthy, ingredients. It was sweet, but not too sweet due to the slightly contrasting, yet very complimentary flavors of the flours used.
Always a bonus, the preparation was quite simple. Just add some mashed ripe bananas (there always seems to be a few of these around), 1/3 cup of oil, 2 large eggs, and some nuts if desired. I made just two small alterations to the directions. Rather than dusting the bread pan with rice flour, I used sugar for an extra hint of sweetness. Also, it stated a one-hour bake time, but the bread was completely done at 50 minutes, and my oven does not typically bake products more quickly than the suggested times.
Breads from Anna Pumpkin Bread Mix
Anna has truly mastered the gluten-free quick bread. Amazingly light and fluffy, this pumpkin bread had a smooth consistency that could easily be mistaken for a traditional white or wheat flour-based bread. In fact, it tasted just like the delicious pumpkin bread my mother used to bake for gifts every holiday season. But unlike my mom’s pumpkin bread, the preparation was beyond simple, taking all of 5 minutes. A small amount of oil, two eggs, one cup of pumpkin, and the mix are all you need. I dusted the bottom of the loaf pan with sugar, rather than rice flour, to prevent flour clumping and for another sweet touch.
As with the Breads from Anna banana bread, the one-hour cook time was more than needed, but I wasn’t complaining when it was ready to eat 10 minutes earlier than expected! I could hardly wait to dive in as the delightful scent of pumpkin pie spices permeated our home. Fortunately, the flavor was every bit as wonderful as the aroma. This mix creates a true pumpkin bread, sweet, yet perfect with tea. The natural pumpkin flavor was evident, but not overwhelming due to the complimentary blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and ginger. As an added bonus, it was husband approved.
Breads from Anna Pie Crust Mix
Tony and I tested the breads above, but our Associate Editor Sarah tested out the pie crust mix with her family:
I made our piecrust with plain soy milk, apple cider vinegar, and canola oil. The directions on the package didn’t have all of the baking information I needed to make a fruit pie, so I went to their website for additional baking tips.
The crust was very easy to mix up and roll out, even for me, the non-baker in the family. Because of its crumbly consistency, it was a bit tricky to place in the pie pan, and it did crack during baking. One thing I appreciated about this gluten-free piecrust is that it wasn’t sweet, so it could be used for savory pies as well as dessert pies. However, most tasters in our household didn’t like the bitter aftertaste of the crust.
Certifications: Breads from Anna Baking Mixes are Certified Gluten-Free, GMO-Free Certified and the dairy-free varieties that we viewed were Certified Kosher Parve.
Dietary Notes: By ingredients, the dairy-free varieties of Breads from Anna Baking Mixes are also gluten-free, nut-free, peanut-free, soy-free, and vegetarian. Nonetheless, check with the company on their manufacturing processes for all varieties if potential allergen cross-contamination is an issue for you. Processes and labeling are subject to change at any time for any company / product.
For More Product Information: Visit the Breads from Anna website at breadsfromanna.com.