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Comparative test of two GF premixes

AJP-AR's picture

Comparative test of two GF premixes


This post deals with a comparative bake test using two different GF premixes, using the same recipe, resting and baking times, and almost identical Pullman loaf tins. As I live in Argentina, the mentioned brands will not be useful for most of the community, but it may help to conduct test to determine what could work for you in a similar situation.


When we (wife and me) faced the challenge to provide a GF diet to our recently diagnosed 1,5 YO son, we took a dive into an unknown realm. While we knew facts about the celiac disease, nobody in our circles was known to suffer this gluten related condition. The boy turned 11 three weeks ago, going strong and very aware of his condition (which limits him only in what he can eat).


At some point, after trying quite a few manufactured GF breads, we found all of them ugly. Bake our own bread was the next logical step. And the first dilemma. Buy GF premix or blend the GF flours by ourselves? After several failed attempts mixing our own stuff, we settled on ready to use premixes. And after the mandatory tryouts, we choose the Santa María brand. We use Santa María (SM from here) for almost everything: bread, pasta, pizza, cakes, crêpes, etc., always with great results. However, is a bit pricey (a kilo is about 8.5 times more expensive tan a kilo of the cheap 000 wheat flour that we use in some dishes for the rest of the family). About a week ago, a folk we know (not a relative, not a friend) just started a business selling GF and healthy food related products, and offered us a nice discount if we buy in bulk. But he’s not dealing the SM brand. He sells the Delicen brand, absolutely unknown to us. So, can we switch brands and save some money without compromising the taste and the quality of what we bake/cook?  We got a kilo of the Delicen (D) premix to try, and this is what we found in our first test (bread, of course).


With both packages of premix over the counter, some differences shows up in composition:

SM: White rice flour, tapioca starch, corn starch, potato starch, sugar, vegetable oil, milk, eggs, salt, emulsifiers (sodium esteroillactate, soy lecithin), stabilizer (carboxymethilcelullose, xhantan gum, guar gum).

D: Corn starch, rice flour, tapioca starch, powder skimmed milk, salt, yeast, levening agent (acid sodium carbonate), emulsifiers (xhantam gum, mono- and diglycerides of fatty acids).


Very different formulations, huh?


The test recipe is adapted from a no knead bread from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking, by Jeff Hertzberg & Zoë François:


  • GF premix 165 g
  • Instant yeast (Saf-Instant brand) 5 g
  • Salt 4 g
  • Egg 1
  • Lukewarm water 171 g
  • Butter (at room temperature) 28 g
  • Xhantam gun 3 g (3.75g by scaling the recipe, but my scale weights only by 1g so I went a bit short for both batches)


Just combine the liquids, then mix in the solids and let rest (current temperature on my kitchen is 29 deg Celsius).

On the left SM, on the right D.

Just after mixing, the D dough looks shinny (wetter?)

After half an hour, the SM batter looks a bit bigger.

After an hour, SM has almost doubled in size over D in this conditions (more levening agents present in the base premix, I suspect)

After the two hours rest, the SM batch has about 1/3 more volumen than the D batch (which still looks shinny/wetter).


Preheat oven to 232 deg Celsius 20/30 minutes. Each sample was put on an oiled tin, smoothed the surfaces whit wet hands, and just before baking dusted with tapioca starch (the book calls for brown rice flour, but I’ve found that I run out too late) and slashed the top with a  lame. The SM dough looks stiffer than the D versión.

I baked this samples with the lid on its place, without steam, for 50 minutes.


From the initial and equal quantities on the recipe, the SM batter yielded a 322 g loaf and the D batter a 327 g one. The D loaf looks much denser, a bit more yellow-ish top crust. There is no noticeable difference in flavor between the loaves.

The Hertzberg & François recipe aims to obtain a free form boule. The SM loaf looks promising (even in a pulman tin).


Can we switch brands and save some money without compromising the taste and the quality of what we bake/cook?

Nope, at least without extensive testing and recipe tweaking. The formulations and behaviors are really different, and the final results shows that. I guess the SM has a higher percent of levening agents, and this combined with the rest of the formula makes the final loaf. The D premix still may be usefull for other uses (crepes, waffles, pasta), but at this point I will not replace the SM for bread or other levened applications.

Thanks for your time reading this. Any input welcome.


PS: Soundtrack. I like listening music while doing stuff. In this case, James Brown (Funk Power), Queen (News of the World) and ABBA (Greatest Hits).

clazar123's picture

I don't have the new book that has the GF recipes but the authors do post their recipe online. Unfortunately, they post it in a combination of weights and volumes here. I have converted it to grams using google so consider that especially if it is a little "off". I find a great deal of variation out there.

This is a good read about baker's percentage and the last paragraph speaks to GF bread hydration and baking.

So here is my contribution for right now. I re-wrote the 2 recipes in a weight form and included baker's percentages. It makes it easier to "see" the recipe and develop suggestions.

AJP-AR, going GF is no easy task. The biggest barrier is changing one's mindset while mourning the "loss" of beloved foods. It is a matter of finding new favorites and having the family participate in the exploration. I have found that developing a few basic recipes (as you are doing ) is essential to feel better as fast as possible. I have found recipes with textures that are more forgiving are easier to convert quickly. Pancakes, moist baked goods(tea breads,brownies,etc), cookies and crackers are the easiest. GF noodles are  generally available already premade where I am-check around or order from Amazon. I have found Asian grocery stores have kept the GF tradition in their cooking. Remember GF grain was around a LOT longer than wheat based cooking. Check out noodles made with rice and tapioca. Crackers,too. There are a lot of delicious food that are GF. You just can't expect the wheat based specialties (like many breads) to be able to convert to GF and remain the same. You have to discover the GF deliciousness variation. Since GF is a moister bread, the tastes are more pronounced (sweet,salty,bitter). Make sure to make your bread tasty but not overly tasty. If it tastes bitter, that can be some of the flour. Brown rice and whole grain flours (sorghum, millet,and others) can go rancid if stored warm. Keep cool or frozen (even the SM) for best results.








6 ½ cups

990g (from authors)









1-1/2 TBSP










4 large


Egg is 75%water so contributes 150 g water

See water


3 ¼ cups


+150g from egg white





Included in flour mix at unknown amount


This recipe is posted by the authors. They use their own mix of flours that may or may not include xanthan gum (I don’t have access to the book for that info but I assume it is so.)



Here is the original poster’s recipe in the same kind of table. It allows a comparison between the ABin5 and his/her recipe in Baker’s Percentages. It might be helpful in determining the best way to a better loaf.





























Egg is 75%water so contributes 38g water

See water




38g water from egg



1 tsp(about)


 Google indicates about 3% is good. Is x.gum in the SM flour?







I hope I got the math correct. I accounted for sugar in a totally separate category. 

Immediately obvious is that the poster’s recipe is at 126% hydration-that is high even for GF. If I would look just at the Baker’s Percentage, I would describe the loaf as an enriched (17%butter) loaf with a salty taste(2.4%). Since it is a very moist loaf, the flavor of salt (and sugar if it were present) would be enhanced. The crust (with the SM flour blend) is very pale and would benefit from either some sugar in the recipe or a brushing on the top of milk or sugar.

Some great websites. Use the search box here on The Fresh Loaf to find more. Look on my user name as I have posted these sites a number of times.


Keep going! It will become second nature!

AJP-AR's picture

Really clever stuff, will be really useful.Thank you for your time!

Yes, SM brand lists carboxymethilcelullose, xhantan gum and guar gum as stabilizers, and the test recipe added some more.

Unless i got very wrong numbers, I just took the ABi5 recipe and divided by 4 to get the amounts (equaling the total of the three GF flours as the single item GF premix). Even if the ingredients were really off proportions, SM brand gave me a better loaf (which could be better, yes)

We actually have a satisfactory GF sandwich loaf recipe. Next week will bake a loaf and take pictures and post along detailed instructions, but the recipe is (at least to this point, your comments triggered some thinking):

  • GF premix (Santa María, to keep the topic) 440 g
  • Sugar 35 g
  • Vegetable oil (we use sunflower oil, but a good olive oil will create a tasty bread) 35 g
  • Eggs 2
  • Xhantam gum 3 g
  • Salt 9g
  • Lukewarm milk (we use skimmed fluid milk, 1.5%) 300 ml
  • Instant yeast (Saf-Instant) 7g

This recipe results in a really good loaf every time. Will post pictures soon!


pmccool's picture

you may wish to combine one or two of them with packaged mixes.  That ingredients of the two mixes that you are comparing are almost entirely starches.  Combinations of flours and starches seem to work better for GF breads than starches alone or flours alone.  I don't understand the underlying chemistry, so I am unable to explain why.  

By flours, I mean things like sorghum, millet, amaranth, teff, potato, or various nut flours.  


AJP-AR's picture

Thanks for chime in. The SM brand has white rice flour as it's main component, opposite to D brand which is mostly cornstarch. My bet is the difference in size between flours ans starches tends to "interlock" to catch water and gases, and conform the batter (with the help of gums, chia, flax seed, etc).

Sorghum and millet flours aren't available to the home baker here, as well potato flour (but potato starch is relatively easy to obtain). I can try with buckwheat flour.