Stop what you’re doing – this is bread talk and it’s important.
Since I’ve stopped eating gluten it hasn’t been all that hard to say “no” to gluten-full items. Except… When you go to a restaurant and they put a nice warm loaf of freshly baked bread and butter next to you… That’s when it gets hard. Fresh bread is a classic feel-good food. It’s comfort food. I rarely crave sweets, but fresh bread is definitely a vice for me. And since going gluten free, I’ve not had the delight of a warm slice of bread to satisfy those cravings.
And let’s be honest, the GF stuff you find in stores… Not so great. I’ve had my fair share of GF breads and dough, but they never come out as good as the real stuff.
Well, I can’t just ignore my cravings so I decided to do something about it. I did A LOT of research on GF bread baking… a lot. I read everything there is to read on baking GF breads and how to make the dough a hundred different ways. Gluten Free Jules has a wonderful blog post about 18 Tips for Gluten Free Bread Baking, and it has almost everything you need to know about baking GF bread as opposed to regular bread!
If you are wanting to make GF bread at home, I would suggest reading Jules’ tips. Why? Because every loaf of bread is different, and although you might follow a recipe to a tee, there may be points in which you have to improvise. Knowing the dos and don’ts of GF Bread Baking will make those instances easier if it comes to that. You will be able to think on your feet and make decisions that will aid your bread making, instead of ruining it.
That being said, I have done LOADS of research, created my own recipe and tested it FOR YOU! All you have to do is follow it exactly and you should come out with a beautiful artisan loaf like this one.
Please, if trying it out at home, leave a comment on how the recipe works/reads. I would love some feedback! GF Bread making is an ongoing experiment and I am open to criticism, tips or anything else you might have to add! Thanks in advance : )
4 (+ 1/2 if needed) cups Gluten Free Flour (Red Mill) **620 grams if measuring by weight – which I highly suggest!**
1/2 Tbsp dry active Yeast
3/4 Tbsp Salt
1 Tbsp Honey OR Agave
3 1/2 cups lukewarm Water **540 grams if measuring by weight – again, I highly recommend this!**
1 tsp baking powder
1 Tbsp Carbonated Water
1 Tbsp Olive Oil (for top)
NOTE – This recipe takes roughly 3 hours from start to finish – about 15 min active and 2 hrs 45 min inactive.
Measure out your water, I prefer doing this by weight on a scale. Make sure that your water is not warmer than 100 degrees F, as this will kill the yeast instead of activate it.
Add your honey and yeast to the water, whisk gently and then let rest for 5 minutes. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap so as to keep the humidity inside the bowl, helping the yeast activate. You will see after 5 min that the yeast starts to foam on top of the water. If this is not the case, your yeast could be past expiration or the water is too hot. In any case, you’ll have to throw out the mixture and start again. You need active yeast in order for the rest of the process to work.
Measure your flour out by weight, and combine with baking powder and salt. Then, combine with the yeast/water mixture and your carbonated water, and mix well with a wooden spoon (if using an automated mixer, use your dough hook and beat the dough on low speed). **The carbonated water helps to add air into the dough – this will help it not to be too dense when cooked.
Once fully combined, form into a ball WITHOUT KNEADING and place the dough in a large bowl coated in cooking spray. Cover with plastic wrap tightly, again keeping the moisture inside, and place the bowl in a warm, humid spot to rise: approximately 2 hours. This is called the proofing process.
NOTE – You don’t want to knead the dough, because the tradition of kneading bread is due to the gluten in the mixture. You knead dough in order to exercise the gluten and make it more elastic. Since we don’t have gluten in this recipe, you want to exclude the kneading process as this will only harm the yeast.
About 30 minutes before the dough is finished proofing, preheat your oven to 450 degrees F. While preheating, place a baking stone in the oven to warm, making sure that it is in the absolute center of the oven (adjust your grates accordingly). One level below your baking stone, place a cookie sheet (needs to have raised edges).
Once the dough is done rising and your oven and stone are preheated, pull the stone out and cover it with parchment paper, and lightly dust the parchment with GF flour. Using a rubber spatula coated in cooking spray, roll your dough gently onto the parchment. If you need to form it back into a ball, you can do so, but be sure not to work the dough too much. Once on the stone, get a knife wet and cut slits into the top of the bread (whichever way you want!). Then pat the top down with oil and lightly with flour, and place the stone in the oven. Quickly before closing the door, put a cup of water into the cookie sheet below the bread, then shut the door swiftly. Bake for 45 minutes.
NOTE – The water in the oven will keep the bread moist while baking, making sure it doesn’t dry out. Make sure that you don’t open the oven AT ALL during the baking process, as this could result in a deflated loaf. I know it’s hard to resist, but your patience will pay off in the end!
After 45 minutes, turn the oven off and open the oven door, but DO NOT remove the loaf of bread. Keep the door open while the loaf cools slowly. Once significantly cooler, remove from oven and cool on cooling rack the rest of the way. Again, it will take a lot of self control, but you don’t want to cut into the loaf before it is fully cooled.
Once cooled, simply enjoy!
**To store, place in a sealed container that allows for air to circulate around the bread (bread shouldn’t be touching the sides of the container). Don’t put it in the fridge, simply store on your counter top at room temp.