There were many sources of stress. First, I was cooking for a rarefied gaggle of high profile New York City food peeps. Second, I had half the time I needed to cook all the things from the book for all 75 in attendance. And finally, one of those things was biscuits.
I had never made biscuits before. I was gluten-free. The party was on the Monday following hurricane Sandy, so I was a refugee in my parent’s apartment uptown and didn’t end up practicing as I should have.
Long story short, I produced four-dozen sunken, hard hockey-puck shaped rounds. Some of which became moistened, only slightly, by my tears.
I’ll never forget how kind and understanding Christopher and Melissa were about my epic fail. “Do they taste good?” Melissa asked, before she took a skeptical bite. They did, thank God. “Well, we’ll just call them biscuit cookies!” she said.
I could cry again right now just thinking about their graciousness. And also, out of embarrassment when I remember the look on Danny Meyer’s face when he bit into a hard biscuit later in the night.
I haven’t baked anything in the savory bread family (besides these) since.
Last year, my friend Ali Stafford wrote this guest post about Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. I made it my resolution to try my hand at it, especially since so many of you reported back with epic results.
But, alas, 2016 came and went without so much as one measly boule to come out of my oven.
It took until March of this year for Ali to finally cure me of my bread baking phobia. And she did so with her own genius gluten-free peasant bread recipe that requires no kneading and can be baked directly in a Pyrex bowl.
The non-gluten-free version of this peasant bread “master recipe” is the cornerstone of her new cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs, a nose-to-tail bread book that teaches you dozens of variations on that original recipe (hello, spicy jalapeno, corn and jack bread), and ways to use up every nub.
The book is brimming with creativity, and packed with tips at every turn that will troubleshoot whatever dough panic questions arise. I was also lucky enough to have Ali virtually by my side every step of the way (thank you, Instagram). When my dough looked a little wet, she instructed that sometimes the rise takes longer; I should simply give it more time for the dough to crest over the top of the bowl. I did, and she was right!
I did not take her advice, however, about letting the loaves rest before cutting into them. They smelled so good, I couldn’t wait!
It’s rare that you get a moist, spongey crumb with gluten-free bread and not something dry, stiff and cardboard-like. This recipe was a revelation. It was the first time in memory that I could enjoy bread fresh out of the oven. And the first time I didn’t have to use a toaster to shock my sad slices into something crusty and edible.
My favorite part about this gluten-free bread recipe is that it makes 2 loaves so you can stash one in the freezer for future toasts, or….even better: #bakeitforward!
Skip to the bottom of the post to find out how you can enter to win a copy of Ali’s gorgeous new book. Consider it my way to #sharealoaf with you!
Gluten-Free Peasant Bread
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, and instant yeast. In a medium bowl, pour the water over the honey and stir to dissolve. Add the eggs, oil, and vinegar. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix with a spatula to form a batter.
Grease two 1-quart oven-safe bowls with the softened butter—be generous. Divide the dough evenly between the prepared bowls. With wet hands, smooth the surface of the dough. Let the dough rise in a warm or draft-free spot for 30 to 45 minutes, until the top of the dough just crowns the rims of the bowls. Halfway through the rising, set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 425 degrees F.
Transfer the bowls to the oven (use a baking sheet to make it easier), and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375 degrees F and bake for 17 to 20 minutes more, until golden all around. Remove the bowls from the oven and turn the loaves out onto the cooling racks. Let the loaves cool for at least 20 minutes before cutting.
Note that this recipe differs from Ali’s master peasant bread recipe in that it doesn’t have two rises, and therefore doesn’t require a bowl cover.
See how this Gluten-Free Peasant Bread stacks up to last year’s Artisan Gluten-Free Bread Recipe.