I feel like a gluten-free fraud for saying this, but since it’s the New Year, I should probably come clean: I’ve never made my own GF bread before (I like this brand, or this one). I had some mild pangs of guilt about this fact in Brazil. Every morning as I stuffed my face with pão de queijo, I thought to myself, I wonder if this is hard to make?
It hasn’t reached full resolution status, but tackling some gluten-free bread recipes in 2016 is definitely on my list, including recreating those magical Brazilian cheese rolls. (My mouth literally started salivating as I wrote that). In the meantime, though, I feel very fortunate to have some excellent advice to share with you from my friend Alexandra Stafford who, in addition to being an all-around food and photography mega talent, is my bread baking sensei.
Alexandra has been hard at work on a no-knead bread book coming out via Clarkson Potter in Spring 2017. She’s promised me there will be some gluten-free morsels to be had in there. And having tried many doughs in the research process, she’s sharing with us one of her favorite gluten-free methods. I’ll stick a metaphorical sock (or pão de queijo) in it and let Alexandra take it from here.
I’m a long-time fan of the Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day series. From the classic boules and sticky pecan rolls to the cinnamon-raisin bread and crispy pizza, each ABin5 recipe I’ve made has been revisited in my kitchen many times.
Equally impressive, I’ve just discovered, is Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, the fifth in the series, a book not only filled with 90 gluten-free bread recipes but also a wealth of information on gluten-free flours and ingredients as well as on gluten sensitivity, wheat allergies, and celiac disease.If you are unfamiliar with the ABin5 series, Jeff Hertzberg (a doctor) and Zoe Francois (a pastry chef) created a method for mixing a large vat of dough, storing it in the refrigerator, and baking off portions of the dough over the course of 10 days. Active time each day is five minutes.
During their research for Gluten-Free ABin5, Zoe and Jeff discovered that a mix of gluten-free flours produced the best tasting loaves, and they created two gluten-free flour mixes, an all-purpose blend and a 100% whole grain blend. The exact proportions for the all-purpose blend, which is the blend called for below, can be found here and substitutions for various flours can be found here. Zoe and Jeff tested all of the recipes with Bob’s Red Mill products because of their widespread availability. I used Bob’s Red Mill as well.
If you hope to make a habit of gluten-free bread baking, I highly recommend making two other small investments: 1. A digital scale, which makes mixing both the homemade gluten-free flour blend and the vat of dough a breeze. (Incidentally, I recently had to buy a new digital scale and was surprised to discover how incredibly affordable they have become. (I bought this one for $14.) And 2. A large storage vessel. Zoe and Jeff recommend this one. You can use a large bowl, too, but stashing it in the fridge may be tricky — the straight-sided, tall vessels are better-suited for storage.
Once the dough is mixed, the hands-on work is minimal. This short video is an excellent reference for the mixing, shaping and baking process. I have had great success with the master recipe — it is the tastiest gluten-free bread I have ever made — as well as with an olive variation. I have yet to try the sweet breads, but after reading that Zoe’s dad declared the gluten-free brioche the best bread he’s ever tasted, gluten-free or otherwise, it’s next up on my baking to-dos. I will be sure to keep you posted!
–Alexandra Stafford of Alexandra’s Kitchen
The Best Gluten-Free Bread
- 6½ cups all-purpose gluten-free mixture (990 g)
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast (10 g)
- 1 to 1½ tablespoons kosher salt (10 g)
- 2 tablespoons sugar (30 g)
- 3¾ cups lukewarm water (850 g)
- cornmeal or parchment paper for pizza peel
- In a 5- to 6-qt bowl or stand mixer, whisk together the flour, yeast, salt and sugar.
- Add the lukewarm water — lukewarm water (100ºF) will allow the dough to rise to the right point for storage in about 2 hours.
- Mix with a spoon or spatula or paddle attachment of mixer until mixture is very smooth — this will take about a minute of good stirring. Kneading is unnecessary. Transfer mixture to lidded (not airtight) food container.
- Cover with a lid that fits well to the container but can be cracked open so it’s not completely airtight. Plastic wrap is fine, too. Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature about 2 hours; then refrigerate it and use over the next 10 days. You can use a portion of the dough any time after the 2-hr rise. Fully refrigerated wet dough is less sticky and easier to work with than dough at room temperature, but whatever you do, do not punch down the dough — this is unnecessary with gluten-free bread baking.
- On baking day: pull off a 1-lb (grapefruit-size) piece of dough, then place it on a pizza peel prepared with plenty of cornmeal or parchment paper. Gently press the dough into a ball and use wet fingers to smooth the surface. Allow to rest at room temperature for 60 minutes loosely covered with plastic wrap or a roomy overturned bowl. The dough will not look as though it has risen much after the 60 minutes — this is normal.
- Preheat a baking stone or Baking Steel near the middle of your oven set at 450ºF for at least 30 minutes. Alternatively, preheat a lidded Dutch oven for 45 minutes at 450ºF. If you are using the stone or Steel, place an empty metal broiler tray for holding water on the shelf below the stone or Steel.
- Dust the top of the dough liberally with flour. Slash a ½-inch-deep cross or scallop using a wet serrated bread knife.
- Shimmy the loaf onto the preheated stone. Alternatively, use the piece of parchment paper as handles and carefully lower the dough-topped parchment paper into the preheated pot. Cover and place in the oven. Quickly and carefully pour 1 cup of hot water from the tap into the metal broiler tray and close the oven door to trap the steam. If you used parchment paper on the steel or Stone, remove it after 20 minutes. Bake loaf for 45 minutes. If you are using the preheated vessel, remove the lid after 30 minutes, and bake for 15 minutes longer uncovered or until the crust is richly browned. Allow bread to cool completely, about 2 hours, on a wire rack.
- Store remaining dough in the refrigerator in your lidded or loosely plastic-wrapped container and use it over the next 10 days.
Want more gluten-free bread recipes? You also might like this Gluten-Free Peasant Bread (No-Knead and Easy!)
Don’t forget to enter the GIVEAWAY guys!
To win a copy of Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day, leave a comment below and tell us what you’d do with this warm crusty boule in your wildest gluten-free kitchen dreams!
[UPDATE: Giveaway closed as of 1/24!]
A huge thank you to Alexandra for taking this gluten-free bread for a test drive and sharing her gorgeous photos!
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