Remember the 7 ingredients that make up gluten free bread? Say ‘em with me: flour, liquid, salt, fat, yeast, binding agents, and sugar.
In this article, I’m going to walk you through how these ingredients should be combined if you want to make delicious gluten free bread.
There are three steps to baking bread. Only three – see this is NOT scary! In the first step you make the dough, then you let the dough rise, and then finally you bake the bread.
Step 1 – Make the Dough – When you mix the dough, you should start by proofing the yeast. To proof the yeast, you gently stir the yeast and sugar into 1 cup (8 oz) warm water (make sure that it’s between 105 and 115 F) and then let it sit. After several minutes the mixture should become bubbly/foamy. This indicates that the yeast is doing its thing.
After your yeast is proofing, measure and mix the flours. I highly recommend using recipes that give the flour amounts by weight. Buy a digital scale and use it!
Add the other dry ingredients (usually salt and any dry binding agents) to the flour. In a separate bowl, mix the eggs, oil, and any remaining liquids together.
Finally, add the yeast/water mixture and the egg/oil mixture to the flour mixture. Mix it very well – at least 3 to 4 minutes with a mixer.
In case I lost you there, you mix up the bread in 3 bowls. The first bowls contains one cup of water, the sugar and yeast. The flours and other dry ingredients go in the second bowl. Eggs, oil and any remaining liquid ingredients go in the third.
Mix up each bowl separately, and then add the two bowls containing liquids to the bowl containing the flour. Now that everything is altogether mix it with a hand or stand mixer for a minimum of 3 to 4 minutes.
Step 2 – Let the Dough Rise – To get ready for the 2nd step (dough rising), grease a loaf pan with some sort of solid fat (butter, shortening and solid coconut oil all work) or line it with parchment paper.
Scoop the dough into the pan and set it in a warm place to rise. I like to set mine on the back of the stove with the oven turned on the lowest setting. Hot air from the oven vents near the back of the stove and creates a toasty place for the bread to rise.
The dough needs to rise until it is near or even with the top of the pan. Don’t let it get any higher than that. But if it does, stir the dough (which will cause it to fall) and let is rise to the top of the pan again. And pay attention this time =)
The length of time required for step 2 will vary each time you bake bread because the rising time depends on the temperature of your home.
Step 3 – Bake the Bread – The last step is to bake the bread. Be sure to preheat your oven to the temperature specified in the recipe. I like to put a baking stone in the oven when I preheat it.
Then I place the loaf pan on top of the baking stone and the baking stone helps maintain the even temperature that the bread needs. (Modern ovens can be somewhat frenetic with their temperature regulation).
Bake the bread until it reaches an internal temperature of 210 degrees. You’ll need a thermometer to determine this. You can buy one at most grocery stores for a relatively low price and it takes all the guesswork out of determining whether the bread is done.
After you take the bread out of the oven, remove the bread from a pan and let it sit on a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before cutting. If you don’t, you’ll squoosh the bread when you cut it.
That’s it! That’s gluten free bread baking in a nutshell. You can totally do this!
If you’ve never baked a loaf of gluten free bread, then I want you to start this week. I’ll be sending you a couple of recipes in a few days and I want you to bake one of them (or any other gluten free bread recipe that you’ve had your eye on).
The challenge for those of you who are already successfully baking gluten free bread is a little bit more difficult. Since you already know what your bread dough should look like, I want you to make your usual gluten free bread recipe, but using a different flour mix. You can make up a flour mix, or buy a packaged one. But, use the new flour mix and then add the liquid in the recipe gradually so that you can stop when you’ve added enough. Weigh the flours and liquid if you can, and see what the flour : liquid ratio is.
If you have the time, go back and bake your usual gluten free bread too and weigh the flours and liquid for that as well. Now you have two flour:liquid ratio measurements. Give some thought to what those two measurements can tell you about the flours that you’re using.