Monday, September 27, 2010

Gluten Free Vegan Crusty Bread Recipe

Gluten free vegan bread, a few slices from the first batch.
When I first went gluten free I had no idea that I would learn to make my own bread. To be honest, I didn't really eat a lot of bread before I went gluten free. It makes sense to me now -- that by default I instinctively often avoided foods that hurt my body.

Several weeks into being gluten free, I decided to give gluten free bread a try. I used a few recipes from Bette Hagman. I used a bread machine. I made okay bread.

Gradually over the past 4 years I've learned how to make really good bread. I love the techniques involved in baking. I'm always learning more.

Part of this journey has included learning about other foods that also hurt my tummy or cause allergic reactions. I never thought I'd be a person who people considered "picky" when it came to eating. I was the buffet girl. I'd eat anything you put in front of me.

Now that dairy/casein, soy, corn, and shrimp are also not a part of my diet it makes me have great empathy for people with restricted diets.

Many people who cannot tolerate gluten also cannot tolerate eggs, especially while they are still healing. One thing you'll learn about gluten free baking is that normally it uses a LOT of eggs. Thankfully my body can handle the eggs, but I know this is a huge struggle for some people. It can also be costly for everyone else.

Below is a tutorial on making this bread. It's a beautiful process. This "5 minutes a day" technique takes a bit longer time-wise than a loaf of sandwich bread, but I think it is more rewarding and has a much better flavor. Also since you're splitting the dough into two loaves the yeast doesn't have to work quite so hard to help the bread have a higher rise. While these loaves aren't quite as high as a wheat-based french bread, they have a fantastic texture, a beautiful appearance, and slice up well.

Time for bread.

The recipe is below the tutorial. Make this bread by hand at least once so you know what to expect with the texture of the dough. When you feel comfortable with the process, then try making the bread with your stand mixer if you'd like.

First measure out and whisk together the flours, xanthan gum, guar gum, sea salt, and baking powder. Whisking helps incorporate air into your dry ingredients along with making sure the ingredients are mixed evenly.

Next add the rapid rise yeast & honey (or maple syrup) to the warm water. Allow it to sit alone for about 5 minutes to proof. Once the mixture has a yeasty aroma, has turned cloudy, and has started bubbling at the top, it's time to proceed.

Next, you'll add the oil to your yeast mixture and then pour it into the dry ingredients.
Begin to stir. I really enjoy using a wooden spoon. Not sure if it's for nostalgia's sake or if it just seems to incorporate the ingredients well. At first it will look like a wet biscuit dough. Keep stirring.

After the dough looks like biscuit dough, it will slowly thicken up once the gums start working. Next it will look like a thick cake batter. Finally, you'll be able to stir the dough into a stiff batter that will form a loose shape. Gently shape the dough into a ball with the wooden spoon.

Once you have the dough in a ball, pour a few tablespoons of olive oil on it to coat the dough, so you can work it into a solid mass. With your hands, spread the oil over the dough and move the dough to an oiled bowl to rise.

I love using this salad bowl to let the dough rise. A wooden dough bowl works well too. I prefer not to rise dough in a metal bowl because when I used to make wheat-based sourdough, it was said that the metal could interfere with the action of the natural yeast. Now it's time to let the bread rise. Cover the bread with plastic wrap or a tea towel. Allow it to rise in a warm place in the kitchen. Go play. Wash the dishes. Read a good book. This will take 2-3 hours. Give the bread time.

Once the dough has doubled in size it's time to shape the bread into loaves. There is nothing in this world that will make you feel like a baker more than creating your own loaves of bread. Enjoy this.

To shape your dough, you first must move the dough to a floured surface, preferably parchment paper on a cookie sheet that you can slide onto a hot pizza/baking stone. Flour the parchment paper with millet flour or brown rice flour to help give it a crusty bottom. Gently pour the dough from the bowl onto the floured surface.

Using a very sharp knife cut the dough into two loaves or boules (rustic oval loaves of bread) Gently pat them into an oval, careful not to flatten the dough. It will sink slightly while you are shaping it. Don't be alarmed. Now it's time to preheat the oven. If you're using a pizza/baking stone, place the stone (not the bread) in the oven and preheat to 400 degrees. You want the stone to become very hot.

Next, with a sharp knife, add 3 small 1/4" slits on the top of each loaf. This is to decorate your bread and give it an artisan touch. Try not to make the cuts too deep.

While the oven is heating, it's time to allow the bread to rest and rise one more time.  If you want the bread to have a "floury" appearance, like "real" bakery bread, simply sprinkle and gently pat extra millet flour or brown rice flour over the two loaves. Then gently cover the two loaves with plastic wrap or a tea towel and leave them in a warm spot in your kitchen for about 30 minutes. They will rise slightly. After 30 minutes slide the parchment paper with your bread onto the hot pizza stone in the oven -OR- slide the cookie sheet  with your parchment paper and loaves on it into the oven. You'll bake the bread for about 35-40 minutes.
Your bread is finished when you can tap on it and it sounds a bit hollow. It should be golden brown and if you check the temperature with a food thermometer it should be around 180-190 degrees. Allow the bread to cool for at least an hour.

Ideally you can cool the bread on a wire rack, that works really well. It really is important to allow the bread to cool for at least an hour if not more. Because the bread is still warm after being pulled from the oven it's technically still "cooking" and if you slice into it too soon, it will be a bit gooey, especially since it doesn't have eggs.

In the very top picture of sliced bread, I allowed the loaf to cool over an hour which resulted in perfectly textured bread. With this loaf, I was in a hurry to get good pictures and I sliced it after about 30 minutes. I should have waited a bit longer. This loaf is just slightly more moist and doughy than the first loaf. Patience is important with good bread.

Now it's your turn. Time to make bread. Gluten free, egg free, soy free, dairy free yeast bread. Baking bread is a soothing, patient process. Give it time. If it doesn't work the first time, try it again. Good bread takes practice. Allow your hands to learn the movements of mixing the dough and shaping the loaves. Enjoy the process. Go. Make bread.

Gluten Free Vegan Crusty Bread Recipe
free of gluten, dairy/casein, soy, and eggs
created by carrie forbes of
print-friendly recipe

1 1/4 cups almond flour (5 1/8 oz., 144 grams)
1/2 cup brown rice flour (2 1/2 oz., 71 grams)
1/2 cup sorghum flour (2 1/2 oz., 72 grams)
1/2 cup arrowroot starch (2 1/8 oz., 59 grams)
1/2 cup potato starch (2 7/8 oz., 81 grams)
1 teaspoon gluten free, corn free baking powder
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
1/2 teaspoon guar gum
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1 1/2 cups warm water ( heated to 110 degrees)
1 tablespoon rapid rise yeast
3 tablespoons honey, agave nectar, or maple syrup
1/4 cup olive oil

  • In a large bowl whisk together almond flour, brown rice flour, sorghum flour, arrowroot starch, potato starch, baking powder, xanthan gum, guar gum, and sea salt. 
  • Heat 1 1/2 cups of water in your microwave for about 40 seconds or until it's 110 degrees, measured with a food thermometer.
  • Add rapid rise yeast and honey to the warm water. Stir to combine and set aside for 5 minutes until it's bubbly and smells yeasty. 
  • Add the oil to the yeast mixture and pour the yeast mixture into the dry ingredients. 
  • Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients with a wooden spoon. Stir for several minutes until the dough is like a very thick cake batter and you can form it into a loose ball. Oil the inside of a large glass, ceramic, or plastic bowl and set aside.
  • Pour about a tablespoon of olive oil over the bread dough. Using your hands, coat the dough with the oil. Place the ball of dough into the oiled bowl to rise. Cover the bowl loosely with plastic wrap or a tea towel and set in a warm area of your kitchen.
  • Allow the dough to rise for 2 hours, or until it's doubled in size. 
  • Place a large piece of parchment paper or a silpat mat onto a cookie sheet. Dust it with millet flour or brown rice flour. Gently pour the risen dough onto the dusted surface. 
  • Using a sharp knife, cut the dough into two pieces. Shape each piece into a "boule", or a rustic oval shape. Place each loaf several inches apart on the dusted surface. 
  • Using a sharp knife, place three small 1/4" slits on the top of each loaf. 
  • Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. If using a pizza stone, place it in the oven now to get very hot. 
  • While the oven is heating cover the dough with plastic wrap or a tea towel and allow it to rest and rise for an additional 30 minutes. This is your 2nd rise. 
  • After the dough has risen a bit (around 30 minutes) it's time to put it in the oven. If you're using a pizza stone, use the cookie sheet to slide the parchment paper with the bread loaves onto the hot stone. If you're just using the cookie sheet, place it carefully in the oven. 
  • Bake the bread for 30-45 minutes. When finished the bread should be golden brown, should sound a bit hollow if tapped, and should reach an internal temperature of 180-190 degrees if tested with a thermometer. 
  • Place the bread loaves on a wire rack and allow to cool for AT LEAST an hour if not longer. The longer you allow the bread the cool, the better the texture will be when you slice into it. 
  • To store: Place in a ziplock bag. The bread will keep on the counter for about 3 days. After that slice it and freeze any remaining bread. 

Carrie's Notes: 
  • Almond flour is fairly key for the bread to work well. Yet, if you cannot tolerate almonds, I would suggest trying a bean flour in it's place (for the protein and fat content.) I used Honeyville Almond Flour.
  • If you cannot tolerate rice, use additional sorghum flour in place of the brown rice called for. 
  • Olive Oil: This recipe calls for a large amount of oil compared to most gluten free bread recipes, that is to help replace the fat from the eggs. Oil also acts as a humectant and assists with the texture and moisture content of the bread. 
  • Honey, Agave Nectar, or Maple Syrup: This bread also calls for a fairly large amount of "sugar" compared to other gluten free bread recipes. Obviously, if you are a strict vegan, do not use honey in this recipe, please use agave nectar or maple syrup in it's place. The sugar not only helps activate the yeast, but like the oil acts as a humectant to help the bread stay moist and retain it's texture. The sugar also helps to give this bread such a beautiful golden crust. Make the recipe first with the amount of sweetener called for. If you think it's too sweet, try it next time with a lesser amount.
  • Many Thanks: I borrowed and combined several techniques, methods, and ingredient suggestions to create this gluten free vegan bread! Many thanks to Shauna & Danny Ahern of Gluten Free Girl and the Chef, Jeff Hertzberg and Zoe Francois of Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes A Day, and Jennifer of The Cinnamon Quill. These incredible people have helped to pave the way for people who need to bake gluten free.

This post is linked to Amy Green's Slightly Indulgent Tuesday's at Simply Sugar and Gluten Free. Make sure to visit her blog today for another wonderful weekly roundup of delicious and healthy gluten free treats!

This post is also linked to this month's "Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free" recipe roundup. There are two themes this month, one being gluten free breads. The bread roundup is being hosted by Choupichen at It's Gluten Free 

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  1. Thanks for the recipe and the clear, well-photographed tutorial. I've just recently started making gluten-free bread, after being gluten-free for over 3 years. I started with Gluten-free Girl's recipe for crusty boule bread, which turned out really well. Now I"m trying to develop my own recipe. I've been wondering why my bread sometimes comes out too wet inside. Now I know I'm slicing it too soon! Thanks for the tips!

  2. Awesome job! This bread looks gorgeous!!!

  3. You're welcome Gina!! I hope this helps!! Isn't Gluten-Free Girl's recipe fantastic!! I loved learning that method to make bread. It feels real! :-)

  4. Three cheers for Carrie. What an accomplishment—this bread looks beautiful! Saves the rest of us from having to figure it all out:). I really like that Carrie was able to make this bread without eggs (which my son does not tolerate well). And the large measure of almond flour really increases the nutritional value. Great going. Hats off to Carrie and Shauna & Danny Ahern, Jeff, Zoe, and Jennifer. You all are making great things happen in the world of gluten-free baking!!

  5. Gorgeous Carrie! And such a great tutorial, I did NOT know you should not use a metal bowl for rising (that might 'splain some things)! :-D

    Can't wait to share this with all my readers!


  6. Fantastic looking bread!! I'm going to read thouroughly all your posts about GF bread baking.

  7. Thank you so much Flo!! If you make it, please share with me how it worked for you!!

  8. Heidi - you're the best! I wish we were neighbors! We would always be well fed!!

  9. Lexie - thank you sweet girl! I can't wait for your posts this week and I'm so trying the homemade BRM mix!!!

  10. Fabulous, Carrie! Nothing like some excellent tweaking some recipes/guidance from the experts! Those last few photos of the fresh bread are so lovely, but I appreciated the whole photo tutorial very much. :-)

    I've found that those with celiac/gluten intolerance seem to be of two schools; they either ate bread nonstop because they craved it so (along the lines of we crave what we are allergic to) or they avoided it because of that innate sense of what made them feel bad.

    Thanks for this awesome recipe!

  11. Absolutely Amazing, Carrie! Those loaves look gorgeous!! I am going to go add your link to my Vegan French Toast Recipe! They will certainly have an awesome French Toast with this! Well done, my friend! ;) Well done!!!

  12. love the look of that gorgeous crust!!

  13. This looks amazing! Great to see people using almond flour to reduce the starchines of those grains.

    Would you think of submitting this to this month's Go Ahead Honey it's Gluten Free? We ended up with two hosts and I think Choupichen is struggling to get entries as a result. The theme is gluten free bread and choupichen ( a French blogger) would be just delighted to see these French style Pain Rustique loaves.

    All you'd need to do is add a little link to her and mention Go Ahead Honey...

    Her blog is C'est Sans Gluten - you can find it here;

    x x x

  14. It's gorgeous. My farmers market lady (isn't that what everybody calls them?) told me to hit Goodwill and find a bread machine. The store-bought-stuff just doesn't do it for me anymore. I don't have the challenges you have, but I do have that craving for home-baked bread.

  15. Gorgeous! I was excited to see this post after reading the updates on Facebook. You did not dissappoint! Honestly, those loaves are just soooo beautiful!

  16. Shirley - I so agree with you!! :-) I love your idea of the two schools of those with celiac disease or a severe gluten intolerance. When it came to sandwich bread, I rarely ate it.. when it came to pizza/bakery bread/buns... I was all over it! lol... Glad this is a good and healthy substitute!

    GFVeg - Thank you!!! :-) I am so pleased at how pretty they turned out!

    Kim - THank you so much and thank you for linking back to this recipe from your french toast!! Now, I'll have to try a COMPLETE vegan breakfast with your vegan french toast!!

    Naomi - I'll be glad to join the roundup!! THank you for asking!

    Abby - You'll love homemade bread, and I know you can make it with or without a bread machine!! Thank you for the compliment!! I wish I had your photography skills!!

    Carol -- Thank you!! This is such an easy bread to make and it's really fun to make a rustic loaf!!

  17. From Karen Murphy via Facebook: "It's Fabulous! Your bread passed all votes in this house! I do need to practice getting it thicker but I think the mixer will do that for me. Thank you so much for the recipe :)"

  18. From Amy Green via Facebook: "I'm totally impressed....I might learn to bake bread after all."

  19. From Jennifer Morris via Facebook: "I CANNOT wait to try this bread..i'm seriously tempted to drop my work and rush into the kitchen right looks incredible!"

  20. From Diane Bramos via Facebook: "YAY!! Can't wait to try making this!!!"

  21. Wow, wow, wow! I'm impressed. Those loaves of bread are absolutely beautiful. I'm thinking toasted with organic pastured butter and home-made peach jam dripping off the edges. Oh, and I'm so hungry right now!
    Wow again.

  22. I haven't been able to find sorghum flour anywhere here, is there anything I could substitute instead?

  23. Intolerant -- Yes! You can use millet flour or just use additional brown rice flour! :-)

  24. Carrie, you are my hero. Will you please come and live at our house and bake crusty bread for us? :)

    I'm trying this. For real. Really going to give it a go, with all the right ingredients- no weirdo, "typical-me" substitutions.

    I have hope. I miss crunchy crusty bread terribly.
    Thank you!

  25. Hi Carrie,

    your bread looks awesome! I am just trying the recipe myself (having to use bean flour instead of almond flour). How long does the stirring process take because my dough seems really wet and I can't seem to stir long enough for it to start forming a ball. Any advice or do you think it's the bean flour? I have a KitchenAid mixer - should I try it in there with the paddle attachment? HELP!

  26. NDmom - I think it's the bean flour, it's a very different consistency than the almond flour... did you measure by cup or by weight?

  27. I measured by cup. Should I try increasing the flour amount? Is there another flour you would recommend in place of the almond flour? Our school has a strict no nuts policy.

  28. NDmom - I'm so sorry I didn't get back to you sooner! I think if you weighed the bean flour so that it was the exact same weight as the almond flour you would have better luck, so yes, you may need more bean flour! I apologize, this is one of those tricky recipes in which substitutions are not recommended because of the tricky nature of gf flours and yeast and the magic of bread.

  29. Hello! You mentioned the five minute a day technique. Have you made your gluten free version in advance and then stored it in the fridge, taking off chunks to bake as you need it? Also, I'm interested in trying it for the Naan recipe -- have you? Sorry about the Anon thing, but I'm new to all this and don't have a profile set up. Thanks. (My 14 year old just newly diagnosed - no gluten/soy.)

  30. Hi to my last poster! ;-) I have not made it in advance and stored in the fridge, but I am certain you can do that, especially since this doesn't have eggs in it! :-) I'll try it this week and let you know!! :-) And I haven't tried this as Na'an... I didn't know that was something that you could make with it! Now I'm intrigued!!

  31. Hi it's Anon again (it's actually Kris) -- thanks so much for responding. Yes, please let me know how it works out storing. Also check out this link, that's how I found out about the Naan (Na'an) version.

    Thanks again!

  32. Look at that brown crusty outside... beautiful!

  33. MMMM I'm eating it now and the Hubby is loving it! Thanks so much Carrie!

  34. Hi Carrie! Thanks so much for all of your hard work on this recipe. I hadn't baked bread since I learned about my allergies (cow's milk, casein, wheat gluten, egg) and your recipe and clear instructions gave me the boost I needed to give it a try. I've linked to you from my blog entry about the process -- you've got a great site here! ~Saska

  35. Carrie, this looks amazing. Can I come over?

  36. Carrie, this looks amazing! This gluten-eater may have to give it a try :)

    We can't do almonds here, but I'm wondering about another nut? Maybe I shall experiment a wee bit.

  37. Hello Folks,

    So as usual I did things my own way. I wanted to make bread but got inpatient. I used Carrie's recipe with tweaks. I had Pamela's Gluten Free bread mix. So I used that exact mix to equal all the flour. I followed the recipe. Except I so my first rise in the oven. I heat up the oven to 200 then turn it off. Put the bread it. Also I made bread sticks, thick ones. Put a lot of olive oil in a ceramic bowl and baked them in that. For me what I miss about bread is the war texture like eating warm bread. My "bread sticks: did the trick. They came out sweet and olive-y. The texture when you eat them hot is close to pulling apart a hot bagel. Try it!

  38. I made this bread last night after days of waiting for an opportunity to have ample "rise" time. Boy it took a while! I had to sub a couple things but not majorly at all. My dough was wetter than yours when I was done mixing so it was difficult to get it into a ball. The bowl was holding its shape whle it was rising. Then when it was time to put it in the oven it was sticking to my hands so badly that at least a couple slices were washed down the sink :( It didn't rise enought to make two loafs so I have one dense loaf. It baked beautifully though and tastes great. Thank you for the inspiration.

  39. Looks good. Why do you both xanthum and guar gum? Could I use a sub for guar gum?

  40. Why do you use both xanthum and guar? Could I use another thickener, like potato starch? Can I use Faba bean flour? Thanks your bread look yummy.

    I look forward to your reply.

  41. Renee - using both gives a better texture I believe, but you can stick with just using xanthan gum (just leave out the amount of guar gum altogether). You could use fava bean flour, but it will most likely have a very beany taste!

    1. One of my recipe substitutions said you can interchange xanthan gum and guar gum--said if you are just using 1 kind to use the amount of both so I have been using 2 1/2 tsp of xanthum gum. Could this be why my dough is turning out so wet and not forming into the ball you show in your pictures?

  42. I really need to bake this bread, sounds gorgeous and looks soooo tasty and crusty! I have not had a bread with a breadcrust since I have to live glutenfree, this would be awesome.
    I just have never seen arrowroot starch and xanthum gum here in germany, this will be hard to find. And what is meant with rapid rise yeast? We just have the normal fresh yeast or dried yeast powder, but never heard of rapid rise yeast. is this something special?

    Greetings from Germany!

    1. Looks like extremely yummy bread. Most make bread now!

  43. I am new to the Gluten free world (as of 2 weeks:) Just gave this a try. It didn't seem to rise as much.. I gave it about 2.5 hours. They seem a little small but they smell so good! They will be out of the oven in 15! I am really glad I stumbled upon this site :)

  44. WOW! This is fabulous! I ground almonds in the blender to make my own flour and set my dough to rise (covered) outdoors, temp in the 80s. The dough more than doubled in just an hour so I went ahead and finished it. Beautiful and delicious. Excellent texture! Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much! So thrilled you like this bread! It's one of my favorite recipes! :-)

  45. Have you tried this using a loaf pan? Like a pampered chef stone loaf pan? Just curious. I'm trying to get my dd (7)'s bread to look a little more like the other kids are eating.
    Also too late now- but its currently rising in a metal bowl. What does the metal do or not do?

    1. I have not tried this in a loaf pan! it certainly should work that way though!! :-) I'll have to give it a shot sometime and let you know! The metal can interfere with the rising action of the yeast, but because it's for such a short rising time, it probably would't make a huge difference.

  46. I came across this recipe via adventures of a gf mom. Not sure how it'll be as I stirred and stirred and added flour and it still was pretty wet. It's rising now.

    I just wanted to say that I would not consider someone who cannot eat something to be picky. You would eat it / be adventurous if you could but you can't. World of difference when compared to someone who won't try anything but the same old. :)

    By the way, addressing above comment, I have two sons with Celiac. Prediagnosis, the one ate more and more, going from eating anything to only wanting gluten filled items. My other son slowed down eating until it seemed like he didn't want to eat at all. So I had one of each.

  47. I know this post was from a while back but what can I say? I am a little later than the others to discover your blog but I am so appreciative of all that you offer here for everyone!I have made this bread twice in two days. I am the only gluten/wheat sensitive member of the family diagnosed thus far (I also have a lactose allergy and I'm a vegan) but even the wheat eaters loved these loaves! The first loaves I baked were a little flatter than yours but we used them for panini so it was perfect. Today the loaves look just like yours and we will have them with our salad for dinner and I can't wait!! Thank you again!!!

    1. Oh that is just awesome! I never thought to use it for paninis!! what a fabulous idea! Thank you so much for sharing!! :-) And I'm so glad you loved the bread, that makes me SO happy!!! ANd than you so much for discovering and reading my blog!!

  48. Hi, I am grinding up my almonds to make the almond flour BUT as some stated above, my dough is very wet. Is there a difference between almond flour and making my own from ground up almonds? I added extra of my ground up flour but haven't weighed it. It tastes delicious and rises the first time, but once I separate the dough into 2 loaves it doesn't rise anymore but it sure sticks to my hands and stuff--so my loaves are pretty small.

    1. Hello! Very likely there is a big difference between homeground almond flour and the blanched almond flour I use from Honeyville. And because the flour is so different, I also pack it a little more tightly into the measuring cup than I do with other flours. I don't know if that is the problem. I can tell you that almond pulp would not work and that Bob's Red Mill brand of almond flour does not work in this recipe (for some reason the textures are just too different?) I'll make a note in the recipe and suggest for people to use the Honeyville brand, since that is all I've used.

  49. I. Made. Bread. This is just SO huge! My loaves were a little anemic but I am not complaining because.... I. Made. Bread...... EDIBLE bread! I am gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, soy-free, peanut-free and try to be potato-free too. I think it was a little too chilly today/ I didn't let it rise long enough but I am not even remotely complaining. Thank you for this amazing recipe!!! Incidentally, I did use Bob's Red Mill brand for all of the flours in this recipe and had no trouble!!

  50. Thank you!!! Just found your site. I went GF/dairy free & egg free this year. Hoping to have crust bread with our crab salad tonight for New Years Eve! MUCH appreciated! :) Happy New Years from Vancouver, WA!

  51. With recent news about the potential health problems associated with gums, do you have any thoughts on using pectin and/or agar? I'm just starting out on this adventure, diagnosed with microscopic colitis. No soy, no gluten, no eggs, no dairy!