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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