For the first month or so after going gluten free I didn’t really crave bread. At least, that is, after the first three days of withdrawal symptoms during which no matter how much I ate I never felt full. Instead of worrying about the lack of bread, I felt the need to convince myself that there could still be cakes, and pies, and cookies and muffins. Luckily, those types of recipes are actually quite easy to make gluten-free, and I soon had my family swearing that my lemon yogurt cake was about as delicious a cake as they had ever eaten. Then, the desire for bread asserted itself. Real bread, bread with good texture and great flavor. sandwich bread, French bread. I turned to mixes, to Bette Hagman’s books, to the internet, I played with flours and sourdough starters, but I still haven’t found the perfect bread. Some of my attempts have had good flavor, some actually rose enough to look like bread, but most have been too moist or too bland. The search continues.
This recipe, is my latest attempt. I believe the key to finding a gluten-free bread that I truly enjoy lies in some variation of the European method of making a sponge first and letting it sit for several hours before making the final dough. The longer yeast is allowed to work, the more flavor it imparts to bread, and some studies have shown that the slower rise also helps gluten-free flours create a better crumb. My intuition was already pointing me this direction, when I came across Naomi Poe’s post on exactly this topic. I decided to start with her recipe for ciabatta (changing only the flours – since I don’t own her mix).
But how does it taste? I honestly don’t know. It smells heavenly, with approximately 5 minutes left in the oven, but I magically developed lunch plans so the tasting will have to wait…
Ciabatta (adapted from http://www.betterbatter.org)
Flour Mix: (you will have about 1/2 cup leftover)
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup white rice flour
1/2 cup tapioca starch
1/2 cup potato starch
2 tablespoons potato flour
3 tablespoons xanthan gum
1 1/4 c warm water
1 T yeast
1 c Flour Mix
Additional Bread Ingredients:
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 c warm milk
2 tbsp olive oil
2 c Flour Mix
Day 1: Mix the sponge ingredients together and set aside for at least 8 hours, preferably 24.
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking pan with parchment paper.
2. Stir the sponge and add remaining ingredients. Beat on low speed of your electric mixer for about 4 minutes.
This dough will be VERY sticky – the consistency a little thicker than cake batter, but not quite chocolate chip cookie dough… perhaps the consistency of mud?
This is what it looks like in my mixer:
Place on parchment paper (or if your kitchen is lacking parchment paper — grease a baking sheet and sprinkle with cornmeal), spooning into two loaves of about a nine inch length. Lightly flour the loaves and dimple them with floured fingers. Let rise until doubled in bulk (this took more than an hour for my loaves… at least 1 1/2, possible 2 but my kitchen was frigid today.)
Here are my loaves before they rose:
Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until just golden. If you want, at the 20 minute mark brush with melted butter. Remove to a rack to cool.