GF Bread Diary

Bread Diary Table of Contents

Introduction

Over the last eight months of 2011 I made nine attempts to bake gluten-free bread from several different recipes.  Some disasters, a few edible loaves, but nothing that really wow-ed me.  Today (January 10, 2012) I pulled out the recipes again and realized that despite having made notes on many of them, I couldn’t really remember much about what worked and what didn’t.

SOOOO, this page will be my ongoing diary of my gluten-free bread baking attempts.  If any of you who stumble on this blog have hints or tips or recipes for me to try, please post them in the comments.  THANKS!!

Before I start I should note that before I went gluten-free I was a pretty darn good baker of wheat bread.  But it took years of trying and some great teachers before I got there.  So I don’t expect to find the perfect gluten-free bread technique overnight.  I just wish I could find the gluten-free equivalent of my friend Sally, who perfected her bread-baking up in Alaska and shared a few secrets with me: (1) learn what the dough should FEEL like; weather conditions will alter the recipes but if you get the feel right it will turn out and (2) be patient, let the yeast do its thing in its own time, don’t be so worried about specific rising times, etc.

I also wish there was a gluten-free equivalent of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s “The Bread Bible”.  Though overwhelmingly detailed it taught me the value of weighing ingredients instead of measuring in cups and helped me make some of the best sandwich breads I’ve ever tasted.  Sadly, Rose doesn’t have much to say regarding gluten-free bread.  And the GF books/recipes I’ve looked at that claim to be about gluten-free bread baking are filled with contradictory and confusing information regarding flours and rising and necessary ingredients . . . So, I’ll need to work it out for myself.  I will also be making my breads corn-free and dairy-free.

January 10, 2012

Starting with my variation on Kim’s Gluten Free, Dairy Free, Whole Grain Bread from Gluten Free Real Food.  This is my third attempt at this recipe.  I’m writing up what I ACTUALLY did, rather than discussing variations from her recipe.  The link above will get you to the original.

Ingredients

  • 3 cups of GF flours (I used 1/2 cup each of: millet, sorghum, teff, brown rice flour, tapioca starch, and potato starch)
  • 1 Tbls. guar gum
  • 3 tsp. active dry yeast
  • 1-1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 cup flax seeds
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup oil (I used canola)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 cup water

Directions

  1. Grease 10″ x 5″ bread pan (I use Spectrum® Organic Palm Oil Shortening).  (If you don’t have a 10″ x 5″ bread pan, you can use two 8.5″ x 4.5″ pans.)
  2. Measure all of the dry ingredients (flours, yeast, guar gum, salt, flax seeds) into the large bowl of a stand mixer.  Whisk or mix the dry ingredients to distribute evenly.
  3. In a separate bowl, gently combine the eggs and the oil.
  4. Combine the water and honey in a glass measuring cup and heat in the microwave for approximately 90 seconds or until 120-130°F.
  5. With the mixer running at low speed, add the egg/oil mixture to the dry ingredients.
  6. Gradually add the water/honey mixture until you have what looks like a VERY thick cake batter.
  7. Spoon the batter into your prepared pan.  Smooth with a spatula.  Let rise in a warm place until the batter comes up just below the top of the pan.  (Today in Minnesota, though it was 50°F outside in JANUARY, this took 85 minutes: 70 minutes in an oven with a bowl of very warm water and then 15 minutes on top of the stove while the oven was pre-heating.) DO NOT wait/expect for the dough to come doming up above the pan—if it does it often falls in ways that are not pretty.

    Image of risen dough in pan after first 70 minutes of rising

    Height of dough after 70 minutes of rising; moved from warm oven to top of stove.

  8. Preheat the oven to 350°F while the bread finishes rising.
  9. Bake for 45 minutes or until the internal temperature of the bread (measured by an instant-read thermometer) is 205°F.
  10. Let cool for 10 minutes in the pan.  Then turn out onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely.

GF Bread, January 10, 2012Enjoy!

NOTE: I was worried when I saw no signs of rising after 30 minutes (the recipe said it would only take 40 minutes, but she was writing from Arizona :).  I really believe that the old rule I learned from “normal” bread baking should apply to GF as well:  active dry yeast should be proofed ahead of time in warm (110°F) water with a little honey.  Otherwise, if you want to just mix warm water into all the dry ingredients, use quick-rise yeast and somewhat warmer water (120-130°F).  I will need to do some testing of this because the recipes I’ve seen are not consistent in this and indeed seem to violate it in ways that don’t make sense.

In any case, the bread turned out great!  The batter was thick enough that the bread didn’t collapse in the middle (the large pan provides less support so requires a thicker batter).  I had a tuna salad sandwich for lunch!

Update: January 16, 2012

Just finishing the last of this bread today.  It held up pretty well, though by today it was drying out and so broke apart a little.  In terms of taste it was a little on the sour side; if you are familiar with the taste of injera bread made with Teff flour it was rather like that—so not quite a sourdough taste (which I don’t like).

I also realized I hadn’t posted a pic of the inside of the bread:

GF Bread Inside

I think it looks pretty good!

My next loaf will be a variation on a GF MIllet & Oat Bread found at Gluten Free Mommy (with variations at a few other sites).  My previous attempts at this recipe were mixed: it worked fine when I made two small loaves, but collapsed when I tried a larger, sandwich-size loaf.  Let’s hope that the third time is the charm!
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March 3, 2012

I’ve omitted my “Breadcrumb Bread” experiment from last week (because it is not really bread to eat).

Today, after making GF Pancakes, I made a loaf of Gluten Free Mommy’s Millet & Oatmeal Bread.  The good news: it looks good so far.  The bad news: the batter was so thick it broke my old stand mixer 🙁  So it’s back to mixing bread dough by hand (which I’ve never actually tried with GF bread, but did all the time with regular bread), at least until I can afford a new stand mixer.  (The old one was free from a friend of a friend and probably not up to the task of heavy bread dough.)  If any of you have an “in” with the KitchenAid or Cuisinart People, or other stand mixer companies—put in a good word for me!

I only made a few changes to GF Mommy’s recipe.  I used:

  • 1/2 cup brown rice flour + 1/2 cup Superfine Brown Rice Flour in place of the 1 cup of brown rice flour
  • guar gum instead of xanthan gum (because of “corn issues”)
  • 1/4 cup oil instead of melted butter
  • 1/4 cup 115°F water for proofing the yeast; 3/4 cup 120-130°F water to add later

I made one 10″x5″ loaf and let it rise in a warm oven for 75 minutes and then on the top of the stove while the oven was heating for another 20 minutes, but could probably have let it rise a bit longer.

I baked it for 45 minutes in a 350°F oven because I’ve found that I’m less likely to have a mushy slice in the middle of the loaf if I cook to an internal temp of at least 200°F.

I’ll add pics to this later once the bread cools and I slice it.

[Later]

Note how thick the batter is in the pan.  It’s best not to let the batter rise above the pan (it can collapse) but a bit higher than shown above might help compensate for the shrinkage during baking and cooling (see below).

Millet Oat Bread sliced

Now that I’ve tasted a slice, I remember what I like so much about this bread—it has a hardy-stick-to-your-ribs sweetness (from the molasses & brown sugar) and a nice moist crumb.  I still wish I could get more of a rise so that the GF Bread slices were more like the size of regular bread slices, but the 10″ loaf pan definitely gets us closer!

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March 13, 2012
High Fiber Bread—gluten-free, dairy-free, corn-free

adapted from
Beth and Jen’s High Fiber Bread [p. 36 in Gluten-Free Makeovers by Beth Hillson (2011, DaCapo/LifeLong/Perseus Book Group, Cambridge, MA)]

I only recently discovered amaranth and have yet to try baking with amaranth flour . . . this bread is my first attempt. It definitely has that distinctive “amaranth odor/taste” combined with the equally distinctive “teff odor/taste”. Certainly hearty, like a good whole wheat bread.

The original recipe says: “Makes One 2-pound loaf or 16 slices” which is a bit confusing because it also says to use an 8-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ loaf pan (which is usually thought of as a 1 pound loaf pan). One more of the many confusing aspects of GF baking. I was tempted to use my 10″x5″ loaf pan, but followed the directions and was glad I did.

The ingredients were given in cups and grams. Due to all the substituting I was doing, I used the weights (because the same quantity of a different flour will weigh a different amount, it is generally recommended to use weight rather than volume, especially when substituting)  . . . but took note of the volumes that resulted and listed them as well.

The final complication came from no longer having a stand mixer (broke it making the previous loaf of thick gluten-free bread batter) . . . SO, I went back to my old knowledge of mixing bread dough by hand and added a bit of gluten-free common sense (e.g., you do NOT want to try to “knead” GF “dough” by hand . . . much too sticky!). Here’s what I did:

Equipment you will need:

  • 8-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ loaf pan
  • several mixing bowls of various sizes
  • a VERY sturdy wooden spoon or “Danish Dough Whisk”

Sturdy Bowl and Dough Whisk

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup millet flour (54 grams)
  • 2/3 cup amaranth flour (65 grams)
  • 1/3 cup teff flour (48 grams)
  • 2/3 cup sorghum flour (80 grams)
  • 1/2 cup arrowroot starch (65 grams)
  • 1/2 cup tapioca flour (70 grams)
  • 3-1/2 tsp guar gum
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
  • 3 Tbls brown sugar, packed, divided (46 grams)
  • 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 Tbls vegetable oil
  • 1-1/8 cups warm water (110°F), divided
  • 2-1/4 tsp active dry yeast

Directions

  1. Lightly oil an 8-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ sandwich loaf pan.
  2. Measure/weigh the six “flours” (first 6 ingredients) and combine in a medium bowl. Add guar gum, salt, and cream of tartar. Stir/whisk to mix. Measure the brown sugar, reserving 1 tsp in a small bowl for use in proofing the yeast. Sprinkle the rest of the brown sugar 2-2/3 Tbls) over the other dry ingredients.
  3. Pour 1/2 cup of the warm water over the brown sugar in the small bowl. Sprinkle the yeast over the sugar water. Stir to dissolve. Allow to rest for 10 minutes or until foamy. Reserve the remaining 5/8 cup water.
  4. Lightly beat the eggs and oil in a separate medium bowl.
  5. Once the yeast is ready, put about 1 cup of the dry ingredients into a large sturdy bowl. Add the yeast mixture and stir with a heavy wooden spoon or “dough whisk”. Add the egg/oil mixture and stir. Alternately (and gradually) add the remaining dry ingredients and the remaining water (dry-water-dry-water-dry) stirring after each addition. The dough/batter will be VERY thick.
  6. Allow to rest for a few minutes (the gum needs to absorb water) and then stir again.
  7. Scrape the dough into the prepared pan. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and set in a warm, draft-free place to rise for 40-60 minutes, or just until the dough has risen nearly to the top of the pan. Remove the plastic wrap. [Here in Minnesota this always takes longer than the recipes indicate! Be patient!]
  8. Preheat the oven to 350°F while the dough makes its final rise to the top of the pan (if you’ve been letting it rise in the oven, here’s where you take it out!! 🙂 ). Bake the dough on the center rack for 40-50 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the loaf reads 200°F. [I rotate the loaf halfway through the baking time.]
  9. Remove the pan to a wire rack and allow to cool for 10 minutes. Turn out and allow to cool completely.

See additional Notes below the pictures


Yes, the dough needs to be THIS thick, or it will collapse.

Left: half way through baking; Right: end of baking, already dipping in the center.


On the left is the millet-oat bread I made last week in the 10″x5″ pan; on the right is today’s bread made in the 8-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ sandwich bread pan.  Goal: a 10″x5″ loaf that rises as high as today’s smaller loaf . . . I’m not really into “dainty” sandwiches!  Still, this loaf didn’t taste bad . . . but definitely amaranth-y.

Notes

  • I baked mine for 50 minutes, but even though the internal temp was 205°F, the center didn’t look/feel “done” and looked like it would collapse. I tried turning off the oven and allowing it to cool for about 15 minutes in the still-warm oven. Won’t know how mushy the middle is until I cut into it some more. There has already been some collapsing a few hours later. [Note: the interior texture is a bit on the moist/tender side, but toasting takes care of that.  No major raw or mushiness inside.  Still looking for the GFBread Recipe that I can eat without toasting first!]
  • After much searching on the interwebs (and reading contradictory information in various cookbooks). I’ve decided that even if some people believe you no longer need to “proof” yeast, if I’m using active dry yeast, I will proof it. If I don’t want to bother with proofing, I will use RapidRise or “instant” yeast mixed in with the dry ingredients and slightly warmer water (120°-130°F).
  • BTW—getting GF bread dough to rise and then not collapse after baking are the two biggest challenges I’ve run into so far.

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March 18, 2012

Quinoa & Sesame Bread

gluten-free, dairy-free, corn-free

[NOTE: This one was so good I gave it its own post . . . so if you only want to see/print this one, go to Quinoa Sesame Bread  ]

Inspired by the recipe for “Quinoa Sesame ‘Wonder’ Bread” (in Gluten-Free Makeovers by Beth Hillson, 2011, DaCapo/LifeLong/Perseus Book Group, Cambridge, MA) I bought some quinoa flour and sesame seeds this week. I had no interest in the “Wonder Bread texture” mentioned in the recipe, so rather than using equal parts quinoa/cornstarch/tapioca starch, I added fiber with sorghum and millet flours, and cut back on the starches. (I believe this will also be the first loaf I have made containing NO arrowroot starch, the typical replacement for cornstarch.)

I also noticed that the ingredients and method (of Hillman’s recipe) were very similar to the High Fiber Bread I made a few days ago, so I decided to play a bit with my hand-mixing technique (still no stand mixer). (1) I mixed the yeast in with the other dry ingredients and added slightly warmer water (rather than proofing first) and (2) I borrowed a method from Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Bread Bible: mixing the dough without salt and letting it rest a bit before adding the salt and additional water. (Salt is known to interfere with the yeast action, so giving the yeast a chance to start working before adding the salt helps with the rising.) I really liked the texture of the dough going into the pan. Finally, to try to avoid the “holey sunken middle” problem, I worked more at smoothing the dough in the pan to remove any possible air pockets.

Ingredients

  • 1 to 2 Tbls sesame seeds
  • 1-1/4 cups quinoa flour
  • 1/2 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup millet flour
  • 1/2 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/2 cup potato starch
  • 3 Tbls brown sugar
  • 3-1/2 tsp guar gum
  • 2-1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 Tbls oil
  • 1-1/8 cup water, warmed to 120°F
  • 1-1/2 tsp salt

Directions

  • Make sure all your ingredients are at room temperature. [I usually measure out my flours into a large bowl, take the eggs and any other refrigerated ingredients out of the frig, and let them sit on the counter while I do something else for 30-60 minutes.]
  • Grease one 8-1/2″ x 4-1/2″ loaf pan.
  • Heat a dry skillet over medium-high heat. Add the sesame seeds and stir continuously until they begin to brown. Remove from the heat and cool.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine quinoa, sorghum, and millet flours, tapioca starch, potato starch, brown sugar, guar gum, and yeast. Stir/whisk together until everything is evenly combined.
  • Heat the water to 120°F (if you haven’t done that already—see NOTE).
  • In a separate medium bowl, beat together the eggs and the oil.
  • Add approximately 1/2 cup of the water to the dry ingredients. Stir well. Add the egg/oil mixture. Stir well.
  • Sprinkle the sesame seeds over the dough. [I reserved about 1 tsp of sesame seeds for the top of the bread, but the original recipe didn’t do this; we’ll see if they burn in the oven.] Stir everything together. At this point you should have a very rough dry-ish dough that almost holds together. If much loose flour remains in the bowl, add a bit more water and stir. Cover the bowl of dough and let it rest for 5-10 minutes. [This will allow the gum to absorb water and the yeast to start working.]
  • Sprinkle the salt and 1/2 the remaining water over the dough. Stir together. Decide if you need the rest of the water. Add and stir if necessary.
  • Spread the dough into the prepared pan. Use a silicon or oiled spatula to press the dough down and spread evenly in the pan. Spritz the top with a bit of oil and sprinkle any reserved sesame seeds on the top. Cover with oiled plastic wrap and allow to rise in a warm place for 40-60 minutes or until the dough comes almost to the top of the pan.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°F. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until the interior temperature of the bread is 200°F. Turn onto a wire rack and cool completely before slicing.

Note

  • There are a number of common methods for heating the water to the correct temperature (110°F if proofing the yeast separately; 120°F if mixing the yeast in with your other dry ingredients). If your hot water comes out of the tap at 120°F, you can use that; some folks prefer to use filtered water and heat it in the microwave (60 seconds is usually enough to get from room temp to 120°F ; if the water is over 130°F, let it cool before using) [I’m in this camp]; still other folks boil water on the stove and then add cold water to get to the correct temperature. Whichever method you choose, PLEASE use an instant-read thermometer to tell you the temperature. I don’t care if you raised 6 babies and know how to test liquids on your wrist, that may be good enough for babies, but it is NOT good enough for baking bread!!
  • Astute readers will notice that I already broke my own “yeast rule” (from the notes from the previous recipe).  This time I used active dry yeast mixed in with the dry ingredients (not proofed beforehand) with warmer (120°F water).  It worked, though if I had ANY doubts about the freshness of my yeast, I would definitely proof first.

Pictures

OMG! This may be my best-looking GF loaf EVER!!

[Later: I can now confirm that the loaf did NOT sink in the middle and does not have big holes in the center! Yippee!!—Still need to taste it, but have had 4 slices of bread today, so probably not until tomorrow.]

[Update 3/19/12: I can now verify that this bread makes a yummy sandwich!! I toasted two slices and made a tuna salad/lettuce/mayo sandwich. Very tasty! Except for the top crust (with all the sesame seeds) the bread is neutral in a good way—no overwhelming taste of a particular flour, just a nice hearty loaf. Definitely NOT the “Wonder Bread” of the original recipe . . . more like a “soft, light, wheat, sandwich bread,” but without the wheat 🙂 Yeah! we’ve got a winner with this recipe! ]

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3 thoughts on “GF Bread Diary

  1. Hey there! I was so excited to see my recipe here WITH pictures. I always wonder how it works out of others. That loaf looks great. I am super impressed that you used guar gum and that it worked. Of all the things I have ever made, my biggest failure was making my bread with guar gum instead of xanthan gum. It was the most hilarious thing I have ever seen. It rose really really high and then fell so that the center was about an inch thick. The edges rose and then fell over the sides so that it looked much like a floppy wide brimmed hat. It was soooo bad that I had to take picures of this epic fail but only after I finally stopped laughing. I have never tried it again.
    So why have you chosen to use guar gum instead of xanthan? Corn issue?
    Thanks again for posting pics. Oh, and I wonder if the guar gum has anything to do with the bitter taste????

  2. Hi Kim! Glad you saw the link. Your recipe has definitely been the most reliable so far. I have found that with the bigger 10″x5″ pan the dough has to be REALLY thick . . . I ended up using much less water than your original recipe. I haven’t really noticed a difference in taste based on guar gum vs. xanthan gum (yes, I have corn issues and am still trying to figure out how I react to the xanthan) . . . but the sour taste was exactly that of injera bread. I think I probably need to play around with the proportions of the 6 flours . . . or maybe take your lead and simplify! Thanks again for providing the original recipe and all the variations . . . the possibilities were inspiring!

  3. Pingback: A Busy Day of GF Cooking | Highly Sensitive Girl

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