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Gluten-free Bread 2023

JMaxSeptember 4, 2023 kitchen

Updated, Oct 2023: I’ve determined that even more water and more time in the oven is better… the former makes the latter necessary. Below is the updated version.

A sliced loaf of bread
Gluten-free bread: oats + buckwheat + tapioca + sorghum

Here’s my current GF bread recipe. This is my summer version, a little lighter than the winter version. The difference is simply in the proportions: in the winter I use relatively more oats and buckwheat and less sorghum. The less whole grain, the better it will rise, but the whole grains make it taste better.

There’s a lot of ingredients in this recipe, but it’s pretty fast to make; start to finish in a couple of hours.

Ingredients and mechanics:

This is a mix of four grains. I typically buy oats and buckwheat whole (or at least “steel cut”) and reduce them to flour in my blender/grinder. The tapioca and sorghum I buy as flour. You can substitute millet for the sorghum, but I think it tastes blander than sorghum. The exact proportions don’t matter a whole lot; feel free to adjust as you like.

Psyllium husk makes this bread work; it takes the place of nasty xanthum gum, which itself takes the place of gluten in holding the dough together so that it rises. Psyllium husk comes in coarse and powder forms; and the finer powder works much better, because it soaks up much more water. If you can’t buy the powdered form, just powder it yourself: whiz the coarse husk for 10 seconds in your grinder or food processor. There is also a bit of baking powder in this recipe, mostly for superstitious reasons; I use it because one of the original recipes I followed said “it needs all the help it can get.” Last, the vinegar actually does make a difference to the rise; I was sceptical at first, but it does.

As with wheat dough, the trick is to get the dough as wet as possible but not too wet. It wants to be like thick pancake batter – almost pourable but not quite. You’re not going to knead it, so it doesn’t have to be handle-able; so make it wet: batter not dough. You will have to stir/fold/mix it a lot, though, as the psyllium husk absorbs water, the dough/better gets stickier and firmer. If the dough is too stiff, it won’t rise well. But if it is too wet, it’ll spread over the edges of the loaf pan and that part will bake hard and brown. Over time, I’ve come to 750ml as the right amount for this recipe. It’s pretty wet, and so it requires longer in the oven to get the interior fully cooked.

This bread will rise, but it won’t rise like french bread; there’s not much “oven spring.” Also, this is going to be better as toast than as plain bread, at least after the first day. But this is vastly better than the stuff you can buy in the supermarket.

Mise en place

A big mixing bowl, kitchen scale, grinder or food processor, whisk, dough whisk or wooden spoon, measuring spoons, measuring cups, loaf pan, parchment paper

Ingredients and process

Preheat your oven to 450° or more.

In a big mixing bowl, whisk these together:

110g buckwheat flour
110g oat flour
50g flaxseed, whole (optional)

Add the following, and whisk them in until completely blended:

4Tbsp (~20g) powdered psyllium husk
4tsp fine salt
1.5tsp baking powder

Now whisk in the lighter flours, taking care not to make a dust cloud:

150g tapioca flour
225g sorghum flour

Draw 750ml of hot tap water.

In a small cup, blend

1Tbsp sugar
<1Tbsp yeast

…and then add a bit of the warm water and leave it for a few minutes to begin foaming.

Add the foaming yeast to the flour, followed by the remainder of the warm water, followed by:

1Tbsp apple cider vinegar
2Tbsp oil

With a heavy fork or spoon (I use a Danish dough whisk. I suppose you could use a machine to do this) mix that all together really well, until it starts to bind together: at least a few minutes of mixing/beating. As the psyllium absorbs water, the dough will start to stiffen up; you may want to add more water to maintain the batter-vs-dough consistency. Beat it until your arm is tired. Then let it rest in the bowl for about 10 minutes for the dough to fully hydrate and the rise to begin.

Line a loaf pan with parchment (or don’t, see if I care), and transfer (pour? ooze?) the dough into the pan. With a wet spatula, smooth out the top, but without pressing the dough too much – don’t squish the air out. At this point I cover the top with sesame seeds.

Cover it with a tea towel and let it rise in a warm place (on top of the oven?) for 20–25 minutes. It won’t rise much more than it does in that time, or at least it won’t hold beyond that, so there’s no point in a long rise, unless you’re in a cooler place than I’m working in.

Bake at 450° for 20 minutes, and then turn it down to 420° for about 1 hour and 20 minutes more. Your oven, your mileage may vary.

Let the loaf cool completely before slicing. Enjoy!