5 Secrets to Making the Best Gluten-Free Bread Ever
February 17, 2015
It took me six long years to get a sandwich bread to work. I can say with confidence that this is the ultimate everyday loaf—and it doesn’t need to be toasted to taste wonderful. The outside has just the right amount of crust, while the inside crumb is soft and fluffy.
Secret #1: Keep things simple and you’ll have more success.
You’ll be surprised at how easy this gluten-free bread is to make. Here are the steps: 1. Mix together the dough.
2. Place in a loaf pan.
3. Let rise.
Secret #2: Trust your instincts. You know more than you think you do.
So, how did I do it? After years of running the test kitchen at Every Day with Rachael Ray, owning an Italian bakery in Brooklyn and developing recipes for major magazines like Food & Wine and Saveur and websites like FoodNetwork.com, I’ve absorbed more than my share of culinary knowledge. Each experience has prepared me for the challenge of adapting recipes to make them gluten-free and dairy-free—without sacrificing texture or flavor.
Secret #3: Expand your mind. Research the heck out of ancient, new-to-you ingredients and techniques that have proved successful through the centuries.
Duplicating flavors meant spending hours reading labels on packages at the supermarket and researching how ingredients—sometimes unknown to me—could improve texture. Ultimately, it involved testing and more testing in the kitchen—trying one thing after another until I finally got exactly what I was after and I had re-created that memory of the long-lost dish.
Secret #4: Trial and error will always yields positive results. We learn from every new experience.
In developing a sandwich loaf bread, I had to remember that gluten-free or not, baking is a science, and ingredients are part of the formula. Through trial and error, you’ll learn—just as I did—that some ingredients perform better than others, especially in gluten-free baking.
Secret #5: If all else fails, brush off your shoulders and throw in the proverbial kitchen sink.
Finally—in a moment of despair—I threw in every ingredient I thought would help create the physical characteristics of a beautifully baked loaf—baking powder, yeast and vitamin C—to give the dough its best chance to rise loftily. I was finally rewarded with lightness and an airy crumb. Then, I went backwards and tried deleting ingredients from the bread blend, but none of the dozens of loaves I baked off were as good—in texture or taste. So I knew better than to mess with my successful recipe and I decided to leave things well enough alone.
Golden flaxseed meal: Made from finely milled golden flaxseeds, this highly nutritious ingredient has gelling properties. I use it as a binder in breads, as I would use eggs, and to boost nutritional value.
Raw organic rice protein powder: This easily digestible powder that comes from brown rice replaces the protein found in high-protein bread flours. A higher protein content yields the highest-rising yeasted bread loves and results in the chewiest of pizza crusts.
Psyllium husk powder: Psyllium is the husk of the plantain seed and contains a spongy fiber that soaks up liquid in a dough. I prefer psyllium in its powder form, which absorbs liquid faster than the husks. I use it in bread recipes because it makes the dough easy to handle and shape. It also contributes to the springy crumb of the baked bread.
Vitamin C powder: Otherwise known as ascorbic acid, this not only gives a lift to yeasted dough, but also produces a faster rise by amplifying yeast growth.