When we first went gluten free we bought a few gluten free breads at the local markets. It didn’t take too many purchases of commercial GF breads to decide that I would rather stop eating any bread if it meant eating the commercial varieties. So I set myself to uncovering the best gluten free bread recipe that I could make myself. But finding a good recipe wasn’t easy either. Many of the gluten free bread recipes that I found had lousy texture, dried out quickly, or tasted gross (and sometimes, all of the above). Initially, I couldn’t find anything that even resembled my idea of bread. So I decided to live without gluten free bread.
When we started our gluten free bakery, my intention was to stick with sweets. Making cookies and sweet breads wasn’t that challenging and there were a lot of recipes for good gluten free desserts. I found ways to alter many recipes and make them even better. I started learning about changing my favorite baking recipes into gluten free recipes, as well. But bread remained the challenge.
As we took our baked goods to Farmer’s Markets and watched people loving the samples of our sweets, we kept hearing the same question, “Do you make any bread?” So, after a while, I got the hint and went back in search of good gluten free bread recipes. I added a few breads to our line that were acceptable, but I wasn’t happy with them personally. I kept searching for the best gluten free bread recipe available. (I skipped gluten free bread machine recipes since they wouldn’t allow me enough control over the process to make changes.) I found a fabulous French Bread Recipe, it just didn’t last very long before becoming crumbly. But then, I landed on an e-book for artisan breads with a gluten free chapter that contained a recipe for brioche! Though I was unfamiliar with this type of bread, I decided to try it anyway. After I made my first batch, I experienced my first wave of hope for bread since giving up gluten.
The brioche bread was tasty, had a flexibly soft texture, and sliced well for sandwiches. Additionally, it was easy! So I put it to a more stringent test to see how long it could hold its great texture. I wrapped it well and left it sit on my counter for 4-5 days. When I opened and sliced it, I was amazed! It had not become dry or crummy, it still held together well, and I didn’t want to gag when I ate it. Actually, I enjoyed it. With later trials, I found it also made fabulous gluten free buns or rolls that froze well. We added these to our line and they quickly became our top selling loaf bread. Those who bought our gluten free buns ordered them often for holiday meals. Some people bought them by the dozen and froze them for individual usage. Many told us that it was the best gluten free bread they had ever tasted.
The original recipe came from an e-book by Jeff Hertzberg, M.D and Zoe Francois: Healthy Bread in 5 Minutes a Day. (Their book also contains a good tasting recipe for an artisan Boule, but it doesn’t hold up nearly as well as the brioche.) I’ve made a couple of changes to their recipe when I adapted it to our bakery. Below, I will give you my version of brioche, the only gluten free sandwich bread that I ever want to eat. It is not only gluten free, but is also dairy-free. You will need a sturdy mixer to mix this bread.
For two loaves 8 x 4: grease pans lightly, even if they are non-stick, corrugated non-stick aluminum works better than other pans. I recommend avoiding glass pans.
In the bowl of your mixer, blend together the following:
1 ¼ cups of almond milk
½ cup honey, ( ¼ cup will also work if you desire it less sweet)
½ cup walnut oil (this is very important for the taste, do not substitute other oil)
1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
Then, combine the following separately with a whisk:
½ cup brown rice flour
½ cup tapioca flour
2 cups of cornstarch, minus 2 TBS
1 TBS active dry GF yeast
1 tsp salt
1 TBS xanthan gum
With the wet mixture already blended, turn mixer on low. Add the blended flour mixture one large spoonful at a time, stopping to scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. Then turn the mixer to high and blend an additional 2 minutes to be sure all is well mixed and incorporated. Check bottom of bowl part -way through to be sure the honey has fully mixed into the batter. Then, divide the dough between your 2 prepared pans, smoothing the top with a spoon. (I use a downward cutting motion to get it even.) Set aside into a warm area (best around 78-80 degrees) to rise. Allow to rise for 2 ½ to 3 hours, covered with a cloth, until doubled. Near the end of rising time, preheat oven to 375 degrees.
Bake bread for about 45 minutes, until well browned on top. Remove from oven and cool in pans for 10-15 minutes. Then remove from pans and cool completely on a wire rack. When completely cooled, wrap well.
To make gluten free buns, I used a large food scoop, size 8 or 10. Scoop mixed dough onto baking sheets lined with silicone baking sheets (sometimes known as silpats). Cover and allow to rise for 2 hours. Then bake in preheated oven for 25-30 minutes. Cool slightly; then move to wire racks to cool completely.
This is truly the best gluten free bread recipe I have found anywhere! Try it and tell me what you think!