Gathering Around Gluten-Free Baking

It’s been 11 months since I started eating gluten-free. That means this is my first year of dealing with gluten-free holidays. That’s no problem in my own house. But holidays inevitably mean gatherings, events, parties, socializing with food, food, and more food.

It’s a challenge for us gluten-free folk, and even more of a challenge when gluten isn’t the only intolerance.

So, when Shauna Ahern, better known as Gluten-Free Girl, put the call out for food bloggers to do a special post today about the holidays and gluten-free baking and cooking, I jumped at the chance. And, I knew…. I KNEW just what I wanted to post about.

See, we don’t always do the traditional Thanksgiving thing. There isn’t a set menu that gets repeated every year. And, we don’t even celebrate with blood relatives. We celebrate with our “adopted” family, and what’s on the menu is an amalgam of options, potluck style. But, what stays the same is that I bring the bread and the dessert – two of the traditionally most glutenicious offerings. The bread. I’d pretty much given up on bread.

Sure, sure, I’d come up with some passable bread options. But none of them really seemed worth the calories. They just didn’t do it for me.

And, then I won a copy of Shauna’s book, Gluten-Free Girl and The Chef, A Love Story with 100 Recipes.

Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef

Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef

To be honest, I haven’t done much cooking from the book. I just haven’t had the time. And, many of the recipes don’t fit my other dietary restrictions. (Hello, liberal use of butter and cream – you look spectacular, but you’d kill me.)

No matter. This is a book that is worth it for one recipe alone – the Crusty Bread That Even Those That Eat Gluten Might Like. They’re being too modest here. It should be Crusty Bread That No One Will Know is Gluten-Free, or Crusty Bread That Every Gluten-Free Girl Has Been Dying to Have, or how about just The Best Darn Crusty Gluten-Free Bread Ever. I kid you not.

One slight issue. It’s not vegan. While I’m not entirely vegan, it’s how I prefer to eat. But, here’s a tip. You can replace the egg in Shauna and Daniel’s recipe with a flax egg (1 Tablespoon flax + 3 Tablespoons hot water).  Spectacular.

Could I go one better? Could I take their technique, their ratios, and make a grain-free vegan crusty bread? Well, I could sure try. And, that’s exactly what I planned to do for this post.

Here’s the first attempt:

Vegan Grain-free Crusty Bread

Vegan Grain-free Crusty Bread

Looks pretty good, doesn’t it? It tasted pretty darn good, too. It wasn’t quite perfect – it was ever so slightly too moist in the center. Oh, and there was one fatal flaw. I didn’t write anything down about what I did. I thought for sure I’d remember. I usually do. I knew I needed to tweak the water amount anyway. But, I knew I was close.

That was a few weeks ago. I’ve made 4 loaves since.  Here’s the third attempt:

Whoa - flat bread.

Whoa - flat bread.

See, I had thought I’d gotten the water ratio tweaked correctly, but I wanted a slightly looser crumb, and I wanted to try some gar-fava flour. Um, no. Flat bread. That crumbled on the second day. Not good.

Here’s the fifth attempt:

Oh So Very Close

Oh So Very Close

And, I’ve STILL not gotten it quite figured out. Again, this one is a bit too tight. A bit too dense. The crust is great, but the crumb… it’s not doing it for me. And, I’m out of time for writing this post. *sigh*

So, I’m going to share with you an imperfect recipe. A recipe that needs your help. Can you improve this?

Not Quite Right Crusty Vegan Grain-free Bread

3 T. ground flax seed
3 T. hot water
4 ounces potato starch
2 ounces almond flour
2 ounces coconut flour
1/2 T. yeast
1 t. xanthan gum
1/2 t. guar gum
1 t. salt
3/4 cup + 2 T. warm water
2 T. olive oil
1 T. agave

Mix the ground flax with the hot water and set aside to gel.
Sift together all the dry ingredients.
Mix the flax egg with the rest of the wet ingredients.
Stir wet ingredients with dry ingredients.
Set dough in warm place to rise for 2 hours.
Slide dough out of proofing bowl onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Shape into a boule.
Preheat oven (with a baking stone) to 500°.
Cut 3 diagonal slices into the top of the boule. Slide off the baking sheet onto baking stone.
Turn oven down to 450° and bake for 30-40 minutes, until internal temperature is at least 180°.

__________

Now, don’t think I’ve given up. I don’t do that quite that easily. I’m not sure if I’ll get it figured out by Thanksgiving. But that’s okay. Because all I have to do is turn to page 180 of Shauna and Daniel’s book, and there’s a recipe right there that I KNOW will work.

Sorry. I’m not posting that one. Go buy the book. You’ll be glad you did. I swear. And, then bake from it for your next holiday gathering. The gluten-free folks in the crowd will love you for it. And, the gluten-eating folks will never be the wiser.

And in case the admiration of family and friends is not enough, here’s some more incentive – Shauna and Daniel are giving away a boatload of prizes if you participate in this round-up. Here’s the prize list:

3 copies of their cookbook.

a collection of gluten-free flours, including all the flours needed to bake from their cookbook

a care package of spices and ingredients you might need to make some of the recipes in their cookbook.

a collection of useful baking tools, such as a Silpat, jelly roll pans, a peltex spatula, and a tart pan to make the tarts from their cookbook.

and… wait for it:

a Kitchen Aid stand mixer.

Is that incentive enough for you? Go on over to Gluten-Free Girl and read all the details, check out all the Thanksgiving goodies everyone else has already linked up, and get your own recipe posted to enter to win!

Check out all these other great Thanksgiving gluten-free options, too!

More Gluten-Free Thanksgiving Dishes

Andrea’s Recipes | gluten-free pumpkin scones
Not Without Salt | gluten-free chocolate biscotti
Zest Bakery | warm pumpkin polenta with goat cheese
Smith Bites | gluten-free celery root soup with cashew cream
White on Rice Couple | Turkey Sloppy Joes on Rosemary Rolls
What’s Gaby Cooking | gluten-free molasses cookies
Food for My Family | Apple Pie Cheesecake
Kitchen Gadget Girl | gluten-free pumpkin strata
Rookie Moms | chocolate peanut butter brownies
Tiffin Tales | gluten-free Thanksgiving torte
Adventures of a Gluten-Free Mom | gluten, dairy and egg free crescent rolls and cinnamon rolls
Eat the Love | Gluten Free Maple Sweet Potato Cheesecake with Gingerbread Bottom
Gluten-Free Doctor Recipes | gluten-free sourdough rosemary rolls and gluten-free mincemeat cookies
The Art of Gluten-Free Baking | gluten-free pumpkin pie
Sophisticated Gourmet | cranberry-almond-coconut macaroons topped with chocolate
Cook 4 Seasons | gluten-free pumpkin mousse
Cook It Allergy Free | Cornbread and (Shauna’s) Crusty Bread Stuffing
Lexie’s Kitchen | dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, no-bake pumpkin pie filling
Recipe Girl | an entire Thanksgiving menu, gluten-free
Two Peas and Their Pod | gluten-free apple cranberry crisp
Gluten-Free for Good | gluten-free cherry cobbler
My Madeleine | butternut squash soup.
The Sensitive Pantry | gluten-free brown sugar hand pies
Art and Lemons | gluten-free rustic squash tarts
Bellalimento | Gluten Free Pumpkin Roll with Mascarpone and Nutella Filling
Mom Food Project | an entire Thanksgiving, gluten-free
Gluten-Free Easily | candy carrot coins
Dish Towel Diaries | kale Caesar slaw
A Baking Life | gluten-free gingerbread cake
Glugle Gluten-Free | gluten-free pumpkin muffins
Wenderly | sweet and savory prosciutto cups
Cannelle Et Vanille | sweet potato and crabapple clafoutis
Who Ate My Tomato | gluten-free squash tart
What’s Cooking with Kids | gluten-free apple crisp
Blue Bonnets and Brownies | apple and pear cobbler
CakeSpy | turkey meatloaf cupcakes
Wasabimon! | gluten-free butternut squash pie

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38 Responses to Gathering Around Gluten-Free Baking

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  10. Maggie says:

    Yay Deanna! It looks fantastic! I used 2 flax eggs and 1 tsp baking soda to convert mine to vegan. I found it was nothing without the baking soda. Who knew!

  11. I love that you followed Shauna & Danny’s lead and used weighed measurements. I’m leaning that way more and more. Yesterday, I made Carrie’s (Ginger Girl) gluten free vegan bread and it came out great, though a tad moist. So, I am also looking for ways to improve the vegan gluten free bread experience. Keep on trying. We need you to do it until you’re happy (and blog about it!!!).

    • Deanna says:

      Thanks, Ellen. I’ll keep working at it. Eventually I’m sure I’ll get something that I truly love. Although, I gotta say, not having bread that I truly love has been great for the waistline, and all this testing? Not so much. :)

  12. Amber Shea @Almost Vegan says:

    This bread looks DIVINE…as you continue to tweak it and make loaf after loaf, I’ve got an address where you can send all your heels and scraps and spare slices… ;)

  13. OK. I officially ♥ you and Shauna! I haven’t had any success with gluten-free bread (like you I don’t use eggs). You’ve done all the hard work for me. I hope (pretty please) you’ll post your final “I love this bread” version. Meanwhile I’ll happily use your recipe because that bread looks perfect!

    • Deanna says:

      Thanks, Nancy. If you do grains, you can definitely use Shauna’s recipe with my vegan tweaks. That one is really quite good. (The one flax egg is for 1/2 a batch, I realized after I posted.)

  14. jackhonky says:

    Well I applaud you for your many attempts! I know my kitchen has been littered with many many attempts at different baked goods. I know the struggle and the difficulty.

    Perhaps, to loosen the crumb up, you should bump the yeast up to 2 tsps? And have you considered using psyllium husk instead of the flax seed? I know that’s what Dan Lepard uses in his gluten free bread.

    • Deanna says:

      I’ve never tried using pysllium husks. I’ll have to go read about them and what they add to baked goods. I have considered bumping the yeast, and also adding a non-yeast leavener. Both are viable options to try. So many variables, so little time. :)

  15. Serene says:

    This is such a great post; I’m so glad you decided to share your process.

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  18. Lexie says:

    Deanna, Loved reading your post as always!

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  21. Meagan says:

    THIS LOOKS GREAT – can I use egg instead of flax gel? I may try arrowroot instead too :)

    • Deanna says:

      I’m sure you could use egg, and that would probably help a lot in terms of loosening things up. And, yes, I’m sure arrowroot would work as well. Let me know how it works!

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  29. Hi, I’m wondering if you used 3T Flax to 3 T h20 or 3 Flax eggs (3T Flax to 9 H20). My bread isn’t rising nor does it puff up as beautifully as yours. Any tips are much appreciated. Thanks-

    • Deanna says:

      If I recall correctly, I tried it both ways. But, the higher version was the less water version. Note that if it’s anything like it is here where you are, the humidity factor is going to affect your end result. You want a dough that’s going to hold its shape while wet, so that when you slide it out of the bowl and shape it, you’re really just encouraging it into the right shape, not smashing it down and folding it into the right shape. In other words, if it slides out of the bowl in the right shape, leave it! Just bake it as is. You’ll lose a lot of the poof if you punch it down at that point.

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