Baking gluten free bread without the amazing, almost magical quality of gluten can be quite challenging, but not impossible! Use a blend of gluten free flours to create a yeasty, moist, airy loaf, like 'real' bread! Here are some practical tips to help you bake the best gluten free breads.
Sticky and soggy is good
Gluten free breads require more liquid when converting a regular recipe into gluten free. Your gluten free bread dough will be too liquidy and runny to knead, and that's how it is supposed to be - sticky and soggy! As the dough rises, it grows tighter and drier (gluten free flours take more time to absorb moisture) and more pliable. In fact, by the time it is done rising, it will feel like 'real' bread dough. Stop yourself from trying to 'fix' the dough by adding more flour to the mixture, as you will end up with a very dense brick of a loaf.
No need to knead
Since there's no gluten to develop by kneading, there's no need to knead. You just need to mix it to activate the yeast and as well as all other ingredients, and your stand mixer is your best friend. Gluten free breads also bake beautifully in bread machines.
Know your yeast
When making gluten free breads, I usually use this technique: Add liquids to dry ingredients. Mix for 1 minute, rest for 1 minute. Do this around 4 to 5 times. After that, the dough is still moist and soggy, but you'll see small bubbles that show the yeast is activated.
Rising made easy
Gluten free bread, compared to regular bread, only needs to rise once. Rising is always crucial for bread making. A foolproof method is to preheat the oven to 90 degrees C. Once it reaches this temperature, turn the oven off and place a shallow baking tin filled with hot water on the lower shelf of the oven. Place the bread dough in its tin, cover with a damp towel, then place in the oven on the middle shelf for 20 to 30 minutes, or until risen.
First practise, then experiment
In the beginning, stick to gluten free bread recipes. Once you become comfortable with gluten free baking, then you can start to experiment with converting regular bread recipes into gluten free ones.
Stick to your 'gums'
Do not leave gums (xanthan or guar, or other binding agents) out of gluten free bread recipes, they are a must for binding. These binding agents trap gas and air inside the dough, helping with density, texture and strength. If you are sensitive to gums, use ground flaxseeds or chia seeds instead, or psyllium husk powder. Psyllium works especially well for bread. All of these are hydrocolloid agents, which means they attract water, and need to be added to the mixture, otherwise, the recipe will be too wet.
1 teaspoon gum = 2 teaspoons psyllium husk powder = 2 teaspoons ground flaxseed
Room temperature, please!
When making gluten free breads, all ingredients should be at room temperature, especially with yeast breads, since yeast need heat to become active.
Look for 'eggy' breads
Especially as a beginner, look for bread recipes that have eggs. Eggs add protein and structure, as well as moisture. These recipes are quite easy to work with and more likely to be successful!
Pass the bubbly
Try using carbonated water or gluten free beer instead of water. This will add volume to the batter and more gas and bubbles to the bread batter.