How-To Make GF French Bread, Step x Step
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Gather up your wares. We’re havin’ gluten-free French Bread. And it’s not going to cost a bundle. ‘Cause we’re gonna make it ourselves. We’ll go nice & slow. And nobody … more »

Gluten Free French Bread

Gather up your wares. We’re havin’ gluten-free French Bread. And it’s not going to cost a bundle. ‘Cause we’re gonna make it ourselves. We’ll go nice & slow. And nobody falls off the wagon. Everybody in!

C’mon! Have a little faith.

You gotta have faith. Here’s the secret: you have to trust yourself.

That’s it! That’s the secret! Double pinky swear. You gotta trust yourself. You gotta believe that you can do it. You gotta know that the amount of water you use is going to vary from kitchen to kitchen, and from baking session to baking session. It depends upon so many factors — what the temperature is in your kitchen, the humidity level in your kitchen, the type of all-purpose GF flour you’re using, the alignment of the stars, the color of your panties.

But none of that matters.

All that matters is that you add water s  l  o  w  l  y. Remember – although you can always add more water, you can’t take any away. And you don’t want to get into a whole game of chicken with more-flour-more-water-more-flour-more-water. Your other-ingredient proportions [mostly yeast & sugar] will be all outta wack. Trust me. Trust the process.

Mostly, trust me. Just until you’re all growns up & ready to kick me to the curb. I’ve done this. Many, many times. And I’ve done it wrong so many times that they named a bench after me in Wrongville. And then they bronzed it.

Look, if you’re not ready for this, it’s okay. Make some yeast-free Quick {Sandwich} Bread and chillax. Worry not, my friend. We’ll still be here when you’re ready.

For the still willing, please review your ingredients: all-purpose gluten-free flour (plus xanthan gum, but I use Better Batter, and that’s already mixed in there), cream of tartar, sugar, kosher salt, yeast (quick rise/instant/breadmachine yeast if you have it – no big deal if you don’t), 2 egg whites, and warm water.

Not too many ingredients.
Gluten Free French Bread

Now, we dump the flour, xanthan gum, cream of tartar, sugar, salt and yeast into the bowl of your stand mixer, and mix well with a whisk. Then add the egg whites and mix slowly for a little bit. Smooth sailing so far.

Then …
Gluten Free French Bread
Got it? A little nip. A little tuck. A little sneaky peek. No biggie, right?

Nah. You don’t have it yet. But you will, boyo. You will.


Just like you see above, with the mixer [fitted with the paddle attachment] turning slowly, you’ll begin to pour the warm water into the well-mixed dry ingredients, nice & s l o w. The dough should be shaggy, which just means that it should be kinda irregular. Think clumpy and pointy all over. Compare my shaggy dough picture to your dough.

**I’ll wait for you**

If you think maybe it needs a bit more water, but you’re not sure, STOP. In this particular example, ended up with 1/2 cup warm water still in the measuring cup (I started with 1 2/3 cup – don’t make me do the math). Does it hold together, more or less, at least in clumps? Scrape it together with a spatula (see the picture), dump it out onto a silpat or some parchment paper (no flour!), and knead it a bit with your hands. It will be a bit tacky. See how little bits of it sticks to my hand?

Then divide the dough into 2 equal parts, and roll into a cylinder with the palm and heel of your hands. Just do it! The dough will be irregular, still, and have hairline cracks in it. We’re going to remedy that. Just take that leftover warm water, and dip your hands into it. Get ‘em nice and wet. Now rub the entire surface of the dough you just rolled into a cylinder (top, sides, ends, bottom – the full monty) until it’s all shiny & smooth. Repeat with the other half of the dough.

Now just place the two loaves on a parchment lined baking sheet, a few inches apart, cover with plastic wrap and place in a moist, draft-free area to rise until nearly doubled in volume[for tips on getting your GF bread to rise, check out "arise fair gluten-free bread"]. Then, dip your hands again in water, rub the risen dough very gently to smooth out the surface again [if you're not gentle, you could deflate the dough], slash the dough with a sharp knife on the diagonal every 2 inches along the length of each loaf, bake for 15 minutes, rub with butter, then bake until crispy and golden brown.

That wasn’t so bad, was it?

Remember. Water is the secret. G  o    s  l  o  w  l  y.

And trust. Trust is the secret.

But don’t tell secrets. It hurts people’s feelings.

Here’s the printable version. I love you. Go forth & bake bread.

Then make some GF Bruschetta. Or a Philly Cheese Steak. Maybe a meatball hero? You ARE a meatball HERO!

Or maybe just enjoy some slices of french bread layered with big juicy late summer tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese. And a nice glass of wine. You’ve earned it.

5.0 from 3 reviews

How-To Make GF French Bread, Step x Step
By: 
Recipe type: Bread
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 

Serves: 6 to 8
 

Gluten-free French Bread
Ingredients
  • 3 cups (420g) all-purpose gluten-free flour (I use Better Batter)
  • 2¼ teaspoons xanthan gum (omit if using Better Batter)
  • ½ teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon rapid rise/instant/bread machine yeast (or active dry, if that’s all you’ve got)
  • 2 extra-large egg whites
  • 1⅔ cup warm water, about 100 degrees
  • 2 tablespoons (28g) unsalted butter

Instructions
  1. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set it aside.
  2. In the bowl of your stand mixer, combine the flour, cream of tartar, xanthan gum, salt, sugar and yeast. Mix well with a whisk. Fit the paddle attachment to your stand mixer, then add the egg whites, and mix slowly to combine. With the mixer on its lowest speed, add the water in a very slow but steady stream. Once the dough begins to come together, STOP adding water. You will have used up at least 1 cup of water, and up to ⅔ cup more (rarely the full 1⅔ cup).
  3. Scrape the dough together with a spatula, and dump it out onto a slick (but unfloured) surface, like a silpat, pastry board, or piece of parchment paper. Knead the dough briefly to gather it together. It will be tacky, and will leave a bit of residue on your hand. Divide the dough into two equal parts. With the palms and heels of both hands, roll one piece of dough into a cylinder, back and forth, back and forth. It will have cracks in it. Now, dip your hands in the leftover warm water, and rub the dough vigorously all over to smooth out the cracks. Repeat with the remaining piece of dough.
  4. Place the two pieces of dough about 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets, cover with plastic wrap, and place in a warm, moist, draft-free area for about 45 minutes, or until nearly doubled in volume.
  5. While the dough is rising, preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. Once the dough has risen, dip your hands back into the remaining water, and rub smooth the surfaces of each loaf, this time gently to avoid deflating the loaves.
  7. Place the loaves in the center of the preheated oven and bake for 15 minutes. Rub the unsalted butter evenly over every available surface of both loaves of bread, and return to the oven to finish baking – until golden brown (about another 10 to 15 minutes).
  8. Allow the bread to cool completely before slicing, or the bread could deflate. We’d be hugging and you’d get my shirt all boogery. Ew. But I would do it for you. I would.

Notes
Don’t even try to use a bean flour blend to do this. Don’t even. Pamela’s baking mix and Pamela’s bread mix are NOT meant to be all-purpose gluten-free flours. They are baking mixes, and will not work in any of my recipes that call for an all-purpose gluten-free flour. If you run into trouble in this recipe, post an S.O.S. comment. I’ll get back to you speedy quick. Promise. You can DO this! Let’s hug.

Love,

Me

  • Diane

    Did you read my mind????? My task today, now that my house is kid free–all at school :( is to attempt French Bread! The purpose to find a yummy gf french bread that we can the use for mmmmmmmm garlic bread and monster subs! wish me luck!
    And BTW, I love the pics of each step, especially when embarking in new territory, sometimes words just can’t described what a simple picture can!

    • Nicole

      Hi, Diane,
      Yes. Yes, I read your mind. I can do that. And you think some naughty things sometimes. I like that in a friend. ;)
      This honestly doesn’t have very much active time, so you should be able to make bread, and make some sub fillings, too. And even run an errand. Or (perish the thought) read a magazine!
      So glad you’re enjoying my step by step. Thanks for the positive reinforcement. I’m like a puppy with step x step, I’m afraid.
      xoxo Nicole

  • Anneke

    Thanks, Nicole! This looks great, so helpful. I will be trying this in the next couple of days and will get right back to you. My first attempt a few weeks ago went nothing like these pictures. Now, how did I miss that you use quick-rise yeast? I always use regular, seems to work okay, would quick rise work, well — quicker? Anneke

    • Nicole

      Hi, Anneke,
      I wonder how your first attempt did, in fact, go. What was different?
      In the past, I always used active dry yeast. The initial go-around of this recipe called for active dry, as usual. But recently I have started using quick rise more and more, just because it does, in fact, make for a quicker rise. But if you don’t have it, active dry will work all the same. There just isn’t really that much difference between yeast varieties. And it can all be very confusing (especially since quick rise yeast goes by so many different names, you’d think it was in witness protection). Not to worry. Carry on as usual.
      xoxo Nicole

  • Pamela G

    Nicole…
    You did spledidly!!! I am going to try this this evening when I get home.
    One thing I do NOT have is a paddle attachment (alright, I have an off brand mixer with no paddle – so NO PADDLING FOR ME). Does that leave me up the creek without a….well, you get the picture.
    I have bread hook attahments as well as regular beaters.
    Which do you think will work the best?

    • Nicole

      Hi, Pamela,
      Thank you for the encouragement. I need it!
      I’m refraining from making a paddling joke. I’m not going to make a joke about paddling. I’m not. See? I didn’t.
      What do you mean by ‘regular beaters’? If you only have a dough hook (which doesn’t really do much for GF bread dough), or a balloon whisk, I would either use a food processor (do you have one of those?) or a wooden spoon or silicone spatula. The good thing about using something automatic is that it can mix while you pour in the water, so you are much less likely to add too much water. But it can certainly be done by hand. I have done it many times with success. I promise. :)
      xoxo Nicole

      • Pamela G

        believe me when I say…great minds think alike….I practiced GREAT restraint when I wrote the first email…
        she said Paddle….
        insert Bevis & Butthead laugh here) :)
        I thank you for the advice- for a lot of years I used to make bread by hand, but since my stroke have lost some of that power. I am trying this tonight. Scott & Mollycakes (the GF dog) will love them….I’m sure!

        • Nicole

          I’m proud of you, Pamela. You showed great restraint.
          Maybe Scott can add some ‘power’ to your efforts. :)
          xoxo Nicole

    • Pamela G

      Nicole…
      Just wanted to mention that unfotunately this has to be this evening’s project..
      You see, Mollycakes the GF dog made the great escape last evening. Had me running thru the neighborhood
      after her (daddy was working) for well over a half an hour. Grrrreaaaat. I share your angst with the Meanie…..
      But I promise I will do the French Bread thang tonite! :)
      -P

      • Nicole

        Take your time, Pam! No rush… Glad you found Molly!
        xoxo Nicole

  • Darlene

    It looks great! And thank you for the step-by-steps. I’ll have to wait until the temp here drops below 100 degrees before I turn on my oven. I’m not such a pioneer woman that I’d try this on my Weber.
    ~Darlene~

    • Nicole

      Hi, Darlene,
      I’m so smug, with my temps in the high 60s and low 70s this week in NY. Please may I not be revisited by the ghost of 100 degree days past. I wish you lower temps! I’m not a pioneer woman in any sense, so I can relate. ;)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Jennica

    I would so LOVE to attempt this, but I think I need Santa to bring me a stand mixer first. :( I am pretty good with my hand mixer, or well, my hands, but this looks far more involved than my mixer will allow me to task it with. It’s on its last leg, I am afraid. Everyone in my house knows that a Kitchenaid-at least 5qt-stand mixer is top on my Christmas list this year. LOL. I don’t think a week goes by that they don’t get a reminder. Once Halloween passes, I think I will start with email wish lists to the hubby. ;) So Sad! I really really really miss french bread! It would have gone great with the hubby’s homemade clam chowder last weekend too!

    • Nicole

      Hi, Jennica,
      It’s so nice to hear from you! I have made this without a stand mixer many times. It is pretty much foolproof with the stand mixer, but you could also make it with a food processor. Do you have one of those? The automatic element really helps to avoid adding too much water to the dough, so you can pour and mix at the same time, but a food processor works well for that also. You can also do it the old fashioned way, with a bowl and a wooden spoon. If you’d like to attempt that and have questions, I’m here to answer! If it’s french bread you crave, it’s french bread you should have!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Sarah D

    Thank you for all the pictures! I made this using your other recipe in the book and squinting at the picture on facebook for the process. When making gf bread, pictures are SO helpful! The bread turned out amazing and was the perfect companion for the homemade ravioli in (from scratch) alfredo sauce. I made my own butter and added some garlic which I spread over the loaf split in half then generously sprinkled on freshly grated parmesan and broiled until bubbly. De-Vine! My hubby (non-gf) said you never would have known it was gf and he loved it. Thank you!

    • Nicole

      Wow, Sarah! That sounds amazing. You made your own butter! Your husband is one lucky man. :) That parmesan-garlic bread sounds like heaven. I feel like I can smell it now! Thank you for the renewed inspiration!
      I will make sure to always post step by step photos for bread recipes. I agree – it is so helpful. I’m sorry you had to muddle through on your own, but it sounds like you did it with swimming success!
      xoxo Nicole

      • Sarah D

        Butter is super easy in the Kitchenaid. Cream was on sale so you just beat the living daylights out of it until you have a lump in your whisk attachment and watery stuff in the bottom. Drain off the buttermilk (watery stuff in the bowl) and save for pancakes, add salt and yum! Cheaper than buying butter this week! :)

        It was hubby’s “Welcome Home” dinner so I went all out. :) If it hadn’t been for your pics, I totally would have messed it up, but you saved the dinner! Thanks!

        • Nicole

          Hi, Sarah,
          You really are frugal! Good for you. Once, years ago, my son said to me, “Mom, wouldn’t it be cool if you made your own water?” So I have to be careful with making everything from scratch, lest my son start asking me to make him water again. ;)
          I figured your husband was home. Enjoy your time together. I’m grateful for his service, and honored to be even a tiny part of welcoming him home. :)
          xoxo Nicole

          • Pamela G

            your son is priceless!! i love it when kids say the derndest things…..

  • Sarah D

    I’ll have to try this version of the recipe next. :)

    • Nicole

      Honestly, Sarah, it sounds like you could teach us all how to make an amazing dinner. I don’t think you should change a thing!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Peggy

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for the pictures! I am a visual person so this is very helpful!!1

    • Nicole

      Hi, Peggy,
      You’re very welcome. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Jan Carter

    Do you have to put the butter all over the bread? My daughter cannot tolerate butter, can I just brush with water instead?

    • Nicole

      Hi, Jan,
      The butter really helps the bread brown. Instead of butter, I would suggest you use olive oil. You could also try a soy butter. Water won’t help the bread brown.
      xoxo Nicole

  • Funky Momma ( A.K.A. Tina

    I tried the recipe but I think the flour combo I used (brown rice, potatoe starch and tapioca starch) was too heavy. I ended up with very dense paper weights. Or maybe I didn’t make the loaves large enough. How long and wide should they be? I’d love to make it properly and will certainly try it again.

    • Nicole

      Hi, Tina,
      I honestly don’t know how to blend an all-purpose flour, but if you sort of winged it, and put together a few flours and starches, you’re pretty likely to come up with something too heavy. and it sounds like that is what happened to you. Can you try again with either someone’s recipe for an all=purpose flour blend (Living Without has some good versions), or a preblended all purpose gluten free flour blend, like Better Batter?
      Sorry it didn’t work out, Tina!
      xoxo Nicole

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  • Kate

    Nicole,
    Thanks for the step x step pictures. I always loved to bake BC (before Celiac) and I’m trying more and more GF baked goods. Bread was something I thought I couldn’t master after a failed attempt in a bread machine. After a successful GF pie crust a while ago, I was ready to tackle bread! Thanks for the recipes, the instructions and the laughs. (The french bread is rising now. MMM. French dip for dinner.)

    • Nicole

      Hi, Kate,
      You’re welcome for the step x steps! Glad they’re helpful. Why I was so reluctant to post step x step pictures, I now have no idea. Step x steps for everyone!
      For the record, I can’t stand bread machines. They created and now perpetuate this myth that you need a huge single-use machine to be able to bake bread – gluten-free or otherwise. How ridiculous. Bread baking is as old as … well I don’t know, but it’s old. And it doesn’t take a genius to do it. If you knew me better, believe me you’d know how true that really is. ;)
      French dip, huh? Oh, yum. I’d love to hear how it turned out. :)
      xoxo Nicole

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  • http://vidassemgluten.blogspot.com Lucente

    Thanks for the recipe, the step by step, the site… I have so many recipes printed from here, waiting in line, but first I tried this bread. It was quite good, except I didn’t get to make mine as smooth as yours. If you don’t mind, I’ll be translating it and posting it on my blog (full credits to you, of course). And I’ll be buying the book on my next visit to Amazon. Really, thanks!

    • Nicole

      Hi, Lucente,
      I’m so glad you’re enjoying the blog. To smooth out the bread, all you need to do is rub it with very wet fingers, both before and after rising. Practice makes perfect!
      xoxo Nicole

  • http://blissglutenfree.blogspot.com Lois Parker

    love the picture method

  • Sarah

    Doh! I totally should have looked at the pictures before trying this. The pictures are exactly what I needed to see. Sort of discuraged as my batter was way too wet but will try it again. Would you recommend any sub for the egg? I have the hardest time finding a gluten-free bread without egg and this is the closest I”ve been able to find so am determined somehow to make this recipe work.

    • Nicole

      Hi, Sarah,
      If you review the comments, I think another reader may have subbed in something for the egg. It is mostly there as a stabilizer and to add protein, so I have long suspected that something like whey powder or dry milk powder (just not nonfat) would make a good substitute for the egg. If you give it a shot, please let me know how it turns out. Definitely pay close attention to the photos. Dough consistency is everything in gluen-free baking, especially bread baking.
      xoxo Nicole

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