Top 10 Secrets to Baking The Best Gluten Free Bread
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*ETA: I now have a WHOLE BOOK on gluten free bread! It’s called Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread, and it’s filled with full color photos and step-by-steps, and a recipe … more »

*ETA: I now have a WHOLE BOOK on gluten free bread! It’s called Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread, and it’s filled with full color photos and step-by-steps, and a recipe for every sort of shaped bread and loaf you could ever want! Gluten free bread will NEVER be the same!

Have the book and looking for some advice on the recipes? There is a whole page on the blog dedicated to Gluten Free Bread FAQs (and answers!).

Now … for those 10 Secrets:

Best Gluten Free Bread: Top 10 Secrets To Baking It Right

Here are my Top 10 Secrets to Baking Great Gluten-Free Bread with yeast. Looking for a gluten-free bread recipe? Choose from over 60 entries in my Gluten Free Bread Recipe Index. There’s even a recipe for tender and light Gluten Free Hawaiian Rolls from Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread! Now for those secrets:

1. Try to avoid making any substitutions the first time you make a gluten free bread recipe, especially one which is unfamiliar to you. If you have chosen a recipe that you can only make with substitutions, select another recipe. Early failure will sap your motivation.

2. Bake by weight, not volume. Proper proportions make the difference between success and failure. A serviceable scale is totally cheap. I use this one. Finish measuring one ingredient, and hit “tare.” It zeroes out the scale. Ready for the next ingredient, in the same bowl. Precision, easily. And in all of my recipes, 1 cup of high-quality all-purpose gluten-free flour = 140 grams.

Best Gluten Free Bread: Top 10 Secrets To Baking It Right3. Don’t double a recipe for gluten free yeast bread to make twice as much. Make two batches of it in tandem. But don’t double. It often doesn’t work. I have no idea why, but it just doesn’t. If I learn why, I’m afraid I’ll forget something else important, so I just follow the rule. *ETA: The yeast bread recipes in Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread CAN be doubled, or halved, easily. Everything is new and better!

4. Gluten-free bread dough needs to be mixed vigorously. The best way to do it is with a stand mixer. Don’t have one? Do it by hand, and put some elbow grease into it. Do not use a handheld mixer. And don’t worry about over-mixing. There’s no gluten to ‘overwork.’ If your end result has a really tight crumb and seems crumbly, it’s not that you overworked the dough. Your hydration level was likely too low.
*ETA: The yeast bread recipes in the new book require a dough hook, just like traditional, conventional gluten-containing breads. Don’t have a stand mixer? No problem. A 5-speed handheld mixer, with dough hook attachments, will work great!

Best Gluten Free Bread: Top 10 Secrets To Baking It Right5. Don’t try to bake bread without any gluten substitutes, like xanthan gum. When yeast gives off carbon dioxide during the baking process, gluten acts like a cloak and suspends the bubbles, allowing the bread to bake around the air pockets. No gluten, and no gluten-substitute? No cloak.

6. Use an oven thermometer. For the love of Mike, just get one! Most ovens are calibrated improperly, and off by around 50 degrees F. Yup. That much. One of mine is typically off by about 75 degrees F! Don’t bother calibrating it. It will just get out of whack again. Use an oven thermometer. Easy, cheap – essential. Bake bread in a too-hot oven, the outside will bake before the inside has a chance to develop enough structure to support it, and it will cave as it cools.

Best Gluten Free Bread: Top 10 Secrets To Baking It Right7. Don’t give up if your first loaf of bread isn’t perfect. It’s a skill. It builds with experience. And even if the loaf isn’t gorgeous, it probably still tastes great. I bet you don’t take pictures of your food like I do. So just carry on!

8. Create the right environment for bread proofing. If you can swing it, consider a Brod & Taylor bread proofer. It’s amazing the even rise you can get in this little box of heaven. I got mine gratis (I was a ‘tester’), but I would have bought it. No question. If you can’t swing it, use my tried and true microwave-as-bread-proofer method. I used it for years and years, with good results.

Best Gluten Free Bread: Top 10 Secrets To Baking It Right9. Do not “throw a bunch of flours” into a bread recipe and expect it to turn out. And use instant yeast. No need to proof it as long as it’s comfortably within its freshness date. If the bread didn’t rise, it’s very unlikely that the problem is the yeast. Trust me.

10. If you use a prepared mix and follow the directions, but the bread doesn’t turn out—it’s not. your. fault!

Recipe Guide, from the top (click the pictures, or click on these links):
White Sandwich Bread from Gluten-Free on a Shoestring, the book. Pick up a copy. Turn to page 104. It’s still my favorite bread-recipe-child.

French Bread, Step x Step.

Japanese Milk Bread, made with a water roux. The softest bread. truly.

White Sandwich Bread, again. Page 104.

Gluten Free Brown Bread, a whole grain gluten-free bread experience.

Love,
Me

P.S. I wrote a cookbook about gluten free bread! It’s called Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread, and it will be out November 2013. You can even preorder it right now (cover coming soon!)

  • Niki Moen on Facebook

    THANK YOU!!! The only bread I’ve made successfully is from a mix!! I can’t get it right! :-(

  • MaryAnn Simkewicz on Facebook

    Thank you for this – I’ve tried once so far and it was an epic fail – need to get my self a scale and oven thermometer. I did use a milk substitute too – wonder if that worked against me. What is your feeling on bread machines? I don’t have one, but have thought about getting one.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jonie-Spetter/1473400295 Jonie Spetter on Facebook

    My breads (and I’ve tried lots of recipes) always feel like they’re going to choke you. They are usually very crumbly and feel so dry in the mouth. Is this just gluten free bread or something I’m doing wrong?

  • Samantha Hodge on Facebook

    Your sandwich bread has magical powers. It has never let me down. :)

  • Pamela G

    Ok, Nicole….I need a little assistance….what temperature do you usually use your proofer at? I made a disaster loaf the other day (trying to use up another flour mix) and was anxious because it didn’t raise properly. Unfortunately, the instructions with the unit aren’t really clear as to what temp to use. I do so want to make the nicest breads…
    Thank you in advance – Pam

    • http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/ Nicole

      Hi, Pam,
      Don’t worry. You’ll get there.
      I set my proofer to between 85 and 87 degrees F. It will rise anywhere between about 70 degrees and about 110 degrees, albeit slower or faster. 85 to 87 degrees F is a good medium.
      Sounds like your issue was with the flour. Especially if it was King Arthur, I’m sorry to say. It’s useless in yeast bread.
      xoxo Nicole

      • Pamela G

        Thanks, Nicole..no, it was another ‘blend’ reccommended by someone else. It was just toooo soft to support loft….and moisture. Thanks for the encouragement and information.
        I am SURE Better Batter wins hands down! :)

        • http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/ Nicole

          The wrong flour can ruin everything, Pam. :( Well, at least now you know for sure.
          xoxo Nicole

  • http://www.facebook.com/gfshoestring Gluten Free on a Shoestring on Facebook

    I know, Samantha Hodge! That bread is magic. I don’t fully understand its powers. :)

  • http://Www.jenerdmann.com Jen

    Thank you so much. Just a quick question/request…#2 states to make by volume not weight…however the French bread recipe is by weight not volume. Any advice on how to convert weights to volume?

    • http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/ Nicole

      I think you may have misread it, Jen. It says to bake by weight, not by volume. I added the corresponding weight measurements to the French bread recipe, though. Good catch!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Jenn

    Your Japanese milk bread was (is) the first GF bread recipe I’ve made, and I love it so much! Our kids who are not GF ask for it even though they can eat “real” bread. It is so good toasted that I have to make a double batch each time! Thank you so much.

    • http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/ Nicole

      Hi, Jenn,
      That’s so great! It’s the absolute best when kids (especially those who aren’t even GF) love the gluten-free food we make, isn’t it? Thanks for letting me know!
      xoxo Nicole

  • Linda Stoddard

    Girl, this is some fine-looking bread. Better yet that it’s resting on a retro kitchen towel. The tips are appreciated. I’m waiting, too, for when you publish a book on bread. Just bread. And only bread. I see it coming. xoxLinda

    • http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/ Nicole

      Thanks, Linda!
      Oh how I would love to do a gf bread book. From your lips/fingertips… ;)
      xoxo Nikki

      • http://www.laughingatchaos.com Jen

        No. Seriously. A GF bread book. For the love of all things Hoagie, a GF bread book!

        • http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/ Nicole

          Hi, Jen!
          Believe me when I tell you that I would love nothing more! If I could dig in to breads, and create every variety under the sun, I’d be a happy writer.
          And – hoagie? You must be a Philly girl!
          xoxo Nicole

  • Ligea

    An Alton Brown quote that has kept me going in the GF baking world: “If it’s not baking right, start another loaf.” Wish I could remember which episode that was from… Thanks for sharing your secrets!

    • http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/ Nicole

      I hear you, Ligea. It’s not worth trying to shove a square peg into a round hole. You’ll just make yourself mad. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Linda H

    Nicole,

    Do you use instant yeast in all of your recipes? Is there a time when regular active dry yeast is called for? I guess I’m asking if I should have both on hand.

    Thanks much sharing your tips. I’m making my first gf loaf this weekend. :-)

    • http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/ Nicole

      Hi, Linda,
      Yes. These days, I always use instant yeast. I do always have active dry yeast on hand, but mostly because I bought a ton of it and I hate to waste.
      xoxo Nicole

  • Corlissa

    So far I have had great success with making GF bread! Only one flop- and it was when I attempted to double a loaf recipe. One loaf turned out perfect, the other did the gummy thing that I find typical in store-bought GF bread. It is about to become crutons or bread crumbs…

    I dont use commercial flour blends, I make my own based on what I am feeling like. Usual ratio is about 1/3 starches, 1/3 rice, 1/3 other flours. If a recipe calls for specific flours- I will follow it to a T. My dough regardless of the blend or recipe seems to turn out pretty uniform in texture- only recipes that I have trouble with are for pizza dough and pancakes. Still looking for ‘my’ recipe.

    I dont use a proofing box- but I do shut all my doors and windows and I turn on my humidifier when I am setting my bread out to rise.

    I shared a bread recipe with a friend as well as a few slices- she has tried making it and hers turns out very eggy every time. Mine does not. We havent figured that one out.

    Funny part is that before I had to go GF, the art of bread making was something that eluded me.

    • http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/ Nicole

      Glad you’re having some much success, Corlissa. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Jonie-Spetter/1473400295 Jonie Spetter on Facebook

    OK. I’m buying a thermometer and scale this weekend and using your microwave-as-bread-proofer method. Plus I found a local store that carries Better Batter Flour. I’ll let you know of my success! Thanks for giving me hope again.

  • http://chemegirlcooks.blogspot.com Katie Williams

    Your recipes rock! I’ve nominated you for a versatile blogger award, come on over and check it out: chemegirlcooks.blogspot.com

  • Pingback: How-To Store Gluten-Free Bread: 10 Rules To Live By | Gluten-Free on a Shoestring()

  • Vicki

    Do you ever make your bread in a bread maker? I have a new one for my daughter and tried it once, it didn’t turn out, so I haven’t used it since.

    • gfshoestring

      I do not use or recommend bread makers, Vicki. I find that they produce inconsistent results, take up too much space (and money) and make an awkward loaf of bread.
      Nicole

This recipe was brought to you by Nicole Hunn of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring: http://glutenfreeonashoestring.com/top-10-secrets-to-baking-best-gluten-free-bread/
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