Introducing the Gluten Free Bread Revolution!
My next cookbook, Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread, is coming this November. It's going to change things a lot. It's going to raise the bar. It's going to knock your gluten-free socks off! Everything I have done in the kitchen since I started baking gluten-free nearly 10 years ago has been leading up to this book, this bread, these methods. My heart is racing thinking about getting it out into the world. There will be a whole lotta hoopla over the next few months designed to get you as excited as I am about this book. Plus, scroll down for the 10 Lessons About Gluten-Free Bread That I Can Share Right Now. And be sure to leave a Comment Below asking your questions about the book (what recipes are in there? what equipment will I need? what is a pure levain sourdough and how is it made? They're all fair questions, and I will do my best to answer).
First off. You should totally pre-order Bakes Bread. Why? Here are 5 Good Reasons:
1. You'll get it as soon as it's ready to ship—often even before it says “In Stock” on amazon. You'll probably even get it considerably before the “on-sale” date of November 26, which is a date 2 weeks after my publisher ships the books from its warehouse. It is designed by the industry to give retailers time to unpack the boxes and get the books on the shelves. Online retailers like amazon need less time for all that jazz, so they ship faster.
2. Book retailers won't run out of stock! Healthy pre-order sales ensure that no one runs out of stock after publication. Tell my publisher that you're excited for the book! Then they won't be caught out—and neither will you. This is one of the only ways to influence stock. I have way, way less control than most readers assume (read: I have, like, no control).
3. Pay less for the book. I'm sure you've noticed that amazon.com discounts book prices. The promotion that they do of particular books and the prices they charge for them are based in part on sales. More sales = heavier discounting. And when you pre-order on amazon, you get a lowest-price guarantee. Do your part to lower the price for everyone! I'll be pre-ordering to do my part! (really)
4. Win free stuff … from me directly! Over the next few months, there will contests and giveaways here on the blog. Pre-order now and you'll be eligible to win all kinds of cool free gluten free bread stuff later. Everything from signed copies of the book from me to you all the way up to a grand prize of a baker’s dozen worth of my favorite cooking essentials and kitchen tools (details in the coming weeks).
5. It's that good. At the risk of sounding immodest (sorry!), this is my best book so far. Check out the sneak peek of the book right here on the blog, and see for yourself why you want this cookbook the minute it comes out (click on the link above, the link in the sidebar, or the picture just below to see the whole .pdf document). There are TONS of process photos and plenty of beauty shots of everything from Olive Garden-style breadsticks to monkey bread to pure sourdough No Rye Rye Bread (see that round on the cover? That's what that is):
Now, on to the super useful gluten-free bread knowledge I'm gonna lay on you right now:
10 Lessons I Learned About Gluten Free Bread
Right after we wrapped the photo shoot for the new book, baking my way through a total of 75 pounds of gluten free flour in 4 weeks' time, I sat down and wrote this list. While I can't show you everything in the book just yet (although there will, of course, be a preview recipe or two on the blog closer to the big day), I can tell you these 10 things that I think you should know right now about gluten free bread right now. You should be able to incorporate these tips into your mindset and into your bread-baking now, and even more so once you have this cookbook in your hands.
1. Start wet. Then add flour on the outside to make it dry. That way you can manipulate the dough without getting that dreaded tight crumb in your finished bread. Just be sure you use a light touch when handling the dough. And with my new methods & recipes for baking gluten-free bread that you will learn all about in the new book, there will be no weepy, sad mounds of gluten-free bread dough that simply don't resemble bread dough as anyone before has ever known it. See? I told you that everything was going to change.
2. Cold (refrigerator) bulk fermentation is the way to go. Especially when you're working with a gluten free bread that doesn't have too many enrichments (like eggs and butter), a long, slow rise in the refrigerator will not only make your life easier (no waiting around for the dough to achieve its first rise!), but it will make the bread more flavorful (from slow yeast development) and easier to handle. Yeast is still active at refrigerator temperatures. It's just slower. And as the dough rises in the refrigerator, it absorbs more and more of the moisture in the dough. So the bread dough (and ultimately the bread) is still moist, but it doesn't feel as much like it as you handle it.
3. Don't expect more of your gluten free bread than you would of conventional bread. Just like in conventional bread baking, if you try to cram too much nutrition into your gluten free bread, it's harder to have a successful recipe. So if you're tempted to swap out flours, expect that it will throw things off and that the dough will be more difficult to handle. I have plenty of recipes for hearty gluten free bread in the new book. But none of them is 100% whole grain, and that's a good thing. It's your bread, not your vegetables.
4. It's different, but not that different. With my new method and recipes, gluten free bread dough can get so so soclose to conventional bread dough. So close. But it will still be a bit different. That difference doesn't have to be bad. Baking gluten free bread should still be pleasurable. And it will be. Just you wait.
5. Flours matter a lot. Gluten free flour blends that are super high in starch absorb tons more moisture and struggle to brown in the oven. They make for a dough that is relatively easy to handle, but the bread itself will disappoint you. Or it should. If it doesn't disappoint you, then you're expecting too little from gluten free bread.
6. Baking bread is super environmentally sensitive. The same recipe that I've tested upwards of 50 times will work one way in the cold, dry winter and another way in the warm, steamy summertime. In every recipe, I begin with a stable amount of liquid, and then add flour for balance. It is easier to tighten up a dough than to loosen it. Fact.
7. A stand mixer really helps, but there are options. It isn't impossible without one, but it sure makes things easier. And, since the recipes in the new book are intended to make bread that is smooth and taut on top (look at the book cover!), you need a mixer to knead the dough until it's smooth and elastic. But good news! I did some research, and there's hope yet if you don't have and don't plan to get a stand mixer. The KitchenAid 5-speed hand mixer with the dough hooks attached can get the job done. Woohoo!
8. We can have it all. Everything from focaccia bread with big, yeasty holes that's crispy on the outside and pillowy on the inside to bagels that hold their shape, yeasted donuts that rise straight up instead of out and pure levain sourdough bread that rises high as the sky, all without any commercial yeast. We can have it ALL (well, as soon as the book comes out we can have it all).
9. Dairy-free is, indeed, harder than gluten-free. But there are work-arounds. Milk protein behaves most similarly to gluten (a protein) in baking. Soy has a similar structure, but behaves very, very differently in baking. Don't worry, though. I've got tricks up my sleeve for my dairy-free friends.
10. This book really needed to be written. I don't mean that I was the only one in the world who could write it. Far from it. I'm honored to be able to do it, but mostly someone just needed to put in the work and get it done. A really really good book of artisan gluten free bread recipes was seriously lacking in the marketplace. And once I committed to writing it, there was no room for excuses. Nothing less than ah-mazing was acceptable. I have never worked so hard in my entire life, but it has never been so, so worth it.
Now it's your turn. What are your questions about the new book? Is there a particular recipe you hope to see? Wondering what equipment you'll need? Want to know what a pure sourdough really is, and whether you'll be able to have it?Ask away! I will do my best to answer…
P.S. If you've haven't pre-ordered Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread yet, what are you waiting for?! Time's ticking!