[pinit] I know it doesn’t really say so definitively, but we all know that this is mostly a gluten free baking blog. Right? Since it’s mostly baked goods that aren’t naturally gluten free, and since what I really want is to give you back what you’re missing now that you and/or your family is gluten free, baking is my starting point. Well, that, and the fact that I’d much rather bake than cook any day of the week. (But it’s mostly the first reason, since this blog is about you, not me, or at the very least about us.) And since baking gluten free bread is really on my mind these days, what with GFOAS Bakes Bread coming out not even 2 months ago, I couldn’t wait to make vanilla swirl bread when you seemed excited about it on my “Must Make Gluten Free” Pinterest Board. It took me a few tries to get it just right (everything does – failure is a necessary part of success!), but to say it was worth it was a huuuuuuge understatement.
This isn’t some fancy schmancy gluten free pull-apart bread recipe or anything, but it’s amazing what a little vanilla sugar can do for some soft enriched bread. Just so you know (and much to my children’s irritation), this is not really making-sandwich bread. It’s more breakfast bread, since even the best swirl of this kind creates some gaps. That’s why the Cinnamon Swirl Bread in Bakes Bread goes about this in a completely different way, creating a swirl made of dough instead of just cinnamon sugar filling. But this one is tender, fragrant, lightly sweet breakfast bread. Or snacking bread. Or making-coworkers-jealous-at-3:00 bread.
About Gluten Free Bread in General. Even though I’ve covered most of your Frequently Asked Bread Questions pretty thoroughly and even showed you alllll the breads you and your fellow readers have turned out of your own kitchens, baking yeast bread (gluten free or not) has a way of kicking up some anxiety. I wanted to give you a few more pointers for success here and there.
There are three more Gluten Free Bread Facts I would like to share today, and I will consider adding them to the Bread FAQs list if you think they’re worthy:
- Measuring Water: When you are measuring water to use in a bread recipe, consider measuring it by weight instead of volume. Wait wait! Hear me out, man. I know that all of the water measurements in Bakes Bread are by volume, not weight. In fact, all of the liquids are indicated in volume. But that is only because my editor insisted upon it. Like, really insisted. But water is the only liquid that boasts a 1:1 equivalency between weight and volume: 1 fluid ounce of water = 1 weighted ounce of water. So, since 1 cup of water = 8 fluid ounces of water, it also = 8 weighted ounces of water. Here are the conversions, if you’re willing to give this a shot, since liquid measuring cups can be off by a significant amount. Please note that these values only apply to water, not any other liquids:
• 1 cup = 8 ounces
• 3/4 cup = 6 ounces
• 1/2 cup = 4 ounces
• 1/4 cup = 2 ounces
• 2 tablespoons = 1 ounce
• 1 tablespoon = 1/2 ounce
- Refrigerator Rise: Some of you have written to me and said that you have had problems getting your bread to rise in the refrigerator. First, please see page 25 of Bakes Bread for Troubleshooting with respect to getting yeast bread to rise (freshness of yeast, etc.). Beyond that, a few other things will affect outcome:
• If your refrigerator runs quite cold (some of you have even mentioned using industrial refrigerators, and those do tend to run very cold), it may force the yeast into dormancy, where it won’t ferment, or even potentially kill the yeast so it won’t ferment even once it reaches temperature. Try turning up the temp in your refrigerator a touch.
• If you are making flour blend substitutions, if you are using a high starch blend, it absorbs a lot of moisture and will make rising difficult if not impossible.
• If your proofing container is not well-sealed, the dry air of the refrigerator will leach water out of the bread. That will lower the hydration ratio, which makes rising difficult if not impossible. If you don’t have a proofing bucket, use something else with a lid that snaps in place and seals well or a stronger plastic wrap.
• The refrigerator rise is important for two reasons: First, slow-rising yeast creates proper flavor development. Second, it allows the flour to absorb more of the moisture in the dough, which makes handling the dough significantly easier.
- Final Rise: This one’s a simple addition to my list of tips (this has been covered quite extensively both in the book and in the Bread FAQs here on the blog): Be patient! Over the weekend, I spent the day with the winners of the Gluten Free Bread Book Bake with Me Contest, and it took absolutely forever for us to get 3 loaves of the Lean Crusty White Sandwich Bread from page 43 to rise fully. It was cold (we were in Minnesota!), they were crowded into their proofing area (3 loaves at once) and since I had used them to teach how to shape loaves of lean bread, they weren’t shaped juuuuust right. It must have taken them 3 hours to rise fully. 3 hours! But they finally did rise fully and we baked them and they were amazing. That’s the way it goes with baking yeast bread, gluten free or not. It is very, very environmentally-dependent. But we can account for that. Don’t be afraid to allow your bread a long final rise if that’s what it needs.
Oh, And A Few Notes About the Vanilla Sugar: You can definitely make this bread without either buying or making your own vanilla sugar (and I explain just what to do in the recipe below). It will still be delicious, since this bread could be made without the swirl entirely and still be tender and fabulous, but between us it won’t really be the same. I have also used vanilla bean paste many times in the past, but that is expensive, too. There are so many places to buy whole vanilla beans these days for a decent price. I have gotten them at my wholesale club and from Olivenation.com, but there are also tons of shops on eBay that sell them for a great price. I can’t credibly recommend one over the other, but a quick google search will turn up lots of information and reviews on eBay shops. Long live the Internet and all of its resources!