Gluten Free Bread: Soft Vanilla Swirl

Gluten Free Bread: Soft Vanilla Swirl

Gluten Free Vanilla Swirl Bread [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.

Gluten Free Vanilla Swirl Bread

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.

Gluten Free Vanilla Swirl 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.

Gluten Free Vanilla Swirl Bread

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:

  1. 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

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

Gluten Free Vanilla Swirl Bread

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!

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 1 loaf gluten free bread


3 1/2 cups (490 g) Gluten Free Bread Flour*, plus more for sprinkling

40 grams (about 2/3 cup) nonfat dry milk, ground into a fine powder in a blender or food processor

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

2 1/3 teaspoons (7 g) instant yeast

1/4 cup (50 g) granulated vanilla sugar** (you can use plain granulated sugar and add 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract to the dough)

1 teaspoon (6 g) kosher salt

1 cup (8 ounces/8 fluid ounces) warm water (about 95°F)

2 eggs (120 g, out of shell) at room temperature, beaten

4 tablespoons (56 g) unsalted butter, melted and cooled

2 tablespoons milk (any kind), for brushing

1/3 cup (67 g) vanilla sugar (can substitute an equal amount of granulated sugar, and add 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract to the milk)


  1. 1 cup (140 g) Gluten Free Bread Flour, as discussed more fully on pages 8 to 10 of GFOAS Bakes Bread, contains 100 grams Mock Better Batter all purpose gluten free flour (or Better Batter itself) + 25 grams whey protein isolate (I use NOW Foods brand) + 15 grams Expandex modified tapioca starch.
  2. For a calculator that helps you build the flour using my Mock Better Batter, but without doing any math, please see my Gluten Free Flour page.
  3. If you would like to use Ultratex 3 in place of Expandex, please see #6 on my Resources page for instructions.

**Vanilla Sugar can be purchased, but it’s crazy expensive. I make it by combining 2 cups (400 g) granulated sugar with the seeds from inside 1 whole vanilla bean, and then adding the bean itself and mixing well to combine. Store the mixture in a sealed glass jar at room temperature for at least a few days before using the vanilla sugar for maximum flavor.


  • In the bowl of your stand mixer, place the flour, nonfat dry milk, cream of tartar, instant yeast and sugar, and use a handheld whisk to combine well. Add the salt and whisk to combine well. Add the water, eggs and butter, and mix on low speed with the dough hook until combined. Raise the mixer speed to medium and knead for about 5 minutes. The dough is a lovely, smooth, enriched dough. It climbs up the dough hook during kneading but remains intact and smooth. Spray a silicone spatula lightly with cooking oil spray, and scrape down the sides of the bowl. Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl or proofing bucket large enough for the dough to rise to double its size, spray the top of the dough with cooking oil spray, and cover with an oiled piece of plastic wrap (or the oiled top to your proofing bucket). Place the dough in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours and up to 3 days.**

    **Note: If you prefer, you may make and use this dough on the same day. It will not be as easy to handle, and will not rise as smoothly, however. To use the dough the same day it is made, after making the dough, set the covered dough to rise in a warm, draft-free environment to allow it to rise to double its size (about 1 hour). Once it has doubled, place it in the refrigerator for at least 15 minutes or until it is chilled. This will make it much easier to handle. Then, continue with the rest of the recipe instructions.

  • Preparing the dough for shaping. On baking day, grease a standard loaf pan (approximately 9-inches x 5-inches—mine are 8 1/2-inches x 4 1/2-inches) and set it aside. Turn out the chilled dough onto a lightly floured surface and, using the scrape and fold kneading method and using a very light touch, sprinkle the dough with more flour and knead it lightly, sprinkling with flour when necessary to prevent it from sticking, scrape the dough off the floured surface with a floured bench scraper, then fold it over on itself. Repeat scraping and folding until the dough has become smoother. Do not overwork the dough or you will incorporate too much flour and it will not rise properly.

  • Shaping and filling the dough. On a lightly floured piece of parchment paper, pat the dough into a rectangle about 10-inches x 12-inches. Brush the entire surface of the dough with milk, and sprinkle with the vanilla sugar from the filling. Gently press the vanilla sugar into the dough to help it adhere. Beginning at a 10-inch side and using the parchment paper to guide it, roll the dough tightly into a coil and place it seam side down in the prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle the top of the loaf generously with flour to give it a cloak to rise into. Cover the loaf pan with an oiled piece of plastic wrap, and place in a warm, draft-free location until the dough has risen to nearly 1-inch above the lip of the pan (about 1 1/2 hours, but rising time can vary greatly depending upon your kitchen environment).

  • About 20 minutes before your dough has finished its final rise, preheat your oven to 350°F. Once the dough has finished rising, remove the plastic wrap and place the pan in the center of the preheated oven. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until the bread reaches an internal temperature of 185°F on an instant-read thermometer. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes in the pan before running a thin spatula around the edge of the loaf pan and turning out the bread onto a wire rack to finish cooling until no longer hot to the touch. Serve immediately.

  • Adapted from the recipe for Oatmeal Bread on page 67 of Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread. Vanilla swirl bread concept and filling adapted from Bakingdom.



P.S. Still don’t have a copy of Gluten Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread? What are you waiting for? ;)

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