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Gluten Free French Bread

July 31, 2020
At a Glance

Summary

The dough for these gluten free French bread baguettes is simple to make, can be shaped right away, and baked into warm, fragrant loaves in minutes. Remember warm bread with butter in a bread basket? Get it back.

Categories

Prep / Cook Time

15 minutes plus rising time / 23 minutes

Rating

 5/5 (50 votes)
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Gluten Free French Bread

This recipe for gluten free French bread rises fast and bakes even faster. It makes the perfect baguette for sandwiches, garlic bread, and bruschetta.

Loaf of french bread partially sliced on a board with a knife

A quick overview of this French bread recipe

These baguettes have a thin, crisp outside crust and a soft, almost squishy inside. They’re as quick and easy to make as they are versatile.

The dough should be chilled for at least 30 minutes in a sealed container in the refrigerator before shaping, but it doesn’t need a long first rise or rest. The recipe makes 2 10-inch rolls, but you can also make one roll that’s double the length. You can even double the recipe, since it makes a small batch as it is.

The recipe calls for using a stand mixer, since the dough really does need to be beaten vigorously until it takes on a “whipped” appearance. That is what helps create that tender crumb. If you don’t have a stand mixer, try using a food processor fitted with the steel blade.

 

Two loaves of French bread on a cutting board

How to shape and bake the baguettes

When I use my gluten free bread flour blend to make baguettes, I shape them a bit differently, much like I do our Olive Garden style soft breadsticks. That involved patting and rolling the dough into a rectangle, folding both of the long sides toward the center, then doubling the rectangle on itself. That’s a classic way to create a baguette shape.

This recipe is made using one of my preferred all purpose gluten free flour blends (preferably, Better Batter), rather than bread flour. It isn’t as similar to conventional gluten-containing bread dough, and it doesn’t rise quite as readily. I find that when I use that other shaping method, there are more likely to be gaps in the bread after baking.

Here, I like to shape the dough by creating a cohesive piece of raw bread dough by pinching together any and all gaps in the dough so they don’t separate during rising and baking. Then, roll out the dough with the palms of your hands so the dough is thicker in the center, and tapered toward the ends.

The best way to explain the shaping method is to watch the how-to video that is included in this post. But in case you aren’t able to see that, I’d explain it in the following way:

Position the palms of both hands right next to one another on the top of the cylinder of dough. Roll the dough first away from your body and then back toward it as you move your hands in a half moon motion away from one another, toward the edges of the dough.

Baking them

Have you ever seen those baguette pans, which look like side-by-side slings made of metal, with a million little perforations? You don’t need one of those.

I actually used to have a baguette pan, but I can’t find it. That means that I must have given it away because it always drove me crazy when I tried to store it in a cabinet in my non-industrial-sized kitchen. I’m not sorry it’s gone.

Those pans are, indeed, useful because they allow circulation of air all around the bread as it bakes. That’s part of what creates a thin but extra-crispy crust even on the bottom of the bread—and helps shape the bread properly. I’ve found that it’s just not necessary with this recipe, though.

For the crispiest crust, it does help to create some steam in the oven at the very start of the baking process. It’s easy to do by adding some ice cubes to the oven floor at the very start of baking, then quickly closing the door.

If you don’t feel comfortable adding ice cubes to the floor of your oven, try spraying the baguettes liberally with cool water in a clean spray bottle. Do the spritz either the moment right before or right after you place the pan in the oven.

Two hands shaping a loaf of french bread dough

How to get this yeasted dough to rise, and what to expect

When I originally started developing this recipe, I thought I’d have to use a very wet dough. That’s typical of gluten free bread made with anything other than my gluten free bread flour blend.

But when I made it with a very high hydration ratio (that’s something we talked about in detail in our recipe for NY-style gluten free pizza crust), the dough barely browned, wouldn’t crisp well on the outside, and was super squishy almost no matter how much I baked it.

That’s good news, though, since a less-wet dough is much easier to shape. It does take a little bit longer to rise, and requires a bit more yeast. But neither of those is much of a problem.

The consistency of this dough is best explained by describing what it’s not. It’s not stiff, but it’s not fragile. You can and should shape it without adding much additional flour, and be sure to shape it with additional tapioca starch, not all purpose flour.

Rising

As with all yeasted dough, rising is variable with the ambient environment in your kitchen (not outside, unless you’re setting the dough to rise outside). In warmth and humidity, rising time is shorter. If the air is cool and dry, it will take longer.

Be sure the dough is covered with oiled plastic wrap securely, but not tightly. You want it to have space to rise, but not be fully exposed at all.

And don’t expect a doubling of the dough with this old-school gluten free bread dough. Instead, it will rise to about 150% of its original size. It’s considered overproofed when the rise begins to break through the surface of the dough.

It will begin to look pockmarked, like it has craters on the outside, and it will become quite fragile. Stop before it gets to that stage, or at least the minute you observe it. This is a relatively quick-rising dough, so be watchful.

Two shaped raw French bread loaves, one unrisen, one risen

Ingredients and substitutions

Dairy

The only dairy in this recipe is the single tablespoon of butter. It can easily be replaced with Earth Balance buttery sticks, or (my favorite) vegan butters from either Melt or Miyoko’s Kitchen brand.

Egg

There is only one egg white in this recipe, and it helps provide structure. If you can’t have egg whites, you can try replacing the egg whites with an equal amount, by weight, of aquafaba, which is the brine from a can of chickpeas. Try beating the aquafaba until foamy with a whisk before adding it to the dough.

Yeast

You must use yeast in this recipe. There is no replacement, so if you can’t have yeast, use the search function on the blog to search for “yeast free” bread recipes. They’re completely different.

Instant yeast is also called bread maker or rapid-rise yeast. If you only have active dry yeast, multiply the amount of instant yeast called for in the recipe (here, 6 grams) by 125%, and proof the yeast in about 1/4 cup of the water called for in the recipe before adding it to the dough.

Here, that would mean using about 7 1/2 grams grams of active dry yeast. Since most scales (mine included) aren’t sensitive enough to measure 1/2 gram, just keep adding more yeast slowly after it reads 7 grams and stop approximately halfway to 8. Just do the best you can!

 

Two loaves of French bread, one partially sliced

Whole French bread loaf and partially sliced French bread loaf

Like this recipe?

Prep time: Cook time: Yield: 2 10-inch loaves of bread

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups (245 g) all purpose gluten free flour (I used Better Batter)

3/4 teaspoon xanthan gum (omit if your blend already contains it)

1/4 cup (36 g) tapioca starch/flour, plus more for sprinkling

2 teaspoons (6 g) instant yeast

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

3/4 cup (6 ounces) warm water (about 95°F)

1 egg white (25 g), at room temperature

1 tablespoon (21 g) honey

1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar

1 tablespoon (14 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature

Cooking oil spray

Directions

  • In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, place the flour, xanthan gum, tapioca starch/flour, and yeast, and whisk to combine well. Add the salt, and whisk again to combine. Create a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the water, egg white, honey, vinegar, and butter, and mix to combine.

  • Beat the mixture with the paddle attachment with the stand mixer on medium speed for about a minute. The dough will clump. Increase the speed to medium-high and continue to beat until the dough begins to stick to the sides of the mixing bowl and looks “whipped” in texture. Transfer the dough to a container with a lid that seals tightly, cover, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to 3 days.

  • When you’re ready to shape the dough, turn the chilled dough out onto flat surface lightly sprinkled with tapioca starch. Dust the top of the dough lightly with more tapioca starch, and turn it over a few times and knead it gently to smooth the dough. Using a large knife or bench scraper, divide the dough into 2 equal portions. Working with one piece of dough at a time, dusting very lightly with more flour as necessary to prevent sticking, shape the bread into a cylinder, pinching together any breaks in the dough to seal them. Position the palms of both hands right next to one another on the top of the cylinder of dough. Roll the dough first away from your body and then back toward it as you move your hands in a half moon motion away from one another, toward the edges of the dough. The shape should be thicker in the center, tapered toward the ends. See the video for a visual of shaping the dough. Place the shaped rolls a couple inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. Cover with lightly greased plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free environment and allow to rise until risen to about 150% of its original size. Rising will take longer in a dry, cool environment, and less time in a warm, humid environment. Do not place it in a heated oven, to any temperature, to rise or you risk killing the yeast.

  • As the bread dough is nearing the end of its rise, preheat your oven to 475°F and position the top rack a bit higher than the center of the oven. When the rise is complete, uncover the baking sheet. Using a small, sharp knife or a lame held at a 45° angle to the dough, slash each roll on top 3 times at evenly spaced spots on the dough about 1/4-inch deep. Spray the tops and sides of each roll liberally with cooking oil spray.

  • Place the baking sheet on the top oven rack, toss a few ice cubes on the floor of the oven, and quickly close the oven door. Bake for 18 minutes, and rotate the baking sheet one half turn. Continue to bake for about another 5 minutes or until lightly golden brown all over and an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the roll read about 190°F. For a softer crust, wrap the hot rolls in a tea towel as they cool. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes before serving.

Love,
Nicole

Comments are closed.

  • Sara
    December 12, 2020 at 7:13 PM

    I am really struggling with this recipe. I’ve made it several times and it tastes delicious. My problem is that if I follow the proportions exactly as listed, the dough is very wet and it won’t hold its shape. I end up with a super thin, flat French bread loaf. Today, I tried again and cut back on some of the water. It was great for shaping and I was so pleased thinking I’d finally “cracked to code” so to speak. I baked the bread to an internal temp of 200 which is what I usually aim for when baking bread. And it looked and smelled great coming out of the oven. But when it had cooled and I sliced into it, the bread seemed doughy and undercooked. Any ideas? I’m willing to keep trying.

    • Nicole Hunn
      December 13, 2020 at 9:06 AM

      It sounds like you aren’t using one of my recommended flour blends, or you’re measuring by volume, not weight, Sara. The recipe works exactly as written, when made with the ingredients specified, including the additional tapioca flour and one of my recommended flour blends. Experiences like yours are common when you’re making flour substitutions.

  • Bonnie
    December 10, 2020 at 6:09 PM

    Thanks for this recipe.
    Can I use cornstarch instead of tapioca?
    Would appreciate your opinion

    • Nicole Hunn
      December 10, 2020 at 7:24 PM

      No, you definitely cannot, Bonnie. Please see the ingredients and substitutions section.

  • Amos
    December 10, 2020 at 1:25 PM

    what if I don’t have a stand mixer or a food processor?

    • Nicole Hunn
      December 10, 2020 at 3:00 PM

      I’m afraid I’ve already provided all the information I have on that, Amos!

  • Eli
    December 10, 2020 at 9:37 AM

    Hi,
    Could cup4cup flour be used in this recipe? Thanks so much!

    • Nicole Hunn
      December 10, 2020 at 2:57 PM

      Hi, Eli, Cup4Cup can be used in any of my recipes that call for an all purpose gluten free flour, but it’s not really ideal because, as I discuss on my all purpose gluten free flour blends page, it’s best for pastry. Please see that page for a full discussion.

  • Blake
    December 8, 2020 at 5:53 PM

    Hi Nicole,
    Going to give this recipe a shot. Can the bread be made a day before eating? Will it go stale?
    Thanks and wish me luck.
    -Blake

    • Nicole Hunn
      December 8, 2020 at 7:08 PM

      Bread, gluten free or not, is always best the day it’s made, Blake. I would recommend you make it fresh, or make it fully, let it cool completely, then freeze until you’re ready to use it.

  • Alyssa Ward
    December 2, 2020 at 6:16 PM

    What would be an approximate guess of rising time, just to know when I should start checking on it? This is my first time making this class of bread, so I’m not sure at all what time range to be in for the rise. I understand that it will be shorter in a warm room, longer in a cool room but I’m not sure if our spread is closer to 30-45 minutes or something like 60-90 minutes.

    • Nicole Hunn
      December 3, 2020 at 8:09 AM

      The reason I don’t give a range, Alyssa, is because you should check on it regularly the whole time it’s rising so it doesn’t overproof. If I tell you 45 minutes, it may have been done 15 minutes prior. This doesn’t take a long time, and must not be overdone, so you simply have to keep it visible.

  • Sam
    November 29, 2020 at 4:13 AM

    Hello Nicole,
    Thank you so much for all you posts and experimentation that we all can avoid. I was wondering if expandex modified tapioca starch in place of the tapioca starch in this recipe would help or hinder the dough . Still learning the differences between the two, any comment would be appreciated.
    Thanks,
    Sam

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 29, 2020 at 8:52 AM

      No no no definitely not, Sam! They are not at all interchangeable. Please use only the ingredients specified!

  • Karen
    November 15, 2020 at 6:24 AM

    I’ve been told that 1 T flax meal with 2 T water makes an egg replacement though I haven’t tried it yet.

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 15, 2020 at 8:27 AM

      So-called “flax eggs” have a really strong flavor, I’m afraid, so I don’t recommend them. And they’re not a substitute for an egg white, but rather for a whole egg.

  • Anisa
    November 13, 2020 at 5:16 PM

    Hi Nicole, my son is allergic to chickpeas and eggs. Can we use another egg replacement in this recipe?
    Anisa

    • Nicole Hunn
      November 14, 2020 at 8:01 AM

      I’m afraid I’m not optimistic about that, Anisa. Sorry!

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