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Tom Sawyer Gluten-Free Yeast Bread

Tom Sawyer Gluten-Free Yeast Bread

I’m not gonna bury the lede, friend. Tom Sawyer is not a bread flour.

You have no idea how much I wish I had better news for you. But things didn’t go well. To be fair, by this point in one of the challenges in this Gluten-Free Flour Test, I seem to be tired of the recipe. Poor Tom, going last and all.

Hold me?

Things started out as per usual. Nice dough, a bit tacky to the touch but not overly sticky. A wee bit dry, though, I thought. But maybe it was my imagination.

It wasn’t my imagination. See how it feathers and splits around the edges, even before the rise?

It did rise, though. And the rough edges were accentuated.

It browned nicely. It did. But there was no give to it once it was baked. It was … hard.

Hey, remember that nice gluten-free devil’s food cake that Tom’s made? Good times.

My recipe for gluten-free ciabatta bread is pretty fail-safe.

You can see inside that it did, in fact, rise, since the center isn’t gooey. But not well, I’m afraid. I was going to use them for dinner last night, but instead I went to Plan B.

Sorry, Tom. If it’s any consolation, I think you’re going to make some really nice gluten-free cookies.

Bread Challenge

Tom Sawyer
Score (1-10)

Cup for cup replacement claim10
Cup for cup replacement result5.0
Ease of use6.5
Raw texture6.5
Cooked texture5.0
Finished appearance6.0
Finished taste5.0
Mouth feel6.0


P.S. Strawberries are in season! We’re going to do easy-but-amazing things with them.

P.P.S. I’m working on hacking Better Batter to make it into a gluten-free bread flour. Expandex is kind of temperamental, so there’s a lot of trial and error going on. But I’m gonna do it! For the Team!

P.P.P.S. I shall include a shameless self-promotion I-wrote-a-cookbook reminder here, at the end of posts. Because reciprocity is important. I love you. And I thank you for supporting me by buying a copy.

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  • Anneke

    Hi Nicole — Still loving this trial! Wondering why you went with the ciabatta bread instead of a sandwich loaf? Looking forward to cookies — you asked for suggestions, and I would go with plain old chocolate chip, personally. It seems to me like very few people can make a really good chocolate chip cookie even with gluten, so knowing which flour makes the best one GF would be great. I will enjoy the process, whatever you choose!

    • Hi, Anneke!
      Great question. I chose ciabatta for a few reasons. First, I knew this was a very reliable, relatively forgiving recipe. I wanted to give each of the flours the best chance for success. Second, I wanted to do a shaped bread because a loaf of gluten-free bread is much easier to nail than a shaped gluten-free bread. Even a flour that can make a relatively good loaf bread might fail miserably at a shaped bread.
      Thanks for the chocolate chip cookie request. I’m still stumped by what makes cookies so challenging for you! I was thinking of doing some sort of roll-out cookie since that is more challenging. Nearly any flour can make a serviceable drop cookie. Now I’m really not sure!
      xoxo Nicole

      • Anneke

        Maybe the cookies section needs to be a two-parter . . . ;)

        • To be honest, Anneke, I’ve been a little concerned that the series was getting a bit old! I’m happy to do two cookie recipes, though, if everyone is into it. Drop cookies and roll-out cookies are quite different, indeed.
          xoxo Nicole

          • Anneke

            I’m into it, but don’t go to all the work unless you get more votes for doing two. I know how busy you are!

  • Tracey Gonneau on Facebook

    Ciaflatta. (( )). Onwards and upwards.

  • Sooo…would it make good crackers? Or pretzels? LOL!
    And chocolate chip cookies. All the way. I would give my left arm for good and easy to make chocolate chip cookies. You have no idea. A little crispy, a little chewy, the kind you dream about. The kind you sneak when the kids aren’t looking. Ahem. My cookies have left a lot to be desired. They make me sad panda. Please help, flour tester lady! ;)

    • Hey, Jen!
      I can’t imagine why you are having cookie trouble! Drop cookies are generally super easy, and most any flour can make them reasonably well. Have you tried my recipe for thick and chewy CCC’s with Better Batter?
      xoxo Nicole

      • Linda Stoddard


        Apologies for piping in here–but Nicole is on the money with her recipe–you sound like me before I tried chilling the cookie dough first, getting my oven temp recalibrated (big difference!) and removing the cookies well before they’re ‘done.’ Honest. It works. Good luck! Linda

  • That is exactly what I have found with the Tom Sawyer. Very disappointing for bread because it doesn’t rise and seems pretty heavy.

  • Have you tried any of the “make your own blend” flour recipes for any of your breads? I would like to see how one of them stands up to these manufacturer’s flours. I am going to try your Ciabatta tomorrow with my blend I use … but would love to have the Ciabatta guru test it :)

  • Michelle Dunton Olejar on Facebook

    I was pulling for Tom! It has no potato and we have a new allergy that puts Better Batter to rest for some of us :*( Well just some of us~ me, I can still enjoy :) Looking forward to the cookie test too. A cookie is important stuff. Stuff of memories. Specifically me coming home from school to the smell of fresh baked cookies. It was always a good day when mom made cookies.

  • Linda Stoddard

    You know, this sort of looks like a Mediterranean flatbread that I’ve been trying to negotiate, but haven’t quite cut it yet….hmmmm…xoxLinda
    p.s. Yes, I tried your recipe using Better Batter. I know I’m doing something wrong. Will keep at it!

    • Hey, Linda!
      Yeah, it’s not even a flatbread in a good way. It’s destined to be breadcrumbs, and I have a feeling my food processor is going to protest a bit, even. Not a good scene.
      Glad you’re keeping at it. You’ll get the hang of it. Promise! I’m teaching a class tomorrow on baking GF yeast breads. Wish you were close enough to come, Linda!
      xoxo Nicole

      • Linda Stoddard

        Hey, Nicole-girl! Sorry I have to miss the class. I’m planning on retiring early and not too far down the road and then can do fun stuff like come to your classes. What fun! xoxLinda

  • Enjoying Gluten-Free Life on Facebook

    Thank you for doing this so we don’t have to

  • Shaped breads are the trickiest thing for an all-purpose flour to negotiate. I’m still riveted. I can’t wait to see what cookies bring!

  • Sherry L

    Hi Nicole,
    If you do two cookies, can I just say that I LOVE your coconut chocolate chip cookies(have I already said this)? Also, I made your lemon sugar cookies today for the first of many, many times to come. They are AMAZINGly good!!! Maybe instead of two cookie recipes, one cookie and one cracker recipe?
    Thanks so much for doing this for us!!


    • That’s not a bad idea, Sherry. ;) So glad you are enjoying the coconut chocolate chip cookies. I love those too.
      xoxo Nicole

  • Thursa Halcomb-Nunley Short on Facebook

    appreciate the post and saving a lot of pain and bad taste tests for the rest of us.

  • Patti

    Bought your book (after losing my mind & $’s with all the different flours for gluten free cooking!), following your blog and want to say THANK YOU! I am working through the cookbook with the Better Batter. So far so good (except for the pizza dough ~ that one has not turned out at all for me). Anxious for your new book in the Fall.

    • Hi, Patti!
      Thanks so much for buying the book. I’m so glad it’s been useful to you. :)
      xoxo Nicole

  • Andrea Vascellaro Rockwood on Facebook

    Oh no! My Better Batter flour is not going to get here until Monday. My Tom’s trial came in today and I have to make challah. Yikes! I’m not sure what to do.

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