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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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  • Andrea Vascellaro Rockwood on Facebook
    April 26, 2012 at 12:02 AM

    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.

  • Patti
    April 25, 2012 at 9:43 PM

    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.

    • April 25, 2012 at 10:46 PM

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

  • Thursa Halcomb-Nunley Short on Facebook
    April 25, 2012 at 7:54 PM

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

  • Sherry L
    April 25, 2012 at 4:22 PM

    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!!


    • April 25, 2012 at 10:46 PM

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

  • April 25, 2012 at 2:42 PM

    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!

  • Enjoying Gluten-Free Life on Facebook
    April 25, 2012 at 12:13 PM

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

  • Linda Stoddard
    April 25, 2012 at 11:44 AM

    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!

    • April 25, 2012 at 11:53 AM

      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
      April 25, 2012 at 1:15 PM

      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

  • Michelle Dunton Olejar on Facebook
    April 25, 2012 at 10:36 AM

    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.

  • April 25, 2012 at 10:35 AM

    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 :)

  • April 25, 2012 at 9:56 AM

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

  • April 25, 2012 at 9:49 AM

    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! ;)

    • April 25, 2012 at 11:51 AM

      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
      April 25, 2012 at 1:20 PM


      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

  • Tracey Gonneau on Facebook
    April 25, 2012 at 9:42 AM

    Ciaflatta. (( )). Onwards and upwards.

  • Anneke
    April 25, 2012 at 9:34 AM

    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!

    • April 25, 2012 at 11:48 AM

      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
      April 25, 2012 at 12:03 PM

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

    • April 25, 2012 at 12:11 PM

      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
      April 26, 2012 at 11:57 AM

      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!

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