For the first time ever I’m going to cook dinner for someone who is gluten intolerant. (Luckily her version of the intolerance allows me to use my regular kitchen equipment as long as it has been cleaned.) I’m not going to take the easy way out of not serving anything that is usually prepared with gluten, and as I always serve freshly baked bread with an Italian dinner, the first thing to try was to bake gluten free bread. Obviously I want to bake it from scratch using ingredients that have not been processed other than milling and grinding them.
Now gluten is what gives bread dough its structure and holds it together, so baking gluten free bread is not as easy as replacing wheat flour with a different type of gluten free flour such as rice flour or buckwheat flour. Before I started on this adventure I had no idea about which flours are gluten free and which are not — I even thought that spelt was gluten free (which it isn’t!). A few hours of googling taught me a few things about gluten free bread:
- A good mix for gluten free bread is 40% wholegrain flour and 60% white flour (starch);
- The dough should be wetter than bread dough with gluten (it is more like a batter), doesn’t need to be be kneaded (which is what develops the gluten in regular bread dough) and only needs a single proofing;
- Most recipes and instant gluten free bread mixes contain xantham gum — which I didn’t want to use;
- The combination of psyllium husk and eggs is a good replacement for xantham gum (with only psyllium the batter will rise, but then collapse when it’s baked).
I decided to use quinoa flour and millet flour for the wholegrain flour component, and white rice flour for the starch component. Other choices for gluten free wholegrain flour include brown rice flour, buckwheat flour, corn flour, mesquite flour, sorghum flour, and teff flour. Other choices for the white flour/starch include arrowroot flour, cornstarch, potato flour, potato starch, sweet rice flour, and tapioca flour. The flavor and texture of the bread will be different when you use different flours, and as this is my first ever gluten free bread I can only testify that my mix of quinoa, millet and white rice turned out with a good flavor, texture, and crust. It is fine, as long as you don’t expect it to taste like bread with gluten (because it won’t).
For my first ever gluten free bread I thought this turned out rather well and it was very easy to make and only took about 2 hours. For this type of recipe you really need scales and weigh by grams. Here’s what I did.
200 grams white rice flour
100 grams millet flour
35 grams quinoa flour
15 grams psyllium husk
300 grams water
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil + more for greasing the pan
7 grams instant active dry yeast (this is the amount used for 500 grams of flour with gluten)
Combine all the dry ingredients (flours, psyllium husk, salt, sugar, and yeast) in the bowl of the stand mixer and mix with a paddle attachment on low speed (you could also just mix this by hand, as this is an easy dough). The low speed is to prevent to spray the flour all over your kitchen.
Making a hamburger from scratch (grinding the beef, baking the buns, making the ketchup), is a lot of work but also a lot of fun and worth the trouble.