If you’re eating gluten-free (wheat free) your bread machine can open up a world of possibilities. Here’s how to make the most of gluten-free baking.
Gluten-free baking is becoming more and more popular in many countries around the world. This is largely due to concerns about a condition known as Celiac disease which is essentially an allergic, intolerance for the gluten present in many flours. These flours include wheat flours, rye flours, bread flours and all-purpose flour in addition to many other grains like barley, spelt and triticale -a cross between wheat and rye.
Gluten-free baking involves using alternative flours made from foods that do not contain gluten. This includes rice flours, millet flour, masa harina (a corn flour), chickpea flour, buckwheat flour, soy flour, and others.
While the look, texture and taste of gluten-free baked goods is very similar to baked goods made with gluten, the actual preparation and baking needs to be both precise and carefully managed in terms of timing and temperature. This applies to not only bread loaves baked in your bread machine, but gluten -free cookie dough that you can make in your bread machine and would finish in the oven.
There are also factors beyond your control that could affect the outcome so be patient with your results. Once you find a recipe that works, stick with it and learn from any mistakes.
Here are some of the critical success factors for effective gluten free baking:
- Gluten-free flour diversity. A bread based on white rice flour and potato starch could be problematic. Try adding other flours in the total cup proportions identified in a gluten-free recipe. If the total is 2 cups you could combine 4 – 1/2 cups of sorghum flour, brown rice flour, potato flour and millet flour. The diversity of flours helps with both the rise and the texture.
- Yes, you can cheat and buy a prepared gluten-free flour mix. These are designed for both traditional baking and can also be used in bread machines. You don’t have to make this difficult. Do what’s easiest and right for you.
- Warm all of your liquid ingredients before adding them to the pan. You want your yeast to be as robust as possible. Warm the water or milk to 80 degrees F. and warm eggs in a bowl of warm water before cracking them into the pan. Room temperature is the goal. The same goes for butter if the recipe calls for it.
- Make sure you follow the ingredient sequence indicated by your manufacturer. Some indicate that liquids should be added first and others indicate that dry ingredients should be added first. Success with gluten-free is a delicate balance of chemistry and physics.
- Measure precisely. That means level teaspoons and tablespoons and level cups and 1/2 cups. Now is not the time to wing it. Follow the recipes precisely.
- Tolerate failure. Many factors can affect baking especially with gluten-free flours, Altitude, humidity, types of gluten-free flours or slight variations in proportions can cause the recipe to fail. If your bread or cookies sag in the middle, try adding a bit less liquid next time. If it didn’t rise, add a bit more yeast or manually program a second rise next time.
- Remove your gluten-free bread loaf the minute it is finished. Unlike most breads that can tolerate sitting in the bread machine after the baking is complete, many gluten-free loaves are very moist and become soggy if allowed to sit and steam in the machine. You could also finish a loaf in the oven at 350 F. for an extra 10 minutes if you want to give it a crispy, final finish or if it feels or appears soggy. Too much liquid is the usual culprit if the bread is wet or soggy.
- Don’t disturb the dough in the machine if you’re baking bread. Gluten-free bread does not like to be handled or disturbed. You can of course remove cookie dough or pizza dough because you will be finishing them in the oven, but once the ingredients are in the bread machine for a loaf of bread -hands off.
Remember to set your bread machine to the gluten-free cycle and to indicate the correct loaf size. I usually do a medium crust setting. You can try a dark setting if you’re worried about too much moisture in the dough. If your machine does not have a gluten-free setting, try the rapid-rise cycle with one-rise. Check the loaf after the rise cycle and if need be -manually set for a second rise.
This may seem like a lot to keep track of, but the intent is to help you understand the concept of gluten-free baking so you can make good decisions as you learn, adjust and develop your best recipes. Speaking of recipes, here are some good starting-point recipes for a gluten-free bread, chocolate chip cookie, and pizza dough. Remember that only the bread loaf will actually bake to finish in your bread machine. The other dough’s need to be finished in the oven as cookies or pizza.
Gluten-Free White Bread Recipe:
- 3 eggs.
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar.
- 1/4 cup olive oil.
- 1/4 cup honey.
- 1 1/2 cups buttermilk, at room temperature.
- 1 teaspoon salt.
- 1 tablespoon xanthan gum.
- 1/3 cup cornstarch.
- 1/2 cup potato starch.
- 1/2 cup soy flour.
- 2 cups white rice flour.
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeastץ.
- Place ingredients in the pan of the bread machine in the order indicated or recommended by the manufacturer. Select the “gluten-free” cycle. Five minutes into the cycle, check the consistency of the dough. Add additional rice flour or liquid if necessary.
- When bread is finished remove and let finish on a baking rack or plate.
Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe:
This can be just as good as any classic recipe.
Preheat oven to 375° F / 190° C
- 1 1/8 cup light buckwheat flour (see note).
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda.
- 1/2 teaspoon salt.
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter.
- 3/4 cup brown sugar.
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (for chocolate mint chip cookies, use 1 teaspoon peppermint extract).
- 1 large egg.
- 1 cup (6 ounces) gluten-free chocolate chips.
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional).
- Add to bread machine and use “cookie dough” setting.
- Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or lightly oil.
- For 2 dozen small cookies use a tablespoon and dollop onto baking sheet.
- Bake in preheated oven for 9-11 minutes or until cookies are crisp on edges and slightly soft in the middle. Cool on baking sheet and then transfer to a plate or cookie screen to finish.
Gluten-Free Pizza Dough Recipe:
- 1 cup buttermilk or rice milk.
- 4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar and rested for 15 minutes.
- 1/4 cup water, at room temperature.
- 1 whole large egg 3 large egg whites, at room temperature.
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil.
- 1 cup brown rice flour.
- 1 cup white rice flour.
- 1 1/2 cups potato starch.
- 1/2 cup corn starch.
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt.
- 1 Tablespoon sugar.
- 1 Tablespoon xanthan gum.
- 1 Tablespoon of yeast
Add to the machine in the order indicated or as indicated by your manufacturer in their cookbook, and select “pizza dough” setting, or “dough” setting. Remove when done and divide and roll out to create a pizza round to the shape you like and top with your favorite toppings. Finish in the oven at 375 F. until crust is lightly browned. This will depend on the size or diameter of your pizza.
The List Goes on…
The goal of this article was to acquaint you with some of the concepts and dynamics of gluten-free baking. As you continue to explore and try new recipes you’ll master some of the nuances and subtle precision this approach to baking can require. You can also buy many pre-made flour mixes. You should get good results but remember, be patient and learn as you go.