I have a new gluten free bread machine and have tried 3 times, and failed to make a good bread that “rose” as expected.
I know how frustrating it can be when you spend a lot of money on gluten free flours, only to end up throwing out the final product because it didn’t turn out how you’d hoped. Here are a few tips that should help ensure you get a well-risen loaf for both traditional bread making or using a bread machine.
What Ingredients Did You Use?
Ingredients play a huge part in the success of a beautifully risen loaf. Yeast, eggs, xanthan gum, and baking powder/soda are the key ingredients that will give you the best rise.
Once you start substituting out these ingredients due to dietary restrictions be aware that aside from taste, it will also affect the texture and structure (and therefor the amount of rise) of the loaf.
Butter and milk (or their non-dairy equivalents) as opposed to oil and water will create a better loaf. Aside from better tasting, the higher protein content from the butter and milk create a stronger structure.
If using yeast, be sure to add 1 tsp of cider vinegar even if the recipe doesn’t call for it, as yeast grow better in acidic conditions.
Temperature of Ingredients
With the exception of making pastry, all ingredients when baking should be at room temperature. This includes the wet ingredients like milk and eggs, as well as the flours and starches.
Since many of the gluten free flours are stored in the freezer (those with high protein contents and natural oils like; nut/seed flours, brown rice, soy, quinoa, millet, buckwheat), ensure they sit out on the counter, along with the milk for a least an hour to warm to room temperature.
Whole eggs can be warmed up quickly by placing them in cup of very warm water for about 5 minutes. Here’s why the temperature of ingredients is important:
- Cold will slow/stunt the growth of the yeast
- When butter, eggs and liquid are cold, the batter will curdle. Instead of a smooth homogenous batter, it will separate into liquid and (hardened pieces of) fat. When heated in the oven, those fat lumps melt and if the dough lacks structure, will collapse, creating a dense texture.
- Use softened, not melted butter. When the butter is beat/whipped, air is incorporated in causing an increase in volume (and lift). If you use melted butter, you won’t be benefiting from any additional lift.
If using a bread machine, confirm in the manual that the gluten free cycle only has one rise - no 'punching down'. Gluten free breads cannot handle a 2-rise cycle.
The small amount of lift they can create without the help of gluten, will be lost once it’s punched down and allowed to rise for a second time.
Another thing you can do to ensure you loaf rises as much as possible, is to give it a quick spray with cooking oil just before you let it sit and rise. This will stop the top surface of the dough from drying out and creating a crust - which can affect how much it will rise. The dough in the picture below would have risen a bit more had it been lightly oiled (in the picture below on the right, you can see in that smooth section how it dried out a bit and stopped that area from expanding).
Salt Kills Yeast
Salt will only kill the yeast if it’s added to the initial starter mixture - when you combine warm water, sugar and yeast together and let it sit for 10 minutes to 'proof' (grow).
When salt is mixed into the dry ingredients, by the time the wet and dry ingredient are mixed together, the salt has already been well dispersed into the dry ingredients and will not affect the proofed yeast.
The salt does have an effect on the dough as it rises in a warm place before baking - it acts to slow the yeasts continued growth. Otherwise the dough could spill over the edge of your pan.
Gluten free dough’s do not have the same strength and structure (as wheat dough's) to allow the dough to rise straight up into a huge pillow. They spread more then they lift.
In comparison, here is how gluten affects wheat dough when it rises:
Stretchy and elastic-y is how you would describe the texture of wheat dough once it has risen. Since gluten free dough lack this property (although xanthan gum does help quite a bit), you need to remember to smooth out the top of the dough (with a wetted spatula or hands) before it rises in the pan. The surface of gluten free dough's will not stretch and smooth out like wheat doughs do.
If using a bread machine, combine all the dry ingredients (salt, flours, gums, leveners) in a large bowl first, whisking very well. Then add into the machine after the liquid ingredients, followed by the yeast.
For more information check out our article: The Secret to Baking Gluten Free Bread
Wheat dough photos courtesy of ElinorD, Wikipedia