There is nothing more satisfying than baking a perfect loaf of bread. A lot of things can have an effect on the outcome, so here are a few tips and tricks to give you the best possible chance at success!
General Tips & Tricks
- Liquids should be warmed to 100°F-110°F before mixing
- For any bread recipe with yeast, add 1 tsp of cider vinegar. Yeasts grow better in acidic conditions, giving the best possible rise and will also help tenderize the dough. Or add 1/8 tsp of powdered ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to the dry ingredients. Ascorbic acid is a natural preservative so it also acts to increase the shelf-life of your loaf.
- Adding xanthan gum or guar gum will give you the best chance at baking a loaf as close to the flavor, texture, and appearance of wheat bread. Although if you cannot have gums there are substitutes available. For more information on what gums are and their importance, check out the best Substitutes for Xanthan & Guar Gum.
- Salt kills yeast, so never add it to the starter mixture (sugar and warm water) to activate the yeast. Blend it in well with the flour.
- Dry ingredients should be at room temperature. Since most gluten-free flours should be stored in the fridge/freezer due to their high protein content (so they don’t turn rancid), ensure you take them out well in advance of baking (as well as eggs).
- Whisk or sift flours before you measure them. Sitting in their bag or container, they can become compacted, and you could end up adding more flour (by volume) than the recipe calls for.
- Try and use flours with high protein content, this will give a better structure to the bread.
- Try using butter and milk (or non-dairy equivalents) as opposed to oil and water. This will add a better moistness and will produce a nice chewy crust. Egg substitutes can be used, although the bread will not rise as much.
- If you prefer to use water in the recipe, try adding carbonated water (or gluten free beer for some added flavor!). The carbon dioxide bubbles work to add volume to the loaf.
- If you aren’t allergic to eggs, try to use a recipe that calls for eggs. They are natural leveners, and will add volume and moisture.
- Fill loaf pans no more than 2/3 with dough. This will ensure the dough doesn’t over-rise and spill out over the sides, resulting in a flat top. However, if your pan is too small, make a collar from parchment paper or aluminum foil that extends up at least 3 inches (like when making a souffle). Be sure to grease the parchment/foil, once it’s in place and secured together by overlapping or using a couple of straight pins.
- Use a wetted spatula or hands to smooth the top surface out. Gluten-free dough’s do not have the elasticity to stretch and puff up to smooth itself out.
- Give a light spritz of oil over the dough and cover it lightly with plastic wrap. Otherwise, it can dry out, creating a skin can that prevents the dough from rising well which can make a tough crust.
- If you don’t have a warm spot to allow the bread to rise, use your oven. Preheat to 200°F for about 5 minutes, then turn the oven off. Wait until the heat has dissipated enough so that it’s barely warm. Then place the loaf inside and shut the door to allow it to rise.
- Good gluten-free bread is dependent upon a balance of wet to dry ingredients. Too much liquid produces a floppy, gummy, or sunken loaf. If the bread rises and bakes good, but sinks while it’s cooling, that also is an indication of too much liquid.
- Too little liquid produces a lumpy, crumbly loaf that falls apart when cut.
- The internal temperature of a fully baked loaf of gluten-free bread should be between 205°F-208°F. Use an instant-read thermometer to get an accurate temperature. Using a thermometer is the only way to be sure your loaf is fully cooked.
Using a Bread Machine
- Choose a bread machine that has a gluten-free baking button.
- This cycle only has one rise – no punching down, or second rise. If you have an older machine, check your manual to see what the shortest bread cycle is, and if you can bypass any second rise. It is hard enough to get a good rise from gluten-free bread dough, so any height you get will be lost if the dough gets punched down.
- Add ingredients according to your bread machines manual – not the recipes. Generally, its liquids in first, followed by dry ingredients (pre-mix together in a bowl to ensure everything is evenly combined), then make a well at the top of the flour mix and pour the yeast in. Add any ingredients like nuts or raisins just before the kneading cycle ends.
- After the first few minutes of the kneading cycle, open the lid and gently scrape down the sides with a rubber spatula to ensure all ingredients are getting mixed in.
- If dry ingredients are not getting thoroughly mixed into the dough, add 1 tsp of warm water. Allow the water to get mixed in, and continue adding more teaspoons of water until the dough gets smooth and starts to pull away from the sides. Remember, gluten-free bread should be more batter-like, than dough-like.
- Once the kneading cycle is over, use a wet spatula (or hands) to smooth the top of the loaf so it has a nice shaped top.
- Once the bread is cooked (and has reached an internal temperature of 200°F-208°F), allow it to sit for 10 minutes in a pan, then remove the loaf to cool completely on a wire rack (prevents steam from making bread too moist). If the loaf isn’t within that temperature range when the timer goes off, remove the metal bucket from the machine and place it (with the loaf still inside), into the oven at 350°F until the optimal temperature is reached (about 5-10 minutes).
- Slice once loaf has completely cooled.
Traditional Bread Making Instructions
Converting a bread machine bread recipe to the traditional method (by hand) and not sure how to go about it? Although your recipe may call for different ingredients, here are some general steps to help you mix up your bread batter:
- Dissolve sugar in a small dish with warm water, then sprinkle over yeast. Allow mixture to sit for 5-10 minutes (should get foamy). Set aside.
- Whisk remaining dry ingredients together well. Set aside.
- In another bowl, beat eggs on high for 1 minute. Then add in fat (oil/melted butter or margarine), yeast mixture, and any remaining liquid ingredients. Beat on low for 20 seconds.
- Add 1/3 of wet mixture into the dry mixture, mix well. Add in another 1/3 of the wet, mix well, and continue until everything has been incorporated.
Beat for another minute on high until batter is smooth. Remember that gluten-free bread batter will have a consistency similar to cake batter.
- Pour batter into a greased loaf pan, smooth surface with a wetted spatula, spritz with oil, cover loosely with plastic wrap and set the pan in a warm place to rise for 30-45 minutes (loaf should rise just about the top edge of your pan).
- Bake in a pre-heated oven for about 30-40 minutes, or until an instant-read digital thermometer reads 208° F / 97.8° C (this is the only way to ensure that your bread is completely cooked).
- Remove from oven and let sit for 10 minutes, then release the loaf from the pan and allow to cool on a wire rack. Slice bread once its completely cooled.
Flour Blend Recipes
- 1 cup brown rice flour
- 1 cup sorghum flour
- 1 cup tapioca starch/flour
- 1 cup cornstarch
- 3/4 cup millet flour
- 1/3 cup instant mashed potato flakes
- 1¼ cups sorghum flour
- ¾ cup brown rice flour
- ⅔ cup cornstarch
- ¼ cup potato starch
- 1 heaping Tbsp potato flour
- 1 1/4 cups white rice flour
- 1 cup sorghum flour
- ¾ cup garbanzo bean flour
- ¾ cup cornstarch
- 1/4 cup tapioca flour
- 2 Tbsp baking powder
- 2 tsp xanthan gum
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup sweet white sorghum flour
- 1 cup white rice flour
- ¾ cup cornstarch
- 1 ½ tsp xanthan gum
- ½ tsp salt
(click recipe titles for printable versions)
Flour & Starch Substitutions
Does your recipe call for a type of flour that you don’t have or like the taste of? Use this chart to help you substitute flours for all your baking needs. While the properties of the flour in each column may not be identical, they are similar enough to produce the same structure needed in a particular recipe.
To replicate whole wheat flours’ glutinous properties, an all-purpose flour blend in most gluten-free recipes should be made up of; 50% grain flour, 25% starch, and 25% protein flour.
If your recipe calls for amaranth flour, but you don’t like the taste of it, find amaranth in the chart below. It is located in the High Protein and High Fiber flour columns. Look at your recipe – what other flours are included? If amaranth is the only protein flour, then substitute in another protein flour from the High Protein column. If amaranth isn’t the only protein flour listed in your recipe, you can choose a flour from either of High Protein or High Fiber category – pick whatever you have cooked with before and like the taste of.
If the flour you want to substitute isn’t listed in the chart below, check your recipe and see what other flours are called for. For most recipes, since you know you want a blend of 50% grain flour, 25% starch, and 25% protein flour, identify what the other flours are in your recipe.
|FLOUR & STARCH SUBSTITUTIONS|
|Neutral (Light Tasting) Grain Flours||High Protein Flours||High Fiber Flours||Stabilizers (Adds Texture & Moisture)||Starches||Gums|
|Brown Rice||Almond Flour*||Almond Flour*||Coconut Flour*||Arrowroot Starch/Flour||Agar Powder|
|Corn Flour||Amaranth Flour||Amaranth Flour||Expandex**||Cornstarch||Carrageenan|
|Sorghum (Jowar) Flour||Bean Flours||Bean Flours||Flax Seed Meal||Potato Starch||Gelatin Powder|
|Sweet Rice Flour||Buckwheat Flour||Buckwheat Flour||Oat Bran||Sweet Potato Flour||Guar Gum|
|White Rice Flour||Chickpea (Garbanzo) Flour||Chickpea (Garbanzo) Flour||Potato Flour||Tapioca Starch/Flour||Locust Bean Gum|
|Millet Flour||Corn Flour||Rice Bran||Xanthan Gum|
|Oat Flour||Mesquite Flour|
|Quinoa Flour||Montina Flour|
|Sorghum (Jowar) Flour||Soy Flour|
|Soy Flour||Coconut Flour*|
|*Because of their texture and properties, for most recipes, nut flours are best used as more of an accent, then the main course in your baked goods. Nut flours, like almond and coconut, have extraordinary high fiber content and they absorb considerably more liquid than other flours. You can substitute in 10-25% of a nut flour for another flour(s) called for in the recipe with no significant change in the taste and texture of your baked goods, but you’ll need to add in the same amount of liquid – in addition to what’s already called for in the recipe. Having said that you can make a recipe with the majority of the flour content being nut flour, but like mentioned before you will need to balance it with a substantial amount of eggs/liquid to get a baked good that ends up with a desirable taste and texture.
**Expandex is a modified form of tapioca flour
Remember, this is just a guide to help you pick a gluten-free flour substitution, so you’ll end up with the same end result with your baking – good texture, proper rise, etc.
Weight of Gluten-Free Flours
Does a recipe you want to try have the weights of its ingredients listed instead of cups? Here are some conversions to help with the flours and starches:
|Gluten-Free Flour Weights|
|Flour/Starch||1 cup weight (grams)||Flour/Starch||1 cup weight (grams)|
|Corn flour/Masa Harina||112||Split Pea||160|
|Fava Bean||132||Sweet Rice||204|
Now that you know all the tricks to baking a great loaf of bread, try your hand at some of these bread delicious recipes: