Introduction: Gluten-free Bread From Scratch

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Here are all the ingredients you'll need to make a beautiful loaf of bread, without any gluten! 

1 c warm water
2 T maple syrup or sugar
1 T active dry yeast

1/2 c brown rice flour
1/2 c sweet white rice flour
2 c tapioca flour
1 t baking soda
2 t baking powder
1 t salt
3/4 t xanthan gum
2 T caraway seeds

2 egg whites
1 T apple cider vinegar

I buy my gluten free flours from Bob's Red Mill. They are certified gluten free, and there will be no chance for cross-contamination like you might find in flours from bulk bins. 

Step 1: Proofing Your Yeast

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1 c warm water
2 T maple syrup or sugar
1 T active dry yeast

Like any normal bread, gluten-free bread required activated yeast.

To check that your yeast is good and to activate it, add 2 T of your sweetener to 1 cup of warm (not hot) water. When the sugar dissolves, add 1 T yeast and stir. Leave the bowl to rest in a warm place (like the top of your stove) for 10-15 minutes, or until foamy.

If your yeast mixture does foam, the yeast is ready to go! If it does not, try another batch of yeast. I recommend storing your yeast in the refrigerator until ready to use. If you plan on baking lots of bread, buy your yeast in bulk! The individual packages of yeast are much more expensive per unit. 

Step 2: Mixing Your Dry Ingredients

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1/2 c brown rice flour
1/2 c sweet white rice flour
2 c tapioca flour
1 t baking soda
2 t baking powder
1 t salt
3/4 t xanthan gum
2 T caraway seeds

Measure out your dry ingredients into a large mixing bowl. (This is easy, but it is very important that the flours are well-mixed, otherwise your bread might have bits with segregated flour-types, chunks of starches or salt, or unincorporated baking powder...GROSS!)

Be careful when measuring the tapioca starch, it's messy!

Some options:
-tapioca flour can be replaced with corn starch or potato starch.
-caraway seeds can be removed entirely, or replaced with your favorite spices or seeds.

Step 3: Separating Eggs

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2 egg whites

To separate your eggs (meaning take the white and leave the yolk), grab yourself 2 bowls. Crack the egg carefully, and separate the 2 pieces of shell with the crack parallel to the table surface. When you pull off the top piece, the white (albumin) will start to fall over the edge of the piece of shell in your hand, leaving the yolk in the egg cup. Then transfer the yolk carefully into the empty egg cup, letting more of the white spill into the bowl. Repeat until there is no more white in attached to the yolk.

Be careful not to pierce the yolk, or it will not stay in tact and away from your bowl of egg whites.

For this recipe, you may discard your egg yolks, but if you are planning on making challah bread, custard, lemon curd, or any number of yolky dishes, save them!

Step 4: Mixing Your Wet Ingredients

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1 T apple cider vinegar

Add your apple cider vinegar to the egg whites, and beat with a whisk until your arm is tired. Theoretically, you have an electric egg beater or a stand mixer, but just your good ol' forearm muscle will do the trick. Beat until foamy (or if you have the wherewithal, until you get stiff peaks in your mixture. In that case, if you feel like you can do all the beating, add the vinegar later, and beat just the whites.)

When the mix is foamy, and the yeast mix is also foamy, add the two and stir.

Step 5: Putting It All Together

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When your dry ingredients and wet ingredients are ready, add the wet mix to the dry mix and stir quickly. There isn't really a risk of overcombining because it's bread, and bread gets kneaded. But since there is no gluten, you don't need to knead it at all!


Step 6: And We Wait

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In a pan of your choosing, add some olive oil or butter all around the bottom and sides. I like to use a wider flatter pan because the gluten free bread is heavy and won't rise very much.

Add your dough to the oiled pan and pat it flat.

Dust with more tapioca flour and cut some lines lightly into the top. This is mainly for aesthetics, but it helps to see when the dough has risen.

Wrap your dough and pan in a clean towel and put it in a warm place, like the oven with the pilot light going, for 2+ hours.

Step 7: Baking!

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Remove your bread from the oven after it has risen for at least 2 hours. You'll see air bubbles and tears in the cuts you made where the bread expanded.

Preheat your oven to 425.

You can brush the top of your bread with oil (or water with your leftover egg yolks) so it gets a better brown.

When the oven is hot, put in your loaf and toss some cold water onto the over floor to steam the bread. I think this improves the quality of the crust, but mostly, it's just really fun. If your oven's pilot light is below the oven floor, just leave a ceramic bowl of water in the oven to steam. Otherwise you risk putting out the pilot light.

Let the bread cook about 35 minutes, or until the bottom sounds hollow when you tap it. 


Step 8: And Finally...

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Your bread is ready! 

I've found that it tastes great dipped in olive oil with balsamic vinegar. Of course, it will always taste better with good company.

Happy baking.

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