Gluten-free Artisan Breads and Pizza – The Gluten-free Trials

I make a lot of artisan breads and pizzas.  Gluten is a big part of what makes those types of bread work correctly but I meet more and more people that are allergic and/or intolerant to gluten.  Often people express the remorse of not being able to make/buy good bread and pizzas, especially artisan-style breads.  Long story short… After pondering the idea for a couple years and a couple sub-par attempts, I had a few ideas that might work and I began the funktified gluten-free bread recipe trials.

I have been posting photos of the successful trial recipes on the Funktified Food facebook page with recipes and notes. Trial #6 was particularly successful for a number of applications, so I figured I’d do a real blog about it.  I probably should have done a bunch of little blogs but decided just to throw it all into one post.  Don’t be scared away by all of my over-explaining and extra information, it really is fairly easy and you CAN do it.

I should also note that I am not gluten-intolerant (or a doctor… or even a chef…) so if any of the more experienced GF bakers notice that I am doing anything stupid or dangerous… please let me know!  Please double-check the ingredients before you proceed, especially if you are making it for someone with severe intolerance…

The 3 BIG questions that I wanted to answer about gluten-free artisan breads:

Q. Can I make a wild yeast starter with gluten-free flours?
A. YES!  It actually worked very well.  I have made a couple gluten-free starters using  various methods and flours, my favorite method is harvesting wild yeast from local grapes.

Gluten-free Wild Yeast Starter

Q. Can I get the bread to rise and have texture similar to breads with gluten?
A. Yes.  ‘Similar’ is the key word, but I have used a couple methods that have gotten good results.

Q. Can I make the different shapes and styles of artisan breads with gluten-free breads?
A. Yes.  It takes a little different technique and it isn’t quite the same, but it is possible and that is exciting.

Normally, I may work on a recipe for months or years before I blog/video about it… but this time instead, I want to blog along the way and invite you to improve upon my recipes or learn from my mistakes. Be warned that these recipes are all in the experimental phase.  ;)

Gluten-free Bread Trial Recipe #6

= Combine in a big bowl (I like a 4 quart bowl) with lid or plastic wrap to cover:
1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour
1/2 cup Harina de Maiz (Instant Corn Masa)
1/2 cup Potato Flakes
2 TB Chia Seeds
1 TB Honey
1 tsp of a quality sea salt
1.5 cups Spring Water
= Beat with hand mixer on medium low for 2-3 minutes.

= Add and stir:
1 cup wild yeast starter*
= Let sit 8 hours (a couple hours should suffice if you don’t have the time) covered on counter at room temperature or in the fridge if you live in a hot humid climate or if you don’t want to leave it out (but you’ll have to let if warm up to room temp after you take it out.)   If you don’t have this much time or if this long fermentation scares you, try a shorter amount of time.) You could let it sit overnight and do the next step in the morning or you could do the first step in the morning and the next step when you get back from work, etc.

= After letting it sit, it should have bubbled up and become very active.  Add and stir:
1 egg, beaten
1 TB Olive Oil
1 – 1.5 cups flour**

=At this point it will resemble a thick paste and you won’t be able to stretch it or knead it.  You can use the same dough to try several shapes, applications.  I usually use a little additional gluten-free flour and corn meal or rice flour to dust dough/board while I am working.  I have tried breads in mini pans, pizzas/flatbreads on a baking stone, cast iron pans, etc.  I have tried temperatures from 350 to 450.  For bigger loaves, a lower temperature is better to allow the bread to cook through without burning the outside and for pizzas and flatbreads, a higher temperature will often yield more color and crisper crust on the bottom.  It is all personal preference really, keep a thermometer handy, when your bread hits about 200-210, it is done (Try not to poke it too often/early, you want to keep as much of the gases and steam inside.)  All of my gluten-free breads seem to take twice as long to bake as their gluten-counterparts.

IMPORTANT:  In gluten breads, the gluten forms a bond on the outside of the dough that holds in the gases/bubbles when it rises… so you HAVE to ‘seal’ the outside of the dough with oil, eggwash or maybe even water.  Smooth out all the top and edges, be sure that there are no cracks in the dough.  I think I like using a simple eggwash (egg+a little water,beaten well) best and brushing it on, oil worked well too but using too much oil will resulted in kind of a ‘fried dough’ texture.  After it is sealed, let it rise (a warm place will make it rise faster), 30-60 minutes should do the trick.

Overall advice:
- My advice is to top your breads/pizzas with flavorful ingredients… because these breads will never taste like wheat, having the dominant flavors be your toppings yields better results.
- I like the Gluten-free breads best when they are grilled/toasted.. they usually actually toast very well.

(*If you don’t have a wild yeast starter, you should be able to substitute a mix of about 2/3cup flour + 1/3-1/2cup water + 1. tsp yeast . It should be about the consistency of pancake batter.  With wheat flour the ratio is usually 2:1 Flour to Water but the ratio can vary with gluten-free flours and is often more like 3:2.)

(**The amount of hydration you prefer has trade-offs similar to gluten doughs in some ways.  If you have a wetter dough, you may get bigger bubbles that form in the bread while it rises and bakes allowing for more pronounced texture and rise BUT a wetter dough has less stability to hold shape and vice-versa.  There isn’t a ‘right’ answer, it is whichever you prefer to work with/eat.)

A few how-tos on different styles of bread:
Gluten-free Loaves: I thought this dough worked well for mini-loaves (It should make 3-4, depending on how high you fill the pan.  I also made “baguette” style loaves by making a little mold out of non-stick foil and sitting on my baguette tray.  You can sprinkle with seeds/etc if you prefer right after you seal the dough, while it is still wet to allow the seeds to stick.

Gluten-free "Baguette"

Gluten-free Focaccia: The focaccia with this recipe was perhaps my favorite gluten-free bread of the trials.  I made one in a little 6inch cast iron skillet and one in a small 6-inch dish. Lightly grease the dishes, brush with egg wash and seal the top. You can put garlic and herbs right in the dough and/or on top.  I made one topped with herb butter, fresh garlic, finished with extra virgin olive oil and course sea salt.  I also tried one topped with pizza sauce.  You can use two fingers to push down the dough to make the pattern usually found in focaccia as long as you make sure that the seal on the top of the dough isn’t broken. These took 45+minutes plus at 375.

Gluten-free Focaccia

Gluten-free Pizzas: This dough makes a decent pizza (although I thought recipe trials #2 made better pizzas.)  Form into pizza shape on a piece of non-stick foil, a little corn meal on the bottom of the pizza works well. Brush with egg wash and pre-bake 3 minutes on preheated stone at 425. (A preheated cast iron pan or even a pre-heated upside down cookie sheet should suffice if you don’t have a stone.) Remove the dough once it has set (3minutes did the trick for me) and add toppings and bake for an additional 8-12 minutes or until cheese is browned.

Gluten-free Pizza Recipe Trial #1 HERE

Gluten-free Pizza Recipe Trial #2 HERE

Gluten-free Flatbreads: Worked pretty well with trial number #6, although I am guessing that recipe #2 would work even better.  The technique is similar to pizzas. The important think is to make sure that the edges of the dough are sealed!  I like egg wash much better for this style breads, I think sealing with oil for this style results in more of a fried crispiness.

Gluten-free Bagels:  Bagels may be a bit of a stretch but I figured I should try and ‘jump the shark’ while I am trying experiments.  I shaped the bagels, dropped in boiling water (with a little honey and touch of baking soda) for about a minute until they float.  Place on baking sheet with corn meal, brush with egg wash, top with toppings.  It ‘worked’ and is passable if you haven’t had a real bagel in a while. ha.  It might be fun to try if you are craving a homemade bagel.

Gluten-free Raisin Bread: I took a section of this dough and tried a couple little raisin bread loaves.  I added a little cinnamon, raisins, a touch of raw honey and then followed the directions for the gluten-free loaves above. In theory, you should be able to add which ever fruits and nuts you like to the bread.

I continue to post more recipes/photos/tips weekly at: