It is almost not fair to participate in this particular challenge. Baking bread gluten free is an entirely different ball game, and no matter how hard we try, we will never be able to exactly duplicate whole wheat bread. You can come pretty close, with a lot of tweaking. It is so easy baking regular gluten rich bread by comparison. We remember – at one point – in what now seems like a long time ago, we baked wheat/spelt bread regularly and loved it. It just didn’t love us back. We are not complaining, however, finding out what you are highly allergic to is definitely a good thing.
Over the past several years, we’ve had many failures and also great successes, in the process of converting our many family recipes into gluten free ones. It is in that spirit, that we decided to give today’s recipe a try. Perhaps, it will encourage others not to give up, and realize that there are often many steps involved in the perfection of a recipe.
Obviously, there is no way we could use any type of wheat or other gluten flour. Hence, the term “mock” above. Since gluten creates the unique ability allowing bread dough to rise and expand, creating that much sought after elastic and malleable quality, and allowing for kneading and multiple risings, we needed to add several ingredients that somewhat mimic what gluten provides in a regular dough.
Since this particular recipe differs somewhat from our own gluten free bread recipes, we chose to cut the recipe in half, in order to not waste any ingredients, should the recipe turn out to be a flop. To create more elasticity in the dough, we took the somewhat unusual step of experimenting with the addition of a small sourdough culture. Keep in mind, that this particular culture had only been allowed to ferment for roughly 24 hours, and consisted of only one cup each rice flour and water. Naturally, since malt extract contains gluten, we chose to substitute it for molasses. We chose a combination of whole brown rice flour, tapioca flour and sweet rice flour, along with rice bran to give the bread a little extra substance that whole wheat would otherwise provide. This type of dough requires the addition of two eggs to help bind the ingredients.
For those of you that have never before baked bread gluten free, you can completely eliminate any thoughts of handling the dough, kneading the dough or attempting multiple risings. Gluten free bread dough looks and acts more like cake batter. You blend the ingredients with a mixer and then pour the batter into the loaf pan, rather than knead and shape it. It should, however, not be too liquid, but nevertheless pourable. The loaf pan should be filled no more than half full, to allow for the dough to double in height.
Our gluten free bread took exactly 50 minutes to rise, the dough reaching just above the top of the loaf pan. We then baked it for 35 minutes at 375°F, removed it from the pan, and placed it back in the oven for an additional 10 minutes. Since we were only able to make this bread later in the day, we could only let it cool for about 40 minutes, before cutting and photographing it. Generally, we allow for a much longer cooling period, especially with gluten free bread.
The bread was still a little too warm and not quite ready to be cut, causing to crumble just slightly. The bread was chewy and flavorful, with just a slight hint of molasses, giving it a unique flavor. Overall, we are happy with the recipe as a first attempt to a gluten free conversion, but strongly feel it needs additional tweaking down the line.
If you want to see the original recipe in Baking with Julia, check out the exceptional contributions from this week’s hosts, Teresa of The Family that Bakes Together, and Michele of Veggie Num Nums. Also do check out the many fantastic submissions by the rest of the TWD participants on TWD’s site.