The Science Behind Gluten-Free Bread: 6 Secrets to Getting it Right
Vegan crossfitter? Gluten-free crossfitter? Yup. Whether I'm using a pumice stone to rip through those calluses or trying to stay true to my nutrition, people are always shocked when I pull out my gluten-free bread.
I just can't help but have bread every once in a while.
I stick to my macro plan and make sure I set out on a weekly prep to keep my workouts in check. Those rare cheat meals almost always include a little homemade bread. But gluten-free bread is a little different than normal bread, and most recipes don't account for these differences.
A few secrets to getting your bread just right are:
1. Don't Trust Non Gluten-free Recipes
If you're following a normal recipe for making bread, it's often not as simple as swapping the same flour amounts to make gluten-free bread. You'll need to ditch those family recipes and start to come up with your own replacements.
The cup-for-cup myth is just that – a myth.
Start with gluten-free recipes and you'll have a much better time making bread. There are plenty of great resources online that have gluten-free recipes with the right ingredient proportions listed.
2. Stick to Superfine Flour
Unless you want your bread to feel like sandpaper on your tongue, you'll want to make sure that you use superfine flour. Opt for gluten-free, superfine flour and your bread will be much better than the gritty flours most cooks use when baking gluten-free.
There are a lot of companies offering gluten-free rice flour that's superfine in consistency.
If you like your bread a little more grainy and don't mind a tougher bread, then any flour that's gluten-free will work.
Note: If you plan to use bean flour, prepare for a bean taste, too.
3. Stop Ignoring Ingredient Temperatures
I used to ignore ingredient temperature recommendations, and I hated baking because my dishes never came out right. The reason that recipes say things like "room temperature" are because of ingredient absorption.
Butter, for example, will not absorb properly into dry ingredients when cold.
Cold ingredients are great for pastries or any item with a flaky crust. When you're making bread, you want to make sure that your ingredients are at room temperature to stop the flaking and expansion from occurring.
So, the next time a recipe says "room temperature," you'll know that there's a good reason for your ingredients to be at the right temperature.
4. Stick to Grams
A recipe may call for 1 tablespoon of salt (as an example), but how much salt is this really? Are you going to use a heaping tablespoon? What happens if you use too little? If you want to have precision in your cooking, you need to have a digital scale in your kitchen.
Digital scales will depict the weight of the tablespoon in grams.
A general rule of thumb is:
- 1 tbsp = 21 grams
So, if your recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of coconut, you can convert to grams and make sure your tablespoon is really a tablespoon. An ounce of liquid is just an ounce on a scale, so there won't be any confusing conversions that you need to go through.
5. Invest in an Oven Thermometer
This sounds really odd, but your oven may be sabotaging your bread. When you set your oven's temperature to 350F, it may be off by 20, 30, 40 or even 50 degrees. Yes, seriously.
Ovens may not be properly calibrated, and this is a major issue when baking.
The simple way to overcome this issue is to buy an oven thermometer. You'll be able to keep a close eye on your oven's temperature and make sure that it's properly calibrated using your thermometer. The reason your bread may be too tough or may be burning may not be your fault after all.
6. Trial and Error Are Essential
If you're doing everything right and your bread doesn’t come out right, choose another recipe. Something as simple as over-kneading your dough can cause irregularities in your baking. Gluten proteins are essential when making bread, and since they're removed, the dough will lose some strength, elasticity and rise.
You're going to have to account for all of these things when using your bread maker.
Beginners often think they need to be super strict and remove bread, carbs and everything that tastes good from their diet. But you can enjoy some of the foods you love with some modifications along the way.
It's all about balance both in your workout and in bread making.
About the author: Joe Hughes, known by most as the Village Baker, is an expert in homestyle cooking techniques, with a primary interest in baking. He runs the very popular website, https://www.village-bakery.com, which provides the latest homestyle cooking news, techniques, tricks, and recipes. He can be reached at Joe@Village-Bakery.com.