Often when people are first diagnosed with celiac disease or a gluten intolerance, they envision a bread-free life. They build sandwiches with lettuce wraps, corn or brown rice tortillas, or they choose to go without….opting instead for a life of soup and salad. Although I adore homemade soups and salad, every now and then a girl wants something to sink her teeth into. I’m easily seduced by a delicious sandwich dripping with pesto mayo, roasted red peppers, olives and peperoncinis. I’ve been known to pass up a slice of cake for one of these.
But every good sandwich needs a good foundation.
I frequently hear discussions about the shortcomings of gluten-free bread, and most of you are probably all too familiar with what they are. So when I decided to develop a gluten-free sandwich bread recipe that would be my pantry staple, I made a list of all my favorite characteristics of a traditional, wheat-based loaf. Even though it has been many years since I’ve tasted wheat bread, I’ll never forget it.
These are the things I loved about a loaf of sandwich bread from my gluten eating days:
- open crumb
- hint of caramel flavor
- slight nutty flavor
- not dry
- substantial texture that doesn’t fall apart
These eight characteristics were a must have in my gluten-free loaf and I didn’t plan on compromising.
With this list in hand, I headed to the kitchen, and I baked. A lot. I made hundreds of loaves over the past 5 years and the successes and failures have taught me volumes about gluten-free baking. The final reward for my efforts is this bread…..and seeing my son’s face when he has a slice of it with butter and cinnamon sugar. He tells me it’s “the best” and for now, that’s all the encouragement I need.
>I know this isn’t an exciting holiday recipe, but I’ve been wanting to share this for awhile, so here you go! Next up, my favorite Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free Cinnamon Roll recipe. Stay tuned later this week.
Gluten-free sandwich bread worth eating. A bit of molasses and brown sugar give it that malty, wheat flavor you may remember.
- 1 3/4 cups (235 grams) brown rice flour
- 3/4 cup (100 grams) tapioca starch
- 1/2 cup (80 grams) potato starch
- 3 tablespoons ground flax (I use golden flax)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons xanthan gum (I use Authentic Foods' corn-free xanthan)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse sea salt
- 1 tablespoon active dry yeast (most packets are 2 1/4 teaspoons)
- 2 tablespoons light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon molasses* (the molasses and brown sugar are vital to developing a nice "wheaty," "malty" flavor)
- 3 large eggs, room temperature
- 1/4 cup olive or canola oil
- 1 cup warm milk or milk substitute
- Place the dry ingredients (brown rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, ground flax, xanthan gum, sea salt, active dry yeast and brown sugar) into the bowl of your standing mixer with a paddle attachment. Mix on low speed for 30 seconds to combine.
- Add the remaining ingredients (molasses, eggs, oil, and milk) to the bowl and starting out on slow speed, gradually increase to medium-high speed and mix for 2 1/2 minutes on medium-high. The dough will look like a very thick waffle batter and should not even come close to forming a ball. If your dough forms a ball or doesn't look like the photo, add some additional milk/milk sub or water to achieve the correct consistency. Please see the picture below for an idea of how it should look.
- Remove bowl from the mixer and scrape the dough from the paddle attachment. Using a spatula, scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl (don't be too fussy about this part) and cover the bowl with oiled plastic wrap. Allow the dough to rise for 1 hour in a sufficiently warm, 80 degree place (this is crucial, so try to make the extra effort to find a good spot. I use the top of my toaster oven set on warm. I have to put an upside down, metal cake pan on top of it, and then place the bowl of dough on that, so that the bottom doesn't get too hot).
- After one hour, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Deflate the risen dough gently with a spatula and scrape it into a well-greased loaf pan (I use pan spray). Use your spatula to level off the dough the best you can.
- Cover lightly with the oiled plastic wrap and allow to rise for 20-30 minutes more in a warm place. When the bread is ready to bake, It will be level with the top of the pan (for an 8.5 by 4.5 inch pan) or almost level with the top if you are using a (9 by 5 inch pan).
- Gently remove the plastic wrap without deflating your loaf and set it on the center rack of your preheated oven.
- Bake for 50-55 minutes. The loaf will be a deep, dark color and should register 205-210 degrees if you stick an instant read thermometer in the center. If you are using a dark colored pan, you may need to reduce the time by 5 minutes.
- Remove the bread from the oven and cool for 5-6 minutes before carefully turning the loaf out to finish cooling on a wire rack. It will easily tumble out of the pan.
- Cool completely before slicing. Once the bread is cool to the touch, you can put it in freezer bags and freeze for a month or two. I remove a slice at a time, as needed. Pop in the toaster or bring to room temperature and it is almost as good as the day it was baked. * If the slices aren't completely cool when you put them in the freezer, they will stick together. A bit of patience seems to pay off later in reducing frustration! I learn everything the hard way. :)
- *I recently reduced the molasses from 2 tablespoons to 1. Some readers were commenting that their bread was much darker than mine in the picture. I tried to think why and at some point I realized that the 2 tablespoons of molasses was incorrectly transcribed from my recipe notebook in the kitchen. I will say that the photo of my loaf was taken in very low light and when I adjusted the exposure it makes the bread look lighter than it looks in real life. If you want a more lightly-colored bread you may substitute honey for the molasses but the flavor will be a bit different.