Friday, September 28, 2012

French Bread, Oh Sweet, Gluten-Free, Vegan French Bread


When I said goodbye to gluten about two years ago, I missed French bread more than anything. I tried some disappointing variations made with egg whites and miscellaneous flours, but they had all of the sex appeal of a sponge. Plus, I really hate the idea that I have to apologize for a gluten-free food when entertaining guests.

Last week, my best friend Marcella gave me the book Gluten-Free Baking Classics by Annalise Roberts for my birthday. When I found her recipe for French-Italian bread and discovered that it's completely vegan, I nearly wet myself. Who ever heard of a gluten-free vegan bread recipe?

Last Sunday evening, we enjoyed the first fruits of the cookbook. A-MA-ZING! A tender, chewy interior ensconced in a perfectly crispy crust made this the best French bread I have ever made. Period. I suppose French bread baked in a professional, artisan bakery would surpass this, but for home baking, it was as good as it gets.

As far as the flours are concerned, I use Arrowhead Mills for the millet flour and Bob's Red Mill for the other flours, starches and guar gum. Also, the original recipe calls for xanthan gum, but it's so expensive, I use guar gum to great effect.

Viva la resistance!

makes one loaf

2/3 cup millet flour
1/3 cup sorghum flour
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/3 cup potato starch
1/3 cup tapioca flour (starch)
1 1/4 teaspoons guar gum
1 teaspoon salt
4 teaspoons granulated sugar
1 packet active dry yeast (not quick-rise)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 cup water, heated to 110 degrees Fahrenheit

Grease a long French bread loaf pan -- about 2 1/2 inches wide and 14 inches long -- with olive oil and dust lightly with millet flour.

Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a large bowl. Quickly dump in the water and oil and mix with an electric mixer until just combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Beat for three minutes on high speed.

Scrape the mixture into the prepared pan. Cover the pan gently with a dry towel and set in a warm place to rise for 40-50 minutes, or until doubled in size.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees while the bread is rising. Lightly oil the top of the dough before placing it onto the center rack of the oven and baking for about 50 minutes. When it is done, it will have an internal temperature of at least 205 degrees and sound hollow when tapped. Bake for another 10 minutes if it is underdone.

Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes before removing from the pan and slicing.

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