Saturday, November 17, 2012

French Bread: The Gluten-Free Holy Grail

I have actually found and successfully tested a gluten-free french-bread recipe that turns out crusty, chewy, yeasty, delicious demi-baguettes of bread!  Mind you, they're closer to the grocery chain bakery version of a baguette than a Parisian one, but the texture is authentically chewy and not gritty or mealy. 

When stored overnight in a sealed bag they stay soft and chewy, but lose some crispness to the crust.  They stay in great condition for sandwiches and spreads.  I have not yet tried secondary recipes like stuffing, but I've made two rounds of french dip sandwiches that soak up the au jus beautifully without falling apart. 

Here is the recipe and detailed instructions from the blog Simply Gluten Free:

Easy Easy Easy French Bread

I went to Amazon and got an inexpensive baguette pan for baking, but the recipe includes instructions to make crusty dinner rolls.  I would try out the rolls first to see if you like the result before investing in new equipment.  The perforated baguette pan turns out beautiful, evenly crusty loaves.

The author is not kidding about any of the steps; make it according to directions at least the first time before you fiddle with it.  In the mixer, the dough will start off fairly tough and cling to the beaters or paddle.  As the mixer goes, it will aerate the dough and it will settle into a thinner, VERY sticky batter.  This might take as long as 5 minutes if you're not using a heavy-duty industrial mixer.  If it still looks like it did 30 seconds in, it isn't done yet. 

The batter is really sticky (like pate a choux) so use the spatula to shape it.  It will cling to your fingers like you wouldn't believe and only soap with hot water will take it off. 

Bread has been the one thing I've had the hardest time adjusting to missing with the gluten-free household.  Packaged GF bread from the store freezer is dry, tough and crumbly.  The GF bakery wants $10 per loaf.  I had entirely given up on sandwiches as a feasible food choice.  Now I have sandwiches, and potential for stuffing, bread pudding, breakfast casserole and all kinds of goodness!

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