French Baguettes, Gluten-Free

by Jeanne on May 1, 2009

Happy May Day! It’s wonderful in Seattle today–sunny, warm (70s), a slight breeze. It’s actually much too nice to be in the kitchen, but I just wanted to give you the recipe for French bread I’ve been working on. I’ve been baking loaves upon loaves of this, tweeking the recipe, trying to make it the best tasting/best texture I can.

I started with other recipes that I found online for gluten-free French bread. I looked through Bette Hagman’s books.  I looked at various recipes posted online.  I also read up on classic French bread in the Baking With Julia book by Dorie Greenspan and Julia Child. And, I referred to Shirley O. Corriher’s book Cookwise for insights into the science of French bread (I know she has a new book, Bakewise, which I can’t wait to read).

I discovered that one of the keys to a crispy crust is a humid oven. I used a pan of water placed on the oven floor and spritzed the oven with water to create humidity during baking.

So, here it is! Let me know what you think.

Gluten-Free French Bread
NOTE: I modified this on 8/12/09–I had forgotten to include the egg whites. Blush…

Yield: 2 baguettes

Special tools needed:
-heavy duty stand mixer (or a hand mixer will work in a pinch);
-French bread pan (this really is helpful–keeps the loaves in the proper shape)

-extra pan for water in the oven (I use an 8″x8″ pan)
-water spritzer bottle

Ingredients
1 cup/138 g sorghum flour
1 cup/136 g brown rice flour
1 cup/120 g tapioca flour
2 tsp. xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 TBL sugar
2 TBL active dry yeast (I use Red Star)
1 cup/235 ml warm water (warm but not hot to touch–about 110 degrees F/43 degrees C)
1 TBL olive oil
1 tsp. vinegar (I use apple cider vinegar)
3 egg whites from extra large eggs (or 1 whole egg and 2 eggwhites for a more rich baguette)

– in mixer place flours, xanthan gum, and salt. Mix to combine.
– in a small bowl, add the water and then dissolve sugar and then add and dissolve yeast–wait a few minutes for the yeast to foam (this means that it’s working and starts the rising process)
-add olive oil, cider vinegar, and egg whites to the dry ingredients. Add yeast mixture to dry ingredients
-mix slowly to combine
-turn mixer to high and mix for 3 minutes or so
-brush pan with olive oil (yes, the oil will kind of fall through the holes: I set the pan on a baking sheet)
-spoon dough onto the French bread pan in two equal amounts
-shape dough into baguette oblongs
-slash top of each loaf with 3 slashes with a sharp knife or razor blade

-turn on oven to 400 degrees F/204 degrees C
-place pan with dough on top of stove (I do this so they’re in a warm environment)
-let rise for about 30 mins or so (until they are double-ish in bulk)

-while you’re waiting for the dough to rise, boil a pan’s worth of water
-once dough has risen for 30 mins, place water in an oven-proof pan

-place pan of water on the floor of your oven
-spray oven with a spritz or two of water from spray bottle
-wait for another 5 minutes to let the oven get humid (necessary for a crisp crust)
-lightly brush tops of loaves with olive oil (to make them get brown and crispy)
-place bread pan (without the baking sheet) in the oven

-bake for 30 minutes–until brown

-remove from oven and cool for a few minutes, then turn out onto a rack to cool completely

This bread is best eaten hot or warm–as soon as possible after baking. It’s got a nice crispy crust and my family found it to be delicious! I like it best when I tear off pieces with my hand rather than cutting it with a knife.

Like most gluten-free yeasted items, the baguettes are best the day they are made.  Store whole loaf on counter in the open and uncovered (covering softens crust). If you have a bread box, that would be fine. Cover any partially eaten loaves by placing a piece of aluminum foil at open end (not over the whole loaf). Refresh by placing in a 350 degree oven for a few minutes, or by slicing and toasting.

May be frozen.  Defrost by placing in the refrigerator for 24 hours.

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