It’s a little early for New Year’s resolutions but here is one of mine: I want to learn to bake! Aaack! I get nervous just thinking about it – the measuring, the need to be precise, the pounds of flour making my clothes look like I was caught in an avalanche and the science experiments that gluten-free baking entails.
I’ve had some baking successes before: muffins, Hamantaschen and my delicious I-still-can’t-believe-it-came-out-right gluten-free Ciabatta bread. Now I’m adding my Ooh La La French Bread to the list. I’m telling ya, these recipes are collector’s items!
When you bake gluten-free, you have two options: buy an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend or come up with your own. I preferred to make my own because most blends use refined flours. When you make a blend it needs to have more than one type of flour plus a starch or two. It also needs xanthan gum to replace the gluten.
The blend I use most often is:
1 1/4 cup chickpea flour
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup tapioca starch
1 cup potato starch
These amounts represent the ratios of the flours and starches. If you bake a lot, and if this blend tastes good to you, it would be easier to just make a big batch of this blend and then measure out what you need for whatever you’re making. I don’t add the xantan gum to my blend because I would rather add it as needed depending on the recipe I’m attempting.
If you don’t want to be bothered experimenting and making your own blends, I would recommend one mix: Jennifer’s Way All-Purpose Flour. It is high-protein, doesn’t contain any refined ingredients and so far, everything I’ve made with it comes out delicious. It also contains the xanthan gum which means you save a lot of money not buying all the individual ingredients.
On to the French Bread: you could divide this dough up in two and make long baguettes. If you’re a serious baker, maybe you already have the loaf pans to shape them perfectly. Since I’m still in the grasshopper stage, I was more concerned with the taste and texture than the shape. I made a large loaf of bread and it was (surprisingly, to me) delicious.
The bread was crispy on the outside, light and just the right amount of chewy on the inside. You can use whatever herbs you like in your bread. Since it’s French Bread, I used herbs de Provence. This is the perfect bread for bruschetta, heroes or dunking into soups. Vegan and gluten-free, my Ooh La La French Bread will definitely impress people. Enjoy!
Mix the yeast into a cup of the warm water. Add the agave and let sit for 10 minutes while the yeast activates.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the flour, xanthan gum, salt, sugar and herbs. Mix well. Add the oil and the yeast/water mixture to the dry ingredients. Add the remaining 1/2 cup of warm water. Mix well. The dough will be quite sticky.
Grease a loaf pan or a baking sheet with cooking spray and dust with some flour. Spoon the dough into the pan or onto the baking sheet. Spread it into the shape of a loaf (if you want a baguette shape, divide the dough into 2 long, thin loaves). Cover with a damp towel and keep the dough in a warm place for about 40 minutes or until it doubles in size.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Bake the bread for 35 minutes, checking periodically for browning after 25 minutes. When the bread is browned and sounds hollow when you tap it, remove from the oven and transfer to a cooling rack. Allow to cool before slicing.
The “V” Word: Say it. Eat it. Live it.