5.07.2010

bread alone


I'm feeling particularly proud of myself tonight. And quite full. Which makes it a bit of a miracle that you're reading these words. Lots of starchy food is known to put people into food comas, and with the quantity of baguette I've consumed, it's a wonder I'm still able to type coherently.

Yes, you read that right: baguette. I've been eating baguette. And not just baguette. Baguette with Tarantaise cheese. Baguette with pistachios. Baguette with Nutella. And it's felt soooo good. I am absolutely the type of person who will, given the right food, happily eat the same thing day after day after day. For me, that food used to be bread (of almost any variety). But eleven years ago, the whole celiac/gluten-free thing happened to me, which sent my favorite breads packing. (Was this when I switched my loyalty to ice cream?) Since then, authentic bread has been my impossible dream, as it has been for most everyone in the gluten-free community. But recently, some intrepid bakers have decided that gluten-free breads should be able to stand up to their gluten-full counterparts, and several really great recipes have been developed. Now, we can once again lavish our affection on chewy, crusty boule and tender focaccia, just like everyone else! As you may know, I've already posted about my renewed love affair with crusty bread (with an updated ingredient list here), but I feel like I need to revisit the subject one more time.


Because, somehow, baguettes seem different. Baguettes are sophisticated and chic, yet all-purpose in a fancier way than a rustic boule. Baguettes love to be eaten on the go, as you tear big hunks off the end, sending crackly shards of crust across your lap. Baguettes can turn a piece of fruit and some cheese into a complete meal the way no other slice of bread could hope to. And because, when you really get right down to it, no other bread can make you feel quite so worldly, so European, even when everything else in your day is pushing you relentlessly in the direction of Frumpy Frustrated Mom. For this, I have fallen in love with baguettes.

Now, anyone who knows anything about traditional bread baking will see right away that this is not an authentic baguette recipe. But how could it be, when it can't have gluten in it? So just let go of that expectation. But what this recipe is is a labor of love for me (now in its sixth incarnation!), one that produces a baguette-shaped loaf of bread with all the characteristics that I used to love in the original. The crust is shatteringly crisp, with a slightly sweet soft interior crumb that is chewy, but not gummy. Eat it plain, eat it with chocolate, eat it with cured meat - this bread can take it all!


This bread also has a scarily-long list of ingredients. With every batch, every alteration I made, I complicated things further and further, until I arrived at my favorite version, which has a whopping seventeen components! So, making this is not for the faint of heart. For which I am so sorry, because offering up a fantastic bread recipe is just cruel and teasing if one look at the ingredient list sends everyone running. I hope to find time to work backwards, simplifying it until I can produce a similar loaf with much less hassle. Believe me, if I do, you'll be the first to know. Until then, trust me when I tell you that this baguette really is worth the time it takes to weigh out all the flours and liquids. And hey, at least you can take comfort in the fact that there's no kneading involved!


Gluten-Free Baguette
yields one baguette; recipe can be doubled or quadrupled

I really wish I could make each of you a baguette, so you could all try it before jumping in yourselves. I know many will be turned off by all the specialty flours and such, and will thus miss out on a truly delicious gluten-free bread experience. But if you, like me, were a Bread Fiend in your former, gluten-full life, then you owe it to yourself to give this recipe a chance. I think one taste will be enough to make you forget any inconveniences.

35 grams brown rice flour
22 grams millet flour
22 grams buckwheat flour
40 grams gluten-free oat flour
40 grams potato starch
35 grams cornstarch
30 grams tapioca starch
8 grams active dry yeast
3 grams fine sea salt
2+ (but not quite 3) grams xanthan gum
2 grams guar gum
5 fluid ounces water, lukewarm
1 fluid ounce whole milk, lukewarm
1 fluid ounce coconut oil (I warm it in the microwave to melt it)
1.5 tsp honey (I use raw)
50 grams egg whites, lightly beaten


Whisk the flours, yeast, salt, xanthan gum, and guar gum in a large mixing bowl. Combine the water, milk, oil, and honey in a liquid measuring cup; set aside.


Add the egg whites to the dry ingredients and stir while pouring in about 1/3 of the liquid mixture. Continue to stir while pouring in another 1/3 of the liquid. Add the final 1/3 and stir until the dough is nice and smooth. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rest on the counter for 2 hours. At this point, the dough can be refrigerated and stored for up to seven days, but I always want to bake my bread now.

Using wet hands, remove the dough from the bowl and place on a piece of parchment paper. Use your hands to gently stretch the dough into a long baguette shape (you'll want to keep dipping your fingers in cold water for this). Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest on the counter for 25 minutes (75-90 minutes if using refrigerated dough, depending on how warm your kitchen is).


Place a pizza stone on the bottom rack of your oven. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.


Using a serrated knife dipped in water, cut slashes in the top of your proofed dough. Gently pick up the baguette, parchment and all, and slide it onto the preheated pizza stone. Place a metal baking pan on the floor of your oven and pour a cup or two of boiling water in it. (This creates the steam that gives your baguette its beautiful crackly crust.)


Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until the baguette is a dark golden brown and the bottom sounds hollow when you tap it. Cool on a rack. Like all baguettes, this one is best eaten the day it is baked, but it's still good the second day.

14 comments:

  1. WOW! I am so impressed. One of these days I will have to try this recipe.

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  2. Well, don't be too impressed. ;) One of these days I'll make a bigger batch so I can share with you.

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  3. Looks delish! I love bread SO MUCH. I get sad when I hear of all my celiac/gluten allergic/wheat allergic friends who can't have it..and I get so happy to see that people are developing gluten-free versions!

    It probably isn't conducive toward making baguette shaped bread loafs, but have you tried baking the bread in a dutch oven ala NYT No Knead Bread? You get an amazing crust that way. I wonder how it would work for a gluten-free bread...

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  4. Mr. Jackhonky - Actually, I used to make my boules in the Dutch oven, but when I tried baking directly on the pizza stone (with the pan of hot water for steam) I got a much better crust, so I've switched to that and haven't looked back. But for anyone without a pizza stone, the Dutch oven (ala Jim Lahey) does produce good results!

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  5. How exciting! I'm putting this on my to-do list right now, alongside 'purchase fat wheel of brie to consume with said baguette'. Any recommendations for a substitute for gluten free oat flour? Unfortunately gluten free oats (or their flour) don't exist in Australia. Thanks!

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  6. Hi Makala - I'd suggest substituting either 40 grams of sorghum flour (if you like that flavor), or increase the millet flour by 40 grams. Those flours have a lower fat content than oat flour, but their protein content is pretty similar, so they should give comparable results. BTW, Bob's Red Mill (which sells both gluten-free oats and gluten-free oat flour) ships internationally, so if you're really eager to try baking with them, it is possible. :) Good luck!

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  7. Looks wonderful - would be so delicious with cheese and wine!

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  8. Thanks, Tiina! I'm thinking the next baguette may end up as bruschetta. . . ;)

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  9. Wow - that sounds and looks wonderful!

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  10. Tara - I discovered your blog through your participation in Shauna's T-giving roundup. And I'm so glad I did. I love your writing, and your recipes. can't wait to try this one. And I, like you, was a total bread fiend in my pre-Celiac days. I'm constantly searching for the holy grail of gf bread. I've made a few that have come close, my favorite being the dough I forgot about (left it in the car after a baking class I taught). After rising for about 18 hours, I baked it. It was the best GF bread I've had!

    I'll be back to visit. Thanks for all you do to help us feel like part of a community!

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  11. affectioknit - Thanks!

    I Am Gluten Free - Welcome, and thank you! I'd love to hear more about that long-risen bread!

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  12. Tara, have you ever attempted a GF sourdough starter? I'm curious if this works...

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    1. I haven't, actually, though I have played around with a poolish in the past. And I do fantasize about figuring out a wild yeast starter. Lately, to develop a sour-yeasty character in my breads the easiest (read: laziest) way possible, I've just been letting my bread dough sit overnight in the refrigerator, and baking it the next day. This gets me the character and flavor I'm looking for, without giving my bread much extra thought or attention at all. Other gf bakers have made successful gf sourdough starters, though, so I know it can be done! Check out Jean Layton/GF Doctor and Jeanne Sauvage/Art of Gluten-Free Baking for some good advice.

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  13. Hello Tara
    We have made this incredible baguette with great results!!We really appreciate your efforts.Thanks for all the time you spend creating for us novice GF cooks and bakers.

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