GF Substitutions Part XIII: Making and Using Gluten Free Bread

by Jenn on October 4, 2010

in GF Substitutions,Gluten Free

Zucchini Bread

Welcome to another week of Gluten Free Substitutions here on Jenn Cuisine!  If you’ve missed the past few announcements, there is just ONE WEEK left to submit your gluten free experiences for the substitutions roundup!  Curious?? I know you are :) Check out the details, and email me your submissions to jenncuisine at gmail dot com!

Bread is one of those things that I don’t try to adapt much or create off of the top of my head.  Not because it can’t be done, but because my experience with baking bread (let alone GF bread) is sorely lacking.  It’s not that I can’t do it, I just need more practice before I feel qualified to share a list of helpful bread baking substitution tips with you all.  I was going to make some this weekend (especially since I had some tasty New England style clam chowder that was just begging to be served in a bread boule), but silly me didn’t put the ingredients on the grocery list.  gah!  Kind of hard to make bread with no yeast around! But when I’m not being forgetful, bread is something I usually actually do by the book when it comes to making gluten free; simply because I don’t know what I’m doing and don’t feel comfortable enough yet.  If you make tasty gluten free bread regularly, I commend you!  This is one area I’m still working on overcoming – until then, I am quite happy to buy some scrumptious pre-made GF bread, including some fantastic GF baguettes :)

That doesn’t mean I won’t make delicious gluten free bread from scratch, just that I’m not at a point in my skills to start recipe development from scratch.  However, if a batch doesn’t come out awesomely, I will often go back to my list of what to do when a recipe flops, and reassess things.  1st, I figure out if I followed the recipe correctly, and only then will I decide to start playing with ingredients.

If I want to really play with ingredients and substitutions though, crusty Euro-style bread is not what I look to make.  Instead, I make things that I can play a bit more with, like bagels.  However, I will let you in a little secret.  My favorite GF bread to make isn’t actually a yeasted bread at all.  It’s a quick bread!   My favorite sandwich bread is actually a zucchini quick bread (pic above); what I do is I just cut back on the sugar content, and then it goes from sweet dessert/breakfast to savory and sandwich-ready.  Besides, quick breads are generally quite forgiving, and really adaptable to a variety of flavors and ingredients.  You can even turn them into something that looks like a cake!

Strawberry Banana Quickbread with Chocolate Chips, Gluten Free

If you are going to tweak bread recipes though, I recommend you take a recipe that you know works, and start by minor tweaks only – i.e., keep the starch:flour ratio the same, and just sub within those categories.  Remember how we classified all those gluten free flours a while back?  A good place to begin if you are missing a certain ingredient in a recipe is to sub it out for another flour in the same category that is likely to have similar properties.  If your favorite bread recipe has almond meal, and you have hazelnut meal at home, I’d say that’s fair game to substitute.  Or if your favorite uses quinoa flakes and you have millet flakes (you see where I am going with this?), or uses millet flour, and you only have sorghum, etc.  Keep it simple until you get a handle on exactly how your bread is working for you (or against you as the case may be).  If things are still not perfected the way you like, then it’s time to start messing with ratios.

For example, I started messing with ratios in a recipe when a gluten free buckwheat bread that I so wanted to work out just kept on failing for me.  I repeated the issues so I knew it wasn’t just a stupid mistake (or at least it was one I kept repeating without knowing it!).  My problem with my bread was that the dough was really a “batter”, way too soupy and it resulted in an extremely dense loaf.  I ended up adding in more dry ingredients – keeping the starch:flour ratio the same but altering the wet:dry ratio until I got something that still poured like batter, but at least wasn’t “soup” anymore.  It’s still a pretty dense loaf.  When it bakes now it is a bit better in consistency, and does make for some great sandwiches.  But as I tweaked, I only did a little bit at a time, gradually changing until I found something that worked more to my liking.  It’s by no means the perfect GF loaf – there’s definitely still room for improvement.  But it’s tasty and satisfying and lets my husband enjoy real homemade bread.


Ok, so say you have found / tweaked an amazing loaf of gluten free bread.  Now, what do you do with it?  Assuming you’ve managed to let it cool without just digging right into it, each person in your family fighting for pieces of fresh steaming bread that came right out of the oven, eating sandwiches and making toast can get mighty boring….Just exactly what culinary doors are open to you once you have a delicious gluten free bread??

French toast
Bread pudding
Bread crumbs for making homemade mac & cheesechicken cordon bleu or zucchini chips, or roasted stuffed artichokes
French onion soup and gazpacho blanco
Stuffing!!! (Thanksgiving is coming soon you know…)
Grilled cheese
Fried sandwich goodness – Paninis & croque monsieurs
Vehicles for other tasty treats – Bruschetta, tomanade, ouefs en meurette
Salmon burgers or meatballs or crab cakes!
Dipping in a hearty buttercup squash soup or cheesy fondue

_PAG1524cheese White Gazpacho

My list is totally not complete.  There are a gazillion ways to enjoy tasty bread, and there are so many wonderful gluten free bread recipes out there to try!  Have a favorite?  Let me (and everyone else) know about it!  Have a story about adapting a bread recipe? I’d love to hear what worked/didn’t for you!

And remember to send me your submissions to be featured in the Gluten Free Substitutions Roundup, there’s only a week left to enter!  It can be a new or an old post, the particulars aren’t important – the important thing is to share a substitution experience – the more we all see how everyone experiments in the kitchen, the better we all benefit :)

Also submitted to – Gluten Free Wednesdays