Tuesday 15 June 2010

Some Bread for the Table

Can you believe this is gluten-free? 

Look at the way the surface stretches apart, revealing the soft, porous bread beneath. The crust, dusted with extra flour to really bring out the artisan-loaf appearance, is crisp but not hard. The interior is tender and springy. The flavour itself is understated - at first it may seem even a little bland - but this just makes it perfect to be complemented by some rich farm butter. 

This is another bread using the cold oven technique. Thanks to the relatively large amount of yeast, the bread slowly rises as the oven heats. This results in an evenly-baked loaf - it doesn't brown too quickly or leave the inside underdone. There is another part to the method, though, that is unusual for gluten-free bread: it has two risings. This is not for the sake of kneading (as is the case with wheat doughs); rather, it helps the flavour and texture of the bread whilst giving the yeast time to multiply.

As with most wheat-based artisan breads, this bread is best when very fresh. That is no problem though - simply gather a few friends around your table and provide some butter, herbed olive oil, or cheese...this loaf will disappear very quickly! It would also be very good shaped into smaller rolls, which may help it last longer as well.

"Pain de Ménage" (Homemade Bread)

Dry ingredients:

150 g potato starch
35 g white rice flour
25 g garbanzo-fava flour
25 g Expandex modified tapioca starch
15 g buckwheat flour
10 g sweet rice flour

1 tsp each of xanthan and guar gum
1/2 tsp pectin (used for making jam; can be found with canning supplies)
1 tsp sugar
3/4 tsp sea salt
1 tsp Ener-G egg replacer (helps with binding and leavening)

Wet ingredients:

2 eggs, beaten
100 mL warm water: add 1 tsp sugar and 1/2 T yeast
30 mL oil (I used canola)


Blend all the dry ingredients together with a whisk in a mixing bowl. Dissolve the yeast and sugar in the warm water and let it foam for a few minutes. Next add the eggs, yeast mixture, and lastly the oil to the flour mixture, and "knead" with a soft spatula until dough is smooth. If the dough seems too stiff, sprinkle in a little more warm water until it is springy. Now cover the bowl with clingfilm and allow the dough to rise for 30 minutes. This allows the yeast to multiply and develop the flavour of the bread - two things GF bread generally misses out on by having only one rising. (If you want an even more developed yeast flavour, you could try adding an additional rising.) At the end of this time period, squash the dough down and tip it out onto a baking stone covered with a piece of lightly oiled, lightly floured baking parchment. Gently roll the ball of dough in the flour (I used tapioca and potato starch) so it has a visible dusting of flour. Work in some more starch if the dough seems too loose and sticky. Stretch the surface so it is smooth, and tuck any rough edges underneath the loaf. Shape it into an oval, brush it with oil, and dust with a little more flour. Now cut the slits in the top using an oiled knife.

Place the loaf in a cold oven and turn it immediately to 204° C/ 400° F. Bake for 45 - 50 minutes, until the crust is nicely browned and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. Cool on a rack.


  1. "Can you believe this is gluten-free?"

    No, no I can't. And I'm eating it right now.

  2. I can't believe it either! You are amazing and I continue to be impressed with your creations.
    I wish I had some of this bread right now. I can think of a million ways to eat it.

  3. You are my hero. I've been baking gluten free, successfully, for awhile. I'm very happy with my creations thus far, but this one is just the best. I cannot wait to try it!!!!

  4. Wow. I agree with everyone else's comments, but I had to say it too. I've been gf for 12 years and my bread is getting better and better, but nothing quite like this in authenticity. I'll be trying it asap!

  5. Meg - I made this today. Haven't tasted it yet. I'm waiting for it to cool before digging in! We're having it for dinner with a Vegan Mac & Cheeze casserole - one of my husband's faves. I loved using the metric setting on my scale - it was the first time I'd done that. I'm wondering how you came to decide on the metric measurements. I have no experience with metric, so it's puzzling to me. If you wanted to change the measurements to our American way of measuring, how would you do it? If by any chance you can email me through my email address, I'd appreciate it. (birdwoman5151 AT yahoo DOT com. I also have another question to ask you about featuring this bread on my blog. Thanks!


  6. Would you be able to replace the pectin with Agar Agar instead? I'm not a fan of using pectin....

    and has anyone tried it without the sugar, perhaps honey instead?

  7. Hi Megan,

    I'm sure it would be just fine to use honey in place of the sugar. I have not tried replacing pectin with agar; I have used agar flakes in place of xanthan gum though. It may be better to just omit the pectin or replace it with an extra 1/4 tsp of guar gum or xanthan gum - I am concerned the agar might make the bread too stiff/dense. I hope it turns out well!

  8. That looks absolutely amazing! Thanks for posting this recipe :).
    A quick question for you if you've time: is the Expandex absolutely necessary, do you think? I'd rather avoid it if I can.

  9. Hi velveau,

    I have not tried this particular recipe without the Expandex. I think it should work if you replaced it with regular tapioca starch or arrowroot starch. It may not rise quite as high, but I think it will probably taste about the same.

    I hope this helps! (I am actually trying to make more recipes that don't use Expandex - partly because some people avoid modified starches, and partly because most stores still don't carry it.) If this substitution doesn't work so well, let me know and I will try to figure out what to adjust. Thanks!

  10. Thanks for the tips, Meg! I've been wanting to try something different and special and this just looks fabulous. I'll let you know how it goes.

  11. I'd love to comment, but I'm waiting for a forklift to arrive and lift my chin off the ground. THIS IS GLUTEN FREE!??!?!?! I'm awe-struck.

  12. omg I'm so happy I just found your blog!! Absolutely gorgeous bread, great job!

  13. Thank you all so much for your compliments!

    (I wish Blogger supported threaded comments so I could reply to each of you individually.)

    At any rate, I am really, really flattered by all of your replies.

  14. This is bread is completely brilliant! So I just made it with a few substitutions, but it still turned out incredible. Dare I say, the best gluten-free bread evvvvver?! I am so excited about making this and serving it to others, with no apologies whatsoever. The flavors are incredible, and the crispy crust yields to a wonderfully soft inside. Nice work!! I cannot wait for more bread recipes and variations...

    Oh, and I used quinoa flour in place of fava, regular tapioca in place of expandex, and ended up doubling the water to get the dough to come together. All is well! Time to go eat more... :)

  15. @cinnamonquill -

    First of all, thank you! And secondly, I am so glad to know this works with substitutions!! I have never used quinoa flour before, though I do like plain quinoa...maybe I ought to try it.

  16. I love this post! The picture is beautiful and from the comments above, it sounds like a winner. I'm always looking for a 'better' gluten free bread recipe and I will try this one. Nice job!

  17. CAN YOU HELP ME CONVERT THE MEASUREMENTS TO REGULAR AND NOT METRIC? i'm dying to make this today but don't yet have a kitchen scale. help! :)

  18. Oh my! Genius! Now if this could be done without eggs it would be an absolute miracle. Could you contact me meg, at mgsubscr@gmail.com.
    I'm working on developing some recipes for local restaurants and it would be a real treat to get some of your insight.

  19. Your bread looks amazing! I was wondering if this bread had the same texture as your other bread recipes. I'm having a little trouble getting the same rise. Thanks!

  20. Have you tried this without the gums? Just wondering. Going shopping tonight, want to try this recipe out! Looks delish!

  21. Marina - I have not tried this one without gums, however, I imagine it would work with alternate binding agents like psyllium and pectin. Lately I have been making bread with much more whole-grain flour, but I plan to see how well this recipe could be modified.

    Ashley - Thanks! I'm not sure what kind of texture you're looking for - many of my more recent breads involve some very different techniques, and the formula is quite different too since this one includes eggs. Are you using a baking stone in the oven? That might help. If it still doesn't rise enough, maybe experiment with a longer rise time before baking.

  22. I made this bread tonight, and it turned out really good. I altered the technique by letting the sponge sit overnight (just the flours and water with yeast and a bit of sugar) to really develop the sour flavor. It smelled divine when I came home from work. I also doubled the recipe and made one round loaf and some "rolls" using muffin tins.

    For Bekah, if you revisit this post, the volume measurements are 3/4 cup potato starch, 1/4 cup rice flour, 1/4 cup garfava flour, 1/4 cup expandex, 1/8 cup buckwheat flour and 1 T sweet rice flour. There's a handy conversion chart that lists all the various gf flours with the weight per one cup at: http://www.realfoodmadeeasy.ca/gluten-free-baking/gluten-free-flour-weight-volume-measures/

    The next time I make this I will tweak it a bit to up the proportions of whole grain flours to make the bread a bit less starchy. I had plenty of rise so I think it would work.

    Thanks for this recipe!

  23. This looks amazing and I want to make it asap! Is the pectin you use crystal or liquid? Or does it matter?

  24. I can believe it is gluten free! I have been working at making tasty and interesting gluten free breads for a while now.
    The loaf looks good. I am waiting for my latest gf soudough loaf to cool. This is number five - the first 3 were not so good, number four showed promise - so here's hoping with number five!
    I have some recipes listed on Etsy if you are interested.

  25. Aloha,
    what can you substitute for potato starch. I cannot have any nightshades.

  26. I just bumped into your blog and this amazing bread. I'm excited to give it a try... venturing into more GF territory in my neck of the woods, and this is just the sort of thing I can have fun experimenting with. Thanks, Meg!

  27. Hi! I am from Brazil and test several recipes of gluten-free Breads for sale. I am studing Bread Techniques here, but we don't have some products available (Expandex modified tapioca starch, for example). Do you know if I can use tapioca starch only? Is it possible to import this product? Thanks! (your blog is a dream!)

  28. Hello! I have just made your "Pain de Ménage" two different ways and it is divine no matter how you make it. I had to make some substitutions as well as some changes based on my own personal tastes as well. I thought I'd share those with others who have to make substitutions. I live in Italy where some of the original ingredients are unavailable. I used soy flour instead of gabanzo/fava flour. In one version I used molasses instead of sugar in both the proofer and in the mixture. Unavailability also required arrowroot flour instead of sweet rice flour; 1 tsp of powdered milk instead of the egg replacer and finally 8 grams of fresh cake yeast instead of powdered (I can't find a GF version of it here). The soy definitely makes itself present in colour but still tastes rustic and that is exactly what this bread wants to be, maybe next time I'll use garbanzo flour (no gabanzo/fava mix here). Definitely the molasses gives a colour change as well as hearty flavour, nonetheless there seemed to be no difference in the sweetness of the final products. I also used regular tapioca starch due to inability to find your modified type and can't say there was any flaw in that. In short, this is a blessing for those of us searching for a real rustic bread substitute so thank you for this recipe. It leads way to many alterations and fun experimenting in the kitchen, but is a quality bread recipe that indeed even after eating the final product you'll say "I can't believe it's gluten free". Thanks a million!

  29. I haven't made this yet but it looks delish! Could I substitute the two eggs and if so, with what? Thanks so much

    1. Hi Joanie,

      I actually haven't made this exact formula in quite a while as it includes some ingredients I no longer use (Expandex, xanthan and guar gum, etc) BUT, that said, I can tell you that I've been working on an updated version (I don't use eggs in my yeast breads anymore either) and based on these experiments, the egg substitute I recommend is bean broth (AKA "aquafaba" as it has been dubbed by the vegan baking community, AKA the liquid stuff from a can of garbanzo beans). Use it in place of the same amount of eggs by weight - so for two eggs, use around 110 grams of the bean broth. Hope that helps! I will actually be doing an in-depth feature on this ingredient very soon because I find it so useful in GF baking formulas!

  30. I haven't made this yet but it looks delish! Could I substitute the two eggs and if so, with what? Thanks so much

  31. Hello, I am giving it a try! Not too confident about the ending result... For the first proofing of 30 minutes.... nothing noticeable happened, so i gave it an extra hour and a half. And after shaping, another hour there before starting the oven... much slower than what you mention... maybe your house is much warmer ;) Just above you mention that you have not been making this recipe for a while... what is your new goto bread recipe? please ;)

    Thank you!