I know you’re supposed to wait until it cools to slice it. I have no willpower when it comes to freshly-baked bread.
Before you get all jealous about my breakfast in Italy, let’s be clear: I am most definitely not in Italy at the moment. Nor do I plan to be in Italy, sadly, any time soon.
That is, unless Nike rings me up and asks me to make a movie about what it means to #makeitcount, in which case… I’m there. Hear that, Nike? I’m available. Any time. Just say the word. Nike? Hello?
I’m not holding my breath. But when the travel bug bites me – and it bites me a lot – at least I can take comfort in my kitchen.
Mexico on my mind? No problem. I just stir up some guac, slap some slow-roasted pork on a warm tortilla, and ask hubby to shake me up one of his killer margaritas (on the rocks with salt, please). Pining away for Paris? For now, I’ll be content with a couple macarons, either from my favorite local sweet shop or homemade.
Then there is Italy. In the summer of ’99 I spent just a few days there, en route to visit my brother and his family in Germany. It has been pulling at my heart strings ever since.
There is so much amazing food there, but when I think of Italy, I think mostly of mind-blowing gelati and sorbetti, silky prosciutto, espresso (of course), and bread.
True, France is justifiably famous for its bread, especially baguettes. But for some reason when I bake bread, I always picture myself in some rustic Italian kitchen with a gorgeous view of the Tuscan countryside. Excuse me for a minute while I savor that fantasy…
I may be addicted to “pour” photos…
Okay. I’m back. Wouldn’t it be cool if I closed this post by giving away a trip to Italy so you could actually have breakfast there? Well…
No. I’m not. Sorry! (But these guys are!*) Instead, I’ll close with the recipe for this Gluten-Free Artisan Bread. Bake some bread, pour a steaming espresso or cortado, and picture yourself in Italy. Or France. Or even Spain… I’m not picky.
Gluten-Free Artisan Bread
Adapted from Meg’s recipe at Gluten Free Boulangerie
You may remember that I have been trying my hand at gluten-free baking lately. After a couple months, we have come to the conclusion that our daughter probably isn’t gluten intolerant, after all. But I’ve had so much fun experimenting with GF recipes that I plan to continue to include them in my baking rotation. I’ve made this bread twice now, altering the original recipe slightly to use ingredients I had on hand; both loaves were really tasty. With its magazine-worthy good looks, crispy crust, and delicate real-bread-like(!) crumb, this beautiful bread will definitely be showing up on my table again.
Use organic whenever possible.
150 g potato starch (~3/4 cup)
35 g white OR brown rice flour (~1/4 cup)
25 g gluten-free all-purpose flour** (~1/4 cup)
25 g tapioca starch (~1/4 cup)
15 g buckwheat flour (~1/8 cup)
10 g sweet rice flour (~1 Tablespoon)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon guar gum
1/2 teaspoon pectin OR powdered gelatine
3/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon powdered goat milk ***
**I used the GF A/P flour from Bob’s Red Mill; the original recipe called for garbanzo-fava flour.
***The original recipe called for Ener-G egg replacer; having none, I subbed in powdered goat milk.
100 mL (scant 1/2 cup) warm water,
approx. 38°C/100°F – 43°C/110°F
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 Tablespoon active dry yeast (NOT instant yeast)
1 teaspoon honey (yep, another one)
2 whole eggs (beaten)
30 mL (~1/8 cup) Canola oil
Important! Your oven must be COLD when you put the bread dough in to bake. DO NOT PRE-HEAT. Also, make sure all your ingredients are labelled Gluten-Free.
1. Sift all the dry ingredients together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whisk briefly to combine, then place bowl in position on the base of the mixer.
2. In a small bowl, dissolve 1 teaspoon of honey and the yeast in the warm water; set aside for a few minutes, until the mixture foams.
3. Add the remaining teaspoon of honey, eggs, yeast mixture, and lastly the oil to the flour mixture.
4. Using the dough hook attachment, mix on medium speed until dough is smooth, stopping to scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed. If the dough seems too stiff, sprinkle in a little more warm water a teaspoon at a time until the dough is springy.
5. Remove the bowl from the stand, cover loosely with plastic wrap, and allow the dough to rise undisturbed in a warm place for 30 minutes. (Note from Meg: “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.” So true!)
6. Cover a baking stone with a piece of lightly oiled parchment paper; set aside.
7. After 30 minutes, punch the dough down and tip it out onto a lightly-floured surface. Gently roll the ball of dough in the flour so it has a visible, light dusting of flour (per the original recipe, I used a mixture of tapioca and potato starch). Work in additional starch if the dough seems too sticky.
8. Stretch the surface of the dough ball so it is smooth, tucking in any rough edges underneath the loaf. Shape the dough into an oval and place on the parchment-covered baking stone. Brush it with some Canola or olive oil, and dust with a little more flour. Cut shallow slits in the top using an oiled, sharp knife. (Note that I made my slits much too deep, especially in my second loaf, resulting in very LARGE crevices. This won’t affect the flavor, but it may impact the aesthetic of your finished bread. Don’t be like me.)
9. Place in a COLD oven, close the oven door, and turn the temperature immediately to 204° C/ 400° F. Bake for 45-50 minutes, until the crust is nicely browned and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on the bottom. Remove from oven and cool on a rack.
Yield: 1 loaf
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