18 Tips for Gluten Free Bread Baking

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Making delicious gluten free yeast breads isn’t difficult, it just seems like it ought to be. In fact, in many ways gluten free bread baking is easier and quicker than it is to bake a traditional bread with gluten. Using the right recipe and the best ingredients, you don’t even need a loaf pan! Follow my gluten free bread help check list, and it will bring you delicious gluten free bread baking success!

Note: for tips on baking gluten-free bread with a breadmaker, hop to my article here.
For a review of one of my favorite bread makers, hop here.

You can even bake delicious gluten free bread from an easy MIX! Gluten Free White Bread made with my gfJules™ Whole Grain Bread Mix.

You can even bake delicious gluten free bread from an easy MIX! Gluten Free White Bread made with my gfJules™ Whole Grain Bread Mix.

1.  Don’t scoop flour! When measuring flour, don’t scoop from the bag with your measuring cup.  This can compress the flour — up to 25%!  Use a spoon to scoop flour into the measuring cup and level off with a knife instead.

2. Weigh your ingredients. One step better is to weigh your flour. My gfJules™ All Purpose Gluten Free Flour weighs 135 grams per cup. Measuring by weight will ensure that you have the correct amount of flour in any recipe.

Same gluten free bread recipe using different gluten free flours.

Same gluten free bread recipe using different gluten free flours.

Even 1/2 cup of flour can make a huge difference in the results you get with any recipe. It’s not enough to just use any gluten free flour you choose; gluten free flours aren’t necessarily interchangeable. Follow the flours recommended for each given recipe to get the results promised.

3.  Room temperature. Room temperature. Room temperature! It is particularly important for yeast recipes that you bring all of your ingredients, such as eggs, to room temperature before adding them together to make bread.  Yeast needs warmth to grow and if your ingredients are too cold, it may prevent full yeast growth. Don’t make your wet ingredients too hot though, just nice and warm, the way yeast likes it!

4.  Don’t follow directions (for wheat bread). It is essential when converting wheat-based bread recipes to gluten-free, that you not follow the directions. That’s right! Break all the wheat/gluten dough rules when baking gluten-free bread!  Any kneading beyond simply mixing the dough well, and any punching down of the gluten-free dough will punch the risen life right out of it. Those steps are designed to “exercise the gluten” and make it more elastic. We have no gluten in our recipes, so nothing to exercise, and more than that, these steps will actually cause your gluten-free recipe to fail! It is for this reason that I counsel people when first attempting to make gluten-free breads, to follow a gluten-free bread recipe or two, just to get the hang of it. If you are an accomplished bread baker, it may feel weird for you to abandon these techniques, but trust me, you must!

5.  Shape before rising. Because our gluten free breads have no rise and punch down and second rise and punch down … you’ll want to shape any breads before the rise (they’ll only rise once!). Dinner rolls should rise in the shape or tin you would like them to bake in; bread sticks should be formed before rising; cinnamon rolls should rise in their pans; challah must be braided and then allowed to rise. Don’t mess with gluten-free dough once it has risen, just bake it!

6.  High altitude can change the way yeast doughs behave. Have a look at my High Altitude GF Cooking Tips.

Use an internal thermometer to test your gluten free bread before removing from the oven or bread maker.

Use an internal thermometer to test your gluten free bread before removing from the oven or bread maker.

 

7.  Take your bread’s temperature. It is very important not to take your bread out of the oven before it is fully cooked.  If the bread has a rubbery layer at the bottom, this usually means it was not fully cooked.  The best way to tell if the bread is done is to insert an instant read thermometer all the way to the bottom of the loaf (but not touching the pan).  The temperature should be approximately 205-210º F when it is done.  Your bread should keep its shape when it is completely baked. Internal thermometers are available in my shop.

8.  Change your bread pan. Sometimes metal pans work better than glass for fully cooking a loaf of bread.  Metal pans do not have to be fancy or expensive, and you can often even find them in your local grocery store.

Different bread pan sizes, shapes and materials can affect how long and evenly the gluten free bread bakes.

Different bread pan sizes, shapes and materials can affect how long and evenly the gluten free bread bakes.

9.  Make sure your rising spot is nice and warm. A great method for letting your yeast breads rise before baking is to turn on your oven to 200º F, then turn it off when it has reached temperature.

Put your un-raised bread into the warmed oven with an oiled piece of parchment on top and a bowl of water in the oven with it, then let it rise according to directions.  Once raised, remove the parchment and bake according to directions.

Don't let your gluten free bread rise much above the top of the pan before baking.

Don’t let your gluten free bread rise much above the top of the pan before baking.

10.  Find the perfect rise time and place. The longer you can let your bread rise, the better it will taste and the less likely it will be to collapse. A good rule of thumb is to let the bread rise to the top of your pan before baking; a slower, cooler rise to that level will produce a better loaf, so make sure it isn’t rising in too warm of a spot. If you can let the gluten free bread dough rise overnight in a cool place, the slower rise will provide a stronger cell structure and more of a sourdough flavor when baked the next day.

When yeast has proofed, it has bubbled and started to smell like the familiar yeast smell we associate with baking bread.

When yeast has proofed, it has bubbled and started to smell like the familiar yeast smell we associate with baking bread.

11.  Proof your yeast right. “Proofed” yeast should look like this. If not, throw it out and start with fresh yeast.

If you’re still having issues with getting your yeast breads to rise, try “proofing” your yeast first. I prefer using “Quick Rise” or “Rapid Rise” yeast for gluten-free yeast breads. We don’t have the punch-down and second rise necessary with most gluten loaves, so it works well to activate the yeast and let it start doing its thing right away!

Place the yeast in a bowl with the liquid called for in the recipe (water, milk, etc.), but make sure it’s warm. If you can add a teaspoon of sugar, that’s helpful. Whisk it gently and let it sit for 5 minutes. If it’s starting to have that familiar yeasty smell, foam up and swell, it’s good and you can add it to your recipe; if it’s stagnating and not getting foamy or rising, throw it out.

12.  Check ingredient integrity. Yeast can go bad, as can baking soda and baking powder. Sometimes the problem is your ingredients, not you. What a relief, right?

13.  Cool bread slowly. When your bread is done cooking, turn off the oven and open the door so that the bread can cool slowly.  Taking the bread out of a hot oven and quickly transferring it to a cool counter can sometimes cause the loaf to sink in.  If it still sinks, it may have too much moisture to support itself fully.  It should still taste great, but if you have your heart set on a nice crowned loaf, next time try cutting back on the liquid a bit in that recipe or adding 1/4 cup of flaxseed meal to help support the bread’s structure and enhance its nutritional value, all in one!  Altitude and even the day’s weather can affect sometimes-picky yeast recipes.

14.  Calibrate your oven temperature. Oven temperatures are frequently off by as little as 25 degrees and it can make a big difference in something as finicky as a yeast bread. Invest in an oven thermometer and adjust your oven’s temperature so your bread will bake comfortably, at the temperature it likes.

Soft, fresh gluten free bread made with gluten free beer.

Soft, fresh gluten free bread made with gluten free beer.

 

15.  Bubbles add air (duh, right?). It’s amazing what adding bubbles can do for the lift in your bread loaf! Try the same amount of gluten-free beer, ginger ale, 7-Up, Perrier … you get the picture. Room temperature, of course, and measured appropriately (let the bubbles settle for accurate measurements). Check out this gorgeous gluten-free beer bread!

16.  Fixing that rubbery bottom. If you still wind up with a rubbery bottom on your loaf, there are a few things that could have gone wrong.

First, you might have over-beaten the dough. Unlike gluten doughs, gluten-free bread doughs should not be overworked, and doing so can sometimes make them a bit rubbery.

Second, if you are baking from scratch and adding your own xanthan or guar gum, you might have added too much.

Third, there might be too much liquid in your recipe, all settling at the bottom and not baking off, while also weighing down the dough. Fourth, the loaf might not have baked all the way. If the top is baked and getting a nice crust, but the bottom isn’t all the way done, cover the loaf with foil and keep baking!hallie loaf 1

17.  Where your loaf is baking also makes a difference. Too close to the top of the oven, and the top will bake much more quickly than the rest of the bread, causing a split in the loaf. That’s quite a chasm, all because the bread rose so high that it nearly touched the oven’s heating element (and heat rises, don’t forget!). The rack of the oven shouldn’t be so high that the crust is that close to the heating element.

Convection bake settings also help with this, as convection keeps the temperature in the whole oven more consistent. Side note: also be sure there’s not an oven rack above the one on which your bread is baking – you don’t want the bread to rise during the bake and bump into the bottom of another rack!

Gluten free artisan bread loaf baked without a bread pan!

Gluten free artisan bread loaf baked without a bread pan!

 

18.  You don’t even need a bread pan to make great gluten free bread! Try making a gluten free artisan loaf on a parchment-lined baking sheet, or baking in a springform or tall-sided oven-safe bowl or pan. Or even use muffin cups or popover trays! Your bread will be yummy no matter how you bake it, if you use the right ingredients!

(Ok, I guess there were more than a couple things …!)

*Note: If you purchase one of these items after following my link, I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, which I use to pay for web design, hosting and services for this blog.

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129 thoughts on “18 Tips for Gluten Free Bread Baking

  1. Pingback: Gluten Free Pumpkin Muffins

  2. I keep getting bread with a bubble like thenoicture above and I have to toss it. Can I cut across the top of the loaf like you would for regular bread to relieve the air? When would I do this?

    • Hi Audra, you can open the bread machine after it’s done mixing and slice across the top of the bread to give it natural gaps to rise into. That should help.
      ~jules

  3. You say “Put your un-raised bread into the warmed oven with an oiled piece of parchment on top and a bowl of water in the oven with it” . . what temperature for the “warmed oven”?

    Thanks!

    • Hi Beau, I usually recommend that folks turn on the oven to 200F and once it’s come to temperature, turn the oven OFF then place the bread dough inside the oven to rise. This is if you don’t have a proofing drawer or somewhere else to set the bread dough to rise in a warm place. Hope that makes sense. Happy bread baking!
      ~jules

      • I’m confused because you also say that letting the dough rise without warmth is better….I.e., overnight….? Which metjod is better? I’ve found that I need to let my doughs rise for 6-8 hours to get a real fluffy, authentic bread result.

        • Hi Sarah, sorry if my options were confusing. There are a few ways of doing it. If you let the dough rise without being in a particularly warm place, and leave it for several hours, it will start to have a more sourdough flavor. It will also rise more slowly, which is good for breads, in general. However, it’s not necessary to do that with gluten free bread, particularly if you’re using instant/quick rise yeast. Does that make sense? Either work should work, but if you’ve already been allowing your breads to rise longer and don’t mind waiting, that should turn out an even better gf loaf. Hope that helps!
          ~jules

  4. Hi, Thankyou for this very helpful article.
    I am using GF bread mix to make bread for a coeliac friend and the loaves look good, rise well, taste OK. Only problem is the sliced bread is slightly sticky to touch. If I leave the bread in the oven to cool after baking maybe that might fix the problem?
    I am used to making my own sourdough which I take straight out of the tin to keep the crust from going soft.
    I am finding GF bread making quite weird!

    • Hi Neralie – how generous of you to bake gluten free for your friend! Not knowing exactly what mix you’re using, I’m guessing at what might be the problem, but yes, allowing it to cool before slicing is a good idea. Sometimes gluten free breads can be sticky or rubbery when still warm; once cooled, they settle into their texture and it’s not an issue. Spritz the bread in the oven a few times with water while baking to encourage a crunchier loaf, as well. Best of luck!
      ~jules

  5. Hi Jules

    I need to make a yeast free and gluten free bread. The first one with flax seed didn’t taste great. I am in Europe and don’t have access to your flours. So I used sorghum and spelt flour. Baking powder. Egg whites. Whey protein. Milk. Apple cider vinegar. Butter. Then place it all in a bread machine. The end result is heavy like Cake. Can you assist?

  6. Hi Jules,
    Most of my loaves (except for packaged bread mix but sometimes even those) come out very dense and solid, and heavy. They don’t have any give in them and they don’t taste particularly nice either… so all around, not brilliant. How do I get them to be more fluffy but without them falling apart, like the shop bought ones do?
    Best wishes,
    Linda

    • Hi Linda, do you use instant yeast? Do you use carbonated liquid? Are you using a bread machine or oven method? The flours you’re using: are they largely brown rice or other ancient grains? Give me a few more details and I’ll try to help!
      ~jules

  7. Hi Jules,
    Thanks for the helpful tips! I’ve been having a problem with my crusts. I’ve tried 4 or 5 different types of flours (always in the same bread pan), but the crust always turns out hard and almost stale-feeling. The flavor is always great, but the crust is always so hard that it’s a real workout slicing the bread. Any tips for getting a slightly softer crust? Or is a harder crust the name of the game with GF bread?