Gluten-Free Ciabatta Bread

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Gluten free ciabatta
Gluten free ciabatta photo by Nicole Hunn
Prep time: 2 hrs 0 min
Cook time: 15 mins

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This recipe was originally published in 2015.

Excerpt from Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread by Nicole Hunn.


Hydration and yeast have an inverse relationship in bread baking. The more moisture you have, typically the less yeast you need. And vice versa. This is very, very wet dough…. It is particularly important to let it rise slowly for days in the refrigerator before shaping and baking it. It not only makes handling the dough possible, but it allows even that comparatively little bit of yeast to develop a truly complex flavor. So although you can bake and shape if after the dough spends a mere 12 hours in the refrigerator, aim for closer to the 5-day mark.

GLUTEN-FREE BREAD FLOUR

Here’s my formula for Gluten-Free Bread Flour. It’s best measured by weight, with a simple digital scale. However, for your convenience, I have included the approximate volume measurements that correspond to each weight amount, where appropriate.

MAKES 1 CUP (140g) FLOUR

  • 100 grams (about 11½ tablespoons) all-purpose gluten-free flour (71%)
  • 25 grams (about 5 tablespoons) unflavored whey protein isolate (18%)
  • 15 grams (about 5 teaspoons) Expandex modified tapioca starch (11%)

I’ve provided you with two recipes for all-purpose gluten-free flour, either of which will work in building your gluten-free bread flour repertoire as well as any recipe that calls for an “all-purpose gluten-free flour.” This recipe (and all others in Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread) was formulated to work with one of the two blends, both of which necessarily contain a small amount of xanthan gum.

The first, which I dubbed “High-Quality All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour,” is a copycat of the blend that BetterBatter.org uses in its all-purpose gluten-free flour. I generally prefer it, but it is no doubt more complex than the second blend. You can, of course, simply use Better Batter’s product itself.

The second blend, which I dubbed the “Make-It-Simpler All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour,” is, well, simpler, with only four components. It is a good substitute for the High-Quality All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour blend. It does tend, however, to absorb a bit more moisture than the High Quality blend.

A note about component flours: Typically, I insist upon a superfine rice flour for even what I would call “good” results in gluten-free baking, and it certainly is best here as well. However, in any of the bread recipes that call for a long, slow rise in the refrigerator, even a rice flour that is not ground “superfine” will work. As the flour sits in the dough, it absorbs moisture and softens considerably.

Also, please note that although tapioca starch is the same as tapioca flour, potato starch and potato flour are two different ingredients and should not be substituted for each other.


HIGH-QUALITY ALL-PURPOSE GLUTEN-FREE FLOUR

MAKES 1 CUP (140g) FLOUR

  • 42 grams (about ¼ cup) superfine brown rice flour (30%)
  • 42 grams (about ¼ cup) superfine white rice flour (30%)
  • 21 grams (about 2 1/3 tablespoons) tapioca starch (15%)
  • 21 grams (about 2 1/3 tablespoons) potato starch (15%)
  • 7 grams (about 1 ¾ teaspoons) potato flour (5%)
  • 4 grams (about 2 teaspoons) xanthan gum (3%)
  • 3 grams (about 1 ½ teaspoons) pure powdered pectin (2%)

MAKE-IT-SIMPLER ALL-PURPOSE GLUTEN-FREE FLOUR

MAKES 1 CUP (140g) FLOUR

  • 90 grams (about 9 tablespoons) superfine white rice flour (64%)
  • 31 grams (about 3 ½ tablespoons) potato starch (22%)
  • 15 grams (about 5 teaspoons) tapioca starch (11%)
  • 4 grams (about 2 teaspoons) xanthan gum (3%)
Yields 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (140g) Gluten-Free Bread Flour
  • 1 1/3 teaspoons (4g) instant yeast
  • ¾ cup of water, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 cups (280g) Gluten-Free Bread Flour, plus more for sprinkling  
  • ¾ teaspoons cream of tartar 
  • 1 teaspoon (6g) kosher salt  
  • 1 tablespoon (12g) sugar  
  • ¾ cup water, at room temperature

Directions

1In a medium-size bowl, whisk together the bread flour and yeast. Add the water and honey, and mix a wooden spoon until smooth. Cover tightly with oiled plastic wrap and set aside until it has more than doubled in size and filled with bubbles (about an hour).

2Once the starter has finished rising, make the dough. Place the flour, cream of tartar, salt, and sugar in the bowl of your stand mixer, and use a handheld whisk to combine well.

3Add the water and risen starter to the bowl, and mix on low speed with dough hook until combined. Raise the mixer speed to medium and knead for about 5 minutes. When you lift the dough hook, a trail of dough from the hook to the bowl should be intact for at the count of five. The dough will be quite sticky. Spray silicone spatula lightly with cooking oil spray, and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

4Transfer the dough to a lightly oiled bowl or proofing bucket large enough for the dough to rise to double its size, and cover with an oiled piece of plastic wrap (or the oiled top to your proofing bucket). Place the dough in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours and up to 3 days.

5On baking day, remove the dough from the refrigerator, scatter a generous amount of flour on a flat surface, and scrape the dough out of the bowl on top of the flour. Turn the dough over on itself with a lightly oiled bench scraper. It will remain very sticky.

6Divide the dough into two equal pieces and place both carefully on parchment-lined half baking sheet. With lightly oiled hands, press each piece of dough into a rectangle 10 inches long by 4 inches wide and 1 inch high. Dust both pieces of dough with flour, then cover them loosely with greased plastic wrap and let rise until at least doubled in size (about 2 hours).

7About 20 minutes before the dough is fully risen, preheat your oven to 400 degrees and place pizza stone on lower rack. Once the dough has finished rising, using pizza peel, slide the dough, already on parchment paper, on the pizza stone.

8Throw some ice cubes in the bottom of the oven and quickly close the door. Bake 400 degrees for 5 minutes. Lower the heat to 375 degrees F and bake for another 5 minutes. Lower the heat to 375 degrees F, and bake for another 10 minutes or until the center of each loaf reaches 205 degrees F on an instant-read thermometer.

9Turn off the heat and prop open the oven door, leaving the bread inside for 5 minutes.  Remove from the oven and allow the bread to cool for about 20 minutes before slicing and serving.

Each serving contains calories, total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, cholesterol, sodium, carbohydrates, fiber, sugars, protein.