Crusty airy ciabatta bread. You know the one. Perfect for dipping in seasoned olive oil. Or a steaming bowl of your favorite soup. There’s a huge difference with this one, though. You can’t find this in most bakeries. This one is gluten-free! And please believe me when I tell you that it definitely can be done at home, thanks to the genius of Dr. Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François. It’s all outlined in their book, Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day. If you or your loved one cannot tolerate gluten, you’ll want to check this out.
I first used this bread dough recipe when making my Gluten-Free Artisan Bread. I learned the hard way that it is so important to follow along as it is written. My technique was fine …it wasn’t that difficult. Really. But I did find that you cannot substitute sweet rice flour for stone ground rice flour. And that potato starch and potato flour are two very different things. You shouldn’t have trouble finding any of the ingredients listed for the all-purpose flour mixture. They’ll most likely be available at your local market. If not, they can be ordered directly from Bob’s Red Mill. Then there’s always Amazon.
This may seem like a lot to go through to make a loaf of bread but, really, if you have a serious issue with gluten or someone close to you does …you’ll find that it’s worth the effort. And the best part is that once you mix up your customized gluten-free all-purpose flour, you’ll store it in a large container and have it handy for all of your baking needs. The key is to measure each ingredient carefully …I found that measuring in grams on my digital food scale by keeping a running total worked out well.
As the authors state …“The ingredients must be very well mixed, otherwise, the xanthan gum or psyllium will not be evenly distributed and your loaves will be inconsistent. Whisk and mix the ingredients in a 5- to 6-quart lidded container. Finish by picking up the container and vigorously shaking until the flours are completely blended.”
The yeast is sprinkled in with the flour mixture. Once the dry ingredients are well combined, the lukewarm water is added. It is recommended that it be exactly 100°. I know this all may seem to be a bit much but please don’t give up on it. It can be fun, like a science project. And the final product is so superior …it’s worth the effort. You just can’t buy this at your local bakery. Well, maybe you can if you live in a large metropolitan area. But, for the rest of us, we’re on our own.
If you have a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment to mix up the dough for about one minute. If not, give it a good stir for about two minutes until the mixture is very smooth. And the best part is …no kneading necessary!
After a two hour rest, your dough is ready for the fridge. This is where the “Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day” comes into play. This recipe makes enough dough for four one-pound loaves. Over the next ten days, grab about a pound of dough, shape it into a loaf, let it rest for about an hour and bake. Just five minutes of your hectic schedule. The rest of the time it takes care of itself. And the longer it hangs out in the fridge, the more developed the flavor is. Simply genius.
You’ll be shaping the dough into an elongated oval measuring approximately 9″ by 5″ with a thickness of about 3/4″. When you dust the prepared dough with flour, use a bit of your gluten-free all-purpose mix. Or, better yet, just use white rice flour.
Our baking specialists recommend that you bake this bread one of two ways. Either on a preheated baking stone or baking metal, using the steam method. Or you can bake it right in your preheated, lidded dutch oven. That’s the method I choose. Every time. It couldn’t be easier. Just lift the prepared dough, including the parchment paper, right into the dutch oven, cover it and bake. Please be careful. That preheated dutch oven is extremely hot!
For additional insight on what to expect with this unstructured dough, check out this video.
After 30 minutes, the lid is removed so that the bread can finish browning. Five more minutes in the oven and voilà! The bread is lifted from the dutch oven with the parchment paper and placed on a wire tray to cool. The paper will be somewhat brittle from the extreme heat so be sure to place a wide spatula underneath the paper as you lift the bread. Once again, be very careful of that hot dutch oven!
The bread needs to hang out on a cooling rack for two hours. That’s the hard part. It smells so good, you’ll want to cut into it immediately. After all, who doesn’t love warm bread straight from the oven? But don’t give in to the temptation. Gluten-free bread needs a full two hours of cooling to set completely.
Slice this up and serve it with your favorite dipping oil. Or alongside your next bowl of soup. Or just spread some butter on a slice. It’s all good. And it’s gluten-free.
gluten-free ciabatta bread
Adapted from Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day
Keep a supply of this gluten-free all-purpose flour mixture in the pantry. With a batch of this master boule dough in the fridge, you can enjoy fresh bread every day. Just takes five minutes of your time.
Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mixture
- 6 cups stone ground white rice flour * (36 ounces / 1,020 grams)
- 3 1/4 cups sorghum flour (16 ounces / 455 grams)
- 1 3/4 cups tapioca flour or starch (8 ounces / 225 grams)
- 1 1/4 cups potato starch ** (8 ounces / 225 grams)
- 1/4 cup xanthan gum or psyllium husk powder (1.4 ounces / 40 grams)
Gluten-Free Ciabatta Bread
- 6 1/2 cups Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mixture (990 grams)
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast or dry active yeast (10 grams)
- 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons coarse kosher salt (10 to 15 grams)
- 2 tablespoons refined sugar (30 grams)
- 3 3/4 cups lukewarm water (850 grams)
- parchment paper or cornmeal
- Lidded Dutch Oven
- Or Baking Stone / Baking Steel
Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Mixture
Whisk and mix the ingredients in a 5- to 6-quart lidded container. Finish by picking up the container and vigorously shaking until the flours are completely blended.
The ingredients must be very well mixed otherwise, the xanthan gum or psyllium will not be evenly distributed and your loaves will be inconsistent.
* Do not substitute with sweet white rice flour.
** Do not substitute with potato flour.
If you’re measuring by U.S. cup-measures, be sure to pack the flour tightly into the cup, as if you were measuring brown sugar.
Gluten-Free Ciabatta Bread
In a 5 to 6-quart bowl or stand mixer, whisk together the flour, yeast, salt, and sugar.
Add the lukewarm water — lukewarm water (100ºF) will allow the dough to rise to the right point for storage in about 2 hours.
Mix with the paddle attachment of mixer until mixture is very smooth, for about one minute. Alternatively, using a spoon or spatula, mix well by hand for one to two minutes. Kneading is not necessary. Transfer mixture to lidded (not airtight) food container.
Cover with a lid that fits well to the container but can be cracked open so it’s not completely airtight. Plastic wrap is fine, too. Allow the mixture to rise at room temperature about 2 hours; then refrigerate it and use over the next 10 days. You can use a portion of the dough any time after the 2-hour rise. Fully refrigerated wet dough is less sticky and easier to work with than dough at room temperature, but whatever you do, do not punch down the dough — this is unnecessary with gluten-free bread baking.
On baking day: pull off a 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough, then place it on a pizza peel prepared with plenty of cornmeal or on a large piece of parchment paper. Gently press the dough into an elongated oval of a 3/4-inch thickness measuring about 9-inches by 5-inches. Use wet fingers to smooth the surface. Dust the top with rice flour and cover loosely with plastic wrap or an overturned bowl.
Allow it to rest at room temperature for 30 minutes. The dough will not look as though it has risen much after the 30 minutes — this is normal. Remove the plastic wrap and dust with more flour if most of it has come off or has been absorbed.
While the dough is resting, preheat a baking stone or baking steel near the middle of your oven set at 450ºF for 30 minutes. Alternatively, preheat a lidded Dutch oven for 45 minutes at 450ºF. If you are using the stone or steel, place an empty metal broiler tray for holding water on the shelf below the stone or steel.
Shimmy the loaf onto the preheated stone. Quickly and carefully pour 1 cup of hot water from the tap into the metal broiler tray and close the oven door to trap the steam. If you are using parchment paper on the steel or stone, remove it after 20 minutes. Bake loaf for a total of 35 minutes. Alternatively, use the piece of parchment paper as handles and carefully lower the dough-topped parchment paper into the preheated pot. Cover and place in the oven. No need for a steam bath with the dutch oven. If you are using the preheated vessel, remove the lid after 30 minutes, and bake for 5 minutes longer uncovered or until the crust is richly browned.
Allow bread to cool completely, about 2 hours, on a wire rack. Gluten-free bread needs a full two hours of cooling to set completely.
Store remaining dough in the refrigerator in your lidded or loosely plastic-wrapped container and use it over the next 10 days. If your container isn't vented, allow gasses to escape by leaving the cover open a crack for the first couple of days in the fridge. After that, it can be closed.
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