Making Gluten-Free Bread in Five Minutes a Day: Refrigerating Pre-Mixed Homemade Dough, without Wheat, Barley, or Rye
We are so excited to present our delicious five-minute gluten-free bread recipes. They let us bring a world of bread to people who’ve gone without for too long. This is the fifth title in our Bread in Five Minutes cookbook series, based on refrigerating and storing a large quantity of pre-mixed dough (mix once and bake many loaves from the same batch over the next five to ten days). Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day extends our revolutionary stored-dough method to yeasted breads made without wheat, barley, rye, or any variants of those grains. We’ve adapted the rich palette of world breads to our unique way of baking, and wherever we could, we converted our readers’ favorites from our wheat-bread books into gluten-free versions.
We are a doctor and a pastry chef who met in our kids’ music class in 2003—an unlikely place for coauthors to meet. In the swirl of toddlers, musical chairs, and xylophones, there was time for the grown-ups to talk. Zoë mentioned that she was a pastry chef and baker who’d been trained at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA). What a fortuitous coincidence. Jeff wasn’t a food professional at all, but he’d been tinkering for years with an easy, fast method for making homemade bread. He begged her to try a secret recipe he’d been developing.
Our chance meeting led to a book deal with four titles and over a half million copies in print, and we’ve been writing cookbooks together ever since. Our first book, The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day (now in a 2013 revised edition), created an unlikely team, but it turned out to be a great combination. One reviewer called us “the chemist and the alchemist,” though on any given day we reverse roles at will. Our partnership has worked because amateurs find our breads extraordinarily easy to make, yet aficionados find them utterly delicious. Our very different backgrounds help us write recipes that balance health, ease of preparation, and flavor. This book is our latest attempt at that balancing act—for people who don’t eat gluten. They want great bread, but they can’t find it in their stores—store-bought gluten-free bread costs a fortune, and it tastes terrible.
Our adventures in gluten-free baking all started with our blog, BreadIn5.com, which lets us keep in touch with readers who have questions or comments, and which, over the years, has also become a place to share new information that we’ve learned. We’ve heard funny and emotional stories of families baking together, and people have even written poems about their breads. Our blog space is also a forum for new recipe requests—some of the most common requests have been health related. People started to request gluten-free recipes back in 2008, so we added a gluten-free chapter to our second book, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. We got a tremendous response from our readers—one wrote that “making gluten-free people bread-happy is not that easy, but you guys have done it!” In the years since that book came out, requests have poured in from as far away as Europe, Asia, and Australia for a whole book of gluten-free recipes, made with the same five-minute method.
So we adapted our five-minute technique and wrote the book for which some of our readers have been clamoring. Our goal for these new recipes was not just to satisfy the cravings of folks who are on a gluten-free diet. We also wanted their friends and loved ones who do eat wheat to be happy with the bread, and for all of them—gluten-eating and non-gluten-eating alike—to be able to eat together. So every recipe had to pass the test of our family members, who are not celiac or gluten-intolerant and love traditional breads. They kept us honest and diligent in our pursuit of fantastic bread that just happens to be made without wheat. Zoë’s dad declared the gluten-free brioche to be the best bread he’s ever had, not knowing that he was eating something made with rice, tapioca, sorghum, and other gluten-free flours. Zoë knew her two boys would love all the sweets in the book, but when she saw how they finished off gluten-free sandwich breads and dinner rolls, she knew we were onto something. We all know how picky and (painfully) honest kids can be, so this bread had to pass as the real deal for them.
But it wasn’t just our loyal family members who were pleased. A fellow food-blogger who taste-tested loaves for us declared them to be “real bread” and said she never would’ve known they were gluten-free if we hadn’t told her. She is one of many who live without bread because she is gluten-intolerant, and her options are so bleak. One reader wrote to say “… thank you so much for creating these gluten-free recipes. It’s nice to know that even though I can’t eat gluten, I can enjoy amazing breads.”
And so, with the generous advice of our readers and their families on our interactive website, and after five years of writing and testing gluten-free recipes for our second, third, and fourth books, we’ve discarded everything that’s intimidating and created wonderful gluten-free recipes that come together quickly enough to fit into people’s busy lives. Our recipes will let you create your own homemade gluten-free bread, with the wonderful aroma, flavor, and chewy texture of traditional artisan loaves. We won’t ask anyone to knead; it turns out that gluten-free dough never benefits from it. And we’ve kept active preparation time to five minutes per loaf for the basic recipes, using our usual mix-once bake-many method. There are also two new gluten-free flour blends to keep on hand, so you can dip into the bin whenever you want to mix up a new four-loaf batch—no need to measure from several flour bags every time you mix.
As you read through the book, please visit our website (GFBreadIn5.com), where you’ll find instructional text, photographs, videos, and a community of other five-minute-a-day bakers. We’re also on Twitter (@ArtisanBreadIn5), Pinterest (Pinterest.com/BreadIn5), Facebook (Facebook.com/BreadIn5), Instagram (Instagram.com/BreadIn5), Tumblr (BreadIn5.Tumblr.com), and Google Plus (Plus.Google.com/+BreadIn5).
Happy baking, and enjoy all the bread!
So what’s the problem with gluten? For whom? A wee bit of science:
If you and your health professional have already figured out that you have a problem with gluten, you may not need this section, and if you like, just skip ahead to our discussion of gluten-free and non-gluten-free bread ingredients here.
But if you’re just starting the conversation and sorting through competing claims made in the gluten-free community, this next section may be helpful to you.
Americans in record numbers are trying gluten-free foods, and one often-quoted study estimates that 1 out of 133 Americans has celiac disease, and other estimates are as high as one out of a hundred. Indications suggest that the numbers are rising—the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has published an estimate of three million celiacs in the United States. Studies suggest that celiac disease is four times more common today than it was in the 1950s.
But the current state of medical research on gluten-related problems is confusing, even to doctors. When Jeff was in medical school, his adult medicine textbook covered celiac disease in just over one page (in a 2,212-page book). It claimed that there were “insufficient data to provide an accurate estimation” of how common this problem was, which may have been true at the time the book was published (1983). As late as 2000, a popular pediatric textbook claimed that celiac disease was becoming less common, and that it affected no more than one in ten thousand people. Off by a factor of a hundred. Well, no one’s perfect.
Sometimes you have to admit you just didn’t know: Suffice it to say that the most experienced doctors (those who trained in the 1980s and before) were trained to consider celiac disease to be an uncommon problem—most left training believing it was rare. It is not.
A host of studies done over the last decade have helped us to understand how common this problem is. There are three kinds of medical problems caused by eating wheat, barley, rye, and their variants:
1. Celiac disease, affecting nearly one out of a hundred people in Western countries (probably over three million Americans), is classified as an “autoimmune” disorder, in which the body’s immune system attacks its own healthy tissue. It’s part of a family of diseases that includes rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, type 1 diabetes, Crohn’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and many others. In autoimmune disorders, the immune system confuses what is foreign (bacteria, viruses, cancer cells) with what is not (our own healthy cells). In celiac disease, the body mounts an immune response triggered by gluten protein—and this immune response attacks healthy cells lining the small intestine. The intestine becomes an innocent bystander in an attack by an immune system that thinks gluten is a deadly invader and has mistaken intestinal cells for it. The result can be a laundry list of unpleasant digestive and other symptoms. The damaged intestine doesn’t absorb crucial nutrients very well—nutrients like iron, without which we develop anemia. Though blood tests and symptoms may suggest celiac disease, it is definitively diagnosed only through biopsy of the upper small intestine during endoscopy, performed by a gastrointestinal specialist. There is only one effective treatment—complete avoidance of gluten—and it works. Intestinal healing begins within days of starting a gluten-free diet, but complete healing can take twelve to eighteen months in children, and longer in adults. People with celiac disease can tolerate only the tiniest amounts of gluten—most will have intestinal damage when the amount eaten daily reaches just 100 milligrams (1/200 of an ounce), but a recent review suggests that as little as 10 milligrams (1/2000 of an ounce) is the threshold for some (not all) celiacs. Most important, celiac disease is not an allergy.
2. Wheat allergy: Some people develop particular types of proteins called antibodies in response to foods they eat, and these antibodies inappropriately activate a class of white blood cells—mast cells—that can trigger symptoms which include hives, itching, runny nose, wheezing, swelling of the lips, face, tongue, or throat, nausea, vomiting, and in severe cases, anaphylactic shock (a dangerous decrease in blood pressure). These symptoms occur soon after eating the allergy-triggering food. The most common food allergens are peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, seafood, eggs, and milk; wheat allergies are much less common. The triggering allergen can be gluten, or other components of the wheat seed. Wheat allergy is typically seen in children, many of whom will also have other food allergies. Kids often outgrow wheat allergy between the ages of three and five, so it’s uncommon in adolescents and adults—much less common than celiac disease. But until it disappears, the best treatment is complete avoidance of wheat.
3. Wheat or gluten sensitivity: Research is just beginning to emerge about this newly described syndrome. We’re not even close to knowing just how common it is. Why? Because researchers haven’t even established clear criteria for its diagnosis. Here’s what’s known: there are people who experience digestive symptoms on a typical unrestricted diet, but find no traditional medical explanation to account for them—in other words, biopsy results are normal (these people don’t have celiac disease). The most recent research suggests that a small but significant group of these people improve when they stop eating wheat. There may be two types, one more similar to celiac disease (but without the intestinal damage), and another that behaves more like an allergy. It appears that something is present; we just don’t know exactly what.
Expert’s Corner: In 2014, we chatted with Dr. Stefano Guandalini, medical director of the University of Chicago’s Celiac Disease Center, about the growing numbers of Americans who are experimenting with gluten-free foods but do not have celiac disease. He agrees that a wheat-sensitivity diagnosis is difficult to pin down, because there’s still no scientifically valid medical test to diagnose this condition—no blood or fluid test, no biopsy, and no X-ray. Dr. Guandalini estimates that there are about as many people with gluten/wheat sensitivity or wheat allergy as there are celiacs, which means that about 2 percent of the population has some degree of difficulty with wheat. Making the picture even more complicated, it may not even be gluten that’s causing the problem—it may be a different substance in the wheat kernel, such as a carbohydrate or a different protein. Much, much more research is needed before we make blanket pronouncements about any risks of wheat-eating by non-celiacs. Specifically, Dr. Guandalini, who is an international leader in the movement to aggressively identify and diet-treat people with celiac disease, finds no scientific evidence that a gluten-free diet is somehow healthier for everyone. It’s clear that people with celiac disease need this diet, and others (we don’t know how many) may also benefit by avoiding gluten. But for the rest of the population, there’s no reason to believe that there are general health benefits to a gluten-free diet—there is no medical evidence that it will help you lose weight, improve your energy level, or prevent heart disease, dementia, or other chronic conditions.
What do you do if you think you have a problem with gluten?
If you’ve been diagnosed with celiac disease by a doctor, you need to completely avoid wheat, barley, and rye, but also the lesser-known wheat varieties, even those marketed as “ancient” grains—bulgur, einkorn, spelt, emmer, faro, triticale, freekeh, durum, semolina, or Kamut—so you won’t find any of those in this book, either. That’s because they’re actually just older wheat varieties that were used before extensive breeding and hybridization of high-yield wheat occurred in modern agricultural societies, and they still contain gluten (though usually less than modern wheat). On the other hand, there are some “ancient” grains that are not wheat varieties, and they are completely gluten-free: quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, millet, and teff.
Oat flour and oatmeal, in their pure states, are gluten-free, but commercial oat products may contain small amounts of gluten because they’re sometimes grown or processed in close proximity to wheat. That’s why some celiacs should only eat certified gluten-free oats. If you only have wheat sensitivity (see here), you should be able to eat commercial oats, but as always, check with your doctor.
Getting tested: The University of Chicago Celiac Disease Center recommends that you wait to start a gluten-free diet until after you’re diagnosed; otherwise, your test results may be inaccurate. If your diet is already completely gluten-free, your test results will be normal even if you have celiac disease, and they’ll remain so for some time after you go back on gluten. If you’ve already gone gluten-free, ask your doctor how long you need to be back on a regular diet before the testing will be accurate. The Celiac Disease Center has a terrific patient diet guide called Jump Start Your Gluten-Free Diet, which offers advice on getting an accurate diagnosis and asking your doctor the right questions (see Sources Consulted, here).
“But I just feel better off gluten”: What if you’ve gotten the right tests (while continuing to eat gluten) and the results are still normal, but you still feel better when you avoid wheat, barley, or rye? We’ll tell you what Dr. Guandalini has told us: “Don’t argue with success.” We don’t yet understand the science behind every experience, but if eating something made us feel ill, we’d stop eating it, too.
If you don’t have celiac disease, but think you may have wheat or gluten sensitivity or allergies, consider an evaluation by a knowledgeable physician. And if you have multiple allergies, check with your doctor before adding anything new to your diet—including ingredients in this book.
So what can I eat? What can’t I eat?
What follows are lists of flours and other baking ingredients—first, those that are gluten-free, and second, those that contain gluten, including the most common bread ingredients. Check the websites of the American College of Gastroenterology or the University of Chicago’s Celiac Disease Center for more complete lists (see Sources Consulted, here). We didn’t put so-called “ancient” wheat variants on the gluten-free list—because they do contain gluten.
Gluten-Free Flours and Bread-Baking Ingredients
The Center for Celiac Research and Treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical School has identified six “super” gluten-free ingredients: amaranth, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, sorghum, and teff (see Sources Consulted, here). These “Super Six” provide extremely high “nutrition density.” In other words, they contain lots of fiber, vitamins, and minerals in relation to their calorie (energy) content—so we used them wherever we could.
Beans and bean flours
Corn, cornmeal, and cornstarch
Garbanzo beans and garbanzo flour
Nut flours like almond, peanut, walnut (though people with multiple allergies should be cautious with nuts)
Oats (see notes on certified oats, here)
Rice (white, brown, or wild)
Typical yeast products that don’t contain added enzymes; usually will be labeled gluten-free
*a Harvard “Super Six” ingredient
Should I buy products that are specifically labeled gluten-free? Many people with celiac disease are safest with products that the manufacturer has labeled as gluten-free, though others may not need to be so careful. In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration established limits for how much gluten can be present in foods labeled as gluten-free: 20 parts per million by weight. That means that a pound of gluten-free flour can contain no more than about 3 ten-thousandths of an ounce of gluten. If you’ve gone metric, then it’s about one-fiftieth of a gram per kilogram of food. That is not much. The University of Chicago’s Celiac Disease Center says that celiacs will experience intestinal injury at something between 10 and 100 grams per day of gluten ingestion. So if it’s labeled “gluten-free” in the United States, even the most sensitive celiacs should be able to eat it. Consult with your doctor if you have any questions.
Flours and Baking Ingredients that Contain Gluten and Cannot Be Eaten by Celiacs or Others Who Cannot Tolerate Gluten or Wheat
Wheat (all-purpose flour, bread flour, whole wheat flour, wheat bran, wheat germ, graham flour, pastry flour)
Barley and barley malt
Faro (sometimes spelled farro)
Sprouted wheat, sprouted wheat flour
Yeast containing enzymes that enhance wheat doughs (“dough enhancers”); the enzymes are often derived from wheat
How do you make gluten-free bread in five minutes a day?
Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day is our attempt to help home bakers re-create the great ethnic and American breads of years past using gluten-free ingredients, without investing serious time in the process. We’ve transformed our original recipes into gluten-free creations that will put store-bought gluten-free loaves to shame. Using our straightforward, fast, and easy recipes, anyone will be able to create gluten-free bread and pastry at home with minimal equipment.
How do you make bread without gluten, the protein that gives bread its texture and rise? And who has time to make bread every day?
It turns out that we do, and with a method as fast as ours, you can, too. Using xanthan gum or ground psyllium husk to replace the structure that gluten provides, we were able to reproduce our method for storing dough in the refrigerator.
Traditional breads made the old-fashioned way (gluten-free included) need a lot of attention, especially if you want to use a “starter” for that natural, tangy taste. But traditional starters need to be cared for, with water and flour replenished on a schedule—you’ll get the flavor without all that work if you bake our way. And traditional bread baking requires lots of cleanup time, especially if you plan to bake frequently. There are bowls and utensils galore to be washed, some of which can’t go into the dishwasher. Very few busy people can go through this every day, if ever. Even if your friends are all food fanatics, when was the last time you had homemade bread at a dinner party? What if some of the dinner guests were gluten-free?
So we went to work. We adapted a selection of the great breads we created for The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, this time using only gluten-free ingredients. Making great homemade gluten-free bread depends on one fortuitous discovery:
Pre-mixed, pre-risen, high-moisture, gluten-free dough keeps well in the refrigerator.
By pre-mixing high-moisture dough and then storing it, daily gluten-free bread baking becomes an easy activity; the only steps you do every day are shaping and baking. Other books have considered refrigerating dough, but only for a few days.
Knead gluten-free dough? Never! Traditional wheat bakers knead dough to develop the gluten, which enhances the structure and rising. Gluten-free dough doesn’t require kneading, ever—there’s nothing to “develop.”
We tested the capacity of wet gluten-free dough to be stored in your refrigerator. As our high-moisture dough ages, it takes on sourdough notes reminiscent of the great European and American natural starters. When dough is mixed with adequate water (this dough will be wetter than most you have worked with), it can be stored in the refrigerator for up to ten days (you can freeze dough that you want to keep longer). That, in a nutshell, is how you make gluten-free breads with only five minutes a day of active effort—the dough is mixed and ready for use in your refrigerator.
Measuring and mixing the dough takes less than fifteen minutes. Kneading, as we’ve said, is not necessary. Every day, pull off a piece of dough from the container and briefly pat it into shape. Allow it to rest and then toss it in the oven. We don’t count the rest time (60 minutes or less depending on the recipe) or baking time (usually about 40 minutes) in our five-minute-a-day calculation, since you can be doing something else while that’s happening. The method is so convenient that you probably will find you can portion out some dough and bake a loaf every morning before your day starts (especially if you make flatbreads like pita). If you want to have one thing you do every day that is simply perfect, this is it.
Using high-moisture, pre-mixed, pre-risen dough makes most of the difficult, time-consuming, and demanding steps in traditional bread baking completely superfluous:
1. You don’t need to mix fresh dough every day to bake a daily gluten-free bread: Stored dough makes wonderful fresh loaves. Only the shaping and baking steps are done daily; the rest has been done in advance.
2. You don’t need a “sponge” or “starter”: Traditional sourdough recipes require that you keep flour-water mixtures bubbling along in your refrigerator, with careful attention and replenishment. By storing the dough over five to ten days, a subtle sourdough character gradually develops in our breads without the need to maintain sponges or starters in the refrigerator. With our dough-storage approach, your first loaf is not exactly the same as the last. Its flavor will become more complex as the dough ages. Some of our readers learned to stagger their batches so they were always baking with dough that had aged at least a few days—we love that strategy.
3. You don’t need to “proof” yeast: Traditional recipes require that yeast be dissolved in water with a little sugar and allowed to sit for five minutes to prove that bubbles can form and the yeast is alive. But modern yeast simply doesn’t fail if used before its expiration date and the baker remembers to use lukewarm, not hot water. The high water content in our doughs further ensures that the yeast will fully hydrate and activate without a proofing step. Storage gives it plenty of time to ferment the dough—our approach doesn’t need the head start.
What We Don’t Have to Do: Steps from Traditional Artisan Baking That We Omitted
1. Mix a new batch of dough every time we want to make bread.
2. “Proof” yeast.
3. Knead dough: Kneading develops gluten, which these breads don’t have!
4. Rest and rise the loaves in a draft-free location—it doesn’t matter.
5. Fuss over doubling or tripling of dough volume.
6. Punch down and re-rise: Never punch down stored dough.
7. Poke rising loaves, leaving indentations to be sure they’ve “proofed.”
Now you know why it only takes five minutes a day, not including resting and baking time.
4. It’s hard to over-rise high-moisture stored dough: Remember that you’re storing it anyway. Assuming you start with lukewarm (not cold) water, you’ll see a brisk initial rise at room temperature over two hours (don’t punch down); then the risen dough is refrigerated for use over the next five to ten days. But rising longer (even as long as eight hours) won’t be harmful; there’s lots of leeway in the initial rise time. The exception is dough made with eggs or dairy, which should complete its rising in the refrigerator if it goes beyond two hours.
Given these simple principles, anyone can make gluten-free bread at home. We’ll talk about what you’ll need in Chapters 2 (Ingredients) and 3 (Equipment). You don’t need a professional baker’s kitchen. In Chapter 4, you’ll learn the tips and techniques that have taken us years to accumulate. Then, in Chapters 5 and 6 (The Flour Mixtures and The Master Recipe, respectively), we’ll lay out the basics of our method, applying them to a basic round loaf and several delicious variations. The Master Recipe in Chapter 6 is the model for the rest of our recipes. We suggest you read it carefully and bake it first before trying anything else. You won’t regret it. And if you want more information, we’re on the Web at GFBreadIn5.com, where you’ll find instructional text, photographs, videos, and a community of other five-minute bakers. Other easy ways to keep in touch: follow us on Twitter (@ArtisanBreadin5), on Facebook (Facebook.com/BreadIn5), on Pinterest (Pinterest.com/BreadIn5), on Tumblr (BreadIn5.Tumblr.com), on Google Plus (Plus.Google.com/+BreadIn5), or on our YouTube channel (YouTube.com/BreadIn5), or on Instagram (Instagram.com/BreadIn5).
Visit GFBreadIn5.com, where you’ll find recipes, photos, videos, and instructional material.
Copyright © 2014 by Jeff Hertzberg and Zoë François