The Fresh Loaf

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Great GF loaf

clazar123's picture

Great GF loaf

I have not been working on my GF skills lately and I had a little time today so I thought I would try to just throw together a loaf using what I have learned and trying to develop a "feel" for a more kneadable dough. The loaves I have made in the recent past have been more like a batter bread. I wanted to actually handle the dough and see how it felt.I did loosely track a "recipe" and I actually learned a lot from this loaf.

Here are some pics:

A close up of the crumb:

This was just cooled to room temp when it was sliced. It is not as moist as it looks but has a really pleasing texture that reminds me of a potato rye I have made in the past.

The crust browned beautifully. I attribute that to the fact that I shaped it with hands dipped in whey (I used kefir for the liquid and had some whey separated in a bowl.) After I shaped it, I lightly rubbed the surface smooth to encourage a closing of any holes. I wondered if that would help trap the bubbles. In the past, loaves developed holes as it rose.  The dough shaped like a cookie dough but actually had a little oven spring! I'm not sure why I slashed-prob out of habit but I was pleased to see the separation after the bake.

What I learned is that GF flours take very little liquid but still need time to absorb and need to be "kneaded" so that the starchy gel develops. You can feel the difference. The hardest part is actually determining when the loaf is fully proofed. You can't do the "fingerpoke" test as there is no rebound. I think I will have to research how rye is proofed and hope MiniOven will jump in for that. I also baked this at 375F. I thought it would help to bake it longer/slower to release more moisture and it seemed to have worked.

Recipe-such  as it is.

Mix together in bowl:

2 cups GF flour

1 1/2 tsp salt (needs a little more)

1 tbsp. sugar

Mix all wet ingredients together and then mix into dry ingredients. Make sure the psyllium is well combined so there are no gel lumps in dough:

1 egg

2 tbsp. oil

1/2 c kefir (buttermilk or reg milk would prob be fine)

2 tbsp. psyllium + 1/4 c water-mixed and sit until gelled

2 tsp yeast+2 tbsp. water+pinch sugar-mixed and sit for 5-10 minutes

(I used SAF Gold for this recipe)

Mixed by hand-let rest 20 minutes-then "knead" with damp hand. I actually gave up trying to keep my hands clean and this dough does not change a lot but it gets a little smoother/more gelled feeling.

Shape on greased or parchmented pan. Lightly rub over surface to smooth it and dip hands in milk or whey. Apply sesame seeds generously.Slash lightly. Bake 375 until nicely browned.

Have fun! I would be happy to post my GF flour blend if interested.


Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

I'm here and listening with my ears perked up.  Your description is so good I can almost feel the dough in my hands!  The smoothing of the dough surface, I can relate that to rye.  When I see any bubbles piercing the surface, it is high time to get the loaf into the oven.  Gas escaping is not good.  Before the gas escapes, the smooth surface gets slightly bumpy as bubbles are changing pushing up the surface from underneath.  Maybe the bumpy surface is the one to pay attention to.  

The surface of your loaf looks very smooth and evenly golden and if sealing the holes does this, it's a great tip. Nice to see how the crumb pushes up to the crust nicely creating flakey layers.  Even color indicates the temp is spot on!  I also like to use milk to smooth out the surface I tend to think it helps with the browning.  If I cover the surface with seeds or nuts like you did, it's easier to place my wet hand up against the dough to feel the spongy volume of it, to judge the inside density, if that makes sense.  The more it jiggles and moves the bigger the bubbles inside.

I like the slash too.  :)

Laura T.'s picture
Laura T.

Nice to see someone else using psyllium to great effect! Looks lovely! However, I'd suggest weighing your ingredients to make the recipe easier to replicate consistently in future. I didn't really find a need to knead (rhyme unintended haha) with gf bread - what difference have you seen by doing this? It may relate somehow to the egg, which is something I haven't used.

clazar123's picture

I am trying different all purpose flour mixes based on the characteristics of the different ingredients and also price/availability. I am happy with the texture this flour mix and recipe imparted but I am not happy with the flavor. There is an unpleasant, mild bitterness, probably from the sorghum and millet flour. I had them in the refrig but they are starting to taste rancid/bitter. For some reason, I have been having difficulty finding sorghum and millet flour that are NOT bitter tasting. There are many places to buy her so availability is not the issue. I have about 5 bags of sorghum flour and 3 of millet flour. I contacted the company who mill them and even tho ALL of them had freshness dates into 2014,all the millet and 4 of the sorghum were bitter/rancid. One company sent me replacement stock and the other company sent a coupon for replacement. My next batch will have to be without those and that may change the crumb. SO make sure you taste your flour or the resulting loaf may taste awful. Fortunately, this loaf just tastes mildly unpleasant.

GF All Purpose Flour

Starch 60%/Protein 40%


White Rice Flour (66%)   200g

Tapioca Starch (16%      50g

Potato Starch (not flour or flakes) (16%) 50g


Protein/medium flour

Sorghum flour (50%)    100g

Millet Flour (25%)        50g

Teff Flour (12%)        25g

Almond Flour  (12%)      25g

About 134g per cup

No binder such as psyllium or xanthan gum in the flour mix. That gets added with the recipe.

LauraT- Several GF websites talk about "kneading" the dough. Like any tactile cooking experience, you can learn a lot from the feeling and dough behavior. The reason I thought it was valuable to do was that I could feel the initial grittiness of the dough and after resting and then squishing it through my fingers (like a kindergartener) I could start to feel how the dough developed a smoother, more...........padded feeling. I don't know how else to describe it. Initially, it felt like massaging a bag of sand and then it felt like playdough with some sand in it-it bulked up. As for the psyllium, this time I decided to "activate" it by mixing it with water. Mainly because I had no clue as to how much water to add. So I started out adding the water but then I added the rest of the liquids to it so it didn't form an unmixable gum.  I was careful to make sure there were no gummy lumps. That would have been unpleasant.

MiniOven-so glad you jumped in. I really feel this dough behaves most like your descriptions of the very high percentage rye but I have never made them myself so I wasn't sure. The proofing on this one seemed pretty spot on but that was more luck than anything. The bubbles form and escape from this one very early in the proofing but I will look for the telltale bumpiness you speak of to see if that helps. This dough does not seen to have much internal lightness when you cup the top with your hand-I DO know what you mean by that! But maybe it is more subtle and I will have to learn that feel. Smoothing the top with a whey soaked hand seemed to really make a big difference!

Je-I believe it rose for about 1 hour and my kitchen was at about 75F. I decided to "rest" the dough for that 20 minutes simply because the last few times I made GF products, there awas a mild crunchiness to the  chew of the product. I wanted to give the flour particles time to absorb the moisture. I believe this dough would great benefit from a long autolyse or even a retard. It would soften the flour particles-even tho they are very finely ground from the start

I'm sure this loaf would have tasted much better if I had used a preferment but it was an impulse loaf. I have done preferments with the batter bread loaves I had previously made and they all had the taste we strive for when we are doing wheat based bread-DELICIOUS but a moist texture.

So next time a slightly different GF flour mix, a preferment and fingers crossed. Oh and really oil the pan-GF dough sticks like rye!

Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

"I had them in the refrig but they are starting to taste rancid/bitter"

You might try freezing - that may make them last longer.  It won't help with any initial bitterness but should stop further degredation.

Also look for the freshest possible flour to start with - it may be going off just slightly in the store ...

clazar123's picture

The flours I have in my refrigerator came shipped directly from the manufacturer and even though they came overnight and have been in the refrigerator since (3 weeks) they are already getting bitter. If it is that fussy, I need to find an alternative. Strangely enough the teff flour I had was several years OLDER than the freshness date and it is sweet as can be. Someone had given me the unopened bag. Must not be a very oily flour. I like the flavor teff adds but that is very expensive here and very hard to find.

I bought some sorghum seeds and may try grinding my own. I have a new-in-the-box grain mill (cheap and small) that might grind finely enough or I will really have to soak/autolyse those doughs.  

clazar123's picture

I started researching rye dough and the consummate source in my library is Inside the Jewish Bakery. The book is a great source of culture, history, science, experience and hands-on-how-to. Thank you,Stan and Norm!

On the bottom of p58 is an explanation of how rye dough behaves and it's unique characteristics. I don't know if the chemistry matches but the just sub GF for RYE and it describes both  doughs.Google has been my friend this morning and I am going further into "rheology" and "Pentosans" and enzymes than I ever have and after just skimming the top (whew-that is heavy stuff) my brain is whirling. One thing I have learned is that non-wheat breadmaking has been around a LONG time so GF baking is not a new concept. At one time most of the world ate nonwheat bread. The trick was to get a loaf that was pleasing to the teeth as well as the palate. I wonder if lack of dental health had anything to do with the popularity of the lighter breads made possible with wheat? (You just got a snapshot of how my mind works-in the psych world they call it flight of ideas. I call it thinking).

So more research is ahead of me. I like to use some science to help me figure out the characteristics of ingredients so I don't have to do a lifetime of experience to learn it. I hope to tap the collective experience here and perhaps Stan's experience to see if I can advance to a tasty, delicious, non-wheat, GF bread.

UPDATE: as the loaf I made continues to "age" it is becoming more tasty. It toasts with a  lovely fragrance. I am going to make a preferment and try a loaf and see if the taste can be improved. I would compare this loaf to a straight-through white bread-kind of pasty tasting.Many people wouldn't be able to taste the difference but my palate sure can tell.

quinoanut's picture

I too have been using psyllium, I mix it with ground chia and it definitely turns out a better loaf than the batter like GF breads. My only complaint with these as binders is that it makes a denser loaf most times but last time I used fresh ground buckwheat and it rose super high with nothing else changed that I can think of.

To Laura, I think that you have to knead, or at least use a stand mixer if you are using the psyllium or chia, it's a different animal than the breads with xanthan gum.