The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Gluten-free greetings from Netherlands

baking_anna's picture

Gluten-free greetings from Netherlands

Hello everyone!

I've been baking at home with gluten-free flours for about 10 years now, due to having celiac disease. Recently I rediscovered the old video of Jim Lahey's no knead bread, and I got inspired: it's time to figure out how to do this without wheat.

I have plenty of experience with baking gluten free cakes, but not breads. I can really only bake one or two types of sandwich loaf consistently. Nothing that you'd call "artisan". Usually my loaves spread flat without a tin.

I'm completely new to sourdough and technical stuff like calculating hydration. There are some excellent posts on TFL! I'm looking forward to working through some of your recipes, especially from the gluten free community bake.

If you have questions about gluten free cakes, or about Dutch or Australian recipes &/or ingredients, feel free to ask.


Moe C's picture
Moe C

Since you offered help....perhaps you could take a look at this thread. Donna Kohler is trying to duplicate Dutch brown bread. The link should take you to her first post, although she did not start the thread. I realize you do not eat wheat, but perhaps have some inside information about this bread.

Thanks, and hope you get some good ideas on the gluten-free front.

TheBreadMaster's picture

What kind of problems or difficulties can you run into when baking gluten-free bread?"

baking_anna's picture

Hi TheBreadMaster, I'm so glad you asked! I've been facing three challenges

1. Structure

Usually the doughs can't be shaped: they are quite wet and without structure. I'd say they're closer to toothpaste than dough. Is this normal for gluten free doughs? So far I haven't been able to get any tension in the dough, and I'm not sure if this is just a sad normality, or if I have been trying bad recipes from cooking blogs.

2. Technique

Most recipes for gluten free bread suggest you do only a single rise / bulk proof, in the baking tin, and then immediately bake. Do you think that's correct, or are the instructions worded that way to make up for the fact that it's a wet toothpaste-like dough that can't be shaped?

I have tried making baguettes once, doing a bulk proof followed by shaping (more like sculpting toothpaste!). I think they were over-proofed, which makes me wonder if gluten free grains ferment faster.

3. Flavor & substitutions

The commercial gluten free flour mixes are based on cornstarch and rice flour. This doesn't give much depth of flavor. I've been trying to substitute other flours, but often the loaf doesn't turn out. Flat, gelatinous, sunken inside with enormous air gaps, weird sponge-like mesh with no crumb, too dry: I've had a lot of failures! I guess I've probably changed the amount of starch or protein too much, so the recipe doesn't work anymore.

I've been looking around online, and there are a lot of grains and starches available where I live. My idea was to make a spreadsheet and try to research the fiber, protein and starch content of each of these. Maybe it gives a clue to which ones could be used as a substitute for wheat flour in yeasted doughs. So far I have just made the initial list:


 - almond

 - cashew

 - chestnut

 - hazelnut

 - walnut


 - corn starch

 - potato starch

 - tapioca

grains, seeds and tubers:

 - buckwheat

 - carob seed

 - chickpea

 - coconut

 - millet

 - oat

 - plantain

 - polenta

 - quinoa

 - brown rice

 - white rice

 - sorghum

 - soy

 - teff

 - tiger nut

Lots of opportunity to experiment! But where to start? :)


In Contrast:

These challenges only apply to yeasted doughs. Quickbreads like muffins and banana bread are very easy to make gluten free.

 * the dough can't get too tough from gluten development, so you can mix as much as you want

 * the mild-tasting flour is no problem, because the flavor comes from other ingredients

Here's a banana loaf I made this morning at a friend's house. I can't confirm the measurements because he doesn't have any equipment at all: just a spoon and plastic bowl. This is proof that quickbreads are very forgiving, and the challenges lie purely in the realm of yeasted doughs.

tpassin's picture

Buckwheat can make a fine loaf of bread, although it won't have an open, lacey interior like a wheat bread.  Here's one, and it has a link to another -


TheBreadMaster's picture

The structure of this rye bread will noticeably differ from the structure of traditional wheat bread. Specifically, rye bread won't have that characteristic lacy texture that wheat bread gets from gluten networks. And I like that.

baking_anna's picture

Aha! That is an excellent point.

I kept thinking that my loaves were failing because they didn't have the structure of wheat bread, but I was aiming for the wrong thing, eh? I'm gonna have to do a real mind-shift and learn to admire the texture of low-gluten loaves.

tpassin's picture

If you want to have the crumb be more like a wheat bread, I think you almost have to use psyllium husk, and probably xantham gum too.  I haven't tried using them because I don't want to eat them in any quantity.  Here are a few examples:



baking_anna's picture

Ah that's brilliant, thanks Tom! You've given me a few great ideas. I just bought some buckwheat groats yesterday, that's a fine coincidence!

I've done some homework, as I didn't know what scalding was. Luckily ChainBaker has an instructional video.
His ratio of flour:water matches yours pretty closely.

I'll let you know how it turns out

One rookie question: your buckwheat loaf used 500g flour, 640g water and 1 egg. Would that mean the hydration is 140%? (I'm trying to learn how baker's math works.)

tpassin's picture

Yes, if you say the egg contains 60g of water, the total hydration comes out to be 140%.  Good luck!  Abe has some words about using groats; I don't remember if they are in the thread I linked to or another, but go through the comments and see if you can find it.  I didn't have groats at the time and used buckwheat flour, and I haven't tried the groats per se.