I recently checked out Peter Reinhart’s Whole Grain Breads from our library because I have been so frustrated trying out different bread recipes in the hopes of baking my own bread that tastes as good as what I can buy in the store or at a bakery. While I haven’t had any horrible flops like a completely unrisen loaf or burned one, it just hasn’t been up to the level of what I want that tastes as good.
The book is pretty overwhelming and full of a lot of information on grains, the chemistry and theories behind baking, and even some of the recipes are quite complicated. I had hoped to take the book home from the library and dive right in, but that first day upon cracking it open straight to the recipe section I looked at it for a minute then gave up and decided to try the much simplier recipes found in the Panera Bread Book I had also checked out. Big fail there. I wound up with two more dense loaves of whole wheat bread.
So, I took the lesson from the failure and decided that there really wasn’t a quick and easy way around this. If I want to bake good bread, I am going to have to do it the right way and it is going to to take more time. So I studied the book, had my mind boggled a bit and came to a better understanding of how the whole thing works.
I’m glad I did because with what I learned I was able to apply the theory to gluten-free baking and it makes such a huge difference in the end product.
Look at all those fluffy air pockets and the great big rise on that GLUTEN-FREE bread! Can you believe it?
So, if you have to be gluten-free and you are willing to take the extra time, I highly recommend this bread. It cobbles together what is so far my favorite GF bread recipe with Reinhart’s delayed fermentation method.
Day 1: Flour mix, soaker and biga
(See the fact that this recipe is broken out by days, probably scares you right off the bat, but don’t let it. A little work the first day and a little work the second day produces big results, trust me)
I’ll admit this flour combination is taken straight from Gluten-Free Mommy’s Millet Oatmeal Bread recipe.
In the bowl of your stand mixer sift together the following ingredients and use the whisk attachment to combine them:
-1 cup brown rice flour
-1/2 cup certified gluten free oat flour
-3/4 cup millet flour
-1/2 cup tapioca flour/starch
-1/3 cup arrowroot starch (you can substitute cornstarch)
-1/3 cup sweet rice flour
-1/4 cup flax seed meal
-1 tbsp xanthan gum
-3 tbsp brown sugar
Transfer the flour mixture to another bowl to get the mixer bowl ready for making your soaker.
-1 3/4 cups (8oz or 227g) flour mixture
-1/2 tsp (.14oz or 4g) salt
-3/4 cup plus 2 tbsp (7oz or 198g) milk, buttermilk, yogurt or almond milk
Mix all of the soaker ingredients together in your mixer using the dough hook attachment for 1 minute, until all of the flour is hydrated and the ingredients form a ball of dough.
Transfer to another bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature for 24 hours. Rinse out your mixer bowl to prepare for making the biga. You need to rinse it because salt kills yeast and you don’t want any salt residue left in the bowl which will kill the yeast in the biga.
-1 3/4 cups (8oz or 227g) flour mixture
-1/4 tsp (.03oz or 1g) active dry yeast
-3/4 cup (6oz or 170g) filtered or spring water at room temperature
Dissolve the yeast in the water.
Mix all of the biga ingredients together in your mixing bowl with the dough hook attachment. Make sure all of the ingredients are evenly distributed and the flour is fully hydrated, at least 2 minutes.
Transfer to another bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Leave it at room temperature for 24 hours.
You will have some of the flour mixture leftover. Do not discard it, it will be used the next day.
Day 2: Final dough and baking
Using a metal pastry scraper, chop the soaker and biga into 12 smaller pieces each. Place the pieces in the bowl of your stand mixer alternating between soaker and biga pieces (in other words, you don’t want all the soaker pieces on the bottom of the bowl and all the biga pieces on the top) and sprinkling 2 tsp of active dry yeast in between all the pieces (if you use the packets of yeast, you will use 1/4 tsp in in the biga and the remainder of the packet in the final dough).
Add the following additional ingredients to the bowl:
-remainder of flour mixture
-5/8 tsp salt
-2 1/4 tbsp (1.5oz or 42.5g) honey
-1 tbsp butter or butter substitute, melted
Using the dough hook attachment, mix on slow speed for 1 minute to bring the ingredients together into a ball. Bring the speed up to medium-low, occasionally scraping down the bowl for 2-3 minutes until the pre-doughs become cohesive and assimilated into each other with other ingredients.
Dust a work surface with the gluten-free flour of your choice (I prefer oat because it is usually pretty fine and soft whereas the brown rice tends to be grainy), then toss the dough in the flour to coat. Knead by hand for 3-4 minutes, incorporating only as much extra flour as needed, until the dough feels soft and tacky, but not sticky. Form the dough into a ball and let it rest on the work surface for 5 minutes while you prepare a clean, lightly oiled bowl.
Resume kneading the dough for 1 minute and make any final flour or water adjustments. Form the dough into a ball and place it in the prepared bowl, roling to coat with oil. Cover loosely with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature for approximately 45 to 60 minutes, until it is about 1 1/2 times the original size.
Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface and form it into a loaf pan shape then place in a greased loaf pan. Score the dough and let rise at room temperature for about an hour until it is 1 1/2 times its original size.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place the pan in the oven and reduce the temperature to 350°F. Bake for 20 minutes, rotate 180° and continue baking for another 20-30 minutes, until the loaf sounds hollow when thumped and registers at least 195°F in the center.
Transfer the bread to a cooling rack and allow it to cool at least 1 hour before cutting to serve (I know this is hard, but it helps the loaf retain moisture and continues the chemistry process, so resist tempation and don’t cut it!).