Bread. The Coeliac Holy Grail. One thing that just never seems to be the same in the life of a Coeliac is bread. There are reasonable alternatives but the crunch of a fresh French baguette? Pretty much a thing of the past. The delight of a cinnamon raisin bagel? Something you can only smell now. Yes, bread…tis a lovely thing but a difficult thing to recreate without those precious gluten strands.
Being the good Great Bloggers Bake Off participant that I am, and being stubborn as well, I wasn’t going to let #gbbo Bread Week get me down. One of the things I have missed most since being diagnosed Coeliac is a bagel. Sound silly and simple but I used to love bagels. Back in the US, one of my favourite cafe chains was Panera Bread. They had about 20 varieties of bagel (at least) including Maple Syrup Crunch bagel and French Toast bagel (I prefer a sweet bagel myself). I used to pick up 2 dozen bagels before our Saturday morning staff meetings at the Gymnastics Centre that I worked at. I ate several every time. It’s no wonder that I’m Coeliac, eh? Oh, I digress..
I thought that I would try to find a gluten-free bagel recipe and give it a whirl for Bread Week. I found a recipe, gave it a whirl and was pleasantly surprised with the result…however, there was a catch. Fresh from the oven and toasted fresh from the oven, the gluten-free bagel (made with potato starch and corn flour) was scrummy. The next morning…toasted…Rubbish with a capital R! The potato starch and corn flour clagged together to make a tasteless circle of stodge. Utterly disappointing and bin-worthy. Boo. My glee over the previous day’s success was gone. As with many gluten-free recipes, they are best eaten immediately. They seem to turn to dust or concrete overnight. Weep.
I wasn’t going to be broken though. After watching Tuesday’s Great British Bake Off episode, I resolved to try, try again. I ran through one of my favourite gluten-free cookbooks and found two recipes for yeast-based, bread-link creations: focaccia and pizza. Two of my favourite yeast-based, bread-like creations! The gluten-free cookbook is called Gluten Free Baking by Michael McCamley (not an affiliate link) and I have made several recipes from this book with pleasing success. I paged to the Breads and Savoury Pastries chapter and found 2 recipes to attempt: Focaccia and Pizza.
I have made Phil Vickery’s recipe for gluten-free pizza dough many times in the past. Unfortunately, the dough, while tasty and edible, always resembles something like wet cardboard. Chewy and hard and sort of leaves a rock in your belly when all is said and done. In preparation for my two recipes I picked up more Doves Farm GF Bread Flour and got down to work while Sam had an unscheduled nap.
Caramelised Onion, Olive, Oregano & Garlic Focaccia
- butter, for greasing
- 450g gluten-free, wheat-free white bread flour mix
- 2tsp dried yeast (1 7g sachet)
- 2tsp caster sugar
- 350ml tepid milk
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 garlic clove, finely chopped (or roasted garlic to your taste)
- 10-12 black olives, stoned and halved
- rock salt
- cracked black pepper
- grated Parmesan cheese for sprinkling
For Caramelised Onion
- 50g butter
- 2 small or 1 large red onion, thinly sliced
- 1-2tsp dried oregano
- To make the caramelised onion, melt the butter in a small frying pan and fry the onion and oregano gently until the onion is soft and caramelised. Remove from the heat and cool until required.
- Grease a 25x35cm baking tray and line with baking paper.
- Sift the flour into a bowl. In a separate bowl, mix the yeast, sugar and tepid milk and leave to stand for 5-10 minutes at room temperature until frothy. Mix in the eggs and add the liquid mixture to the flour and mix well.
- Transfer the dough onto the prepared tray, pushing it out to the edges. Cover with a clean damp tea towel and leave for about 45 minutes until it has doubled in size. Preheat the oven to 180 degrees C.
- Spread the caramelised onion over the top of the bread, sprinkle with the garlic, olives, salt, pepper and Parmesan. Press the toppings lightly into the bread with your fingers.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 30-35 minutes until golden and crusty. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on a wire rack. The bread can be served hot or cold
- The dough is very WET when you mix it and pour it onto the baking tray. It is not like a traditional bread dough that has been kneaded. Expect it to stick to EVERYTHING! I placed it in the airing cupboard to prove without a towel on it due to the stickyness of the dough.
- I was a dork and FORGOT the salt and pepper added to the top. This definitely was evident in the final taste. Although the dough was light and airy and lovely, it definitely needed salt. In fact, the next time I make this I will probably add 1tsp of salt to the dry flour mixture and possibly 1tsp of garlic granules or powder to add a bit of kick.
- I used caramelised onion, olives and roasted garlic. You could add anything you like! The original recipe in the book called for thyme but I used dried oregano. Make your own taste choices on this!
- I also drizzled the dough with a bit of olive oil before popping in the oven to bake. My memories of focaccia include a rather moist and oily (in a good way) finished product. As the dough does bake to a crusty finish, the oil was a good idea.
- I was so pleased with the finished product that I nearly did a dance of joy around the kitchen. It rose to at least an inch in height and was airy and full of bubbles that most GF bread finishes do not have. I could easily cut a slice in half and use it as a sandwich bread with a filling in between the two halves. How luxurious!
- 225ml tepid water
- 30g dried milk
- 1tsp sugar
- 3tsp dried yeast (1 1/2 7g sachets)
- 125g gluten-free, wheat-free bread flour, sifted, plus extra for dusting
- 175g rice flour (I used glutinous rice flour)
- 2tsp gluten-free baking powder
- 1tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp Xanthan Gum
- 1 egg
- 1tbsp Olive Oil
- Pizza sauce and toppings of your choice to serve
- Place the tepid water in a bowl and dissolve the dried milk, sugar and yeast in it. Leave to stand at room temperature for approximately 5-10 minutes until frothy.
- In a large bowl, mix the bread flour, rice flour, baking powder, salt and Xanthan Gum together.
- In a separate bowl, whisk the egg and olive oil together and the add to the dry mixture. Pour in the yeast liquid and continue to mix until a soft dough forms.
- On a floured surface, roll out the dough, sprinkling generously with extra flour to keep dough from sticking too much. DOUGH WILL BE VERY STICKY! Oil a baking/pizza tray, oil your hands and pick up dough to place onto baking tray. Spread dough into a round or rectangle, depending on your preference. Leave to rest for 10-15 minutes before pre-baking. Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees C.
- Place the pizza base in the oven for 10 minutes.
- Remove from the oven, add your pizza sauce and toppings and return to the oven to bake for another 10-15 minutes.
- 1 doubled the quantities in this recipe yet still made just one large pizza. The pizza was quite large though and will easily feed a family of 4.
- As the dough is so sticky, I handled it as little as possible. I believe this helped to keep air in the dough and added to the finished product.
- I have not had a gluten-free pizza this light and fluffy since being diagnosed Coeliac nearly 3 years ago. Most GF pizzas are like thin cardboard. They can be tasty but they are not very pleasant to chew. I will never go back to pre-made, rubbish crusts after trying this recipe. Want to come over for pizza now??
And there we have it! My gluten-free focaccia and pizza which I humbly submit as my Great Bloggers Bake Off SHOWSTOPPER breads. Now go check out some of the other brilliant bread offerings from bloggers who love using gluten to their advantage! The queens of the Great Bloggers Bake Off are Jenny Paulin and Helen Jessup. They have been making lovely things that make me drool! Let me know if you give my gluten-free recipes a go!