I’ve been getting on well with my gluten free diet, I’ve found a couple of premade breads I like and what with my many baking experiments I don’t feel I’m missing out on much. However, one of the things I have been disappointed with is the lack of artisan dark brown or rye style breads. You know the ones I mean – the ones with the crunchy crust, the moist dense texture and a smell of molasses. Most gluten free bread companies seem to be trying their hardest to produce breads that are similar to store-bought white or brown sliced or pappy round rolls. While there are now some very good gluten free alternatives on the market, I never used to buy this kind of bread myself. I always favoured the fresher, crunchier, denser, more natural loaf. A dark rye loaf was a particular favourite. I soon came to the conclusion that the only way to satisfy my craving was to bake one myself.
This left me in a bit of a quandary as my previous gluten free bread making experiments had produced breads that were at best, edible. Not only that but I was worried about recreating the right texture and flavour as rye is now on the ‘forbidden’ list, so I put it off.
As I have learnt more about the different flours over the past few months, my confidence in combining them has grown. Some add nutty or savoury notes, others are good at adding a sticky gumminess and some have a coarse or sandy texture. Last weekend I decided it was time to try and create my rye-style loaf.
The main bulk of the flour was gram flour for its moist, smooth texture and brown teff flour for its wholegrain toasty flavour. I then added potato and tapioca flours for their sticky binding abilities along with a little black treacle which helped deeper the colour and gave it that dark slightly, bitter note you sometimes get with rye bread.
I decided to bake the bread inside a preheated casserole dish, a method that has proved very successful at getting a thick crisp outer crust to bread in the past. I’m thrilled to say it worked a treat and resulted in a very thick, crisp, crunchy, nutty outer crust to my bread. You can see how wonderfully thick it was from the slice.
The aroma that wafted out of the oven as it baked was sweet and fruity, with a slightly sharp twang that reminded me of the smell of young fruit chutney. It smelt promising. The bread felt quite dense, but then rye bread does too so I wasn’t put off. The golden crust was so thick it was almost a little hard to cut the first slice, but hiding beneath that hard exterior was a soft, moist closely textured crumb.
I took a bite and as the breads crust went ‘cru…nch’ a huge smile spread across my face, oh how I’ve missed that texture. The inside crumb was light and moist, quite dense but not heavy with a savoury wholesome flavour. I cut another slice and it didn’t crumble into dust or break apart. Nor did it turn to powder in my mouth or become a horrible gummy mess – it tasted like ‘real’ bread – oh joy!
If you are in search of a fluffy springy bread then this bread is probably not for you, but if you like your bread with a bit of crunch and attitude then I suggest you give this a go. It still needs a bit of tweaking but it’s certainly a good place to start. Leftovers made fantastic toast too!
Rye-Style Gluten Free Bread
300g gram/chickpea flour
200g brown teff flour
50g potato flour
50g tapioca flour
2½ tsp xanthan gum
15g dried yeast
1½ tsp salt
1 tbsp black treacle
50ml olive oil
350ml warm water
Sift the gram flour into a large bowl to break up any clumps. Add the other flours, xanthan gum, yeast and salt. Mix together until combined.
Pour in the oil, black treacle and warm water and mix together using the tips of your fingers on one hand, until it begins to form a dough.
Tip the dough out onto a clean work surface and knead for 1-2 minutes until the dough is smooth and tacky to the touch, but not overly sticky. It will have the consistency more of pastry dough than bread dough as the flour has no elasticity as it’s gluten free.
Place the dough into a clean baking tray and loosely cover the top with clingfilm. Place the dough in a warm place and allow to rise for 2-3 hours. It won’t double in size, but it should puff up slightly. Alternatively, place the dough in the fridge overnight before allowing to sit at room temperature for 2 hours before continuing the next day.
When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 230C and place a casserole dish, complete with lid, in the oven to warm up.
Once at temperature, place your bread dough inside the hot casserole dish and cover with the lid. Bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Then remove the lid and bake for a further 15 minutes until crisp to the touch and a dark golden brown.
Transfer to a wire rack to cool before slicing.
It has a thick crisp crust with a moist dense textured crumb that doesn’t fall apart on slicing. Tastes great as bread, but also makes ultra crispy toast.