When Phillip and I visit a new city, we choose a hotel in the midst of the area of the city we most want to see and then see the city intimately on our runs, and then by walking from the hotel to the sites we want to visit. Exploring a city on foot allows us to see sights and find treasures we might miss if we took a bus or a car everywhere. The exception on our recent trip is the little country inn in which we stayed while in Wales to run the Snowdonia Eryri Marathon (shameless plug so that I can show a photo of the lovely, quaint Seiont Manor between Llanberis and Caernarfon, where I was spoiled rotten by the chef and wait staff who went to great lengths to provide gluten-free dishes for me):
We framed our trip to Wales with a short stay in Dublin at the beginning and the end of our trip. While in Dublin we stayed in the financial district which is located near every place we were interested in visiting in the city. On the afternoon of our first stay in Dublin we went for a four mile run to see Oscar Wilde’s house and St Stephen’s Green. While running down the sidewalk on the way back to the hotel we passed the KC Peaches bakery. I happened to glance at the window and saw a beautiful sight: a tag in the window announcing gluten-free financiers. Of course we just HAD to enter that bakery, and the lovely girl behind the counter didn’t even mind that I was barefoot (the one disadvantage of being a barefoot runner is that it sometimes limits where I might enter while I run). We purchased some gluten-free financiers and a HUMONGOUS gluten-free meringue with chocolate chips, then continued our run while I carried the bag with my gluten-free treasures in my hand. Of course we walked after first leaving the bakery so that I could eat one of the financiers. Oh, my. It tasted Heavenly.
On our second stay in Dublin, we walked to see such sights as St Patrick’s Cathedral, Christ Church, and Dublin Castle. On our way to St Patrick’s Cathedral from the hotel we passed a little kitchen / catering supply shop and I had to go in to browse. I’m so glad I did. I saw a size loaf pan I’ve never seen before, with high sides that I knew would be perfect for baking gluten-free yeast bread. I purchased the 8.5 x 5 x 4.5 inch Master Class farmhouse 1300 g (3 lb) loaf pan and we carried it with us for the duration of our Dublin walk about. As soon as I had time after returning home, I tried out the pan. The loaf of bread I baked in that pan was gorgeous and delicious. The high sides of the farmhouse loaf pan is one reason this loaf turned out so beautifully. Gluten-free bread, lacking the structure provided by gluten, needs the support of the pan in order to rise and stay risen. Standard size bread pans often lead to gluten-free loaves of bread that initially rise in the oven, but then collapse due to lack of support. I have a pullman bread pan I’ve been using to bake gluten-free loaves that reliably rise, but the pullman pan produces a traditionally pullman-shaped loaf, with the length and height about the same. The loaf produced by the farmhouse loaf pan, however, produces a loaf that’s shorter in length and taller in height:
This Master Class loaf pan is my new favorite bread pan.
In keeping with the season, I chose to bake a yeast bread with just enough ground ginger and cinnamon added to create a subtle hint of warm spice. I’ve been having success using baker’s math, adjusted for the specific hydration needs of gluten-free doughs. Instead of using 66% hydration with 100% flours, I use 80% hydration with 100% flours. I separate the eggs, weigh the egg whites (I had the egg yolks to the batter separately), then add enough of my chosen liquid to reach 80% hydration. For this loaf I used 500 g of gluten-free flours, two eggs, and one 12 oz bottle of hard apple cider. The cider with the two egg whites just happened to reach 80% hydration.
I always use powdered milk in my bread doughs for the added structure from the protein in the bread (additionally, powdered milk is commonly used as a dough enhancer in gluten-containing breads). I generally use dried buttermilk; it’s usually the closest to whole fat dried milk I can find. Fat-free dried milk powder seems denatured to me, not merely just dried. I finally located some whole fat dried milk (from grass fed cattle, no less), so now I use either one with equally positive results.
Ginger, like powdered milk, is also a commonly used dough enhancer. Usually it’s used in such small amounts that it adds no flavor to the bread. In this loaf, because I want the flavor of ginger to be discernible, I used a greater amount than is used as merely a dough enhancer. I use dried ginger root from the bulk department of natural food stores rather than ginger from the spice aisle at the grocery store; it has a more prominent, gingery flavor.
Adding a small amount of potato flour, not starch, to the gluten-free (as well as gluten-containing) dough enhances the bread’s texture by helping to maintain its moisture and giving it a more tender crumb.
Gluten-free bread dough is a wet dough. It should be much thicker than cake batter, but too sticky and wet to knead. One positive aspect of baking gluten-free bread vs gluten-containing bread is that most of the time the dough only rises once, and it’s usually risen as much as necessary within an hour. Baking a loaf of delicious home-made bread takes much less time when the bread it gluten-free. All bread looks done before it actually is, so you must use a thermometer to ensure your bread is cooked in the center. A dough that has dairy and eggs is an enriched dough and should be baked until the internal temperature reaches about 185F – 190F. I use an digital instant read thermometer to gauge the internal temperature of my bread loaves.
As tempting as fresh, warm bread fresh out of the oven may seem, please practice delayed gratification and wait until you loaf have cooled completely before slicing it. Slicing the bread before it’s cooled can mean a gummier texture as the water absorbed by the bread’s molecules hasn’t yet had a chance to evaporate. Let the bread cool completely, then slice it. The best way to store gluten-free bread is to slice the entire loaf once it has cooled, place it in a freezer bag, then freeze it. Thaw the bread slices in the microwave as needed. After the bread is thawed it can be toasted, or turned into French toast, or simply buttered and eaten while you stand at the counter waiting for your tea to finish seeping in your favorite mug!
Gluten-Free Ginger Yeast Bread
This ginger yeast bread, baked in a bread pan with tall sides, has a perfect rise, nice crust, soft crumb, and subtle warm spice flavor.
- 150 grams oat flour (celiacs use a brand flour that uses the purity protocol)
- 150 grams superfine sorghum flour
- 100 grams tapioca flour
- 100 grams arrowroot starch
- 50 grams sugar
- 40 grams powdered whole milk or powdered buttermilk
- 14 grams potato flour, not starch
- 10 grams salt
- 10 grams rapid rise yeast
- 8 grams xanthan gum
- 3 eggs separated
- milk enough added to the egg whites to weigh 400 grams
- 55 grams melted butter
- 1 tablespoon dried ginger root
In a stand mixer bowl, blend all the dry ingredients together.
Separate the eggs, placing the yolks in the mixing bowl with the dry ingredients and weighing the egg whites. Add enough milk to the eggs whites to equal 80% of the amount of flour (400 grams). Add the egg whites / milk mixture to the dry ingredients. Using the mixer on medium to slow speed, blend the wet and dry ingredients together until the mixture is smooth.
Add the melted butter slowly to the dough mixture, mixing as the butter is added. Continue mixing the bread dough for about six minutes.
Using a spatula, scrape the bread dough into the oiled bread pan. If you don't have a bread pan that has three inch or taller sides, make a foil collar for the bread pan you have to make higher sides that will support the dough as it rises and bakes. Using fingertips wetted with water, smooth the top of the dough in the pan and help shape the top into a dome.
Place a shower cap or dish towel over the pan with the dough in it and place the dough in a warm, draft-free place to rise. When the dough has risen to about 1/4 inch to the top of the pan, remove the shower cap or dish towel and place the pan in a preheated 375F oven to bake.
Place a piece of foil over the top of the bread loaf about fifteen minutes into baking to keep it from over-browning before the loaf is finished baking. The bread is finished when its interior temperature reaches 180 - 190 on an instant read digital thermometer.
Remove the finished bread from the oven and cool in the bread pan for about ten minutes. Release the loaf of bread onto a wire rack and allow it to cool completely before cutting into it. Enjoy!