Gluten-Free Crusty Boule

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When Jeff and I set off to write HBin5 we knew it would include gluten-free recipes. It was the #2 request from our readers of ABin5, more of a plea than a request. The options for buying gluten-free bread are both unsatisfying and expensive, two qualities we try to avoid. We wanted to create wonderful bread that anyone, celiac or not, would want to eat. Along the way we learned a lot about baking with flours that don’t have gluten, which is what gives wheat breads their desired texture and ability to rise. It took several failed attempts, some sleepless nights and ultimately the advice of experienced gluten-free chef Shauna from Gluten Free Girl before we landed what we think is a dynamite crusty loaf, that just happens to be gluten-free.

Several readers have asked about our olive oil dough on page 238. While the Crusty Boule has a chewy and toothsome texture, the bread made with the olive oil dough has a much lighter, almost fluffy interior. Replace the neutral flavored oil in the Crusty Boule recipe with olive oil if you prefer the texture of that loaf. They are both wonderful and give you fantastic options for free form loaves, sandwich breads, pizzas and even crackers. You will find all of these, plus many other gluten-free breads and awesome sticky buns in Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day.

For those of you who are celiac or just baking for someone who is you will find all of the directions and tips for handling gluten-free dough below. It is just as easy as our other recipes, but requires slightly different techniques and a new list of ingredients.

Gluten-Free Crusty Boule

Makes enough dough for at least four 1-pound loaves

2 cups Brown Rice Flour

1 1/2 cups Sorghum Flour

3 cups Tapioca Flour (also called tapioca starch)

2 tablespoons yeast (can be reduced but you will have to increase the rise time)

1 tablespoon kosher salt (increase or decrease to taste)

2 tablespoons Xanthan Gum

2 2/3 cups lukewarm water

4 large eggs, whisked together

1/3 cup neutral-flavored oil or olive oil

2 tablespoons honey or sugar

click here to see the video of this recipe

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Mixing and storing the dough: Whisk together the flours, yeast, salt and xanthan gum in a 5-quart lidded Round Food Storage Container. Combine the oil, honey and water, set aside.

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Dump the eggs into the dry ingredients and then stir while you pour in about 1/3 of the oil and water. Unlike our wheat doughs we do not add all of the liquid at once and stir. If you do that it will result in a lumpy dough.

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continue to stir while you pour in another 1/3 of the liquid.

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The dough will start to come together in a thick dough. Add the final 1/3 of liquid and

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stir until the dough is nice and smooth. Cover with the lid, but do not snap it shut. Allow it to rest on the counter for about 2 hours. Place the dough in the refrigerator and store for up to 7 days. (I have a piece in the freezer and I will report back about how that turns out once I defrost it and bake it up. Stay tuned.)

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On baking day take the bucket from the refrigerator. The dough will be quite fluffy still and you want to try not to handle the dough too much. Just like our other doughs the trick is to keep as much of the air bubbles in tact as possible.

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Use wet hands to remove 1-pound (grapefruit-size) piece of dough from the bucket.

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The dough will be quite scraggly when you take it out, just place it on a piece of parchment paper.

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Use wet hands to smooth out the surface of the dough.

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This may take dipping your hands in the water a few times…

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to get a nice shape.

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Cover loosely with plastic wrap and allow to rest on the counter for about 90 minutes. If your kitchen is very warm you may only need about 75 minutes.

30 minutes before baking time preheat the oven with a 5 1/2 quart Dutch Oven in it to 500 degrees. Be sure it is fitted with a metal Replacement Knob, the original plastic knobs can only be heated to about 400 degrees. To find directions for baking on a stone see page 237 of HBin5.

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The dough will not have grown much while resting, but it will seem a little bit puffier. Use a serrated knife to cut slashes in the dough.

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Remove the pot from the oven and take off the lid.

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Lift the bread on the parchment and VERY CAREFULLY lower the parchment and bread into the pot, replace the lid onto the pot. Return to the oven and bake for 20 minutes. After the 20 minutes remove the lid, turn the heat down to 450 and bake for an additional 15 minutes.

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Once the bread is done baking remove it from the pot using a spatula.

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Allow the bread to cool completely before eating or the center may seem gummy.

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The loaf is also wonderful toasted and served with butter and marmalade. Enjoy!

To read an interview Jeff and I did about the gluten-free chapter of HBin5 visit Wasabimon.

10/12 update: WEIGHT of GLUTEN-FREE FLOURS

Brown Rice Flour: 1 cup = 5 1/2 oz = 160 grams

Tapioca Flour (Starch): 1 cup = 4 1/2 oz = 130 grams

Sorghum Flour: 1 cup = 4 3/4 oz = 135 grams

Corn Starch: 1 cup = 4 1/2 oz = 130 grams

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886 thoughts on “Gluten-Free Crusty Boule

  1. I wanted to thank you guys again for adding the Gf to your books all my children are home for holidays and its so wonderful to make so many delicious Gf bread desserts and those soft Puerto Rican sweet buns amazing done Gf and pizza I could go on on on we are trying a Gf challah bread with orange zest and cranberry this weekend any suggestions?god bless ya all

  2. Hi guys again I reread my question about trying to make a challah Gf thought I’d explain better lol would the Gf brioche or Gf crusty boule work to make your orange cranberry challah any thoughts would be greatly appreciated thanks again so much

    • The brioche is closer to challah, but richer– the GF crusty boule won’t give a challah effect. We have an actual GF Challah recipe in The New Artisan Bread in 5 Min/Day, on Amazon at http://amzn.to/17Rw23Y

      That recipe isn’t on our website.

  3. Finally got around to test baking a batch, using the following percentages by weight to make the mix:
    Brown rice flour 22.47
    Tapioca flour 54.07
    Potato flour 16.15
    Yeast 2.81
    Salt 2.39
    Xantham gum 2.11

    Using the dry mix, here’s the baker’s percentages I used for the mix:

    Dry mix 100
    Water 95.5
    Eggs 31.6
    Oil 16.2

    Here’s the result of a test with an 800 gram boule:
    http://bit.ly/19NYZhd

    I have to say I’m no longer scared to keep trying GF – thanks!

    • How do I convert your bakers % back into cups to try your version? I find I don’t tolerate sorghum very well so I would like to try this. Thanks

      • I’ve never baked using cups/spoons, so I’m at a bit of a loss on that one – sorry. You may want to try ratios based on the volume measures in the book to scale up and down? Perhaps Zoe and/or Jeff have better information than I do on this front.

  4. Hi, I’m wondering if you’ve tried this bread with an egg substitute? I want to try it but don’t want to waste four loaves worth if it doesn’t work :). Thanks!

    • I have used our dough in that way. There’ll be some commercial yeast in it, but after a few “generations” it’ll all be replaced by wild yeast (most of which originates in the flour itself, not from the air). See also our post on using natural sourdoughs in our method on the FAQs page (click on Sourdough starter: can I use it with this method?)

  5. Made this as bagels today. They are absolutely yummy. Using wet hands i shaped them and let them rise for 2 hours. Boiled them for 30 seconds a side then baked on a pizza stone at 450 for 22 minutes

      • I used the gf crusty boule recipe. It works for english muffins also. I sprinkle gf corn meals in english muffin rings shaped the dough to the rings and let that rise/rest for 2 hours also sprinkled a little conrmeal on top also. Split them with a fork. Has same texture a regular english muffins

      • Thanks for sharing this is so wonderful for all Gf people do you use sourdough starter or yeast in jar I’ve notice Gf recipes can work different with each types thank you so much Christine I have some dough riseing I got so excited after your post

  6. Has anyone tried making this with a gluten free all purpose flour mix? I was wondering if I could use that for the first three ingredients.

  7. It’s been a few years since this was posted, can anyone comment on how well this does/does not freeze as dough? I would think it will freeze pretty well once baked, just want to know if I can put some dough aside for another day and what special handling, if any, makes things work better. Thx!

  8. This is, hands down, the best gluten-free bread I’ve ever made or eaten. It is entirely worth all of the time and energy!

    My variation: immediately after mixing, rather than putting the entire bit of dough in the fridge, I separate it into 4-5 loaves, shape and smooth on parchment paper, then freeze in a ziplock bag. I’ll take one out, remove from the ziplock bag, unfold the parchment paper, cover with oiled plastic wrap, and let thaw for several hours in the kitchen. I then follow the steps as prescribed and it turns out a.m.a.z.i.n.g. every time.

    I never wait for it to cool completely, however; it loses much of the crusty awesomeness once it’s cool. I don’t seem to observe any gumminess by eating it this way, either.

    Many thanks for the recipe and detailed instructions!

    • Fantastic, so glad! Interesting that you’re finding it so nice even though it doesn’t cool down. Some people have reported problems with that, but go with what works.

  9. I purchased HBin5 back in August and have been happily baking absolutely awesome bread ever since. Thank you just doesn’t seem adequate. However, I need to give one of my children a break from gluten. So I’ve been looking over the gluten free options and find myself very attracted to the Brioche for things like hamburger buns (sans topping of sugar), yet not so thrilled with the idea of all that corn starch. I’m new to GF (Gluten Free Girl is a great new resource for me) so I’m not sure how best to swap that out, or if I’m going to just have to trust the organic version to not “kill” me. ;-) What is the corn starch contributing to the dough in terms of flavor and behavior? Thanks again!

    • Corn starch can be swapped with arrowroot or tapioca, though there’s already tapioca in here so the flavor may become one-dimensional or other problems might arise. I’d go with arrowroot.

  10. Hi, I make a gf bread in a breadmaker with basically the same ingredients you’ve listed except I don’t include eggs or oil/butter and sugar instead of honey. The bread turns out fine.

    I am trying to find an alternative to the bread maker because I know the teflon pan is unhealthy.

    Do you think my recipe would work keeping it in the refrigerator as you do or do I just need to experiment? It seems to me it won’t be as wet as yours.

    Thanks for any feedback.

    • Hi Noel,

      Each recipe behaves so differently, the amount of flour, the lack of eggs and the rest makes it different enough from ours that you’ll just have to give it a test and see how it goes.

      Good luck! Zoë

  11. Zoë & Jeff,
    first off thanks so much for a great recipe. It remains the only gf bread that my daughter could reasonably be expected to eat untoasted. I admire the alchemy even if I don’t understand it!
    One question: sometimes after I manage to make a round dough-loaf and leave it to rest for an hour, it goes quite flat. I’ve been tempted to put in a loaf tin but don’t want to mess with that nice crust we get. Is it too much water? I make a batch every few weeks so don’t have much time to experiment (she doesn’t eat much being diabetic too).
    Thanks again for such a breakthrough, J

    • Hi John,

      It sounds like it only happens some of the time? If so, it may be that you are not consistent in the way you are measuring? Are you making any substitutions to the ingredients?

      Thanks, Zoë

      • Zoë,
        thanks for prompt reply – they’re coming out of the oven as we speak! Nope, sticking with your recipe each time (prob should take notes but..). I make 4 loaves at a time but reshaped No. 2 before placing in Dutch oven this time and improved the result somewhat. Didn’t score the top (forgot) either – No. 1 v difficult to score without tearing. Too much liquid? V tricky to know if too much liquid given that the mixture is v loose anyhow as per gf ‘doughs’.
        Thx, J

      • Hi John,

        How are you measuring the flour? You really want to pack it into the cup. If you’re already doing it that way, then do try less water with the next batch and see if that fixes it. Maybe reduce by a 1/4 cup.

        Thanks, Zoë

      • Zoë,
        I don’t pack, I just dip into bag and shake to level off – I usually add a tiny bit to this but probably not equivalent to ‘packing’. I’ll try this next time. No. 3 just out and the reshaping just prior to baking improved the depth a lot. I’ll re-examine the packing and water next time out. Overall though the consistency of the loaves (been doing this for >1yr now) is great and thanks so much for effort.
        BTW – for the diabetics out there, we take a slice, weigh it and take half the weight as carbs – for my loaves, that’s 20-30g CHO a slice – but it’s worth it!
        Thx, J

  12. How about a YEAST FREE bread recipe. I did a quick search but didn’t see one. Yeast intolerance or systemic yeast overgrowth is a chronic problem for many, often the root cause of so many symptoms yet doctors misdiagnose . I’ve been yeast free for 2 years and never felt (or looked) better! But yeast-free breads that taste good, aren’t too dense and are affordable are so hard to find. A challenge I hope you’ll consider taking on!

    • Hi Daphne,

      Some folks are sensitive to commercial yeasts, but can handle wild yeasts, like you’ll find in authentic sour dough. If that is the case, then you can use our method by adding a sour starter. If any kind of yeast is troublesome, then you’ll have to stick to quick breads or some flatbreads, like the roti recipe in our pizza book.

      Good luck! Zoë

  13. Greetings!
    I’m eager to try this recipe, however, I’m desperately broke at the moment and need to make-do with what I’ve got on hand. I’d like to know if I can use oat flour in place of the sorghum? I have all the other ingredients, and the promise of bread is nearly irresistible…
    Please advise,
    Sarah

    • Hi Sarah,

      I have been playing with oat flour and it behaves very similarly to sorghum, so I think you’ll be ok to substitute. I’d try a half batch. If the dough feels a bit dry, add a couple of tablespoons water. Have you made the dough before, so you know what it is meant to feel like? If not, you may want to watch the video.

      Thanks, Zoë

      • Hi Zoë,
        Thank you so much for the super quick response and kind guidance. I successfully substituted the oat flour and baked a test loaf last night (I know it’s supposed to be better after 24+ hours, but curiosity won out!). Yielded a small, crusty loaf that I baked in my Le Creuset dutch oven. Before my Celiac diagnosis, I used to make NYT’s No Knead bread, and your recipe is like a super awesome GF version that wheat-eaters and GF eaters can enjoy together. My wheat-eating fiance gives the thumbs-up, too!
        Thank you for the recipe and recipe support–you are most kind and I appreciate your depth of knowledge. You are awesome!
        -Sarah

  14. My oven only goes up to 500 and I have never baked anything on such high heat. I am afraid it will burn the house down. Do you think it would be safe in my oven?

      • You know, I haven’t had much luck with this bread. I must be doing something wrong. I have made it 3 times and the second and third time, it grew and grew and grew until it had too much air and then flopped like a pancake when I baked it. I followed the directions exactly – let it sit for 2 hours – it got huge and flat on top. I wonder what I am doing wrong!

      • OK, before we go any further, are you at high altitude? That’s what this sounds like. If so, please tell me the altitude and we’ll take if from there.

      • Thanks Jeff! I am not at high altitude. But after reading all the comments/replies I think I have figured it out. I had read that guar gum and Zanthum gum were interchanable and the Zanthum Gum was causing problems with my intestines so I switched. I have since read that you suggested twice as much Guar Gum so I am assuming that’s the problem. When I switched to Guar Gum, that’s when the bread got full of air and flat like a pancake. Thank you for your quick response, Jeff.

  15. Hi, I heard your interview on Splendid Table and found it really interesting. You mentioned that you have “a chapter” in the book. However, I hesitate to purchase the book because I can only use the gluten-free recipes. Will you possibly be producing maybe a gluten-free only version? Perhaps a smaller electronic version?

    Also, I do not eat much brown rice flour. Can you switch out the brown rice for Buckwheat or Millet?

    • Short answer– in your situation, wait for our gluten-free book, should be out in October. You may need to adjust the water if you swap in buckwheat flour or millet flour, haven’t tried that yet.

    • Sure, the Dutch oven is only for creating a humid environmnent, which makes for a crisper crust. The other alternatives are at our FAQs tab above, then click on “Steam alternatives: How do I create a steam environment for a great crust when my oven doesn’t trap steam well?”

  16. I would like to know whether I can swap the xanthum for grass fed gelatin? I am not a fan of xanthum as it can irritated the gut. What would be the amount to use in this recipe? Are there any other alternatives for it?
    Thank you.

    • We haven’t tried gelatin, but I don’t think it’s going to give the structure needed to support rising with yeast breads. We haven’t found an effective alternative to xanthan, despite testing with guar gum and with ground chia.

  17. Why is this recipe so much different than the one in The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day book? That recipe, if followed exactly, is a lumpy mess with pretty substandard results. Is this the new new version? Why didn’t it make it into the book?

    • Minnie: if you’re having trouble with the printed version, stick with this on-line version for now. We’re in the process of looking into the problem and we’ll be back with more discussion about this soon– so please stay tuned here on the site. Once we figure out your problem we’ll put something up on http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/errors

  18. I just mixed this dough and it came out very runny . . . like pancake batter. I was noticing that you have a chart with flour measures and weights that includes cornstarch. Is there supposed to be cornstarch in the recipe? I checked my weights and I used the right amount of flours as far as I can tell but I used oat flour instead of sorghum because I can’t find sorghum flour where I live. I ordered some online yesterday. Thanks.

    Mary

    • Hi Mary,

      I’ve actually found that oat flour absorbs water about the same, if not a little more than sorghum, so that may not be the issue. Were there any other substitutions that may have effected it? There is no cornstarch in this recipe, but it appears in others.

      Thanks, Zoë

      • Well, I discovered what the problem was. I wanted to substitute for the xanthum gum because I think I have a sensitivity. I found substitution info on a site but it was wrong in the amounts. I made the bread again using a mix of psyllium power, ground flax seeds and ground chia seeds instead of the xanthum gum and it worked! (I did use sorghum flour this time) I’m going to experiment more this weekend using just the psyllium powder and see how it turns out. I might also mix the sorghum and oat flours. Might also try a batch with arrowroot instead of all tapioca starch. (I’m doing 1/2 batches because I don’t have a container big enough for a full batch)

      • Hi Mary,

        Good luck with all the testing, let me know if you come up with something you love!

        Cheers, Zoë

      • Well all the testing went well. I substituted psyllium husk powder for the xanthum gum (2:1) and used 1 cup tapioca starch and 1/2 cup arrowroot powder. It worked great! The dough rose beautifully. It was a little dry on top but I just made sure that part was facing up when I smoothed it with the water. I was so excited I couldn’t wait till the next day so I baked it right away. It’s fantastic. The texture is wonderful . . . would even work for sandwich bread. Can’t wait to make it again.

        Next time I might cut back on the arrowroot by a couple of tablespoons. That should help with the dryness. And I might try baking it in a loaf pan inside my oval dutch oven. Thanks for all your help and thanks for the recipe.

        Mary

      • Hi Mary,

        That is so exciting, I’m so glad it worked, thank you for letting me know!

        Enjoy!! Zoë

  19. I’ve made the GF dough once. Love the taste of the bread but the dough didn’t work for me the way it’s described–it didn’t grow, it shrank. I baked half in a pre-heated dutch oven and two days later put the other half in a loaf pan. I don’t understand the lid directions. Is it just laid loosely on top? Never snapped down at all? Not even in the fridge? Maybe my problem was not packing down the flours in the measuring cup. Please tell me more about the lid or covering. I get hung up on details.

    • Hi Charlotte,

      Did you make any substitutions in the dough? If not, you may need to pack the flour to be sure you are getting the right measurements. Did you have a chance to watch the video on making g-f bread?

      The lid can’t be closed all the way, because you need to leave enough space for the yeasts gases to escape. The space can be the size of a pin hole. You don’t want a space that is too big or the dough may dry out. By just laying the cover on the bucket without snapping it shut, you are creating the perfect environment. Some people snap it shut after the first day or so. I drill a tiny hole in the top of my bucket lid so that I don’t have to worry about it.

      Thanks, Zoë

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