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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If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing it with others using one of the social sharing buttons above. Thanks, Jeff and Zoë

910 thoughts on “Gluten-Free Crusty Boule

  1. I recently made this for an event. I used flax egg and quinoa flour instead of brown rice fl, then baked on a pizza stone with water in the broiler because that’s just easier. People were going around exclaiming that “that’s not gluten free bread!” I take that as a huge compliment.
    Thank you for this delicious recipe!

  2. I’m a huge fan of Jules Gluten Free flour and I’m wondering how I can use her flour with this recipe. I’m thinking 3 cups of her flour and 1 cup of corn starch but I’m not sure. Since the flour is very expensive and I’m not a fantastic cook, I don’t want to experiment on my own! Any suggestions? Thank you in advance! I’m really craving bread and I’m excited to try your recipe either way!

    • Hi Heather,

      I have never used Jules G-F flour, so I am not sure how you can alter it to have a similar result. If you end up experimenting, please let us know how it goes!

      Thanks, Zoë

  3. Hi there! A friend of mine has reently been diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I have promised to attempt baking gluten free goodies, including “real” tasting bread. Its been the biggest disappointment thus far. For this recipe, does the bread have the texture of reletivley normal glutenous bread? Im very new to gluten free baking :)

    • Hi Amanda,

      I think it is very tasty and has the texture of a hearty loaf of bread, so not light and fluffy. You may want to read some of the comments below, since I am a bit biased! ;)

      Cheers and enjoy the bread! Zoë

      • I served this bread at Thanksgiving (Canada) a couple of weeks ago to both gluten tolerant and gluten intolerant guests, both questioned whether or not it was truly GF. The bread is like a nice dense sourdough. I love it!

  4. I live in Uganda, Africa and I am having trouble finding brown rice flour, can I use white rice flour in this recipe instead and have the same results. Thanks

    • Hi Jen,

      I think that sorghum flour is a better replacement, can you find that? If not, you can probably use the rice flour, but may need to make some adjustment in the water. It may come out a little too wet?

      Thanks, Zoë

  5. Ok, I tried following your recipe substituting a few things. Almond Flour for Rice Flour, Potato Starch for Tapioca Flour/Starch and the Chia/Flax Seeds for Xanthum Gum.

    Both Rice and Xanthum contain some reactive gluten in them so I choose not to use them.

    Here is my question. What size eggs do you use? The structure of my mixture is no where close to yours. I wonder if I used too large of eggs. I know not all flours act the same, but mine is more like a like a think soupy slurry, not runny but certainly not like yours. I tried adding more Sorghum Flour which is slightly better but I don’t know if it is safe to continue to add the flour until it gets to the structure you have or not.

    • Hi Alice,

      All of those substitutions sound tasty, but you are essentially creating a brand new bread. These flours, starches, nut meals behave completely differently, and chia/flax doesn’t have the same suspension qualities that xanthan has, so your bread will be very different than ours.

      We use large eggs for our testing.

      If you get it to a texture and taste you are happy with, please come back and share the recipe!

      Thanks, Zoë

    • Hey Alice- I use almond flour a lot and it doesn’t sub cup for cup to brown rice flour. The almond flour needs very little liquid to wet it, so that’s why yours was soupy. A friend of mine uses a blend of almond flour and tapioca flour (50/50) and it bakes up great! Or you could use quinoa flour or sorghum flour like someone else suggested. Good luck!

  6. I don’t have a dutch oven. How impportant is it?
    Also could this dough be used for rolls?
    How many breads will this make? I only need enough for two.

    • Hi Marty,

      In the book (HBin5) we bake this bread on the baking stone, just like the wheat version, the Dutch Oven is just an alternative method. You can make about four 1-pound loaves with this recipe. The lasts for about a week in the refrigerator. You can cut the recipe in half if you want.

      Thanks, Zoë

    • Hi Amanda,

      This makes enough for 4 loaves, so I think it would be too much dough for a bread machine. I have never used a bread machine to make any of our doughs, so I am not sure how it will come out?

      Thanks, Zoë

    • I have a Cusinart 2 pound bread maker and have successfully made this recipe a couple times already using the gluten free cycle :) http://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-CBK-100-2-Pound-Programmable-Breadmaker/dp/B001C2KY7Y

      Since this recipe makes four 1 pound loaves, I just halved the recipe to fit in my bread maker. I followed the instructions in the manual for another recipe on how to add the ingredients – basically the wet ingredients first (making sure to whisk the egg), then dry ingredients (also whisked before adding), and finally the yeast. I used medium crust color.

      I am really curious to make some by hand so that I can compare the texture and taste to a bread machine loaf. I’ll make sure to update here if I ever do. Anyways, I wanted to say thank sooo much for this recipe! Much better than most gluten free breads that I’ve tried.

    • You can try— but the water requirements will change, so you’ll need to experiment. Check out other GF recipes in Healthy Bread In Five Minutes a Day.

    • I often use mung bean starch in place of tapioca, corn, and potato starch. It works quite well, and is fairly sweet, unlike arrowroot (which can be used in small amounts, but gets spicy if you use too much of it… not to mention expensive!)

      I have not tried the sub with *this* recipe yet, but I probably will today.

      • Hi Monica,

        Thanks for the suggestion, I haven’t tried mung bean flour yet, but now I will!

        Cheers, Zoë

  7. Zoe, I’m so excited to try this bread! I have it mixed up and sitting on the counter and it looks just like yours. I love making “real” bread and do it all the time for my family but have been a bit discouraged with gf bread. I was wondering if this bread could be made into a pizza crust?
    Your “artisan bread in five min…” has been on my amazon wish list for at least a year now! I guess it will have to be a Christmas present to myself! Thank you for posting this recipe!

    • Karen, yes you can make pizza dough with this…we did on our first attempt at this dough. They came out great! Better than our 2 preferred commercial frozen pizza crusts brands. We liked the end result better when we pre-baked the crusts first, then topped & re-baked.
      ABi5 is awesome! HBi5 is “on my list”.

  8. This bread looks amazing! I have gone from gluten free to grain free… BUT do think that I may be able to eat this if I sub the brown rice flour… Thoughts on millet instead? I won’t even attempt using a nut/seed flour here – just wouldn’t come close.
    In appreciation

  9. My husband and sister-in-law have to eat gluten free. They think the commercially made GF breads lack salt. Can I increase the amount of salt in a bread recipe without it causing a problem with rising or baking?

    • Elizabeth: you can go up a little, but not too far or it’ll inhibit yeast. In recipe above, don’t go higher than 1.5 tablespoons of kosher or other coarse salt (fine salt has to be decreased bec it packs tighter into the measuring spoon).

  10. I hope you don’t think this is a dumb question – in my defense i am new to breadmaking and being gf (and cf!). Is it OK to 1/4 the recipie and just make one loaf? I ask becuase every bread i’ve made has been horrible and i’d hate to make so much horribleness. And, if i cut it to 1/4, Murphy’s Law says it will be fab and I shouldda done the whole 4 this time! thanks-

  11. I am so excited to try this!! I’m dying for a tasty gluten free bread and especially miss sourdough/ciabatta type bread, so this looks like a winner! I’m not a fan of tapioca starch, does it overwhelm the flavor of the bread? I may try quartering the recipe and using potato starch instead for the first try.

    • Hi Mary,

      Do start with a small batch, since I’ve found that potato starch behaves differently than Tapioca. Please let me know what you think!

      Thanks, Zoë

  12. I’ve made this bread several times now subbing potato starch for the corn starch and it has come out beautifully every time. I’ve even made french style baguettes with it. Such a great recipe and the best GF bread I’ve had…also makes french toast so amazing that a non GF friend wanted a loaf just for that! I’d love to see you expand on this with a whole grain loaf as well…in the meantime thank you for this wonderful bread!

    • Thank you Cynthia,

      I am so glad you wrote to tell us about the success of the potato starch substitution! I am going to give that a try.

      Enjoy! Zoë

  13. Hi. I made the pie crust last week and it was a huge hit. I used Bob’s Red Mill flour and no one minded the bean flavor. I loved using the wax paper trick – I used parchment paper. It was great. I only had to do it once! Thanks so much for the recipe!

  14. Wow! I’ve had this bookmarked for at least a year, and finally tried it today. It is really lovely! A life changer, actually!
    I substituted Energy Foods Egg Replacer for the eggs and it worked perfectly.
    This recipe is my favorite Holiday Gift! Thanks so much for sharing it.

    • Hi JJ,

      I’ve found that sorghum flour behaves similarly to rice, so you can give that a try. I would start with a half batch to make sure you like the results.

      Thanks, Zoë

      • What about in recipes that already call for Sorghum flour, should I just do Sorghum for itself and the brown rice? Thank you so much for your help! I absolutely LOVE your breads!!! :)

  15. Hi! Have your Artisan in % and now the Healthy in 5 on the way. I love to bake but probably could stand to do less ‘quality control’ sampling, if you know what I mean?! :)
    I have a GF friend and use her as my GF baking guinea pig and while I give away a fair amount of baked goods, it’s nice to be able to do things in smaller batches.

    You mentioned in your post that you have some of the dough in the freezer and I’m wondering if you’ve tested that yet? I’d love to be able to freeze the dough for baking a few weeks or even months down the road ..

    Thanks for the great books & info!

    • Mary Lou– works, but try to limit to two weeks. It loses some rising power in the freezer. Though you can experiment with longer…

  16. I’m apparently allergic to xanthan gum and arrowroot starch (strange, I know). Any suggestions on what I can replace the xanthan with? Have you tried psyllium husks instead?

    • Val: Gonna experiment with psyllium but haven’t yet. Guar gum is supposedly as good as xantham if you’re not allergic to that too.

  17. I made this yesterday for the 1st time, my 1st try with GF bread. It was great. The crust was perfect. I felt that the texture of the inside was muffin or corn bread like (not bad, just observation.) I don’t know is this typical with GF bread? Is there something to change to give it more air, less density?

    • Sheila: Generally not needed especially if there’s a stone in the oven. Some ovens need a 15 or 20% increase in baking time, but not all.

  18. Just wanted to share an update: I tried this recipe again, subbing millet for the brown rice and potato starch for the tapioca. I cooked some in a loaf pan and spread some out on a baking sheet for pizza this week. Both taste delicious!! Mmmm!…and this was baby’s first taste of bread. He kept opening his mouth for more :)

  19. I have your first book but not the “Healthy Bread” book, but I’d like to try this bread.

    I’m a little confused. One of the comments talked about using potato starch vs corn starch. I don’t see corn starch in the recipe.

    Is one of the Tapioca corn starch?

    • Sal: Not sure what the reader-comment was referring to, but this recipe doesn’t have cornstarch, neither here or in the book. Tapioca flour/starch is not cornstarch. In the book, some of our recipes do call for the corn product.

      • I’m a little confused then if you say that cornstarch isn’t in here. In the update with the weights of the flour, you added cornstarch… Was that meant to be a substitution for the tapioca?

      • Angie: cornstarch was included just so people could have a weight equivalent for that ingredient, which appears in some of our other GF recipes. It wasn’t intended for use in this particular recipe, or as a swap for tapioca here.

    • Bonnie: You’ve only posted once before and I answered you there. Agree, need to increase flour–what happened with the batch where you increased flour by 3/4 cup?

  20. Is it ok to use the refrigerator rise trick w/ the gluten free boule?

    Also, I would like to try the spelt sweet potato recipe in HB5 using white whole wheat instead of spelt. Do you think that would work alright? Thanks.

  21. Hi there, am very new to bread-making – of any kind never mind gluten-free! But I have to go this route for my newly-diagnosed coeliac daughter, and I’d really love to make her some decent bread. I’m struggling to understand some of the terms: here you have yeast on the ingredient list – is that the same thing as dry yeast? quick yeast? instant yeast? or are they in fact the same thing? (I have all three but am none the wiser!) I’ve also bought some yeast from the baker here in France – is that the same as the other kinds of yeast I mentioned? Many thanks in advance for your help – your recipe looks great, can’t wait to try it.

  22. Hi, if I don’t own a scale, can I measure using a measuring cup? Will it turn out ok? I know you said the gf Boule dough can be frozen for up to two weeks but how about the baked loaves? Could I bake and freeze them (to have on hand for later use)?
    Thanks!

  23. Hi Jeff,
    I just wanted to say thank you for your quick response to my question, and also to say a huge thank you for a great recipe. It worked out perfectly – - we couldn’t be more thrilled to have GF bread that tastes like regular bread. Also, thought it might be useful to know: I used organic white rice flour because I didn’t have brown, and it worked absolutely fine.

    • Hi Deena,

      This is just a variation for baking the gluten-free doughs in our book Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day. In the book we recommend using a baking stone.

      Thanks, Zoë

  24. Oh you guys — THANK YOU. I was baking your regular crusty boule daily last year when my boyfriend realized he was gluten intolerant. I finally bought a kitchen scale and a stash of different flours and starches, confident enough to abandon store-bought g-f all-purpose flour and play with my own blends. It’s been nearly five months since our apartment has been filled with the scent of yeasty bread, and I am so thrilled that I can make something so beautiful, so fragrant, and so like traditional artisan bread for my boyfriend (and, okay, me too). The flavor and texture are fantastic, and it was wonderful smeared with some butter and homemade clementine marmalade. I am nearly close to tears here. Thank you so much!
    (Here’s a photo of the first slice: http://minus.com/lwrt55VMpDfeX)

    • Hi Sarah,

      Thank you for the lovely note and we’re so glad you’re enjoying the g-f breads. The clementine marmalade sounds great too! :)

      Cheers, Zoë

  25. Hello! I’ve been making your GF Boule and your GF Olive oil bread from your book. But often when I bake these breads they just smell and taste a little bit yeasty(not sour-dough taste). I have been using packets of fast-acting yeast, or active dry yeast and measuring out the 2 Tablespoons as per the instructions in the book. I haven’t been sure what is causing this problem.

    • Hi JJ,

      I know with our wheat based doughs, people who have this issue solve it by making sure the bucket it is stored in is allowing the yeast gases to escape. You can leave the top open just a hair or put an actual pin sized hole in the lid.

      Let me know if that helps.

      Thanks, Zoë

  26. Hi Jeff and Zoe, thank you so much for the fantastic recipes. Since we discovered our young daughter has celiac disease, the family has gone completely gluten-free. There will now forever be a batch of your bread dough in my fridge!

    One question I have been trying to investigate is how switching away from wheat to these other starches effects the glycemic load of a bread product. Any suggestions on where to look or have you checked into this at all?

    • Hi Deb,

      The same rules would apply to the g-f flours, the white flours are low in nutritional value and have a higher glycemic load. The whole grain flours, like teff and brown rice would be lower. The nut flours are the best bet, but we have not yet experimented with them in our recipes. You should probably consult your son’s doctor for even more information.

      Thanks, Zoë

  27. Hiya- Okay, my for first attempt at this the bread came out a little dense. But, of course, I ate it anyway. :) I’m making the egg free version. Do I need to double the flax recipe you link to since the boule calls for 4 eggs. And…can you define luke warm? Do I need to get the water to 110 degrees? I have a feeling the dough did not rise enough. Thanks! Can’t wait to try again.

    • Hi Carolyn,

      Yes, you would need to double the flax substitute. The flax doesn’t have quite the same rising power as eggs, so the dough may be slightly denser than the egg version.

      Luke warm is about 105°F. The water can be cooler, but it will take longer for the dough to rise.

      Thanks, Zoë

  28. Hi, I just made this recipe for the first time. I made the whole recipe, since my friend made it first and said it was great. The only thing I changed in the recipe was that I used guar gum instead of xanthan gum. My dough is very wet. I measured everything carefully. Yesterday when it was on the counter for two hours it doubled in height…today after being in the fridge it dropped back down. When I took it out of the bowl it was pretty flat because of the wetness, it did poof back up a bit. My question is: should I add more flour now?…so I do not wasye the rest of the dough? I just want to salvage the remaining dough if possible…any advice? Thank you.

    • Hi Chelsea,

      Yes, you can bake in a preheated skillet. It is easier to get the bread in and out if the skillet is larger.

      Thanks, Zoë

  29. I am looking forward to trying this recipe.
    This week I had amazing success making your pumpernickel bread from your first book but substituting the rye flour for a red sorghum flour. It tasted fantastic.

      • I did not replace the white flour because I did not need it to be gluten free. I did it more for taste. But I have been asked by a friend to try and make it completely gluten free. I am thinking of using the white sorghum flour, zanthum gum, rice flour but any suggestions would be really appreciated.

      • Hi Paul,

        We have several doughs in our gluten-free chapters in both Healthy Bread in Five and Pizza and Flatbread in Five. You may want to take a look at what we’ve done, so you’re not reinventing the wheel. You can also try this boule recipe.

        Cheers, Zoë

  30. I made the mix with flax eggs and left the dough on the counter overnight. It gave the bread a wonderful sourdough flavor when I baked it in the morning. YUM!!!

  31. Hi, may I use this dough to make hamburger buns like the sesame one’s you made in your lamb-burger post? If so, would I cook the buns the same?

  32. Hi!
    I’ve made this bread twice already and love it, except the very middle (even after bein in the oven for 20mins longer) is still very very moist :/ any suggestions

  33. I have not made this bread yet, but intend to do so very shortly. Can you tell me why it is baked in a Dutch oven as any breads I have made before have been baked in a bread tin. Also, I have an AGA stove and would be baking it on the floor of the roasting oven which is around 220 deg C. I have a Dutch oven big enough, I am just curious. Thanks.

    • Hi Elizabeth,

      This post was just a variation of baking a bread from our book, Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day, which has people baking it as a free-form bread on a baking stone. At 220°C your loaf will need to bake longer, since it is slightly lower than the temperature we recommend. You can bake it in a tin, but it will require a longer resting time and even more baking time.

      Thanks, Zoë

    • Hi Nick,

      You can bake this dough after the initial rise. If you bake after the first rise, shape the loaf and cut the second resting time by half.

      Thanks, Zoe

    • … but be aware that home-ground flours have unpredictable moisture levels and water will need to be adjusted.

  34. I made the G-F bread this evening. I felt like an artist putting together all the flours. I used potato flour, sorghum. I had no rice flour but thought about the rice i have in the cabinet and ,y Vitamix blender. There it was online: a way to make rice flour and more cheaply than buying rice flour. My dough was too dry. I had to add more water. We’ll find out tomorrow if i did the right thing. Next i made some wheat bread. It was so much easier. I felt like an artist putting together the G-F bread. Thank you both for bringing out these ideas they put the heart-warming earthiness of homemade bread in anyone’s kitchen.
    For the pot to use in the oven, i use a turkey roaster.
    For parchment paper, i use aluminum foil.
    So much fun making bread. People , who don’t know, think it’s magic! Maybe it is . . .

  35. yes– you’re seeing what we understand from testing these– it’s great to do home-ground, but the water needs adjustment.

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