If the breads in Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day are coming out dense or gummy, or don’t seem to rise as much as you expect, here are the things to check:
Expectations: No question about it, gluten-free breads are denser than wheat breads, and they don’t rise as high. Plus, they get most of their loft in the hot oven (that’s called oven spring). Don’t expect to see a lot of visible change while the loaf is resting (after its shaped).
If you’re not loving the no-egg version: Since 2009, our wheat books have included one chapter with gluten-free recipes, always with eggs. Many of our gluten-free readers asked for gluten-free recipes that were also egg-free, so when we wrote Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day in 2014, we made our default Master Recipe egg-free, with a variation that includes whole eggs or egg whites (on page 73). But–there’s no question that the egg versions have better rise and are less dense. If you can eat eggs, our favorite is the egg white version; there’s more on this at a post describing the version with egg. If you cannot eat eggs and you’re finding the no-egg version too dense, go through all the tips on this page–and if you’re still not happy with the density of the loaf-breads, consider using the dough for flatbreads that won’t require as much structure and loft.
If you’re making the gluten-free recipes from The New Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, there were typos that mainly affected the gluten-free recipes. Click here to view the corrections. The recipes will seem much too wet without these corrections.
Inadequate mixing: Consider using a stand mixer if you’re finding the loaves to be denser than you like. It’s certainly possible to get good results by mixing with a spoon or dough whisk, but you really have to work at it, to get a completely smooth mixture, and some of our readers are giving up too soon. Bottom line, the stand mixer will give more reliable results. One thing to be aware of–the very high capacity stand mixers (eg., 6-quart) don’t work well for this gluten-free dough–it seems to “climb” up the flat beater and avoid the mixing process. Stick with about a 5-quart capacity.
Wrong hydration: In other words, too much or too little water relative to the flour mixture. If you’re swapping for a flour that we didn’t test with, go back to Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free flours (not their flour mixtures), which are the only ones readily available in U.S. supermarkets, and test again. Other flours may absorb water differently, and you may need to adjust. If you can’t find Bob’s, you may need to adjust the water–take a look at our videos so you can see what the dough looks like fully mixed. If there’s no explanation for your overly wet dough, consider mixing it a little drier next time–increase the flour by 1/8-cup, or decrease the liquids a little.
Swapping in a flour or other ingredient we didn’t test with: As above, all bets are off if you aren’t using what we tested with. In particular, we did not have good results with rice flours from Asian markets.
Measurement problems: You’ll get most accurate results if you weigh the ingredients rather than using cup-measures. We’ve had good experience with the Escali and the Eatsmart digital scales. Cup measures may be allowing too much (or too little) flour, which throws off the hydration. If you do use cup-measures, be sure to pack gluten-free flours into the cup (like you were measuring brown sugar). These flours are powdery, and we found this to be the only way to get reasonably consistent volume measurements with gluten-free flours (this is very different from what we recommend in our wheat-based books and in videos and posts here on the website).
Oven temperature may be off… which can wreck your “oven spring.” Always check with an oven thermometer.
Adequately preheat your baking stone: Some ovens and stone combinations require a longer preheat than the 20 or 30 minutes we specify in the book.
Resting time: Make sure you’re resting for the full interval that we recommend in the book.
Large loaf: In general, we tested these as small loaves (usually one pound), so if you made something larger, rest them for longer, and bake them for longer.