The Best Gluten Free Country Bread

This Gluten Free Country Bread is rustic and hearty with a perfectly crisp crust and chewy interior. But what really makes this Gluten Free Country Bread special is that seventy percent of this recipe’s total flours and starches are preferment! The preferment used in this recipe is called a biga, a traditional Italian technique in bread making that adds both depth of flavour and complexity to the bread. By fermenting such a large portion of the dough overnight, you unlock an earthiness and distinctive characteristics that is very reminiscent of sourdough bread.

the best gluten free country bread, sliced on wood cutting board

This bread uses slightly more advance beadmaker techniques that you often see in professional bakeries. This is the reason I’ve chosen to include it in Module One: Gluten Free Breads of the Kira Bakes Gluten Free Pastry School. This recipe is the perfect opportunity to flex those gluten free baking muscles and take your baking skills to the next level. With the right guidance and instructions, we are going to conquer this advanced bread recipe together and build your confidence in the gluten free kitchen. 

the best Gluten Free Country Bread on cooling rack

What makes this THE BEST Gluten-Free Country Bread Recipe

  1. This Gluten Free Country Bread has a deep amber crust that crackles delicately under your fingertips, revealing a soft, chewy interior that’s filled with tiny air pockets. 
  2. The slow fermentation process that allows the flavours to develop and deepen feels like a real labour of love and makes it that much more meaningful to bake and eat.
  3. The FLAVOUR of this bread! The slight tanginess, the subtle hints of nuttiness and the satisfying chew that keeps you coming back for me. It’s just waiting to be slathered in butter or dipped in a hearty soup.
  4. She’s simply gorgeous! We all know that looks aren’t everything, but if we were to enter this Gluten Free Country Bread into a bread competition, you better believe she’s taking home first place for being the prettiest loaf in the room. 
the best Gluten Free country bread on white background

Gluten Free Italian Sub Roll Quick Facts:

Difficulty Level: Advanced

Type of Bread: Preferment Dough

Preferment: Biga (Italian)

Baker’s Percentage: 115% 

Starch Percentage: 42%

Lets get baking! (Step-by-Step Instructions)

Mis en Place

Going back to the Kira Bakes Gluten Free Pastry Principals, this is always our first step when baking as it not only helps ensure accuracy during the mixing process, but it also makes the whole baking process a lot more relaxing and enjoyable. It’s a win/win!

If I’ve said it 100 times, I’ll say it again. Measuring ingredients by weight not volume is the magic sauce to gluten free baking! I always do my best to provide the cup (volume) measurements where possible. If you are going to measure by volume, click this link for tips on the correct way to measure by volume.

Scale the following ingredients

Biga (70% preferment) Ingredients:

360g Flours/Starches

  • 35g Oat Flour
  • 70g Corn Starch or Potato
  • 150g Sorghum flour
  • 105g Brown rice flour
  • 1/8 tsp Instant Yeast

400ml warm water (110F/43C)

Psyllium Gel Ingredients:

175ml room temperature water

20g Psyllium Husk (finely ground)

10g Ground flaxseed

2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar

Dry Dough Ingredients:

140g Tapioca Starch

¼ tsp Instant Yeast

2 tsp Kosher Salt

1 tbsp sugar

Prepare the equipment

  • Prepare the equipment.
  • 8” or 9” Round Banneton Proofing Basket
  • Stand Mixer with dough hook attachment
  • Large Bowl
  • Medium Bowl
  • Whisk or fork
  • Plastic or metal bench scraper
  • Lame or sharp paring knife
the best gluten free country bread, sliced on wood cutting board

Schedule options for Gluten Free Country Bread

The ideal schedule for making this bread works best if you mix the biga on the evening before you want to actually bake the Gluten Free Country Bread. For example below I’ve provided two potential schedules for making this recipe.

Schedule 1 – Bread for Dinner

Day 1: 9pm Make the biga – mix the 400ml water, 360g flours/starches and yeast. Cover loosely with clingfilm and let it sit on the kitchen table overnight.

Day 2: 9am add the 140g tapioca starch, remaining yeast, salt and sugar directly to the biga. Add the psyllium gel and knead. Shape and let rise in an oiled bowl.

10am Knead and shape the dough into a boule and let it rise for 1 hr in the bread banneton. I also preheat the oven to 475F and Dutch oven at this time.

11am Bake the Gluten Free Country Bread for approx. 90 minutes.

12:30pm Bread comes out of the oven and cools for 2-3 hours and is ready to eat for an afternoon snack or serve with dinner.

Schedule 2 – Bread for Breakfast and Lunch

Day 1: 6:30am Make the biga – mix the 400ml water, 360g flours/starches and yeast. Cover loosely with clingfilm and let it sit on the kitchen table overnight.

6:30pm add the 140g tapioca starch, remaining yeast, salt and sugar directly to the biga. Add the psyllium gel and knead. Shape and let rise in an oiled bowl.

7:30pm Knead and shape the dough into a boule and let it rise for 1 hr in the bread banneton. I also preheat the oven to 475F and Dutch oven at this time.

8:30pm Bake the Gluten Free Country Bread for approx. 90 minutes.

10:00pm Bread comes out of the oven and cools overnight. 

Day 2: Bread is ready for Breakfast or Lunch

the best gluten free country bread, sliced on wood cutting board

Mixing Day 1

Stage 1: make the biga.

The evening before you want to bake this bread (see above schedule). Mix the biga (preferment) by combining the Oat Flour, Corn Starch, Sorghum flour, Brown rice flour

And 1/8 tsp Instant Yeast with 400ml warm water (110F/43C). Whisk until combined and smooth. Cover loosely with cling film and allow to sit at room temp for 10-12hrs. 

After 10-12 hours the biga will have risen, be bubbly and have a slight dome. The fermentation process will make the biga smell a little like beer at this stage.

Biga Advice: If it will be longer than 12hrs you can put the biga in the fridge. A biga will last for 24hrs if kept in the fridge. Any longer than this and you will have to discard it and make it again.  Gluten free flours are more delicate compared to wheat flour so it is advised to keep the preferment towards the lower end of the fermentation scale when possible.

Chef Tip: I like to make my biga preferment directly in the large bowl fitted for a stand mixer. This way, I can just add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and its ready for the stand mixer to do all the kneading.

Stage 2: make psyllium gel.

In a small/medium bowl, combine 200ml water (room temperate), apple cider vinegar, and psyllium husk. Whisk until combine. The gel will form quickly. Set aside and allow the gel to become firm. This takes approx. 5 minutes.

The Magic of Psyllium: Psyllium husk and making a psyllium gel is the key to making delicious gluten free bread. This magical gel transforms our gluten free bread dough into something that we can knead and shape.  Without it, the mixture would be more like a batter, and we wouldn’t get the same chewy, open crumb structure.

Stage 3: combine dry ingredients with sponge.

In the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, combine the sponge with the remaining dry dough ingredients (140g tapioca starch, 105g potato starch, 35g brown rice flour, salt and sugar). Begin mixing on low for 30-60 seconds. Just until everything starts to come together. 

Add the psyllium gel to the dough and continue to mix (knead) the dough for 5 minutes on medium speed. 

The dough will be very soft and sticky but will come together and begin to pull away at the sides of the mixing bowl.

Mixing Day 2

Stage 2: make psyllium gel.

In a medium bowl, combine 175ml water (room temperature), apple cider vinegar, psyllium husk and ground flaxseed. Whisk until combine. The gel will form quickly. Set aside and allow the gel to become firm. This takes approx. 5 minutes.

The Magic of Psyllium: Psyllium husk and making a psyllium gel is the key to making delicious gluten free bread. This magical gel transforms our gluten free bread dough into something that we can knead and shape.  Without it, the mixture would be more like a batter, and we wouldn’t get the same chewy, open crumb structure.

Stage 3: combine dry ingredients with biga.

In the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, combine the biga with the remaining dry dough ingredients (140g tapioca starch, yeast, salt and sugar). Begin mixing on low for 30-60 seconds. Just until everything starts to come together. 

Add the psyllium gel to the dough and continue to mix (knead) the dough for 5 minutes on medium speed. 

The dough will be very soft and sticky but will come together and begin to pull away at the sides of the mixing bowl.

Stage 4: initial rise.

Transfer the dough to a large, oiled bowl and cover with a dry kitchen towel or clingfilm. Let rise at room temperature for 45-60 minutes. Or until nearly doubles in size. 

Gluten Free Proofing: with traditional bread making, we tend to allow the dough to proof until it has doubled or tripled in size. With gluten free bread making, the dough is more delicate and when it becomes over-proofed the bread will become dense with a closed crumb structure. The best way to avoid this is to only prove gluten free dough to 150%-200% or just nearly doubled in size. 

Shaping

  1. Tip the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface and begin shaping the dough. Try not to knock out too much of the air pockets in the dough.
  2. Gently stretch and fold over one quarter of the dough to the centre and repeat this until each corner has been folded. You should be left with a rough round shaped dough.
  3. Turn the dough over so the seam is now on the work surface. Cup your hands around the dough and leading with your pinky fingers, apply pressure and begin to turn the dough slowly in a circular motion while also pulling it towards your body. Repeat three to four times. 

Shaping tip: You are looking to build some tension while also sealing the bottom of the loaf. If your counter is too oily and the dough is just sliding around, wipe away some of the oil or use a bench scraper to clean the work area. if the surface begins to rip then the its too tight.

  1. Turn the dough over in your hand and pinch the seal (where the ends meet) together. Place the shaped dough back on the counter (seam side down) and dust the top with brown rice flour.

Quick tip: If the dough is too sticky during the shaping process, you can rub some olive oil over your palms to help shape the loaf. Using olive oil instead of additional flour reduces the risk of adding too much extra flour (creating a dry, dense bread), while also adding richness.

Proofing – the final rise

Generously dust and coat the inside of the banneton with a mixture of 50% white rice flour and 50% brown rice flour. If you don’t have a banneton you can use a medium/large bowl lined with clean rice flour dusted kitchen towel. 

Place the dough, seam side up, into the banneton. Dust the top with brown rice flour, cover with dry kitchen towel and allow to rise for 1 hour or until the size has increased by 25-50%. 

While the bread is proofing, preheat the oven to 475F/250C with the rack on the middle of the oven. Place the Dutch oven with the lid on in the oven to heat up at the same time. 

Note on Banneton Size: the size of banneton (proofing basket) you prove your loaf in will determine it’s final shape and thickness. This recipe works with both a 9” and 8” round banneton.  For a thicker, taller loaf of bread use an 8” banneton.

Panning

Transfer the dough from the banneton (proofing basket) to a sheet of parchment cut to 8” x 8” square. Try not to force the dough out of the banneton, let gravity do the work. If the dough sticks to the edges of the banneton, very gently use your fingers to release the dough. This just means you need to add more rice flour to the banneton next time.

Note that the top of the baked bread will be the side that was facing down while proofing. 

Using the lame or a sharp paring knife, slash the top of the loaf in your desired design or simply just one slash across the centre or top side will do. 

This is a great link if you want some inspiration for bread slashing designs.

Baking

Using oven mitts, remove the Dutch oven from the oven and carefully lower the parchment paper with the dough into the Dutch oven. Place 2-3 ice cubes in the Dutch oven and put the lid on immediately. The ice cubes create steam and added moisture so the crust of the bread becomes crisp and will help the dough rise.

Place the Dutch oven back in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid from the Dutch oven, reduce the oven temperature to 425F/220C and continue to bake for 50-60 minutes. If the crust starts to look like it might burn around 50 minutes then remove it from the oven.  If not, then this bread does much better if you can bake it for the full 60 minutes (90 min in total).

The crust will be a rich, amber brown and be on the cusp of looking burnt.  This is where the beauty of the Maillard reaction takes place. 

Cooling and Staling

Using oven mitts, carefully transfer the bread from the Dutch oven to a wire rack. 

Cool for 2-4 hours or until completely cool. Because this is a heavier, denser bread it requires a longer cool time as it will retain heat longer than most breads in Module 1 of the Kira Bakes Gluten Free Pastry School. 

Cooling the bread completely before slicing is important because as gluten free bread cools, the moisture in the bread evaporates, creating a dryer, fluffier interior. If you were to cut into gluten free bread while it’s still warm you will find a very sticky, gummy texture.

Storing

This bread is best eaten within 1-2 days and stored wrapped in a dry tea-towel or inside a paper bag. 

the best gluten free country bread, sliced on wood cutting board

Gluten-Free Country Bread Q&A

Question: Can I use a gluten-free flour blend?

For this specific gluten free bread recipe, no. Due to the 70% preferment and the specific texture and crumb structure we want to achieve with this advance bread the gluten free flour blends available won’t yield the same results.

Question: Can I make this without Psyllium Husk?

Unfortunately, no. When it comes to gluten free bread baking, Psyllium Husk is the not-so-secret weapon in achieving a bread that you can knead and shape. It also works to absorb moisture and gives the dough enough elasticity, so it rises properly. All of this contributes to creating a fluffy crumb structure, similar to gluten-based breads.

You can use either Whole Psyllium Husk or Powdered Psyllium Husk. I use Whole Psyllium Husks as this is what I have access to. If you want to use Psyllium Powder all you need to do is make sure you use approx. 20% less. 

For example, if the recipe calls for 10g of Whole Psyllium Husk you would use 8g of Powdered Psyllium Husk.

Question: Can I make this without ground flaxseed?

Yes, you can.  The flaxseed in this recipe provides structure and helps to absorb the moisture, making the bread easier to knead. You can replace the flaxseed with one Large US Egg. Keeping in mind that your dough will be stickier and it will be harder to shape.

If using an egg instead of ground flaxseed, add the egg during stage 4 (combining wet and dry ingredients) along with the honey water.

Question: Do I need a stand-mixer?

Yes and no.  Ultimately the results will be better if you use a stand-mixer because this dough is very sticky and you just won’t be able to mix and knead the dough by hand to the same level. If you plan to make lots of gluten free (yeasted) breads, then I would highly recommend purchasing a stand-mixer. The overall success for yeasted breads really relies on the ability to knead extra sticky (high hydration) doughs. That being said, I have mixed this recipe by hand and, although it wasn’t perfect, it was still a very pleasant loaf of gluten free bread.

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the best gluten free country bread, sliced on wood cutting board

The Best Gluten Free Country Bread


5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 1 review

  • Author: Kira McMullan
  • Total Time: 3 hours 45 min (+10 hours preferment)
  • Yield: 1 x Loaf 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

This Gluten Free Country Bread is rustic and hearty with a perfectly crisp crust and chewy interior.  Perfect with a bowl of hearty soup or slathered in butter.


Ingredients

Units Scale

Biga (70% preferment) Ingredients:

360g Flours/Starches

  • 35g Oat Flour
  • 70g Corn Starch or Potato
  • 150g Sorghum flour
  • 105g Brown rice flour
  • 1/8 tsp Instant Yeast

400ml warm water (110F/43C)

Psyllium Gel Ingredients:

175ml room temperature water

20g Psyllium Husk (finely ground)

10g Ground flaxseed

2 tsp Apple Cider Vinegar

Dry Dough Ingredients:

140g Tapioca Starch

¼ tsp Instant Yeast

2 tsp Kosher Salt

1 tbsp sugar


Instructions

Mixing Day 1

 Stage 1: make the biga.

The evening before you want to bake this bread (see above schedule). Mix the biga (preferment) by combining the Oat Flour, Corn Starch, Sorghum flour, Brown rice flour

And 1/8 tsp Instant Yeast with 400ml warm water (110F/43C). Whisk until combined and smooth. Cover loosely with cling film and allow to sit at room temp for 10-12hrs.

After 10-12 hours the biga will have risen, be bubbly and have a slight dome. The fermentation process will make the biga smell a little like beer at this stage.

Mixing Day 2

 Stage 2: make psyllium gel.

In a medium bowl, combine 175ml water (room temperature), apple cider vinegar, psyllium husk and ground flaxseed. Whisk until combine. The gel will form quickly. Set aside and allow the gel to become firm. This takes approx. 5 minutes.

Stage 3: combine dry ingredients with biga.

In the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, combine the biga with the remaining dry dough ingredients (140g tapioca starch, yeast, salt and sugar). Begin mixing on low for 30-60 seconds. Just until everything starts to come together.

Add the psyllium gel to the dough and continue to mix (knead) the dough for 5 minutes on medium speed.

The dough will be very soft and sticky but will come together and begin to pull away at the sides of the mixing bowl.

Stage 4: initial rise.

Transfer the dough to a large, oiled bowl and cover with a dry kitchen towel or clingfilm. Let rise at room temperature for 45-60 minutes. Or until nearly doubles in size.

Shaping.

  1. Tip the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface and begin shaping the dough. Try not to knock out too much of the air pockets in the dough.
  2. Gently stretch and fold over one quarter of the dough to the centre and repeat this until each corner has been folded. You should be left with a rough round shaped dough.
  3. Turn the dough over so the seam is now on the work surface. Cup your hands around the dough and leading with your pinky fingers, apply pressure and begin to turn the dough slowly in a circular motion while also pulling it towards your body. Repeat three to four times.

Shaping tip: You are looking to build some tension while also sealing the bottom of the loaf. If your counter is too oily and the dough is just sliding around, wipe away some of the oil or use a bench scraper to clean the work area. if the surface begins to rip then the its too tight.

  1. Turn the dough over in your hand and pinch the seal (where the ends meet) together. Place the shaped dough back on the counter (seam side down) and dust the top with brown rice flour.

Proofing. The final rise.

Generously dust and coat the inside of the banneton with a mixture of 50% white rice flour and 50% brown rice flour. If you don’t have a banneton you can use a medium/large bowl lined with clean rice flour dusted kitchen towel.

Place the dough, seam side up, into the banneton. Dust the top with brown rice flour, cover with dry kitchen towel and allow to rise for 1 hour or until the size has increased by 25-50%.

While the bread is proofing, preheat the oven to 475F/250C with the rack on the middle of the oven. Place the Dutch oven with the lid on in the oven to heat up at the same time.

Note on Banneton Size: the size of banneton (proofing basket) you prove your loaf in will determine it’s final shape and thickness. This recipe works with both a 9” and 8” round banneton.  For a thicker, taller loaf of bread use an 8” banneton.

Panning.

Transfer the dough from the banneton (proofing basket) to a sheet of parchment cut to 8” x 8” square. Try not to force the dough out of the banneton, let gravity do the work. If the dough sticks to the edges of the banneton, very gently use your fingers to release the dough. This just means you need to add more rice flour to the banneton next time.

Note that the top of the baked bread will be the side that was facing down while proofing.

Using the lame or a sharp paring knife, slash the top of the loaf in your desired design or simply just one slash across the centre or top side will do.

Baking.

Using oven mitts, remove the Dutch oven from the oven and carefully lower the parchment paper with the dough into the Dutch oven. Place 2-3 ice cubes in the Dutch oven and put the lid on immediately. The ice cubes create steam and added moisture so the crust of the bread becomes crisp and will help the dough rise.

Place the Dutch oven back in the oven and bake for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, remove the lid from the Dutch oven, reduce the oven temperature to 425F/220C and continue to bake for 50-60 minutes. If the crust starts to look like it might burn around 50 minutes then remove it from the oven.  If not, then this bread does much better if you can bake it for the full 60 minutes (90 min in total).

The crust will be a rich, amber brown and be on the cusp of looking burnt.  This is where the beauty of the Maillard reaction takes place.

Cooling.

Using oven mitts, carefully transfer the bread from the Dutch oven to a wire rack.

Cool for 2-4 hours or until completely cool. Because this is a heavier, denser bread it requires a longer cool time as it will retain heat longer than most breads in Module 1 of the Kira Bakes Gluten Free Pastry School.

Cooling the bread completely before slicing is important because as gluten free bread cools, the moisture in the bread evaporates, creating a dryer, fluffier interior. If you were to cut into gluten free bread while it’s still warm you will find a very sticky, gummy texture.

Storing.

This bread is best eaten within 1-2 days and stored wrapped in a dry tea-towel or inside a paper bag.

Notes

Schedule

The ideal schedule for making this bread works best if you mix the biga on the evening before you want to actually bake the Gluten Free Country Bread. For example below I’ve provided two potential schedules for making this recipe.

Schedule 1 – Bread for Dinner

  • Day 1: 9pm Make the biga – mix the 400ml water, 360g flours/starches and yeast. Cover loosely with clingfilm and let it sit on the kitchen table overnight.
  • Day 2: 9am add the 140g tapioca starch, remaining yeast, salt and sugar directly to the biga. Add the psyllium gel and knead. Shape and let rise in an oiled bowl.
  • 10am Knead and shape the dough into a boule and let it rise for 1 hr in the bread banneton. I also preheat the oven to 475F and Dutch oven at this time.
  • 11am Bake the Gluten Free Country Bread for approx. 90 minutes.
  • 12:30pm Bread comes out of the oven and cools for 2-3 hours and is ready to eat for an afternoon snack or serve with dinner.

Schedule 2 – Bread for Breakfast and Lunch

  • Day 1: 6:30am Make the biga – mix the 400ml water, 360g flours/starches and yeast. Cover loosely with clingfilm and let it sit on the kitchen table overnight.
  • 6:30pm add the 140g tapioca starch, remaining yeast, salt and sugar directly to the biga. Add the psyllium gel and knead. Shape and let rise in an oiled bowl.
  • 7:30pm Knead and shape the dough into a boule and let it rise for 1 hr in the bread banneton. I also preheat the oven to 475F and Dutch oven at this time.
  • 8:30pm Bake the Gluten Free Country Bread for approx. 90 minutes.
  • 10:00pm Bread comes out of the oven and cools overnight.
  • Day 2: Bread is ready for Breakfast or Lunch
  • Prep Time: 2 hrs 15 min
  • Cook Time: 90 minutes
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baking

Recipe questions? I’d love to help!

Connect with me @kirabakesglutenfree or info@kirabakesglutenfree.com

Gluten Free Pastry Chef Kira McMullan, eating slice of cake

Ready to try another Gluten Free Bread Recipe? Why not bake my Gluten Free Sandwich Bread or Gluten Free Italian Sub Rolls.  

The next lesson is Module Two: Sugar & Fillings. Modules launch the last Monday of each month. Make sure to sign up to my newsletter for reminders and other gluten free recipes and tips.



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