The Best Gluten Free Italian Sub Rolls

These Gluten Free Italian Sub Rolls have a crusty, golden exterior and a slightly dense, chewy interior. Perfect for making sandwiches or bruschetta!

the best Gluten Free Italian Sub Roll with sliced turkey, tomatoes, red onions, lettuce, cheese and pesto, on wood cutting board

Despite the fact that French breads seem to rule the pastry world, I’ve always had a soft spot for Italian bread. Italian bread, including this recipe for Gluten Free Italian Rub Rolls, is often made with olive oil, which adds a subtle richness to the bead and creates a beautiful golden crust. This recipe is also unique because it uses a sponge instead of a poolish, shortening the total time it takes to make this Italian bread.  For this reason, I knew it had to be included in Module One: Gluten Free Breads of the Kira Bakes Gluten Free Pastry School.

the best Gluten Free Italian Sub Rolls on blue plate

Before we go any further, lets clear up the difference between Italian Sub Rolls Vs. Italian Hoagie Rolls.There’s often confusion surrounding these two rolls and they are indeed very different.

  • The Italian Sub Roll, as the name suggests has its roots in Italy. It is characterized by its short rectangular shape, crusty exterior and chewy, slightly dense interior.
  • The Hoagie Roll originated in Philadelphia and typically made from a soft, long, and rectangular shaped bread with a super soft and fluffy interior. 
the best gluten free Italian sub rolls on baking sheet

What makes this THE BEST Gluten-Free Italian Rub Rolls Recipe

  1. Baking these rolls to create Italian-style sandwiches adds an authentic touch and pays homage to the origins of these delicious creations. Viva Italia!
  2. Using olive oil during the kneading and shaping process adds a richness to the rolls and gives them a beautiful golden crust. 
  3. This Gluten Free Italian Sub Roll recipe only requires one rise, which means you can get to making delicious sandwiches that much faster.
  4. The chewy, slightly dense interior of these Gluten Free Italian Sub Rolls provides a substantial base for any sandwich filling! It helps to hold the roll together and prevents the roll from becoming soggy.
the best gluten free Italian sub roll, sliced and close up look at crumb structure

Gluten Free Italian Sub Roll Quick Facts:

Difficulty Level: Intermediate

Type of Bread: Preferment Dough

Preferment: Sponge

Baker’s Percentage: 107% 

Starch Percentage: 50%

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

Sponge Ingredients:

210g Sorghum Flour

2 ¼ tsp Dry Active Yeast

325ml warm water (110F)

Psyllium Gel Ingredients:

200ml room temperature water

25g Psyllium Husk (Rough/Whole)

2 tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar

Dry Dough Ingredients:

140g tapioca starch 

105g potato starch  

35g Brown Rice Flour 

25g Sugar

2 tsp salt

Glazing:

1 tbsp Melted Butter or Olive Oil

Rough Cornmeal or extra Sorghum Flour for baking sheet

Prepare the equipment

  • Preheat oven to 500F/260C
  • Large or Half-Sheet Pan
  • Large mixing bowl or bowl of stand-mixer
  • Large liquid measuring jug or medium mixing bowl
  • Small bowl
  • Whisk
  • Fork
  • Plastic or metal bench scraper
  • Pastry brush
  • Sharp knife
the best gluten free Italian sub rolls on baking sheet

Mixing 

Stage 1: make the sponge.

Mix the sponge (preferment) by combining sorghum flour, yeast with 325ml warm water (110F/43C). Whisk until combined and smooth. Cover loosely with cling film and allow to sit at room temp for 45min to 1 hr. 

The sponge will be bubbly with a slight dome. The fermentation process will make the sponge smell a little like beer at this stage.

Chef Tip: I like to make my sponge 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.

The Ideal temperature for Yeast to thrive is 75F-95F/24C-35C

Yeast dies at a temperature of 138F/59C

Infographic of yeast temperatures

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.

Shaping

Tip the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface on lightly oiled surface, using a bench scraper or large butchers’ knife, separate the dough into four even pieces. They will weigh approx. 250g each. 

  1. Using the palms of your hands, gently flatten the dough into a rough rectangle.
  2. With the dough positioned lengthwise, parallel to the edge of the work surface. Fold the edge of the dough down to the centre of the dough. Pressing lightly with your fingers.
  3. Fold the bottom edge of the dough up over the centre of the dough. Use the heel of your palm to seal the two edges. If need be, use your fingers to gently pinch the seal closed.
  4. Add additional oil to the work surface if the dough is getting sticky.
  5. Flip the dough over so its seam side down on the work surface. Using the heel of your palms begin rolling the dough into a smooth, even oblong. Make sure not to roll them too much as this recipe bakes better when the rolls are shorter and fatter.
  6. If you want your rolls to be tapered at the ends, work your way from the centre, outwards when rolling, increasing in pressure as you move outwards.

Flour vs Olive Oil for shaping: 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 and a golden crust.

Panning and Proofing

Generously dust and coat the baking sheet with course cornmeal, sorghum or oat flour. I like to use cornmeal as it provides an extra crunch and texture once the rolls are baked.

Place the oblongs, seam side down, onto the baking sheet keeping mind to leave about one to two inches between each roll. Cover with dry kitchen towel or cling film and allow to rise for 45-55 minutes (this time will vary depending on how warm your kitchen is) or until they have nearly doubled 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. 

While the bread is proofing, preheat the oven to 500F/260F with the rack on the middle of the oven. Place the extra sheet pan or metal roasting pan in the oven to heat up at the same time. 

CAUTION: Never use a glass dish or bakeware for steaming.  IT WILL EXPLODE! When glass experiences a rapid change in temperature, like cold to hot or vice versa, it goes through thermal shock. The glass begins to contract and expand and will end up shattering into a million pieces. 

Baking

When the rolls are done proofing, using a pastry brush glaze the tops of the rolls with unsalted melted butter or olive oil. Using a lame or a sharp paring knife to slash a line directly down the middle of the rolls, about ¼ inch deep.  

Place the rolls in the oven and immediately (and carefully) pour 1 cup of water into the steam tray (extra baking sheet or roasting tin) and close the oven door. The goal is to keep as much of the steam as possible in the oven. 

Why do you need a steam tray? the water in the steam tray will begin to rapidly evaporate, creating steam and added moisture so the crust of the rolls will rise due to the increase in oven spring. It also creates a crispy, golden crust.

After 15 minutes, remove the steam tray and decrease the oven temperature to 450F/230C. Bake for another 15 minutes. Decrease the oven temperature to 425F/220C, rotate the sheet pan and bake for a final 15 minutes. Total baking time is 45 minutes.

The crust will be a rich, golden brown. If you prefer your rolls to have a dark amber crust, then continue baking for a further 5-10 minutes depending on your oven.

Cooling and Staling

Cool directly on the sheet pan or wait 20 minutes then transfer them to a wire rack. The rolls will take about 1-2 hours to cool completely.

Cooling the bread completely before slicing is important because as gluten free bread cools, the moisture in the bread evaporates, creating a drying, 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 the day it is baked.  If storing longer, wrap them in foil and place in a Ziplock bag.  The crust will soften overnight, but the interior will contain its soft texture.  

These rolls can be eaten on day 2 or 3 but I would recommend toasting them or making panini sandwiches.  

the best gluten free Italian sub rolls on wood cutting board

Gluten-Free Italian Sub Rolls Q&A

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

For this specific gluten free bread recipe, no. Due to the high percentage of starches in this recipe and lack of xantham gum I haven’t found a store-bought flour blend that achieves the same texture and crumb structure we want when making these gluten free Italian sub rolls.

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: 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 or high-hydration breads, then I would highly recommend purchasing a stand-mixer. The overall success for these gluten free breads really relies on the ability to knead extra sticky 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.

the best gluten free Italian sub roll, slice open on white background
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the best gluten free Italian sub roll with sliced turkey, tomato, lettuce, cheese and pesto on wood cutting board

The Best Gluten Free Italian Sub Rolls


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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Kira McMullan
  • Total Time: 2 hours 45 min
  • Yield: 4 x Italian Sub Rolls 1x
  • Diet: Gluten Free

Description

Gluten Free Italian Sub Rolls with a golden crust and a slightly dense, chewy interior. Perfect for making sandwiches or bruschetta!


Ingredients

Scale

Sponge Ingredients:

210g Sorghum Flour

2 1/4 tsp Dry Active Yeast

325ml warm water (110F)

Psyllium Gel Ingredients:

200ml room temperature water

25g Psyllium Husk (Rough/Whole)

2 tbsp. Apple Cider Vinegar

Dry Dough Ingredients:

140g tapioca starch

105g potato starch

35g Brown Rice Flour

25g Sugar

2 tsp salt

Glazing

1 tbsp Melted Butter or Olive Oil

Rough Cornmeal or extra Sorghum Flour for baking sheet


Instructions

Mixing.

Stage 1: make the sponge.

Mix the sponge (preferment) by combining sorghum flour, yeast with 325ml warm water (110F/43C). Whisk until combined and smooth. Cover loosely with cling film and allow to sit at room temp for 45min to 1 hr.

The sponge will be bubbly with a slight dome. The fermentation process will make the sponge smell a little like beer at this stage.

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.

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.

Shaping.

Tip the dough out onto a lightly oiled work surface on lightly oiled surface, using a bench scraper or large butchers’ knife, separate the dough into four even pieces. They will weigh approx. 250g each.

  1. Using the palms of your hands, gently flatten the dough into a rough rectangle.
  2. With the dough positioned lengthwise, parallel to the edge of the work surface. Fold the edge of the dough down to the centre of the dough. Pressing lightly with your fingers.
  3. Fold the bottom edge of the dough up over the centre of the dough. Use the heel of your palm to seal the two edges. If need be, use your fingers to gently pinch the seal closed.
  4. Add additional oil to the work surface if the dough is getting sticky.
  5. Flip the dough over so its seam side down on the work surface. Using the heel of your palms begin rolling the dough into a smooth, even oblong. Make sure not to roll them too much as this recipe bakes better when the rolls are shorter and fatter.
  6. If you want your rolls to be tapered at the ends, work your way from the centre, outwards when rolling, increasing in pressure as you move outwards.

Panning and Proofing.

Generously dust and coat the baking sheet with course cornmeal, sorghum or oat flour. I like to use cornmeal as it provides an extra crunch and texture once the rolls are baked.

Place the oblongs, seam side down, onto the baking sheet keeping mind to leave about one to two inches between each roll. Cover with dry kitchen towel or cling film and allow to rise for 45-55 minutes (this time will vary depending on how warm your kitchen is) or until they have nearly doubled in size.

While the bread is proofing, preheat the oven to 500F/260F with the rack on the middle of the oven. Place the extra sheet pan or metal roasting pan in the oven to heat up at the same time.

CAUTION: Never use a glass dish or bakeware for steaming.  IT WILL EXPLODE! When glass experiences a rapid change in temperature, like cold to hot or vice versa, it goes through thermal shock. The glass begins to contract and expand and will end up shattering into a million pieces.

Baking.

When the rolls are done proofing, using a pastry brush glaze the tops of the rolls with unsalted melted butter or olive oil. Using a lame or a sharp paring knife to slash a line directly down the middle of the rolls, about ¼ inch deep. 

Place the rolls in the oven and immediately (and carefully) pour 1 cup of water into the steam tray (extra baking sheet or roasting tin) and close the oven door. The goal is to keep as much of the steam as possible in the oven.

After 15 minutes, remove the steam tray and decrease the oven temperature to 450F/230C. Bake for another 15 minutes. Decrease the oven temperature to 425F/220C, rotate the sheet pan and bake for a final 15 minutes. Total baking time is 45 minutes.

The crust will be a rich, golden brown. If you prefer your rolls to have a dark amber crust, then continue baking for a further 5-10 minutes depending on your oven.

Cooling.

Cool directly on the sheet pan or wait 20 minutes then transfer them to a wire rack. The rolls will take about 1-2 hours to cool completely.

Cooling the bread completely before slicing is important because as gluten free bread cools, the moisture in the bread evaporates, creating a drying, 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 the day it is baked.  If storing longer, wrap them in foil and place in a ziplock bag.  The crust will soften overnight, but the interior will contain its soft texture. 

These rolls can be eaten on day 2 or 3 but I would recommend toasting them or making panini sandwiches. 

  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Cook Time: 45 min
  • 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 Irish Soda Bread.  

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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