Despite all the wonderful gluten-free breads on the market, there’s nothing like homemade bread, piping hot from your own oven.
It tastes deliciously fresh, your kitchen smells heavenly like a bakery, and you’re in control of what goes into the bread.
“But baking bread takes so much time” you say. I have devised several shortcuts so everyone can have bread quickly. With a little advance planning, careful choice of pans, and some ingenuity, you can bake homemade bread ….to rave reviews from your family and guests.
The secret? Mix up the dry ingredients (potato starch through salt) ahead of time. Use a three-loaf French Baguette pan, and here’s the ingenuity…start bread to bake in a cold oven. Follow this easy recipe and enjoy homemade bread.
Gluten-Free French Baguettes
By Carol Fenster, author of Gluten-Free 101: The Essential Beginner’s Guide to Easy Gluten-Free Cooking (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014)
These easy French Baguettes bake quickly in a three-loaf French baguette pan that starts out in a cold oven—an unusual but effective method that makes perfect baguettes and is easy for beginners.
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm (110°F) water
2 cups potato starch
1 cup Carol’s Sorghum Blend (see below)
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon guar gum
1 teaspoon salt
3 large egg whites ([1/2] cup), at room temperature (reserve 1 tablespoon for egg wash)
[1/4] cup (1/2 stick) butter or buttery spread, (at room temperature) or canola oil
2 teaspoons cider vinegar
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
 In a small bowl, dissolve the yeast and 1 teaspoon of the sugar in the warm water. Set aside to foam for 5 minutes.
 Grease a French baguette (three trenches) pan or line with parchment paper (for perforated pans).
 In the bowl of a heavy-duty stand mixer, whisk together the remaining sugar and the potato starch, sorghum blend, xanthan gum, guar gum, and salt until well blended. With the electric mixer on low speed, beat in the egg whites, butter, vinegar and the yeast-water mixture just until blended. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 30 seconds, stirring down the side of the bowl with a spatula. The dough will be soft.
 Divide the dough among the three trenches of the baguette pan by dropping 4 or 5 balls of dough in each trench using a #24 or #30 metal spring-action ice cream scoop to make loaves of the same size. Smooth each third into an 11-inch log with a wet spatula, taking care to make each log the same length and thickness, with blunt rather than tapered ends (they brown too quickly). Whisk the reserved tablespoon of egg white with a tablespoon of water until smooth and then brush each loaf with the egg wash. With a sharp knife, make three diagonal slashes [1/8] inch deep in each loaf so steam can escape during baking. Sprinkle with the sesame seeds.
 Place immediately on the lower-middle rack of a cold oven. Set the oven temperature to 425°F and bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until nicely browned. Cover the loaves with aluminum foil after 15 minutes of baking to prevent overbrowning, if necessary.
 Remove the bread from the pan and cool completely on a wire rack before slicing with a serrated knife or an electric knife. Makes 3 baguettes (twenty-one 1-inch servings)
Carol’s Sorghum Blend
1 ½ cups sorghum flour (or brown rice flour for lighter color and texture)
1 ½ cups potato starch
1 cup tapioca flour/starch
Whisk together until well blended. Store, tightly covered, in a dark, dry place.
Per slice: 96 calories; 1g protein; 1g total fat; 2g fiber; 19g carbohydrates; 6mg cholesterol; 110mg sodium
Starting Bread to Bake in a Cold Oven?
It may seem unusual to start bread-baking in a cold oven, especially when we have been taught to preheat the oven before baking anything. In reality, though, the cold-oven method works quite nicely with narrow or thin loaves like French baguettes. It does not work well with standard loaves (e.g., 4×8 or 5×9-inch) because they are too thick for the oven heat to penetrate quickly enough to bake them properly.
Gluten-free bread dough is heavy and wet. As the oven preheats, it warms the wet dough and activates the yeast, causing the bread to rise quickly, but that’s OK because the loaf is narrow, it doesn’t have to rise as much as a standard 5×9-inch loaf, and the heat from the oven dries out the crust to make it crisp. It also means that a French baguette spends only 30 to 35 minutes in the oven compared to a regular loaf that requires rising time and nearly an hour of baking time.
The bottom line? You will have bread much faster with the cold-oven method than with the preheated oven method. This cold-oven method works perfect in my KitchenAid wall oven, but it doesn’t work in all ovens—especially those with quick preheat cycles. Try it once in your oven; if it doesn’t work, then use the traditional method of first rising the dough and then baking it in a pre-heated 425⁰F oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
Want to Make the Dough Ahead of Time?
To make this dough ahead and save even more time, use cold water and eggs straight from the refrigerator so you don’t activate the yeast. Assemble the dough, refrigerate tightly covered for up to 3 days before baking. Shape the dough, let it rest for 10 minutes to warm up a bit, and start baking in a cold oven as directed above.
NOTE: For an airier crumb, slightly higher rise, and longer shelf life replace ¼ to ½ cup of the potato starch with Expandex (modified tapioca starch). To see where to buy Expandex, go to www.expandexglutenfree.com.