During my travels to Paris I have been able to indulge in baguettes from Parisian boulangeries (bakeries). You may say these are not gluten free! Rightly so. While I have an intolerance to gluten, I am not coeliac so this means I can carefully choose what I know will sit well with my gut. French baguettes do, simply because of the method they use when baking it. The dough is traditionally made and proven twice, making the protein in the wheat flour easier to digest. Also the type of flour used (T65) is a less processed flour and this helps too. These days most commercially bought bread is a quick bread style and this is what often causes even regular people to have gut upsets. There are preservatives added and also extra gluten surprisingly enough and this contributes to painful bread experiences.
Baguette making is a tradition in France and, every May, usually outside Notre Dame Cathedral, is held the Fête du Pain. Rules are very stringent with regards to ingredients, weight and size of the baguette, and it’s a coveted honour to be awarded best Pain de Tradition Française and have the award on your boulangerie window.
I was so fortunate to have been in Paris at this time. The Fête du Pain is held under a huge marquee and so many bakers create and display their products.
There was also the most amazing display of creative bread, using techniques with the lame and salt (which retards the rise), to make amazing designs. Truly beautiful.
This is one such bakery window we passed where the baker won second prize that year
French bakers are trying to obtain UNESCO heritage listing for the tradition and technique of the baguette as they do battle with supermarket frozen bread. The annual review in November 2018 may see it labelled with an intangible heritage marker that already covers beer, pizza twirling and other ancient bread making methods.
Baguettes are a wonderful and versatile bread to have on hand either when entertaining or just for yourself everyday. You can make these plain as the recipe will say but my favourite is to add pitted kalamata olives and lemon thyme from my garden. The colour of the olives almost makes the bread purple and gives it a fabulous flavour. This bread dough requires no proving but goes straight into the oven, so have it preheating before you start.
I am using my regular trinity of flours for this recipe but in a different combination than for the everyday bread recipe using the plain flour mix. The combination of rice flour, potato and tapioca starches make for a flour that is quite equal to wheat, with the addition of guar gum that adds a binding and water storing quality.
While not an authentic recipe certainly, it makes a great gluten free French Bread for those who will never be able to eat the real thing.
Gluten Free French Baguette – makes 2
312.5ml warm water/milk combination
24g active dry yeast
300g superfine white rice flour
60g potato starch
38g tapioca starch
6g guar gum
60ml olive oil
3 egg whites from 60g eggs
5ml white vinegar
Preheat oven to 220°C degrees.
Dissolve sugar in lukewarm water/milk combination in a medium sized bowl then stir in the yeast. It is granular so it won’t dissolve completely. Set aside to foam for about 10 minutes until really frothy and cappuccino foamy-like. It is vital the water/milk combination is only lukewarm or tepid as if it is hotter, you run the risk of killing the yeast before you even start. Any ‘milk’ can be used in this recipe. Just go with what you normally drink.
Place baking paper into stick pans to line them.
Combine all dry ingredients in the bowl of an electric stand mixer. Add yeast mixture to flour mixture to combine. Still on low speed – blend in oil and vinegar then egg whites. Beat on high speed for 2 minutes. Dough will be somewhat soft.
Spoon evenly into prepared baking pans. Brush with egg if desired for a glossier crust and sprinkle over course salt.
This is my kalamata olive and lemon thyme baguette ready for the oven
Place immediately into preheated oven and bake for approximately 25 minutes or until bread is nicely browned.
Remove bread from pans and cool on wire rack.
Variation: Add about 10-15 pitted kalamata olives and stripped lemon thyme to the dough as it is mixing, Add lemon thyme stalks and flowers to the top after brushing with egg.
Serve the gluten free olive and lemon thyme baguette as you like but I love it with goats cheese and roasted pumpkin. You can slice this bread thinly also and place the slices on an oven tray brushed with olive to serve as dippers for cheese or dip. Or use it as bruschetta bread. Whether you make it plain and serve it as a tartine with butter (French of course), or filled like I have, this recipe will be one of your go-to’s