Let me start by saying this FABULOUS gluten free Italian bread was a total accident. I am so, so glad it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to, though! It’s soft and fluffy with a thin soft crust that’s just absolute perfection 🙂
I don’t have a culinary degree, but I’ve been in love with baking since I was a little girl. Since being diagnosed with celiac, I’ve learned SO much more about baking, I think because I had to. When you’re stuck with this disease and you’re a foodie AND a baker, you learn to make everything yourself.
Sometimes it takes many hours (or even years) before succeeding at gluten free baking, especially when it comes to breads. If you were to look up gluten in a culinary textbook, there’d probably be a picture of yeast bread right beside it. Yeast bread is pretty much an exercise in the formation of gluten.
There are still a few breads that elude me in this gluten free baking world, but I’ll never give up. Not just because that’s how I am as a baker, but also because I want what “they” have. I want the good stuff. The real deal. And I know you do, too.
How This Gluten Free Italian Bread Was An Accident
When I was making my gluten free English muffins, I thought the dough would work perfectly for Ciabatta bread. Remembering a class I took on Craftsy by Peter Reinhart, I “plopped” it out onto a baking sheet. I kinda shaped it haphazardly into a “slipper” shape and let it rise in the fridge overnight.
When I baked it the next morning, it turned into a beautiful loaf of bread with a thin crust and a very soft interior. It was nothing at all like what I was looking for! Ha! Imaging that. I was looking for something more crusty and chewy with large holes, like a Ciabatta. Instead, I got this glorious loaf of Italian-American style bread that was sheer perfection. By accident! One taste from Scott and he deemed it my best bread yet! He said it reminded him of the bread his mom used to buy (from an Italian marketplace).
Tips for Making This Bread
I couldn’t wait to share this bread with ya’ll, so I got back in the kitchen to make it several more times to get the recipe down pat. And I have to say, out of all the gluten free bread I’ve made, this one is by far mine and Scott’s favorite!! Here are some simple tips for making this special bread:
- It’s a very sticky dough so it needs to be good and cold to shape it and even then, it will still be quite sticky. However, I’ve revamped my recipe so you no longer have to wait overnight for this bread. You certainly CAN wait overnight if you want to or if it goes perfectly with your schedule. But this bread can be done from start to finish in about 7 hours. You may not get quite the high rise if you shorten the resting time. But you’ll still get a great loaf of bread with amazing texture and taste!
- This dough can simply be dumped onto a well-floured surface and covered with more flour to shape it. No kneading necessary (other than the initial mixing of the dough with the mixer).
- Use steam to create the oven spring, just like in my gluten free artisan bread and gluten free mock rye bread.
- No need to cut slits in the top of the bread. This bread kinda goes a little “willie nillie” and releases steam wherever it wants to. It may not be perfect looking, but I call it “rustic.” And as long as it tastes great and has OUTSTANDING texture, who cares what it looks like, right??? No two loaves look alike!
- I’m of the camp that doesn’t mind the extra flour on the outside (it makes it seem more “artisan” and “real”. So I leave the extra flour on the dough after shaping. If that’s not your thing, however, just brush it off lightly with a pastry brush.
How Long Does Gluten Free Italian Bread Keep?
Store this bread in a ziptop bag or wrapped in foil on the counter for a few days. After that it’ll start to stale, like any great bakery bread. It can be refreshed by placing in a 300 degree F, wrapped in foil, for about 15 minutes.
You can also freeze the bread, well wrapped, for about 2 months. Thaw it on the counter, still wrapped, and then refresh it as above.
Can I Substitute Ingredients?
Luckily, this bread is egg free so there’s no worry about subbing eggs. That can be challenging in gluten free baking. As far as dairy free in the flour, see my flour blend page for suggestions. You should be able to swap out the milk with almond, coconut, soy, or other non-dairy milk. For the butter, try non-dairy butter alternative such as Earth Balance.
I can’t wait for ya’ll to make this bread and tell me what you think! I’ve made BLT’s with it for Scott and I and they are the best BLT’s we’ve ever had! (If I have an avocado, I like to make mine into a BLAT (bacon, lettuce, avocado, and tomato). Yum 😋!!! What sandwich would YOU make with this wonderful bread?
Fabulous Gluten Free Italian Bread
- 3 cups plus 3 tbsp (453 g) Kim’s gluten free bread flour blend
- 2 tbsp plus 1 tsp (29 g) granulated sugar
- 2 tsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp rapid rise (instant) yeast
- 2 cups (480 ml) milk
- 4 tbsp (56 g) butter, melted
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, weigh bread flour, sugar, salt, and yeast. Whisk to combine. Using beater blade, turn the mixer on low and slowly pour in the milk and butter. Increase the speed to medium high and beat for about 5 minutes.
- Remove the beater blade and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Allow to rise for about 2 hours or until doubled in size in a warm-draft free location. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, but up to 7 days.
- On baking day, remove the dough from the refrigerator and dump it out onto a heavily floured piece of parchment. Add more flour to the top of the dough to coax it into a torpedo or slipper shape (not as long as a baguette, but wider). You can divide the dough into two smaller loaves, if desired. I place the parchment on my pizza peel, but you can also use an overturned baking sheet. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise for about a half an hour. It will not double in size, just be slightly puffed.
- While the bread is rising, place a baking steel (or baking stone) on the middle rack of the oven and a shallow baking pan (such as a broiler pan) on the rack below it. Preheat the oven to 450° F. If you like the flour on your dough as it bakes, leave it on. If not, carefully brush off the extra flour, being careful not to deflate the dough. If desired, brush the dough with a little melted butter.
- Using a pizza peel or overturned baking sheet, slide the bread, parchment and all, onto baking steel (or stone). Immediately add one cup of hot tap water to broiler pan and quickly shut the oven door. Alternatively, you may drop a couple ice cubes on the bottom of your oven to create steam.
- Bake for about 30-35 minutes, or until you begin to smell the bread and it springs back when lightly touched. If the top is getting too dark, cover the bread with aluminum foil.
- Remove from the oven and brush again with melted butter, if desired. Allow it to cool on wire rack before cutting. The crust will soften as it cools.
This bread was originally posted on March 27, 2019 and has been updated with a video, several new tips, and an updated recipe.