Peasant Boule - Two Variations

This month's Bake Together initiative, hosted by the ever-wonderful Abby Dodge, proved to be a bigger than usual challenge for me.  Her Peasant Boule is fabulous.  But bread is one of the more difficult baked goods to convert to a gluten-free version.

In order to see what the base recipe was SUPPOSED to look like, I baked a regular version of it.  I followed the recipe that Abby provides, adding only 1/2 c. shredded smoked provolone and some cracked black pepper.  I also sprinkled a bit more cheese, pepper, and some pyramid salt on the top before baking:

No problemo.

So then I tried a sweet version for the little ones.  The first time around, I just replaced the flour with a variation on the blend of gluten-free flours I use for sandwich bread and threw in a little xanthan gum.  OK, rather a lot of xanthan gum until I got the right consistency.

I baked them in a muffin pan, layering a scoop of batter with butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon, then more batter.

They looked pretty good, so I added a simple powdered sugar glaze.  And then... discovered that they were little hockey pucks and more or less inedible.

Back to the ol' drawing board.  I spent a little time reading through some of my gluten-free cookbooks, especially Chef Coppedge's Gluten-Free Baking with the Culinary Institute of America.  And also consulting the various recipes developed by Stella of The Brave Tart.  The difficulty with this recipe is that it's a lean dough - leaving no other ingredients to provide structure and support that comes from gluten in the original recipe.  While a regular lean dough has no eggs or milk, removing the gluten requires a little extra protein.  So I present my version of the plain loaf, gluten free:

1/2 c. sweet white sorghum flour
1 c. white rice flour
3/4 c. soy flour
1/2 c. potato starch
1/2 c. tapioca starch
2 Tbsp. whey powder
2 Tbsp. potato flour
2 1/2 tsp yeast (or one packet)
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp xanthan gum
1 c. hot (not boiling) water
3 egg whites

In a bowl, whisk together flours, starches, whey powder, yeast, salt, baking powder, sugar and xanthan gum. Set aside.

In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine egg whites and hot water.  Beat on medium until foamy.

Switch to paddle attachment.  Check the temperature of mixture - it should be between 105-110 degrees if your eggs were room temperature.  Heat over a pan full of water or allow to cool until this temperature is reached, if needed.  Add half of flour mixture and beat till combined

Add remaining flour mixture and beat for about 3 minutes until smooth and sticky.  Grease a bowl and put batter into it.  (Batter will be stickier than a traditional dough - too sticky to knead)  Brush top with butter, cover with plastic wrap, and set in a warm place to rise until doubled in size.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Brush a round pan liberally with melted butter.  Stir down risen dough and move into the round pan.  Shape with a wet spoon, then brush again with melted butter.  Allow to rise, uncovered, until dough fills the pan.

Bake about 40 minutes, until center reaches at least 195 degrees when tested with a probe thermometer.

Variation 1:  If you want to make the cheese version, just add 1/2 c. shredded smoked provolone and a few turns of freshly ground black pepper to the flour mixture before adding to the water.

Variation 2:  Using a 2 oz disher, scantly filled, place a scoop of dough into each well of a 12-well muffin pan.  Brush with melted butter.  In a small bowl mix 1/3 c. brown sugar with 1/2 tsp cinnamon.  Sprinkle some of the mixture over each scoop of batter.  Add a second scoop to each cup.  Smooth tops with a wet spoon, and allow to rise until they come 1/2" over tops of cups.  Bake at 375 degrees for 25-30 minutes or until golden and done.  Remove from pan and drizzle with powdered sugar glaze.


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