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Gluten-Free Pain de Mie

Gluten free fans, reclaim the sandwich!
difficulty:
yield:

One 1-kg (2.2-pound) loaf

time:

About 3 hours start to finish (about 20 minutes active time)

introduction

Gluten-free bread is everywhere these days. But good gluten-free is as rare as a slice of decent sandwich bread used to be. Who hasn’t ordered a sandwich “gluten-free” and gotten two dry, flavorless slabs that quaked to bits on first bite? Bread like this belongs in the toaster . . . and good luck fishing out a slice intact.

We wanted to rustle up a gluten-free sandwich loaf that would carry flavor and mouthfeel akin to true pain de mie—supple, buttery, resilient. Could such an effort be achieved exclusively with Anson Mills Gluten-Free Flour blend of rice flour, oat flour, and bennecake? No such. Gluten-free grains will be coaxed into breadform only so far before they require help from supporting ingredients that mimic the strength and extensibility gluten provides.

Allow us to introduce a gluten-free loaf possessing confidence and flavor. A bread that doesn’t announce itself by what it is missing, but by what it has. A bread that doesn’t have to go straight from the cutting board to the toaster. This might not be the simplest gluten-free bread—but it will almost certainly be the best.

Baking Notes

Nearly every commercial gluten-free flour blend contains potato starch, tapioca starch, cornstarch, and xanthan gum—or some combination thereof. So it’s no surprise that we supplemented our Anson Mills Gluten Free Flour blend with this quartet of ingredients. Where our bread recipe goes off-script is with the addition of transglutaminase, commonly referred to as “meat glue.” Meat glue is a protein-binding enzyme powder that helps hold dough together to produce a strong matrix, one that can trap gases created through fermentation, and a satisfying structure and chew—appealing characteristics generally absent from gluten-free products. (Despite being called “meat glue,” transglutaminase can be derived from plant or animal, so if you’re vegetarian, check the source before you buy. Meat glue can be purchased online; we used this one.)

Chia seeds are a common addition to gluten-free bread formulas. When mixed with liquid, the seeds expand and become gelatinous. We utilize this natural gelling property by making a chia paste to assist in binding the structurally weak blend of flours and starches.

This dough leans in the direction of a batter and is mixed and handled more like a quick bread than a traditional leavened loaf. With no shaping demands, it moves easily from mixer to baked bread in a few hours.

equipment mise en place

For this recipe, you will need a digital kitchen scale, two medium bowls, a whisk, a fine-mesh strainer, a spice grinder, a small bowl, a small silicone spatula, a 9 by 4 by 4-inch Pullman loaf pan, nonstick cooking spray, a small saucepan, a digital instant-read thermometer, a stand mixer with the flat beater attachment, a liquid measuring cup, a hand mixer (optional), a wire rack, a small offset spatula or thin-bladed knife, and a clean oven mitt.

    • 180
      grams Anson Mills Gluten-Free Flour, room temperature, plus additional for dusting the pan, if needed
    • 105
      grams potato starch
    • 70
      grams cornstarch
    • 40
      grams tapioca starch
    • 10
      grams fine sea salt
    • 4
      grams xanthan gum
    • 4
      grams transglutaminase (see Baking Notes)
    • 5
      grams chia seeds
    • 10
      grams plus 230 grams spring or filtered water
    • 230
      grams whole milk
    • 8
      grams instant yeast
    • 20
      grams raw honey
    • 55
      grams unsalted butter
    • 60
      grams egg white (from 2 large eggs), room temperature
  1.  

    In a medium bowl, whisk together the gluten-free flour, potato starch, cornstarch, tapioca starch, salt, xanthan gum, and transglutaminase. Sift the mixture through a fine-mesh strainer into a second medium bowl.

  2.  

    In a spice grinder, pulse the chia seeds to a coarse meal. Transfer to a small bowl, add the 10 grams water, and mix with a small silicone spatula. Let stand for 10 minutes; the chia will hydrate and set up into a gelatinous paste (fig. 2.1). Meanwhile, spray a 9 by 4 by 4-inch Pullman loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray; if the pan is not nonstick, dust it with flour, rotate for full coverage, then tap out the excess flour.

  3.  

    In a small saucepan, warm the milk and the 230 grams water over medium-low heat until the mixture reaches 65 degrees, then pour it into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the yeast, honey, and chia seed paste, and whisk until the yeast dissolves. Set aside for about 5 minutes to allow the yeast to bloom. Meanwhile, in the same saucepan, melt the butter over low heat; transfer to a liquid measuring cup. In a medium bowl, using whisk or a hand mixer, beat the egg whites until they hold stiff peaks; set aside.

  4.  

    Add the dry ingredients to the mixer bowl and attach the bowl and flat beater. Mix on low speed until the flour begins to hydrate, about 15 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then mix on medium speed until the batter is smooth, about 30 seconds. With the mixer running on low speed, pour in the melted butter in a slow, steady stream; increase the speed to medium and continue to mix until the butter is fully incorporated, about 30 seconds. The mixture will be thick and smooth but spreadable, like stiff cake batter.

  5.  

    Detach the bowl from the mixer. Add the whipped egg whites and fold with a silicone spatula until homogenous (fig. 5.1). Scrape the batter into the prepared pan. Wet your hand with water and pat the surface of the batter to moisten it and smooth it slightly, then use the silicone spatula to fully smooth it (fig. 5.2). Spray a sheet of plastic wrap with nonstick cooking spray, then lay it across the loaf pan. Let rise in a warm spot until the batter is just shy of the rim of the pan, about 1½ hours.

  6.  

    About 1 hour into rising, adjust the oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 400 degrees.

  7.  

    When the batter is properly risen, remove the plastic wrap (fig. 7.1) and slide the pan onto the center of the oven rack. Immediately lower the oven temperature to 375 degrees and bake for 30 minutes. Rotate the pan 180 degrees and continue to bake until deep golden brown (fig. 7.2) and the internal temperature registers 210 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 30 to 35 minutes longer.

  8.  

    Remove the pan from the oven and set it on a wire rack. Run a small offset spatula or thin-bladed knife between the bread and the sides of the pan to loosen. Very gently invert the loaf into an oven mitt–clad hand (fig. 8.1), then place it right side up directly on the rack. Let cool for at least 1 hour (fig. 8.2). For thinner, more uniform slices, let cool for several hours, or better yet, overnight, before slicing. 

    1. 2.1
    1. 5.1
    2. 5.2
    1. 7.1
    2. 7.2
    1. 8.1
    2. 8.2

recipe developed by Henry Jones