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How to bake Gluten Free Focaccia at home

There's nothing quite like a freshly home-made loaf of bread. But until now, the closest thing for the gluten-challenged amongst us was buying one of Wildcraft's delicious loaves of bread or slices of focaccia. So we thought it was time to let everyone have a little bit more of that Wildcraft Magic! 

At the beginning of the Wildcraft journey, all we had was our Sprouted Buckwheat. We love it, but we thought we needed something new. Both Sam and I were dreaming of thick fingers of focaccia dipped in extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar, and the buckwheat bread just didn't cut the mustard! And so it began....the hunt for the perfect focaccia! 

Focaccia is a very special kind of bread. It's baked and fried all at the same time. The tin you bake the focaccia in is well-greased with high quality olive oil. After the dough is placed in the tin and smoothed out, you use your fingers make dimples in the surface of the dough then sprinkle liberally with more oil. When it goes in the oven, the oil in the bottom of the tin cooks the dough from below and the oil in the dimples fries it from above. This makes for a bread that is crisp on the top and bottom and soft in the middle.

Making a gluten free version is pretty much the same in many ways to making a gluten version. The Wildcraft White Bread Flour Blend does much of the hard work for you. But for this recipe, we add 1 more crucial ingredient: Egg whites.

As a commercial bakery, we use free range powdered egg whites. They are much more convenient than separating eggs and give excellent results. You can buy them in little sachets in the supermarket in the home-baking aisle. Or for a cheaper alternative, look online and buy bigger packs from any shop that caters to body builders. If you use the powdered egg whites, they need to be whisked in to your flour or they go clumpy in the dough. If you are using liquid egg whites, you will need to reduce the amount of water in the recipe and whisk the egg whites into the liquid ingredients. 

We use sunflower oil in the dough and extra virgin olive oil to finish. If you wish, you could substitute olive oil into the main dough also.

Let's begin!

Recipe:

30g/2tbsp sunflower oil

10g/2tsp sourdough starter

325g water or 200g if using liquid egg whites

7g/1tsp egg white powder or 125g (approx 2 large) egg whites

325g Wildcraft White bread flour blend

10g/2tsp instant dry yeast

  • Preheat your oven to 200C convection or 180C fan.
  • Liberally coat your baking tin in olive oil.
  • Combine all dry ingredients in a bowl.
  • Combine all your liquid ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a paddle. If you are using liquid egg whites, mix these into the wet mixture. If you are using powdered egg, stir this into the flour blend.
  • With the mixer turned on a low speed, slowly add your dry ingredients. 
  • Mix for 5-10 minutes until it forms a soft but springy dough
  • Scoop into your tin. Using floured hands, press your dough into your prepared baking tin. Dip your fingers into the flour, use your fingertips to press dents into the dough. You want these to be nice and deep so that once the focaccia has proofed, the dents will remain. 
  • Drizzle with olive oil and smooth over the surface of the dough. Press some fresh herbs into the dough and sprinkle with flakey sea salt.
  • Leave to rise in a warm place until just under doubled in size
  • Bake in a hot oven, for around 25-30 minutes until a deep golden brown on the surface. 

Troubleshooting:

Your focaccia has a layer of raw dough on the base: This is most likely a proofing issue. Gluten free doughs are sneaky. If you proof them too quickly, they don't have time to build the connections between the molecules that they need to form a strong structure in the oven and the dough will sink back down on itself as it cools. So if this happens, next time proof the dough a little bit less.

The dimples in the top of the focaccia disappear: You didn't poke the holes deep enough! You need to keep going until your fingers touch the base of the tin.

The focaccia is really dark on top and pale on the bottom: Your focaccia was too high in the oven. Lower the shelf next time

The focaccia rose up loads in the proofing and then collapsed in the oven and was dense and horrible: It's quite normal for the focaccia to sink a little bit as it cools. But if you over-proof the focaccia before it goes in the oven, it will collapse. The more you over-proof it, the worse the result!