I think you’re either a bread person or you’re not. An “I take the Olive Garden Breadstick Challenge seriously” or, “I’m saving room for the tortellini.” Having always identified with the latter, it hasn’t been too difficult giving up the bread basket since going gluten free. That all changed when I tested the recipe for Gluten Free Focaccia.
HOLD ME BACK!
This sizzling, no knead gluten free bread recipe is light and fluffy on the inside, with an audibly crispy, heavily seasoned crust. Take it from a gal who’s usually just “meh” about bread — this gluten free focaccia is heavenly!!
Gluten Free Vegan Focaccia
Ok, gluten free focaccia bread, specifically, holds a special place in my heart. There’s a gluten free bakery in Minneapolis that my brother-in-law and sister-in-law always stop at before coming down for a visit to grab some g-free goodies for me, including a loaf of their focaccia (best. In laws. EVER!)
I admittedly open the package and start gnawing on it the second they hand it over. Over the sink like a rat. No shame in my focaccia game!
Focaccia is a leavened, Italian flatbread that’s flavored with extra virgin olive oil and, usually, herbs on top. Sometimes olives and shallots. I mean anything’s fair game, really. The gluten free version takes 5 minutes to mix up, and is essentially foolproof which means you can whip up a loaf any night of the week.
What I love most about this recipe is that it’s not only gluten free, but vegan so my egg and dairy-free daughter can enjoy it too. Like I mentioned in my Gluten Free Pizza Crust recipe, there is a unique joy in being able to bake something from scratch that the ENTIRE family can eat together.
Any boy does she love this gluten free focaccia bread recipe!!
The recipe for gluten free focaccia is based on my Gluten Free Pizza Crust, ie you probably have all the everyday ingredients on hand to make a loaf at this very moment. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Gluten free baking flour blend. I’ll share the blends I tested below, and which one I like best.
- Instant yeast: If you can open a packet of yeast then you can make this focaccia bread! We use quick rise instant yeast, and I like Red Star brand.
- Baking powder: Helps give our gluten free focaccia a nice rise.
- Sugar: Feeds the yeast. You could use honey instead, if you’d like.
- Salt: To help balance the flavor of the dough.
- Water: To moisten the dough.
- Apple cider vinegar: Just a splash helps the yeast rise to its greatest potential.
- Extra virgin olive oil: Makes the interior of the bread soft and chewy. We also drizzle it in the bottom of the baking pan, and on top of the bread dough before baking to give the crust an audible crispiness.
- Toppings: I go really simple with the toppings and add a generous sprinkle of sea salt, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and dried rosemary. You can fresh rosemary, if you like!
Best Gluten Free Flour for GF Focaccia
I tested five different gluten free baking flour blends for this focaccia recipe and there are two blends that definitely stick out in terms of achieving a nice tall focaccia bread with a fluffy, non gummy interior.
Here are my findings:
- King Arthur Flour Gluten Free Measure for Measure Flour: the texture of the baked bread is most comparable to “regular” focaccia made with wheat flour. Highly recommend.
- Schar Mix It! Universal Flour: the texture of the baked bread is tall and puffy, almost like Angel Food Cake. It’s very good but the bread comes out more like a gluten free sandwich bread.
- Krusteaz Gluten Free Flour and Pamela’s Gluten Free 1:1 Flour Mix: the texture of the baked focaccia is crumbly. Do not recommend.
- Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour: the texture of the baked bread is doughy and chewy. Do not recommend.
If you choose not to use the King Arthur or Schar blend, or simply can’t find them, just be sure to use a gluten-free flour blend that already contains a binder like xanthan gum, vs a single flour like almond flour, coconut flour, or rice flour, etc.
Tips for Success
- Use fresh yeast. This recipe is fairly foolproof but set yourself up for success by ensuring your quick rise yeast isn’t old or expired.
- Don’t be alarmed by dough texture. Here’s the thing about gluten free doughs/batters — many times they’re confused. YOU’RE going to feel confused making the dough thinking it’s going to turn into a loaf of fluffy bread. You’re going to think I’M confused for writing this recipe. The dough pre-risen dough is SUPPOSED to look like a thick cake batter. It’s all good! Refer to the photos below for a look at the dough texture.
- Don’t underbake. Bake the focaccia until the top and sides are deeply browned. The interior can end up dense and gummy if the bread is underbaked.
- Spray the pan. Be sure to generously spray the baking pan with nonstick spray to ensure it doesn’t stick to the sides and tear when you’re trying to remove it.
- Eat up. This gluten free focaccia is best enjoyed warm and on the day it’s made. That crispy crust disappears after awhile, so eat up!
How to Make Gluten Free Focaccia Bread
Step 1: Mix the dry ingredients.
Start by adding gluten free all purpose flour blend, salt, sugar, baking powder, and quick rise instant yeast to the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a large bowl if using a hand mixer.
Mix on low to combine. If you’re using a hand mixer, use a whisk to combine otherwise the dry ingredients will fly out everywhere.
Step 2: Warm then add water.
Next warm water to between 110-115 degrees to activate the yeast. If it’s too cold, the yeast won’t activate and you’ll have a true flatbread. Too hot and it can kill the yeast.
Pour the water, plus a splash of apple cider vinegar, into the yeast mixture then mix on medium speed until smooth, 15-20 seconds. Let the dough rest for 1 minute to give the flour time to absorb the water and hydrate.
Step 3: Add extra virgin olive oil.
Add extra virgin olive oil into the bowl then mix on low speed until it begins to combine. Crank the speed up to medium then beat for 1 minute.
See the texture of the dough? Like thick cake batter.
Give the dough a good stir with a spatula to ensure everything is well combined.
Step 4: Let the dough rise.
Drape a tea towel over the bowl then place it in a warm spot to rise for 30-40 minutes. I like to move my oven rack to the bottom position then use the “bread proofing” setting which heats to 100 degrees, though you can use a warm spot in your home, or even place the bowl on top of a heating pad set to low.
Step 5: Turn the oven up. Move the oven rack back to the center position then heat the oven up to 375 degrees.
Step 6: Prep the baking pan.
Spray a 9×5″ glass loaf pan very well with nonstick spray (I have not tested this recipe in a metal pan), then add 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil and tilt the pan to evenly coat the bottom. This will give the bottom of the focaccia a tasty, golden brown crust.
Step 7: Dot the top.
Many times baked focaccia bread appears “dimpled” on top. This is caused by pressing into the bread dough with your fingertips before baking. Since this gluten free focaccia dough is sticky I use the tip of a spatula to make dollops on top which come out looking close to those classic dimples.
Note: If you use the Schar Mix It! Universal Flour blend I mentioned above, you will be able to use slightly wetted fingertips to create dimples, but the King Arthur Flour I use is more sticky so I use a spatula tip instead.
Step 8: Season the top.
This is the step that makes this bread so very irresistible, imo. A sprinkling of salt, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and dried rosemary crushed between your fingertips sounds so simple, but it is SO STINKING GOOD when mixed with the extra virgin olive oil on top.
Season with your heart – no measurements needed!
Step 9: Bake.
Bake for 33-35 minutes or until the top and sides are deeply golden brown. Avoid underbaking or the center can be gummy.
Let the bread sit in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn it out onto a cutting board to cool slightly.
Slice then serve while it’s still warm. Dipping bowl of extra virgin olive oil, balsamic vinegar, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper nearby is optional but highly recommended!
How to Store and Freeze
Like I said, this bread is best enjoyed right after baking so you can enjoy that crispy crust to its fullest. If you do have extra on hand, wrap it in foil then store on the countertop for a day. Reheat wrapped in foil in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes or until warmed through.
- Cool focaccia completely then wrap in foil and place inside a freezer Ziplock bag and freeze for up to 3 months.
- Let thaw in the refrigerator or on the counter then reheat wrapped in foil for 15-20 minutes at 350 degrees or until warmed through.
Now what say you — will you give this seriously simple yet seriously delicious gluten free focaccia recipe a try soon?! Enjoy!!
What to Serve Gluten Free Focaccia Bread With
- Gluten Free Lasagna
- Homemade Gluten Free Chicken Noodle Soup
- Crock Pot Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
- Italian Sausage, Spinach, and Tomato Soup
- Spaghetti al Pomodoro
- Pink Sauce Pasta
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Gluten Free Focaccia
Gluten Free Focaccia is light and fluffy on the inside, and sizzling and crispy on the outside. This easy, gluten free bread recipe is the perfect side dish to any dinner!
- 1 cup + 2 Tablespoons gluten free baking flour blend WITH binder (King Arthur Gluten Free Measure for Measure Flour recommended, see notes)
- 2 teaspoons gluten free baking powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon quick rise instant yeast (I like Red Star)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
- 1/4 cup + 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- For topping:
- garlic powder
- Italian seasoning
- pinch of dried rosemary, crushed between your fingers
- Move oven rack to the bottom position then preheat oven to 100 degrees using the bread proofing / warming setting. If your oven does not have a bread proofing setting, heat the oven to 100 degrees then turn it off (see notes if your oven doesn’t display what temperature it’s at while preheating).
- Add the gluten free flour blend, baking powder, sugar, instant yeast, and salt to the bowl of an electric stand mixer, or a large glass bowl if using a hand-held mixer, then mix on low to combine. Note: if you’re using a hand-held mixer, use a whisk to combine the dry ingredients so they don’t fly everywhere.
- Microwave water for 35-40 seconds then stir and take a temperature with an instant read thermometer — we’re looking for 110-115 degrees.
- Pour the water and vinegar into the dry ingredients in the mixing bowl then beat on medium speed until well combined. Let the dough rest for 1 minute. Add 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil then beat on low speed until just combined. Turn speed up to medium then beat for 1 minute. The dough will be very sticky and similar to cake batter consistency — that’s ok!
- Use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and give the dough a big stir to ensure the ingredients are well combined. Cover the bowl with a tea towel then place inside the preheated oven and let rise for 30 minutes.
- After 30 minutes, remove the bowl from the oven, place the oven rack into the center position, then raise the temperature of the oven to 375 degrees.
- Spray a 9x5” glass loaf pan very well with nonstick spray then add 1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil inside and tilt the pan to evenly coat the bottom. Scrape the dough inside then spread into an even layer. Use the tip of your spatula to dollop the top of the dough to make small peaks which will mimic the dimples usually found on top of focaccia bread after baking (see photos for example). Drizzle remaining Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil on top then sprinkle on salt, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, and crushed rosemary, all to taste.
- Once the oven has reached 375 degrees, bake bread for 33-35 minutes or until the top of the bread is deeply browned. Avoid under-baking or the bread can be dense and gummy. Let bread rest in the baking pan for 10 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack to cool slightly. Slice then serve while warm.
- Bread is best baked and eaten on the same day. If there are leftovers, wrap in foil then store on the counter for 1 day. Reheat wrapped in foil in a 350 degree oven until hot, 15-20 minutes.
- To freeze: Bake focaccia bread then let cool completely. Wrap tightly in foil then place inside a Ziplock freezer bag and freeze. Thaw then bake still wrapped in foil in a 350 degree oven until hot, 15-20 minutes.
- If your oven doesn’t tell you what temperature it’s at while preheating, find a warm place in your home, or place the bowl of dough over a heating pad set to low to rise.
- A note on gluten free flour blends: Your focaccia dough and final baked bread texture will be different depending on what brand of gluten free flour you use. Here are my findings:
- King Arthur Flour Gluten Free Measure for Measure Flour: texture of the baked bread is most comparable to “regular” focaccia bread.
- Schar Mix It! Universal Flour: texture of the baked bread is puffy — almost like Angel Food Cake. Very good but more like a gluten free sandwich bread vs focaccia bread.
- Krusteaz Gluten Free Flour and Pamela’s Gluten Free 1:1 Flour Mix: texture of the baked bread is crumbly. Do not recommend.
- Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour: texture of the baked bread is doughy and chewy. Do not recommend.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.
Photos by Ashley McLaughlin