Mediterranean Bread Plait (Gluten Free)


I have been trying to perfect my basic gluten free ‘white bread’. In the process, I have come up with many iterations of the white bread recipe, to keep things interesting. In this version, I combined some of my favourite foods into one delicious loaf, which we thoroughly enjoyed for lunch alongside a salad! Unfortunately, in our house this is devoured too quickly for me to comment on how well it will keep beyond the day it is made, although I am sure it would freeze fine for future use, if it is frozen as soon as it has cooled down. As usual, the cup measurements refer to a 250 ml mug as equal to 1 cup.

What you need:

3 eggs

1 cup of white rice flour, plus extra for kneading and shaping the dough

1 ¼ cups of tapioca starch

¾ cup of potato starch

5 tablespoons of psyllium husk

2 sachets or 2 teaspoons of instant dried yeast

1 dessertspoon of sugar

1 teaspoon of salt

1 tablespoon of baking powder

1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar

1 ¼ cups of lukewarm warm water

4 tablespoons of pesto

4 tablespoons of sundried tomatoes, roughly chopped into smallish pieces

4 tablespoons of pitted olives, roughly chopped

1 cup of grated mozzarella, or a ball of fresh mozzarella roughly torn into small pieces

What to do:

1. In a large bowl, mix together the eggs, white rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, psyllium husk, yeast, sugar, salt, baking powder, apple cider vinegar and warm water until thoroughly combined. I find it easiest to do this in my stand mixer.

2. Set aside the bowl of mixed ingredients for at least five minutes, to allow the psyllium and starches to absorb the liquid and thicken the dough.

3. Generously flour a clean surface with white rice flour and then tip the dough onto the work surface. Knead gently for a few minutes, using additional white rice flour as needed to stop the dough sticking, until the dough is pliable and able to be shaped without sticking to your hands and the work surface too much.

4. Divide the dough into two equal parts. Set aside one part and, after re-flouring the surface generously with more white rice flour, roll out the second part into a rectangle that measures roughly 30 cm by 18 cm and is about 1 cm thick.

5. Spread half the pesto over the rolled out dough, and then sprinkle half the sundried tomatoes, olives and mozzarella over the pesto.

6. Re-flour the surface with more white rice flour and then roll out the remaining half portion of dough into another rectangle that measures roughly 30 cm by 18 cm and is about 1 cm thick. Place this rectangle on top of the toppings on the first rectangle.

7. Spread the remaining half of the pesto on top of the second rectangle of dough, and then sprinkle the remaining sundried tomatoes, olives and mozzarella over the pesto.

8. Carefully divide the rectangle along its longest length into three equal parts, keeping only a small part of the rectangle attached and undivided at the top.

9. Plait together the three sections of dough. If the toppings start to fall out, it can be helpful to curve the edges of the dough upwards and inwards slightly to encase the toppings.

10. Line a large baking sheet with baking paper and then carefully place the plait on the sheet. Cover the plait with a damp cloth (I like to use a damp muslin cloth) and leave to rise until the dough has risen to about 1.5 to 2 times its original size. The amount of time this takes will depend on the ambient temperature.

11. Once risen, turn an oven on to pre-heat to 180C and then place the baking sheet with the plait in the middle of the pre-heated oven to bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until the loaf is baked (it should have risen further, be a golden brown colour, and sound hollow when a bread-only part of the loaf is tapped (don’t tap a bit with toppings as it may not sound quite right).

12. Once done, remove the bread from the oven and leave to cool for a few minutes on the baking sheet (to allow the cheese to harden a little) and then on a cooling rack. This can be eaten warm, but the texture will become more like bread as it cools.

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