Focaccia Files Part III: Gluten Free Focaccia

The thing about gluten free baking is, well, the grittiness and density. Of course, there are things you can do to minimize both of these, like beating your batter longer than you would with traditional flour, or whipping egg whites until they are stiff, and folding them into a batter to create a lighter texture. And of course, adding xanthan gum to the GF flour. But still, after all this, there is a noticeable difference between gluten free baked goods and traditional baked goods.

That is, until you try this flour. I first saw Caputo Fioreglut on Instagram when a local gluten-free bakery posted about it. It’s an Italian GF flour made with wheat starch that has had the gluten removed from it. That’s right – it has wheat in it, but there is no gluten in it. It also has rice starch and some other stuff to help it act like a flour.

I used the same focaccia recipe I’ve used before, the swapped the all purpose flour with this stuff. I also wanted to make it dairy free so my husband can enjoy it, so I used butter flavored coconut oil. Of course you can use regular butter, or any butter substitute. Honestly, butter probably tastes the best.

I brushed the top with oil and sprinkled pink Himalayan sea salt flakes on it and some za’atar seasoning, but you could top with any herbs that you like. You could also top with olives, tomatoes, feta cheese, prosciutto – the options are endless. I first tried the focaccia recipe as published by NY Times, Peach Focaccia with Thyme, and let me tell you that is delicious! I will definitely make the peach version again this summer when they are in season.

Note that the dough is very wet and VERY sticky. I used a rubber spatula to scrape down the bowl and also to pour it onto the baking sheet. And, I coated my hands in oil before attempting to touch it. It will get all over your hands and stick to you if you don’t.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups warm water (110 to 115 degrees)
  • 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 4 tablespoons granulated sugar, divided
  • 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (for dairy free, use melted dairy free butter substitute or coconut oil)
  • 3 3/4 cups Gluten Free Flour (I used Caputo Fioreglut)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons dried herbs (I used za’atar)
  • 1 tablespoon coarse sea salt

Preparation

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook, combine the warm water, yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar. Let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, melt 1/4 cup butter and set aside.
  2. With the mixer on low, add the flour, salt, egg, 3 tablespoons sugar and melted butter. Continue until the dough is almost completely smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. The dough will be very sticky, but no need to add extra flour. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, cover the bowl with plastic wrap and leave it in a warm, draft-free spot until it has doubled in size. (This could take anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours.) Spray some non-stick spray on your hand, then gently punch the dough down, scrape the sides down and cover again. Let the dough rise one more time, about 30 minutes. *Remember, this dough is very wet and sticky, so it’s good to spray your hand before doing this, or just use the rubber spatula.
  3. Heat the oven to 400 degrees. Melt 2 tablespoons butter and spread evenly on a rimmed baking sheet. Tip the dough onto the prepared sheet and use your fingers to stretch it out to a large oval, roughly 10-by-15 inches. Allow the dough to rise, uncovered, in a warm spot to about 1/4 inch above the edge of the pan.
  4. Without deflating the dough, use your fingers to make dimples all over the surface. Sprinkle with the coarse sea salt and herbs (or any other topping you desire), then bake until golden brown, puffed and set, 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Let cool slightly in the pan on a rack, then slip the focaccia out of the pan onto a cutting board, cut into squares and serve warm.
Ziggy Approved!

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