Sheet bakes have never looked better than this golden autumnal gluten-free focaccia by Lindsay Heller a member of our LifeInAbruzzo Facebook group whose much loved grandfather was from Abruzzo. I wonder if he called it ‘Pizza Bianca’ and not Focaccia as my neighbours and local bakers all do.
I am sure with the arrival of the Autumn Equinox, more than a few of us are breathing a sigh of relief after a summer of intense, unending heat, drought and living with the constant threat of wildfires. It’s now the season for layers and when the world appreciates age and sees beauty in crisp and wrinkled as the leaves change colour ready to fall. How often do we all forget it’s they that will mulch our land and create warmth and coverings for animals and insects over the winter months? We need to turn those seasonal compliments into something active that protects our givers, the trees.
Gluten-Free Baking Tips
Lindsay’s first gluten-free bread-making tip is to look for flour with the best grind and which doesn’t contain Xanthan Gum. This additive helps mimic the stretchiness of gluten, but many celiacs develop an allergy to it. She’s based in the US and uses the excellent Napolitan, Caputo Gluten Free Flour that is available worldwide from Italian deli stores and Amazon. When living in the UK I used to use their regular flour whenever I made bread.
Her second tip is that gluten-free flour needs a good blast of heat to achieve the end results we love in regular bread, a great golden crust and crumb with texture. Bake pizza and bread at 260C she advises, however on our decorated gluten-free focaccia no more than 240C maximum with constant checking so those lovely features don’t burn!
Autumn Gluten Free Focaccia
- 240 g Caputo Gluten-Free Flour
- 2 tsp Double Baking Powder
- 1 tsp Salt
- 236 g Warm Water
- 1 tbsp Sugar
- 2 tbsp Really Good Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/2 tsp Saf Instant High-Power Yeast
Decorative Autumn Elements
- Leeks, green spring/salad onions, red pepper, yellow pepper, kalamata olives, dill, and some lightly toasted sesame seeds.
- Preheat your oven to 240C.
- Combine the gluten-free flour, instant yeast, gluten-free baking powder, and salt in a large bowl.
- Combine the warm water with sugar and your instant yeast and stir to make sure it has dissolved. Leave it to stand for 10 minutes to activate.
- Add your yeast mixture and pour into your gluten-free dry ingredients and work into a dough.
- Pour the olive oil into the dough mixture and knead. You are making focaccia so expect a sticky dough!
- Add 1 tbsp of olive oil onto a baking sheet or cake tin and stretch and press your dough onto it, cover with clingfilm and leave to prove for 1-2 hours until it has doubled in size.
- Press down your decorative elements gently into the dough and make slight traditional dimples with your fingers. Drizzle the remaining tablespoon of olive oil over the top.
- Bake at 240C on the middle shelf. Do keep an eye on your decorative elements! If they look like they are getting a little toasty before the dough has cooked, simply place a sheet of tin foil on top to protect them and prevent them from catching.
- After 20 minutes begin to check your focaccia, remove it from the oven when it has a crust that you like. Leave to cool on the sheet when cooked to absorb any remaining olive oil.