Can You Bake a Gluten-Free Italian Focaccia with Rosemary and Sea Salt?

April 18, 2024

Today, we’re going to share a culinary delight that combines the aromatic charm of rosemary with the sharpness of sea salt, all blanketed on a soft, luscious focaccia. "But wait,” you might ask, "what about those of us who follow a gluten-free diet? Can we still enjoy this delightful Italian bread?" Yes, indeed! You will find out that this gluten-free recipe is not only possible but also savory and satisfying. Let’s explore this tantalizing venture into the world of gluten-free baking, where we’ll discover how to make a fluffy, flavorful focaccia using gluten-free flour, yeast, olive oil, and a pinch of patience.

The Dough: Creating the Foundation of Your Gluten-Free Focaccia

Every great bread starts with a well-prepared dough. In a gluten-free focaccia recipe, this step requires a precise blend of gluten-free flour, water, yeast, and salt. The gluten-free flour serves as the base of your dough, providing structure and substance. Water and yeast work together to create the rise in the dough, and salt enhances the flavor.

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Begin by dissolving a sachet of yeast (about 2 and 1/4 teaspoons) in 1 and 1/2 cups of warm water. Let it sit for 5 minutes until it becomes frothy. This froth indicates that yeast is active and will help the dough rise. In a large bowl, combine 3 and 1/2 cups of gluten-free flour with 2 teaspoons of salt. Make a well in the center, and pour in the yeast mixture along with 1/4 cup of olive oil. Mix everything together until a sticky dough forms. This gluten-free dough may feel different than traditional bread dough—it’s normal for it to be wetter and stickier.

The Rise: Patience is Key in Gluten-Free Baking

Once you’ve made your dough, the next step is to let it rise. This step is crucial to achieving a light, airy focaccia. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and let it sit in a warm place for around 60 minutes. During this time, the yeast will feed on the flour, creating gas bubbles that cause the dough to expand.

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Even though gluten-free dough won’t rise as much as its gluten-containing counterpart, it’s essential not to rush this process. Your patience will pay off in the form of a soft, fluffy bread.

Shaping and Topping: Bringing Your Focaccia to Life

After the dough has risen, it’s time to shape it into a flat, round disk. Drizzle a bit of olive oil into a 9 by 13-inch baking pan. With oiled hands, press the dough into the pan, pushing it towards the corners.

For the classic focaccia dimpled look, use your fingers to press down into the dough, creating small indentations. Now, it’s time for the toppings. Drizzle the top of the dough generously with olive oil. This oil will seep into the dough during baking, imparting a rich, delicious flavor. Sprinkle with sea salt and freshly chopped rosemary. These toppings will add a burst of savory flavor to every bite of your focaccia.

The Bake: Achieving a Golden, Crisp Focaccia

The final step in creating your gluten-free Italian focaccia is the baking process. Preheat your oven to 450°F (230°C) degrees. Bake your focaccia for about 20-25 minutes, until the top is golden and crisp.

The high temperature helps create a beautiful crust on the outside while keeping the inside soft and fluffy. You’ll know your focaccia is baked to perfection when it has a golden-brown color and a hollow sound when tapped on the bottom.

Keep in mind that every oven is different, so keep an eye on your bread during the baking process to prevent it from burning. After the focaccia comes out of the oven, let it cool for a few minutes before cutting and serving.

Crafting a gluten-free focaccia might seem like a daunting task, but with careful attention to each step and the right ingredients, you can create a delicious, gluten-free version of this classic Italian bread. It’s time to roll up your sleeves, heat up the oven, and embark on this gluten-free baking adventure. You’re sure to impress your friends and family with your delicious, homemade, gluten-free focaccia with rosemary and sea salt!

The Secret Ingredient: Xanthan Gum in Gluten-Free Bread

While the key ingredients in our gluten-free focaccia are gluten-free flour, olive oil, yeast, and sea salt, there’s another essential component — xanthan gum. This ingredient often doesn’t get the spotlight, but it’s a necessary addition to any gluten-free bread recipe, including focaccia.

Xanthan gum is a food additive that acts as a thickener and stabilizer — it’s what gives gluten-free dough its elasticity. In gluten-containing breads, gluten proteins provide elasticity and structure, which is missing in gluten-free flours. Here’s where xanthan gum comes into play. It replicates this elasticity, allowing the dough to hold onto the gas bubbles created by the yeast, resulting in a fluffy and light texture.

To use xanthan gum in your focaccia, simply incorporate it into your flour blend. For this recipe, add 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum to your 3 and 1/2 cups of gluten-free flour. Remember, a little goes a long way, so stick to the recommended amount.

The Alternative: Dairy-Free and Vegan Gluten-Free Focaccia

Is it possible to make this recipe dairy-free or vegan? Absolutely! There are slight modifications you can make to this original gluten-free focaccia recipe.

For a dairy-free focaccia, check your gluten-free flour blend to ensure it doesn’t contain any dairy products. Also, use dairy-free margarine as a substitute for butter if the recipe calls for it.

To make a vegan focaccia, replace the instant yeast with a similar amount of baking powder. The rise time will be significantly less, but don’t worry, the texture should still come out soft and fluffy.

Also, if you want to add extra virgin olive oil for richness, find a high-quality vegan brand. Finally, swap out the traditional rosemary and sea salt topping for a vegan alternative like fresh rosemary and coarse sea salt.

Conclusion: A World of Possibilities with Gluten-Free Focaccia

In conclusion, baking a gluten-free Italian focaccia with rosemary and sea salt is not only feasible but also remarkably enjoyable. This venture into the world of gluten-free baking might seem challenging at first, but with gentle patience and meticulous attention to detail, this savory and satisfying bread recipe is achievable and rewarding.

The use of gluten-free flour, yeast, olive oil, and secret ingredient xanthan gum opens up a world of opportunities for those on a gluten-free diet. Plus, our guide on how to modify the recipe to suit dairy-free and vegan preferences broadens these opportunities even further.

The result is a versatile gluten-free focaccia that is perfect for a family dinner, a friendly gathering, or simply a delicious addition to your everyday meals. This bread, with its tempting aroma, soft texture, and sharp and herbal toppings, is a proof that gluten-free baking is just as delightful as traditional baking.

So, why wait? It’s time to explore the world of gluten-free baking with this easy and delicious focaccia recipe. Roll up your sleeves, warm up the oven, and invite the enticing smells of Italy into your kitchen today.