When my family asks for French bread I have just one great recipe I love: the base recipe for this posted bread is my go-to recipe. It always tastes great; the original came from food.com, I have modified that recipe somewhat. I think it is better for my changes. I have made it like 10 times. This is a recent variation I created adding some extra ingredients. I think it isn’t too raisiny: the golden chunks are very attractive and tasty in the fresh bread. The fennel is critical to make the flavor pop while the orange zest adds a nice undertone. This is the best bread I have made since going gluten free.
I served it to my family with some homemade shrimp cannelloni and it was a perfect combination. You can butter your slice for extra yumm but it is still delish without butter. I bet it would go great with ham for Easter luncheon.
This dough is very easy and quick to mix up. You need to keep an eye on it rising; should be in a warm but not hot location. Sometimes I turn on my oven and let it heat to 105 degrees upon which I turn it off and put in the bread. Just warm enough and no drafts inside there. Once it is getting close to ready you need to preheat the oven; take the bread out first if yours is rising in there!
My sisters loved this bread, Karen said it was like a “religious experience” eating it; she had four slices! Snuck the fourth when I left the room to get some water… And they both love good French bread and are not GF either so if they adored it that says something!
It is still tasty the next day. I think it would make fantastic French toast.
These pictures are all together for your convenience: in order of the recipe; the dry ingredients, the bread dough in the stand mixer, same dough with the added raisins and fennel seeds, the bread before rising, after rising just as I put it in th oven, freshly baked and a lovely slice about to be eaten by me!
Gluten Free Fennel Italian Bread
Makes two loaves
1 cup white rice flour
1 cup brown rice flour; throw it briefly in the blender if it isn’t finely ground
1 cup tapioca flour
3 tsp. xanthan gum
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp. sugar
1 ½ cups lukewarm water; about 90-95 degrees
1 tbsp. yeast
½ tsp. ginger
2 tbsp. melted butter
3 egg whites, room temp.
1 tsp. cider vinegar
3/4 cup golden raisin
1 ½ tsp. fennel seed
1 tsp. orange zest
Put the flours, gum and salt in bowl of stand mixer, blend. Add the zest, beat briefly to blend.
In two cup measuring cup or small bowl dissolve yeast, ginger, and sugar in the lukewarm water; let stand 3-5 minutes until foamy.
Dump into the dry ingredients; add the butter, egg whites and vinegar. Beat on high for 3 minutes. Add the raisins and fennel; beat on med low for 20-30 seconds to blend it in.
While the three minute beating goes on, spray French bread pans, those ones with the tiny holes everywhere and the half round shape; spray them with cooking spray and dust all over with yellow cornmeal.
Glop the bread dough in blobs close together into the pans to make two loaves; it will be like soft putty. Smooth the top with your fingers that you dampened in water. Try to push in any raisins right on the surface. Cut 3 slashes diagonally on the top. Sprinkle with a touch of cornmeal.
Let rise for 30 minutes until doubled. Bake in pre-heated 400 degree oven for 40 to 45 minutes until golden.
Cool at least 10 minutes before slicing into thick pieces.