For starters, gluten free bread recipes usually have a higher amount of water than regular gluten bread recipes do. There are several reasons for this:
- Most gluten-free flours are in the form of whole grain. These nutritious flours have higher protein levels and they are more dense. Flours that absorb more water, typically have a higher protein content and dense whole grain flours are heavier than wheat flour thus absorbing more water.
- Starch flours have a high water absorption capacity and most gluten free flour blends contain a percentage of starches. Starch naturally holds onto water providing structure and strength within a gluten free dough.
- Binders used in gluten free baking absorb water to produce their gelatinous qualities mimicking the properties of gluten.
|Higher hydration levels for Gluten Free Bread|
Next it is the important factors water has for bread dough.
Dough must be soft and flexible in order to rise properly - a factor of how much water is in the dough. If the dough is stiff, it is difficult for the expanding gases to lift the dough and create volume. After your dough is kneaded, it should be soft and nearly sticky. As a general rule when mixing bread, error on the side of too much water.
Too little water results in a stiff dough. This means that the loaf is likely to be small and stunted. More cake like in texture than bread like. A stiff dough prevents proper expansion, resulting in loaf breaking at
the seam (the weakest point) and won’t achieve proper cell structure.
A "lot too much" water will see the loaf quite flat, heavy and soggy as it fails to trap the gas from the yeast and also tends to be under baked in the middle.
Generally speaking wetter doughs will have big holes in the crumb, and drier/firmer doughs with lower hydration will have a closer more dense crumb.