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Gluten free focaccia – vegan, xanthan gum free

Gluten free focaccia is one of those holy grail recipes that we all strive to perfect. I love watching outrageously wobbly and bubbly focaccia dough on Instagram. While gluten free focaccia doesn’t quite get that same gorgeous wobble, it is equally delicious and also easy to make.

This gluten free focaccia is also vegan, xanthan gum free and made without nuts.

An aerial image of a gluten free focaccia on a dark steel background. The focaccia is golden brown and topped with green and kalamata olives, sage leaves, rosemary leaves and sea salt flakes.

Gluten free focaccia that is vegan and xanthan gum free

This gluten free vegan focaccia uses a simple mix of white rice flour, tapioca flour and potato starch. During the extensive testing process, I found that combination to be the absolute best for emulating that chewy yet light crumb focaccia is known for.

The focaccia is bound together by psyllium husk and an appropriate amount of water. Olive oil in the dough and on the focaccia develops flavour and aids in a crispy, golden crust. This gluten free focaccia can be topped with anything you like. It also makes a great sandwich. If you prefer a thinner style focaccia, you can bake this free-form on a baking sheet.

A side on image of a gluten free focaccia sandwich on a white marble table against a white backdrop. The sandwich is filled with tomato, basil and vegan mozzarella, which pokes out of the side of the sandwich.

Notes for your gluten free focaccia

  • How much water you add is really dependent on how thirsty your flours are and will vary for everyone. After leaving the dough to sit for 10 minutes, you should be able to pick it up in one hand. I find that a wet dough tends to result in a dense and soggy focaccia.
  • Oil in and on top of the dough is critical for a browned, flavoursome crust.
  • I find that greasing the baking dish with both butter and oil is the only way it doesn’t stick to the dish. I don’t recommend skipping this step.
  • I often use a 30 x 20cm oval shaped baking dish for this recipe. I find thicker dough results in a lighter crumb. You can also use a baking sheet – see ‘how to adjust the focaccia according to your preferences.’
  • You can proof this dough in the fridge overnight for a more developed flavour. The next day, simply assemble the focaccia and allow to proof for another 30 minutes on the bench before baking.
An aerial image of a gluten free focaccia in a white oval shaped baking dish on a white marble table. The focaccia is topped with olives, rosemary sprigs and sea salt flakes.

Tips and tricks for your gluten free focaccia

  • When poking the holes in your focaccia, grease the top first. This will ensure your finger doesn’t get stuck as you poke.
  • The holes in this focaccia tend to get swallowed up a little as the focaccia puffs up and bakes. I like to poke the hole, then swirl around to make it wider. This will help ensure the characteristic dimples remain after baking.
  • On that note: make sure you press your finger right the way down to the base of the baking dish. This will A) allow the olive oil to seep right the way through and B) ensure the dimples remain after baking.
  • Another dimple tip! Sorry, last one. Redo the dimples after the benchtop proof, right before baking.
  • A focaccia dough that has been rested in the fridge overnight develops more flavour.
  • Don’t panic that the dough looks quite wet to begin with. As you whisk, the psyllium husk will work to absorb excess moisture.
A side on close up macro image of a stack of gluten free focaccia slices. The focaccia crumb is exposed, revealing a wide open crumb and olive oil oozing throughout the focaccia

Substitution options

I did a lot of testing on this focaccia recipe, and I settled on the combination in the recipe card for a few reason. There are a few substitution options, but not many. I will update the post if and when more options are tested.

  • In testing, I found that the combination of tapioca starch and potato starch made for the best crumb. It’s light yet chewy and it browns and crisps up so nicely.
  • I tried glutinous rice flour and it didn’t quite achieve the texture I wanted.
  • White rice flour is bland and accessible, which is why I chose it. I haven’t tested this focaccia with any other wholegrain flours thus far.
  • Olive oil is traditional to focaccia. If you’re absolutely stuck without it, bland oil like vegetable will work in it’s place.
  • Any sugar works here – maple, light brown, rapadura. They might change the colour of the dough a little, though. The sugar is added for flavour development, browning and as a little snack for the yeast.
  • There is no substitute for psyllium husk powder. It binds the dough together, creates chewiness and absorbs sufficient water for a moist focaccia dough.
An aerial macro close up image of a gluten free focaccia before baking. The focaccia is topped with green and kalamata olives, sage leaves, rosemary leaves, sea salt and olive oil.

What to top your gluten free focaccia with

I mean, whatever you like! A few suggestions of ways I have made or used my focaccia:

A close up macro image of the top of a gluten free focaccia that is golden brown and topped with green olives, kalamata olives, sage leaves, rosemary sprigs and flaky sea salt.

How to adjust the focaccia according to your preferences

  • If you want a focaccia for sandwiches, use a 30 x 20cm baking dish or thereabouts. A smaller baking dish will ensure your focaccia has height – it doesn’t rise much (if it all).
  • To make a thinner focaccia on a baking sheet, use 550g water (as opposed to adding more). Without walls, the focaccia will spread, so using less liquid helps prevent that. It also, however, makes for a finer crumb.
  • If you’re prioritising a big open crumb, proof the focaccia overnight and bake in the morning. You can skip the proofing in the bowl – just mix the dough up and decant it straight into a (well greased) baking dish. You can also add the higher amount of liquid if an open crumb is important to you. Cover the focaccia before popping it in the fridge. The next day, do a half hour bench proof before baking.
  • I find that the top of the focaccia is prettier with a same day proof (not sure why) but the innards are better with an overnight proof.

More gluten free bread recipes

A close up aerial image of a gluten free focaccia that is golden brown and topped with green olives, kalamata olives, sage leaves, rosemary sprigs and flaky sea salt

Gluten free Focaccia (vegan, xanthan gum free)

Gluten free, gum free, egg free, vegan
Australian cups are used in this recipe, use the gram measurements for international accuracy
Be the first to rate this recipe
Prep Time 20 mins
Cook Time 45 mins
Proofing time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Breads
Cuisine Food Intolerance Friendly
Servings 1 medium focaccia

Ingredients
  

For the dough:

  • 320 g (2 cups) white rice flour
  • 90 g (3/4 cup) potato starch
  • 90 g (3/4 cup) tapioca flour
  • 13.5g (1 tablespoon) psyllium husk powder
  • 7.5 g (1 Australian sachet) instant yeast
  • 15 g fine salt
  • 20g ( 1 tablespoon) white sugar or maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup (60ml) olive oil
  • 525-550 g (up to 600g) water

To finish:

  • Oil and butter to grease the dish (see notes)
  • 2 tablespoons (40ml) olive oil for the top of the dough
  • Any toppings you fancy I like Sicilian olives, rosemary sprigs and sea salt flakes

Instructions
 

  • Combine the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Add the wet ingredients, then whisk thoroughly to completely combine. You should be left with a smooth, slightly wet dough that you can just pick up.
  • Cover the bowl with a plate and leave for one hour to proof. Alternatively, cover and place into the fridge for 6 hours or up to overnight. While the dough is proofing, grease your baking dish thoroughly with a scant amount of butter and oil. Too much fat on the base can leave the focaccia with a soggy bottom.
  • When the dough is proofed, it should be light, fluffy and cohesive. Use wet hands to press it into the greased baking dish. Grease your fingers with oil, then use them to poke holes in the dough, right down to the base of the dish. When you’re happy, cover the dough and leave for another 30 minutes to proof again.
  • Preheat the oven to 200C. When the focaccia is proofed, puffy and ready, cover it in the remaining olive oil and press in your toppings of choice. Finishing with sea salt flakes makes for an incredibly delicious top – I highly recommend it.
  • Put your focaccia in the oven for 25-30 minutes or until the top is crispy and firm. Turn the heat to grill and continue cooking until the top of the focaccia is golden brown. This might take 10-15 minutes. When you’re happy, remove it from the oven and allow to cool for 30-40 minutes before slicing. Reheat leftovers in a steamy oven or in the microwave to restore them to their former glory.

Notes

• How much water you add is really dependent on how thirsty your flours are and will vary for everyone. After leaving the dough to sit for 10 minutes, you should be able to pick it up in one hand. I find that a wet dough tends to result in a dense and soggy focaccia.
• Oil in and on top of the dough is critical for a browned, flavoursome crust.
• I find that greasing the baking dish with both butter and oil is the only way it doesn’t stick to the dish. I don’t recommend skipping this step.
• I use a 30 x 20cm oval shaped baking dish for this recipe. I find thicker dough results in a lighter crumb. You can also bake the focaccia on a sheet tray – see the body of the post for more information. 
• You can proof this dough in the fridge overnight for a more developed flavour. The next day, simply assemble the focaccia and allow to proof for another 30 minutes on the bench before baking. You can also proof the dough straight in the baking dish (make sure it’s still greased, though)
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