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The Diagnosis: Life After Bread

Gluten-free Olive Loaf


In the first months of living gluten-free, I didn’t even try to make bread. Then my baking instincts began to return, and I needed to make bread. This olive loaf is as soft as focaccia, dense and chewy like gluten bread.


  • 2 1⁄4 cups (535 mL) of lukewarm water
  • 1 packet (about 2 1⁄4 tsp) active dry yeast
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) sugar
  • 2 3⁄4 cups (650 mL) white rice flour
  • 1⁄2 cup (125 mL) tapioca flour
  • 1⁄2 cup (125 mL) sorghum flour
  • 1⁄4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 tsp (5 mL) salt
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) baking powder
  • 2 tsp (10 mL) apple cider vinegar
  • 3 eggs
  • 20 kalamata olives, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp (30 mL) reserved olive juice


  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
  2. Gently stir together the dry yeast, luke-warm water, and sugar.  Set aside in a warm spot, allow mixture to expand for about half an hour. Dough should grow to at least twice its size.
  3. Blend all dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Set aside.
  4. In a very large bowl, whisk together 2 of the eggs and the apple cider vinegar until fluffy, lifted with air.
  5. Make a well in the dry ingredients. Pour in the yeast mixture and gently blend all the ingredients together with a spatula, starting from the center of the liquid, and slowly circling outward, continuing until the mixture is well blended. (The dough should move away from the sides of the bowl. If too sticky to be lifted out, add more sorghum flour and white rice flour in equal parts.)
  6. Dust counter with gluten-free flour.
  7. Knead the dough on counter until it feels coherent. (Don’t knead as fully as regular bread dough, it will not be as elastic.) Slap the dough, gently, then pull it up from the counter.
  8. Place the dough in a medium-sized, oiled bowl, and set bowl on a plate on top of the stove. (The plate prevents the dough from starting to cook as the oven heats.) Let the dough rise for at least 45 minutes.
  9. Once it has risen, work the chopped kalamata olives into the loaf, which will cause the dough to sink a bit. Transfer dough to a loaf pan. (For a rounded loaf, use a pie plate.)
  10. Whisk together remaining egg and olive juice. Brush onto the top of the dough.
  11. Bake for about 30 minutes.  To test for doneness, check to see if the top is browning and crackled. Thump top; the loaf should sound hollow. Let cool for at least half an hour before cutting.
  12. Serve with olive oil, butter or soft goat cheese.

Shauna James is an author and blogger based in Seattle. Read more of her columns here.
Her first book,
Gluten-Free Girl was published by Wiley and Sons in the fall of 2007. It’s available at Write to Shauna at

Shauna James Ahern’s and Daniel Ahern’s new cookbook is Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, published by John Wiley & Sons. Their blog is

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