gluten-free croutons

We have a lot of bread in our house right now.

For months, Danny and I have been scheming and talking, scribbling notes on random bits of paper and trying to collect all this juicy “ooh, what should we make for the cookbook” talk into coherent columns of recipes made and recipes yet to develop. For weeks we  have been making five to six dishes a day, making sure our conception of them not only ended in something delicious but was also relatively easy to make.

I love this.

If you ever have a  hope of writing a cookbook, let me tell you this: it is some of the hardest, most exhausting work I have ever done. And the most wonderful. I love the work of cookbookery (as Julia Child called it, according to Dorie Greenspan). I love the planning, the hoping, the crossing-off-of-lists, the cooking, the baking, the discussing, the writing down, and the imagining of what each recipe will look like in your kitchen.

That’s what this is all about, after all — the cooking you do in your kitchen.

Danny and I are so honored (and humbled) every time we think about the dishes coming from our kitchen making their way into yours. That’s why we are working so hard. We won’t stop until every dish is interesting and make-able.

We want this book to be of use.

Most of the recipes won’t involve baked goods. To us, there is so much more to life than baked goods. Going gluten-free can mean discovering an entire world of food, meals you never imagined whose tastes have become imprinted on your tongue. The dishes in this next cookbook of ours will rely on solid technique, ingredients you can find fairly easily, and lots of enticements to spend some time in the kitchen making these with someone you love on a weeknight. We’re using flavors from around the world to spice it up and introduce new tastes to your sense memory.

Plus, there is chicken and dumplings. I love chicken and dumplings.

So there are some recipes that involve flours. Most do not, however. I find that the longer I am gluten-free, the less I want starches and floury things all the time. They’re more occasional treats now. Like bread.

To my amazement, I have nearly lost my taste for bread.

When I was first diagnosed with celiac, bread was one of my first panic buttons. What would I do without a crusty olive loaf from Macrina Bakery? How could I ever visit Paris and not eat a baguette? What about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Once, I was the sandwich girl, the gluten girl. I craved bread in an unhealthy fashion, even if I did like healthy bread. Now, I know why. There’s a weird addiction in someone who cannot eat gluten but doesn’t know it yet. Even though the gluten causes the body to attack itself and do damage (if you have celiac), the poor bombarded body also responds by sending out chemicals and hormones that make us feel better. It’s suspected by a good number of scientists that we crave bread pie and pizza, even if we have celiac, because we’re sort of addicted to that reaction.

Funny thing happens when you cut out gluten. You lose the cravings. It may take some time, but it ends up happening for nearly everyone. I was the bread girl. Now? Eh.

I think I’ve had about six sandwiches in the last six years. And I’m not feeling sad.

So why the heck did I make five loaves of sandwich bread yesterday, each one based on a very different technique and ingredients?

For you.

Plus, one of the chapters in the book is a Breakfast for Dinner chapter, and we came up with a fried egg sandwich with bacon-tomato jam.

So we have to have a great sandwich bread for that.

Also, I really, really love the challenge of this. I love thinking in ratios, taking out the calculator, writing down numbers and fiddling with them. I love imagining what we want and seeing it rise out of the oven.

After making the loaf of bread you see photographed here, I might just start wanting more sandwiches as well.

So we’re close. Very happy. And we have a hundred tiny tweaks to make before we can send this thing to publication.

Just know that we’re standing in the kitchen, side by side, talking about our imaginations of the food you might be making and making suggestions to each other about what we might do better next time.

I love this part.

Did I mention that we will have a great gluten-free pita bread recipe for you in the cookbook?

It’s coming along, happily.

(Have I mentioned that all the breads in the book — including injera, socca, tortillas, and biscuits — will be without xanthan or guar gum or anything artificial? We’re so happy about that.)

So we have been baking bread. In the morning, I wake up and look at the dough that has been slowly rising overnight. And then I start another batch. We work on the hamburger buns. Danny makes suggestions about a different baking pan. I pull out the big tub of gluten-free flours again.

We keep working.

Also, there’s this little business of a photo shoot coming up.

Next Saturday, we start shooting the photos for the cookbook. Are we done with it yet? Not even close. However, September is the most gorgeous light in Seattle. And if Penny des los Santos knows how to work with anything, it’s light.

We are beyond excited to be working with Penny on this cookbook. I can only imagine how incredible those photographs are going to be.

Danny and I have been talking with Penny, our food stylist Karen Shinto, and our prop stylist in Seattle, Anne Treanor Miska, for months now. Together with them (and our wonderful book editor), we have been collaborating on the 40 or so final dishes that will be photographed in the cookbook. (There will be many more photographs than that, of fresh ingredients, of what we keep in our pantry, of us cooking, of gatherings.) We have been having video conferences and going through shot lists and imagining each dish. We love this team.

After each meeting and email, Danny and I have been more inspired. We go back to the kitchen with renewed energy.

And now, we’re sprinting. We start next Saturday. We don’t feel ready. But we’re ready.

Don’t be surprised if you don’t see us here very much for the next few weeks. All our energies are going into the cookbook right now. We want to get this right for you.

Having a lot of bread around the house is worth it when we imagine how much you will enjoy eating it in a year and a half.

GLUTEN-FREE CROUTONS

What do we do with all these loaves of bread? We make sandwiches for Lu’s afternoon at school. We try out panzanella recipes. We toast them and grind them into breadcrumbs. We freeze most of them. And we make fresh croutons.

At first, Danny and I didn’t think this was enough of a recipe to share. It’s so simple. However, there was a time when I bought all my croutons out of a box. Homemade croutons taste so much better than anything in a package. Imagine creamy tomato soup with these babies on top. Every salad will be better for these crisp-chewy little morsels.

This really isn’t a recipe, per se. It’s a technique. You can take any gluten-free bread you have hanging around and make a batch of croutons.

We think you’ll like them.

gluten-free bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
olive oil
salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 500°.

Toss the bread cubes with just enough olive oil to coat all the cubes lightly. Season with salt and pepper.

Toast the bread cubes until the edges are crisp and brown, but the insides are still a bit chewy, about 10 to 15 minutes, depending on your oven.

(Be sure to set a timer. Look at the croutons a few moments before the timer goes off. You don’t want to burn these.)

Enjoy.

74 comments on “gluten-free croutons

  1. Kathryn

    My dad has been a coeliac for 25 years but has never lost his taste for bread — of course, it is all now gluten free bread but he still has toast every morning for breakfast. I’m really excited to try making some home made bread for him and I can’t wait to see the cookbook! If Penny is shooting it, I know it’s going to be a joy to look at as well as a joy to read!

    1. Alyssa

      Yea, I am in the same boat as your dad! I was diagnosed over two years ago and while reading this I was like “WHAT?! lost her taste for bread?!” I don’t think I will ever not enjoy a nice lunch sandwich! While I would prefer it on a nice fluffy hard roll or sub roll, the gluten free sliced bread is still a good alternative and it satisfies my cravings for a turkey sandwich or a good BLT. But I still to this day miss subway and an everything bagel with cream cheese like nobody’s business!!

  2. Sami

    That bread loaf looks delicious. Just like you, I used to crave some crusty bread or some toast, now I don´t even think of bread. Good luck with all the preparations for the book xx

  3. Mer @mersworld

    I am drooling over those wonderful breads! Can’t wait for the cookbook– when will it be out? Sorry, if I missed that on the site/post! There is nothing better than making homemade bread into croutons– sometimes we add some fresh garlic to the olive oil before we brush it! Adds another flavor element!

  4. cari

    You really must stop teasing us! A year and a half? Really? Lu will be like four years old for pete sake. My favorite little gluten-free bakery that was almost around the corner closed not too long ago. I can’t tell you how much I loved picking up a bag of croutons every week. I know they are easy to make but somehow things like this taste better when they come out someone else’s kitchen. I would eat them by the handful, who needed salad. Plus they double for stuffing. A good pantry staple for sure!

  5. Karla

    I love the thought of your next cookbook coming out…we can’t wait to try your creations. I was diagnosed around the same time you were and have experienced the same loss of the need for any kind of bread. Our son, as well. The human body is amazing the way it self adjusts.
    All of that being said, I’ve heard arepas is a great south american bread. Do you know anything about it? I don’t.

  6. Kate

    Ok look. I wasn’t thrilled at the idea of baking becoming science, or worse, *cringes* MATH (scale reference here…). But…I…am Muslim. And you just said “pita”. No, scratch that– you said pita AND injera. WHAT?! Oye. Now I have to go buy a scale because I’m going to need it when I buy your new book :D

  7. Jen Oliver

    I am beyond excited for this book and super grateful for all of your diligence and troubleshooting. Oh my gosh, bacon-tomato jam? Pita? Chicken and DUMPLINGS? I attempted chicken and dumplings last weekend for the first time in two years (aka first time since celiac diagnosis). The chicken, veg, and gravy were all great. Fine. The dumplings…not so much. They tasted right, and we ate them, but the texture was definitely not right. I can’t wait to see your take on them. Thank you so much in advance.

  8. Elisa

    So so excited for the gum-less cookbook! It all looks SO good! I have always been the “bread girl” so I definitely know what you’re talking about with addiction… Haven’t lost the taste for bread yet though. ;)

  9. Elisabeth

    Raised with parents who had divergent thoughts on what exactly “dumpling” should be like in chicken’n’dumplings, I gotta ask “What sort of dumpling?” Raise in a bi-dumpling-culture household, I’ll probably be happy with whatever you make (I’m guessing the fluffier, biscuit-like sort, that you drop the batter-like dough in on top of the bubbling stew, close the lid to steam cook it?), but I’ll miss the other sort.

    I still remember my dad leaning over and telling me “What your mom makes is excellent—it just *isn’t* a DUMPLING”

      1. Nicole

        The other kind of dumplings in my family are a yeast dough — we used a Rich Dinner roll recipe from a Fleishman’s flyer — that you shape into little snakes of twice risen dough and then put in an electric frying pan on a bed of sliced onions and potatoes with some water. You basically steam them and then they get brown on the bottom when the steam is all gone. So yummy. I miss them.

      2. Jen Oliver

        Oh thank goodness, that means the fluffy biscuit sort is the cookbook edition. That’s the kind I grew up eating. The others sound good, but they’re not my comfort food.

  10. Jen

    You simply must read “My Life in France” by Julia child where she also talks about trying to figure out the perfect recipe for French Bread for her own cookbookery. I’m sure you can relate. She spent months fussing over how to get the right texture, color, rise, flavor, etc etc etc. And also I adore Julia, and her funny words and her zest for food. I think all food bloggers have a little bit of her in us–why else would try recipes and feed others?

    1. Ann from Montana

      Jen…I had the same thought. I finished “My Life in France” about a month ago and have since been reading “As Always, Julia”…letters between J.C. and Avis DeVoto — Avis who was principal in getting “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” to H-M for publication. Anyway, reading about Julia and her “cookbookery” made the process come alive for me as I thought about the food bloggers I love (GF Girl and the Chef being one of them :)!!) and how much work it takes to ensure that a recipe is doable by “us”.

      I admire the passion of Julia, of you, Shauna (and the Chef!) — of all the people who do this. There is something so special and loving about creating delicious and beautiful food.

      1. Jen

        I’m adding As Always, Julia to my library list! I’m kind of addicted to Julia right now. I would love to see those letters. :)

  11. Tami in Oregon

    OK this post makes me want to pull out your first cookbook for dinner inspiration! Too bad I’m at work and it’s at home!

  12. Lu

    I’ve been following your blog and your story for a while, but I’ve never commented before. Because of a disorder I was recently diagnosed with, my doctor suggested I go mostly gluten free. It’s not Celiacs and I’m not allergic, but we suspect intolerant. I thought I would die without bread, I really did. I thought it would be impossible. And yes, I have the occasional sandwich, but I truly don’t crave it like I thought I would. I just don’t. And this makes so much sense, what you’re saying here. The problem is that I can’t really substitute flours because my problem is carbs, too. But even that is not hard to avoid, not hard to cut out of your life. You’re right… you just discover so much. I get really disappointed when I get a gluten free cookbook and it is all bakery items — there’s just so much more out there!

  13. Victoria

    Please don’t forget the footnote to any gluten-free bread baking… even your un-successes still make pretty darned good breadcrumbs. It’s never a total loss. (Sure, others may have told me this BEFORE going gluten-free, but you don’t sweat bread crumbs when you can easily pick them up cheaply at the store. When it’s going to cost me $6 to buy breadcrumbs anyway, I might as well take a shot at making something baked out of them first.)

  14. Jane Gassner

    First I have to get the gluten-free bread down. I did try making croutons with the loaf I made last week, the hhhheeeaaavvvyyyy one. It took forever in the oven to dry out even a bit. When you say gluten-free bread dough is wet, you really mean it–or I’m doing something wrong. I won’t try another loaf until I’ve bought a scale.

  15. Susan Kelly

    Can’t wait for the book Shauna. Good luck to you both.

    A variation for croutons if you like a little heat — add a crushed garlic clove and some dry chilli flakes to the pan. You won’t regret it. Great on fresh crab salad :)

  16. Diana

    I have never thought about it so bluntly, but I too was addicted to bread prior to going gluten free, and now, weeks go by in between Udi’s purchases. I’ve found so many other delicious foods (starchy and not) and bread simply isn’t on my radar anymore. I completely agree that the body is addicted to what is harming it. Thank you for the insight and also, for the delicious-looking recipe!
    …These croutons may have rekindled my desire for toasty bread ;)

  17. Angie W

    I had the exact opposite problem as you… before being diagnosed celiac, I loathed bread, pizza, and pasta, and even I thought it was weird to not like those foods. Now that I’m completely gluten free, I adore bread and pizza. Like love it. I go to Haley’s Corner Bakery here in Kent (in my opinion, the best gluten free bakery in the Seattle area) on a regular basis now just to get bread. I feel like I can finally eat it with abandon and no fear of a reaction. I’m excited to see the new book to see what recipes you have for me to try myself!

  18. Chelle

    Shauna, I can hardly wait for your cookbook! It sounds fantastic. I LOVE flavors from other countries.
    Your remark about not craving bread hit home. I used to love everything starchy/sweet. But after 5 years of being gluten free I realized the other day that I no longer crave it. I actually found myself looking at a snickers bar someone gave me and thinking I would rather have spinach. I would have never guessed my body would change that much.

  19. Katie Chalmers

    Perfect timing on the crouton post.…I have one section of my freezer full of Udi’s bags w/ just the end pieces left inside, waiting for me to figure out something to do with them. I’ve had a hankering for croutons and my GF daughters used to love them as well. With a cold, rainy day in the forecast for tomorrow, crouton-making is definitely in the plans.…..thanks for the inspiration.…..can’t believe I haven’t tried to make them before this!

  20. Becca Knox

    And don’t forget the possibilities of using those lovely croutons or other frozen bread/crumbs as a base for stuffing! That’s something I will never ever lose my cravings for.

  21. Erin

    Fabulous! We make gluten-free croutons all the time over here. Yum. Your post has made me so excited for your next big project. So exciting. Good luck!

  22. Kathy

    OMG those pictures are going to be amazing!!! Really looking forward 2 this cookbook. Funny though I have never put any gums in socca, I thought it was all chickpea flour to begin with and didn’t need them??

    Breakfast for dinner is the best meal of the day, hands down!

  23. Stephinie

    I can’t wait for the bread.…. I totally think you should have a chapter on the gluten free kid. We’re newly gluten free and I totally did not realize how often we used a pita/cracker/tortilla as a wrapper to hold nutritious ingredients. You should whisk a little spicy mustard with olive oil before mixing with the croutons.… it is AMAZING. We love it.
    Cheers ~ Stephinie

    1. shauna

      That sounds great, Stephinie! We wanted to provide the plain version since people could improvise. We’re making yours soon!

  24. Kelly

    I can’t wait for this new book! When I went gluten-free several years ago I surprisingly lost my cravings for bread too. I rarely cook a dish that requires bread to be happy and I never feel like I’m missing it. But I’ve been sort of stoking those fires lately. Now that I know I’m fine without bread, it’s fun to try and bring it back in (in a gluten-free way). I’m not as crazy about eating it as I am about the smell of it baking! Ah, warm, home, hearth, bread…

    Thank you for baking, testing, writing and sharing!

  25. InTolerantChef

    The pita looks so great! I hope the next year or so goes quickly so we can get our hands on your new cookbook! Thankyou for all your hardwork in getting the recipes ‘just right’ for us, and doing all the hard work so we don’t have to :)

  26. Adrienne

    My toddler’s new favorite song (like, within the last week) is “She’ll be Comin’ ‘Round the Mountain.” (We sing it overandoverandoverandoverandover…) And when we get to the part about chicken & dumplings, I usually change it to, “And we’ll all eat gluten-free dumplings when she comes…” So I’m tickled that with this cookbook, I’ll be able to make (drum roll) gluten-free chicken & dumplings! Thank you!

  27. Kim Procknow

    I LOVE your site and am currently reading “…How I found the Food that Loves Me Back.” You are so enjoyable to read, I can hardly put the book down! I want to try every recipe! Thanks for your site, your writing and love of food!!! :)

  28. Kimberley

    Can I just say, Shauna, that I am so impressed by how much you’ve contributed to the pool of cooking knowledge. I love your point about not desiring bread and starches anymore — such a great point! But I also love your wisdom and expertise in gluten-free baking. So thank you. :) (AND!! What a dream team — you, Penny, Karen. Hot diggity. Cannot wait.)

  29. molly

    Good lord, you two are a force of nature!

    I’ve said it before, and (I’m certain) I’ll say it again: your bread posts make my mouth water, and we are nowhere near gluten free.

    That, my friend, is a triumph, in my book.

    Have a wonderful sprint — looks like an amazing line-up of talent. And yes, I do think Seattle’s September light is the best.

    1. shauna

      Thank you so much, Molly. Right now, our kitchen looks as though a force of nature hit it! But we’re laughing.

  30. LauraJayne

    I’m really glad to hear that bread cravings will pass — My favorite food (a month ago) was a fresh out of the oven slice of whole wheat bread. I still get crazy cravings (and have nightmares where I’ve eaten a piece “accidentally” and am so sick I cannot move). I know I’m early in the journey, so I should give myself some patience, but I keep hoping that I’ll wake up and not want a slice of toast or a some pitas to go with my hummus!

    1. shauna

      I used to have those nightmares! They pass. So do the bread cravings. And then when you do choose to eat bread, you want good bread.

  31. Michelle in Seattle

    Looking forward to the new cookbook and SO EXCITED that a) you won’t be using gums and b) it doesn’t focus on breads & baking. Gluten free eating really does open our eyes to so many possibilities. Yes, at times it’s seems that we’re limited & those can indeed be sad moments, but really we’re pushed to reconsider our food in very healthy ways. Thanks for your work, your blog and well, so much more!

  32. Deborah Peters

    Bless you for tackling the hardest and most loved food item on the planet, let alone a gluten free version! Everything looks wonderful, can’t wait to try some of your recipes!

  33. Kristina

    I’m not gluten-intolerant, but I can sympathize with your former cravings for foods that make you sick. As a diabetic, I sometimes find myself yearning for sugary, starchy foods (especially if I haven’t been eating right and exercising), even though I know they’re the last thing I need. It can be really frustrating. At the same time, I’m sometimes perversely grateful to have a disease (as long as it remains under control) that forces me to exercise regularly and make conscious food choices. I take much better care of myself nowadays than I used to, pre-diagnosis.

  34. Jenn Sutherland

    I’m with you, Shauna. Bread and baked goods are a rarity in our house, and usually only here when kind friends go out of their way to visit the local #GF bakery and bring something special to our home to go with dinner…it’s still amazing to me that there IS a bakery for me nearby! Reading the cookbook process from the sidelines again is a wonderful process, and makes me SO appreciate all of the work that you and Danny are doing. I think I’m going to pull out the first book for dinner planning this week!

  35. suzan

    So excited about injera. The recipes I look at always overwhelm me. As always, inspired by your passion. So wonderful you and Danny share it. Thanks so much for all you do. Bake on…

  36. Lauren

    I agree completely with what you said about bread and grain cravings. Though I still miss pizza. I think we all have “panic buttons” as you said with dietary changes. Good luck with the cookbookery.

  37. Emily Rimestad

    WOW! That is all I have to say! I feel so blessed that I stumbled across your blog! My husband was diagnosed with celiac about a year ago as well as a high intolerance to rice, which has made us switching to gluten free so hard! What you said about people who can’t have gluten actually craving gluten is so true! I feel like ever since David, my husband, was told he can’t have gluten he has been craving it more than ever. I cannot wait for your cookbook to come out! Keep up the great hard work!

  38. Karen Mc

    Thanks for the bread recipe in the first cookbook, it taught me a lot and it renewed my faith in being able to make bread on my own without a mix. Any chance that you can share a recipe for good, crisp, eligible-peanut-butter-on-crackers or dunk-in-your-tomato-soup-and-not-dissolve crackers? My first wash of regret when I got my celiac diagnosis was apple dumplings, but now the problem that I have is where is there a fabulous crispy-not-dissolving cracker? I also have an allergy to dextrose and the only commercial ones that I could find recently changed their recipe to add.….yep, dextrose. Thanks again for the bread recipe in the original cookbook, pitas are going to be fun!

  39. perudelights

    I am not a celiac myself, but my 10 years old nephew has this intolerance, so we are always looking for recipes that appeal to him. As a young boy he craves cookies, pancakes, bread, and I find wonderful ideas in your site. Thanks for sharing the love with this great info.

  40. Marc Drops

    Thanks for publishing this. My wife was recently diagnosed with Celiac’s and it’s been so difficult finding quality foods, especially pastas, and the like. You can tell you put a lot of heart and soul into your work. It shows for itself. We’ll continue to read and use your recipes in our new gluten free life.

  41. Mac'N'Cheese Girl

    I’ve been making tons of bread since August, when I discovered my gluten intolerance, and I totally hadn’t thought of making croutons with it. I spent many a happy saturday afternoon toasting croutons with my grandmother when I was little, but this whole new diet thing has me forgetting whole swaths of my prior cooking experience. Thanks for the reminder! Salads will be way better from now on.

  42. Heidi

    I made croutons using the recipe listed on the website. M-m-m!! I used homemade bread and the size texture was perfect. I turned the croutons after five minutes, and cooked for a total of eight minutes. I will make these croutons again and again!

  43. Ella

    I just made these croutons and they are wonderful. Next time, though, I will not put them in the oven for ten minutes as parts of mine were burnt…but that is actually okay by me because I LOVE burnt bread. I know, weird.

  44. Michael Grinnell

    I saw your above reference to a Pita Bread Recipe and loved the picture. My attempt with another recipe was not as nice looking.
    So, I went ahead and bought your book:
    Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef
    A Love Story
    Shauna James Ahern and Daniel Ahern
    Photography by Lara Ferroni
    With 100 tempting recipes
    JOHN WILEY & SONS, INC.
    Copyright © 2010 by Shauna James Ahern and Daniel Ahern. All rights reserved
    Photography © 2010 Lara Ferroni
    But I couldn’t find the Pita recipe. Did I miss something?
    Mike

    1. shauna

      Hey there, as I answered yesterday in another comment, the pita bread recipe will be in the cookbook published in April!