Gluten-Free Focaccia

It’s been somewhat of an ongoing mission of mine to create a great gluten-free, yeast-free bread recipe (that’s also dairy and egg free). It’s been a challenging task, and my patience has often been worn down in the process, leaving me to give up after the first few failed attempts each time I get back to trying.

One problem is that I haven’t found a sufficiently good way to get a loaf of bread to rise without yeast or eggs or copious amounts of baking soda, which tends to leave a distinct and lingering aftertaste when not used in moderate quantities. I haven’t given up, but I have shifted my mindset to a more reasonable approach: the bread issue is one I’m going to have to tackle by taking baby steps, rather than giant leaps.

I thought focaccia might be a good place to start. By definition, focaccia is a flat bread, which right away solves some of the leavening problems. Sure, many focaccia recipes call for yeast, but I thought that it could easily be replaced. I went through several versions using several different flours, all which turned out decent, but this was by far my favorite. I toasted some slices and dipped them in olive oil, which turned out to be very tasty. I also used some of the bread to make croutons, which I used to top off a creamy broccoli soup recipe I was testing (stay tuned for that recipe in the days to come). I even ate some slices straight out of the fridge — cold — and still enjoyed them. That’s when I knew this was a recipe worth sharing with all of you.

Gluten Free Focaccia:

1 1/2 cups Bob’s Red Mill garbanzo-fava bean flour or garbanzo bean (chickpea) flour (the latter yields a slightly softer bread)

1/2 cup golden flaxseed meal

1/4 cup arrowroot

2 tablespoons Ener-G egg replacer

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon agave nectar

1/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons olive oil, divided

1 1/4 cup water

1 1/2 tablespoons fresh rosemary, chopped


1. Preheat oven to 350.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together dry ingredients (garbanzo/fava bean flour through baking powder). Whisk in water, 1/4 cup olive oil and agave until combined.

3. Pour batter into a pre-greased 9×9″ baking dish. Use a spatula or spoon to smooth out top. Sprinkle with rosemary and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Bake in preheated oven for 40 minutes. Top should be golden brown. Let cool almost completely on a wire rack before slicing.

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  1. Beth says

    Charlie — it’s like you took the thoughts right out of my head! I’m gonna try that idea next…or a panini. I can’t remember the last time I had a panini.

  2. says

    HI Beth,
    I understand your struggle to get dairy and egg free bread to rise without baking soda and baking powder. I struggled for a year till I figured it out.
    I ended up combining old fashioned sourdough techniques with gluten free seed and grain flours and came up with excellent, delicious breads, muffins and pancakes. They are also free of soy, yeast, sweeteners, and gums. Very suitable for sensitive digestions.

    I have posted the starter recipe and my first successful loaf of bread on my blog,

    This type of baking takes some time to understand and master so it will not be for everyone. With planning it doesn’t have to be time consuming. For people able to take the time it’s well worth it as the breads are tasty, easy to digest and have an extremely long shelf life!

    My complete, and continually growing recipe book, Art of Gluten Free Sourdough Baking, is available in pdf and print form on my website,

    Good Luck,

  3. Beth says

    Sharon — Thanks for sharing. I’ll have to test out your version very soon! Sounds very good.


  4. Nicole says

    Hi Beth,

    One ingredient that I have used to make yeast free flat breads that have a bit of a “rise” to them is cream of tartar. I like the fact that it gives the baked product a taste and texture that resembles something made with yeast. I have no rule of thumb in how to substitute, it has all been trial and error on my part. I would think that you could start with 1/2 tsp in your recipe and see what happens. I have a pizza recipe that calls for 3 cups of GF flour and I use 1 1/4 tsp cream of tartar in place of the yeast. All the recipes I have tried also still seem to need baking soda/powder in small amounts as well. Just another idea to try in your kitchen.
    Thanks for the great recipe ideas!

  5. Beth says

    Nicole — thanks for the great tip! I have a bottle of cream of tartar in my cupboard that I never seem to find use for. Thanks to you, now I have some reasons to use it!

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