Panzano’s Gluten-Free Focaccia

Image Used with Permission
  • 2¼ teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1½ tablespoons sugar, agave, or honey
  • ¼ cup instant non-fat dry milk (optional)
  • 1 cup water, warmed to 110°F
  • 1¼ cups white rice flour
  • 2 tablespoon fresh Italian herb mixture (thyme, oregano, rosemary, sage), finely chopped
  • ¼ cup Espandex ( tapioca derivative)
  • ¾ cup cornstarch or potato starch (not potato flour)
  • ½ cup tapioca starch
  • 1 tablespoon xanthan gum or guar gum (or an equal mixture of both)
  • ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt or salt
  • 3 egg whites
  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus more for baking
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan, plus more for serving
  • 3 tablespoons dried thyme  

“We use Espandex, which is a tapioca derivative to create those wormholes and air bubbles you see in traditional focaccia and to create that stretchy, chewy texture we love. Our gluten-free focaccia looks more like real bread than a hard brick, and it’s really popular at the restaurant. I went from making a half hotel pan of it when I first started doing gluten-free bread about seven years ago. Now we have to make at least two full hotel pans of the bread and it’s always gone by the end of the shift.” - Elise Wiggens, executive chef of Panzano, Denver


  1. Preheat oven to 170-200°F, or lowest possible temperature.
  2. In a small bowl, add yeast, sweetener of choice, and dry milk to warm water; stir, let rest at least 5 minutes to activate and proof the yeast. This will cause the mixture to become foamy.
  3. Add rice flour and herbs to a large bowl. Add Espandex, starches, gum, and salt. Whisk to combine; set aside.
  4. Beat egg whites using an electric mixer until foamy, about 30 seconds. Add oil, vinegar, and yeast mixture; mix for about 10 seconds.
  5. Add the flour mixture all at once; blend until dry ingredients are moistened; beat for 4 minutes on high speed.
  6. Oil a 9-inch x 5-inch loaf pan. Add dough; smooth with a rubber spatula. If dough is sticky or dry, dip the spatula in cold water or add droplets of water on top and smooth out. Drizzle olive oil over dough, brush out evenly. Top dough with parmesan and thyme; pat spices gently into the dough with moistened fingers.
  7. Turn off oven; place pan on a middle rack in the center. With door cracked open 4 to 6 inches, allow dough to rise about ½ inch over the top of the pan, measuring from the center. Alternately, proof dough in a proofer at about 80°F.
  8. Remove dough from oven; preheat oven to 375°F. Return dough to oven; bake until center reaches 200°F; or about 37–40 minutes. Immediately remove bread from pan and place on cooling rack. Cut bread into squares; serve with olive oil and extra parmesan cheese.