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Gluten-Free Whole Grain Olive Bread

Gluten-Free Whole Grain Olive Bread
Crusty, fragrant gluten-free olive bread, warm from the oven.

Grainy, whole grain bliss.

Giving up bread is hard. Bread is basic. Almost a need. Like air. Like breathing. It is both routine and celebratory. Prosaic and divine. A simple, torn-off hunk of good bread embodies a deep sense of nourishment, for body and soul. The bewitching mix of a handful of flour, some yeast, some salt, some water.

Stir. Knead. Rest. Bake.

And as if by magic, this warm and fragrant alchemical creation called bread appears.

And all is right with the world.

When I think of our honeymoon in Italy (seventeen years ago, darling) I think of the color of the evening sky above the cypress. A shot of burnished gold that shimmered with the faintest veil of pink and lemon yellow. I think about the shopkeepers sweeping their doorsteps each morning, nodding their Buon giorno! as we walked to fetch a New York Times and a cappuccino not served in a paper cup. There was love, yes. And wine. And olives.

And there was bread.

The best bread I had ever devoured. 

My go-to breakfast was a plate sized flat-bread studded with olives, paper thin tomato slices, or chopped fresh garlic. Chewy, salty, sweet, and earthy. A bread worth the walk into town. I must have eaten dozens in our too-short two week stay.

Here in southern California, I have been living almost breadless. By choice. The hundreds of gluten-free breads I have baked in the past nine years have not tempted me into the kitchen. Not even the best gluten-free bread recipes. Starch, you see, is not agreeing with me lately. I think we may be breaking up. For good. My body hums happily without it. My waistline is trimmer without it (though not quite up to honeymoon standards, I am seeing the promise of a waistline appear). But this week I started remembering.

The bread.

In Italy.

And the craving began.

So I began bargaining with myself. The dialogue went something like this.

Okay. You want a piece of bread, darling? You're going to have to bake it without starch. Without sugar. You know that, right? And you are prepared to plunge into abject failure if this gluten-free whole grain concoction doesn't turn out? It is a risk, you know. Baking without gluten. Making bread without starches. It's tricky. It's fickle. So if this turns out badly, promise you won't despair.

I pulled out every non-starchy flour and ingredient from my snug little pantry and imagined my pre-celiac Italian memory. I stood and stared at the tumble of half-used bags and battered boxes on the counter for a good ten minutes. Steve walked by and glanced at his wife of seventeen years standing deer-in-the-headlights still.

He knew not to ask.

I grabbed brown rice flour. Almond meal. Millet flour. Quinoa flakes. Rice bran. Garlic. Sea salt. Olive oil. An impossible, motley crew of ingredients that would prompt any Italian baker to raise her eyebrows in a justified Che cosa succede?

And guess what, my Bella Bambina?

You know what.

Smooches. xox

Karina's whole grain gluten-free olive bread is wonderful for dipping
We tore off pieces of bread and dipped it in olive oil.

Gluten-Free Whole Grain Olive Bread

Recipe posted June 2011 by Karina Allrich.

This rustic gluten-free bread is not unlike focaccia, I am happy to say. The golden crust and tender, shallow profile remind me of the classic Italian flat bread we once devoured in Italy- celebrating our honeymoon. Kalamata olives add a salty punch.

Preheat the oven to 375ºF. Line a 9x12-inch baking pan with a piece of parchment paper, and set aside.


1 cup sorghum flour
1/2 cup GF millet flour
1/2 cup almond flour/meal
1/2 cup quinoa flakes
1/4 cup rice bran
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 packet (2 1/2 teaspoons) active dry yeast
3 organic free-range eggs, beaten
5 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon honey or organic agave nectar
1/2 to 3/4 cup warm water (start with less)

For topping:

1/3 cup pitted, sliced kalamata olives
Dried or fresh thyme
Coarse sea salt


In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the sorghum flour, millet flour, almond flour, quinoa flakes, rice bran, garlic powder, sea salt, xanthan gum, and active dry yeast.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the beaten eggs, olive oil, and honey. Start beating the eggs, oil and honey into the dry mixture.

Slowly begin adding the warm water and beat as you go, incorporating the wet ingredients. Watch the consistency of the batter, and add only the amount of warm water that you need to achieve a smooth, sticky batter akin to muffin batter. I used up to 3/4 cup liquid, but you may need more, or less,  depending upon your situation (humidity and storage affects flours).

Continue to beat for one minute to lighten the batter and create a smooth, creamy dough.

Using a silicone spatula, scoop the bread dough onto the center of the parchment lined baking pan. Using wet or oiled hands, form a low, oval loaf shape, smoothing out the dough as best you can.

Stud the surface with the kalamata olive pieces. Sprinkle with a dusting of thyme and coarse sea salt.

Bake in the center of a pre-heated oven for 25 minutes. Brush the top with a little olive oil and continue baking for another 5 to 10 minutes until the loaf is golden and firm, and a bit crusty. My olive bread baked for a full 35 minutes (at sea level).

Remove the pan from the oven and sprinkle a little more sea salt on top of the loaf, if desired. Allow the bread to cool for a few minutes in the pan; then gently remove it, and set it on a wire rack to continue cooling for a few minutes.

Delicious and Grainy Gluten-Free Whole Grain Olive Bread
Tear off a piece of this tender olive bread and start dipping.

It is tantalizingly delicious warm. Use a good, sharp bread knife to cut it into wedges or thin slices. Dip pieces in olive oil and a rich balsamic vinegar, such as blackberry or fig balsamic vinegar. Heaven.

Cook time: 35 min

Yield: One loaf

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Recipe Source:

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I confess. We ate this olive bread all day long. First, we ate a few warm slices straight from the oven- just to be sure it was as fabulous as it looked. It did not disappoint. I kept nibbling small pieces as I photographed.

Later, we ate torn off pieces dipped in a blackberry balsamic vinegar that I picked up at the Redondo Beach Farmers' Market, and a dab of extra virgin olive oil. The bread held together beautifully. Like "real" Italian bread. It did not crumble. It did not dissolve into dust. The crumbs you see are from me breaking off tiny pieces to taste as I set up the photography shoot. It's one of the perks of photographing food.

You get to sample the object of your affection.

Recipe Notes:

I am always experimenting with different flours, forever in pursuit of gluten-free breads and goodies that satisfy my taste buds and offer me more than empty, starchy calories. I choose each flour with a purpose in mind- flavor, texture, protein. So to offer substitution suggestions is very often tricky. If you sub one of my higher protein flours with a starch, for instance, your results will not be the same. And if you use an all-purpose g-free flour mix, your results will be inferior- that I say with confidence, after testing many gluten-free flour blends on the market.

Yes, I know that it is easier to reach for a single box of mix.

I agree, in fact.

It is easier.

But is it as marvelous? Is it as tender and fragrant and satisfying?

That is the real question.

For substitution help, please see my guide to baking with substitutions here.

Fresh Baked Gluten-Free Whole Grain Olive Bread
Gluten-free olive flat bread made from whole grains.



  1. Looks delicious! Have you ever made it without the eggs? With an egg replacer instead? I miss eggs :-(

  2. Rebecca13:36

    Lovely, lovely bread. I very much want to make this for my hubby for Father's Day. Since I know you used to live in northern NM (me too!), any changes for the altitude?

  3. This sounds awesome! A question, though - what could I use in place of the almond meal? I'd love to make this, but I have a husband with a nut allergy, so the almond meal won't work for our household....


  4. Hi Karina - I so hear you on breaking up with starch. THank you for another starch-less recipe :)

  5. Monika Del Bosque13:54

    can't help but wonder, what's feeding the yeast since there's no sugar?

  6. Samantha14:09

    I have been trying your recipes for ages now. So sad you are back together with eggs :( you were one of the only gluten free and vegan bakers out there. Egg free is the hardest part of baking and doesn't translate well just subbing egg-replacer. So sad!

  7. Oh my goodness, it looks wonderful! I have been missing foccaccia for years. I think I know what I'm baking tonight, THANK YOU!!!

  8. Yes, I am no longer totally vegan. If you need an egg-free focaccia, I have one in Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes. It is called Gluten-Free Focaccia with Garlic and Tomato. You could use it as a guideline, and substitute the olives.

    I baked egg-free for close to four years, so there are hundreds of dairy-free egg-free recipes. My Vegan index has close to 400 recipes.

    I would be dishonest if I did not admit I am no longer vegan- I am gluten-free and dairy-free, and will remain so all my life. But living GF/DF and vegan turned out to be unhealthy for me. There are very few plant proteins I can actually eat; and my body was running down because I had few options.

    I am listening to my body and eating in a manner that agrees with me. We must all do this- listen to our bodies. Each of us is individual. There is no one size fits all.

    That said- I have made most of my baking recipes with eggs and without eggs (using Ener-G Egg Replacer) and I am happy to report that both ways work. The egg-free breads do not rise as high, and are drier, but they do work. Many readers report they use flax gel instead of eggs with success (I am allergic to flax seed, so I have no experience with it).

    As for nut-free- I suggest trying certified gluten-free oat flour, or perhaps sorghum flour; though it will make the loaf taste different, and change the texture a bit.

    Experiment with recipes and learn what works in your kitchen, and suits your individual needs.

    And remember to have a beautiful day.

    Karina xox

  9. Ooooh, it looks SO good! I might have to make this for the farmer's market this weekend, is that ok? My mouth is watering just looking at the photos, I've been dying to make some good focaccia with olives, and this looks just as good!

  10. Heather15:32

    Beyond your inspiring commitment to eat only those things that make you feel your best, I really love that you refer to yourself as "darling." I always feel like it's a big, warm hug from a dear friend whenever I read your posts. Thank you for all that you share.

  11. Dragonlady15:35

    The honey or agave feeds the yeast...

  12. Hope I didn't offend with my question about eggs? I am not vegan, just allergic to milk and eggs. I will stick with the egg free recipes you have wonderfully posted in the past, thank you :-)

  13. I love reading about the breads you make, but I'm afraid to try them. Have you ever made any in a bread machine? I'd love to try that, until then I just keep buying loaves of Udis.

  14. Donna A17:43

    You are truly marvelous! Do you have any suggestions for substituting or even halving the rice flour? Rice and I aren't always on the best of terms. :)

  15. Helen- No- not at all. Your question was fine. xox Karina

  16. Donna- I would use sorghum flour, if you can. I find sorghum is very compatible substitute for brown rice flour, and vice versa (I can't handle much sorghum any more). So in the future, for my recipes, you can sub sorghum when I call for brown rice flour. xox Karina

  17. Donna A20:39

    Thank you!

  18. looks amazing ! I have both superfine brown rice flour and regular brown rice flour, which would you use ?

  19. Leigh, I used Bob's Red Mill brown rice flour. Either one will work, depending upon your preference.

  20. My favorite egg replacement combo (which I know you can't use Karina because of the flax) is the Egg Replacer mixed with warm water, then I add a teaspoon of super fine flax powder. It thickens up to the consistency of an egg and has wonderful results! If the flax powder isn't super fine, the water must be much warmer and takes longer to thicken.

    Your other egg-free readers might like to give it a chance.

  21. Such beautiful bread, Karina, and an equally beautiful post. Glad you've found what's working for your body. You're inspiring on so many levels!


  22. anna07:57

    any ideas to substitute the quinoa and rice bran? I can't find any and this looks so good!

  23. sophie08:20

    Hi Karina!
    This looks great. Is there any way I can sub in baking soda/powder for the yeast? (I cannot have yeast - but I want to make this bread!!)

  24. How fantastic and what a great success story! Great job!

  25. Carla09:14

    I appreciate your openness and honesty about your changing needs. I have also found I can not do starches. Finding a balance with food and my body has been quite a challenge. Maybe one day I'll be able to eat eggs again also. Until then, I'll try the suggestion above using egg replacer and a tsp of flax meal.

  26. Michelle Z10:15

    Karina, this looks fabulous and I cannot wait to try it (sans olives- I've tried so hard for years to love them, but alas, I cannot). Have you thought about posting the weights of the various flours you use, in addition to the cups? This would make substitutions so nice and easy for all your readers who are allergic to X, or prefer to bake without Y. As long as the total weight is the same the recipe becomes endlessly adaptable!

  27. As you know I am not a bread baker except for occasional loaves made in the bread machine. And it is for precisely the reason you mention, most breads just have more starch than I want. But this bread is seriously tempting me to try it. (And it's definitely South Beach friendly too, for phase 2 or 3.) Once again your baking genius astounds me.

  28. Karina,
    Thanks for the nut substitution advice! Greatly appreciated, and thanks for your blog. Always enjoy reading your posts. :)

  29. Congratulations on a beautiful product--I came to the page and instantly "mmm"ed out loud. Thank you also for your candid insights about substitutions and such. Your recipes are always wonderful as is and I'm much appreciative of your open sharing. I eat almost no bread these days, but this may just get me to indulge...being mostly Italian in heritage, I miss dipping some into my really good olive oil. :-)

  30. Mmm I've never made homemade bread but I think I'll be making this on father's day, sans almond meal (my partner is allergic)

  31. Looks so yummy & wholesome. Good with a dry red wine and a summer breeze. SuperYum. Wish I could just pick it up at the store on a whim.

  32. Oh, minus the eggs part! :)
    Wish I could pick up a vegan version in my market :)
    Guess i could put flax seeds or chia or Energy Egg replacer to sub.

  33. Lovely bread! Yum! ;)

  34. Yum!!! Recently out of the oven and cooling as we speak. I cut two slices and threw them on the grill to place alongside our salmon salads this evening...if only the salmon would hurry up we could eat! Of course, I keep picking at my slice of bread and it may be gone before we sit down to actually eat... :) Thank you, Karina!

  35. Karina! I just wanted to say how happy I am that I found your blog! I've recently made the painful discovery that I am celiac, and have been missing bread for what seems like eons..This looks like the olive bread we used to get for antipasto plates, and its gluten free!! can't wait to get out the provolone, balsamic, and prosciutto! O how great it feels to live again :)



  36. Jodi16:52

    How big of a loaf does this make (what was the diameter?) I just made this and I am trying to decide if my yeast didn't work or maybe I made the circle too big. Thanks Jodi

  37. Anonymous16:53

    How big was the loaf you made? What was the diameter? I just made a loaf and I am trying to decide if my yeast didn't work or if I made it too big. Thanks Jodi

  38. Kathy17:55

    Made this for dinner tonight. Everyone loved it and no one knew it was GF...only one in our group has to eat GF. I'll definately make this one again.

  39. I have been staring at this recipe for a few days now. I finally made it yesterday afternoon, and much like yourself, devoured almost the entire thing! With help from a certain man of course. I started reading your blog a few months ago and was delighted to find something vegan AND gluten free. I am vegan and although not "a celiac", I have an extremely finicky digestive tract. I noticed that cutting out dairy helped immensely and cutting out gluten was another huge stepping stone to success. I have made a lot of your recipes, and created my own using your flour blends as a guideline. I must say, your desserts are fantabulous!!!! Thank you for all your work.

  40. My loaf was roughly 8 inches wide. The flatter you spread the dough, the flatter the bread will be.

    This focaccia style bread is a flat bread with no rise time. You could also cover the dough in the pan, set it in a warm place, and let it rise until doubled, if you'd like a higher loaf. Karina

  41. Thank you so much for this recipe, it was a huge hit in our house. I couldn't get brown rice flour or quinoa flakes so I used 3/4 C white rice flour and topped it up with buckwheat flour and cornmeal, and I used quinoa flour (instead of flakes). Also, as these are all such heavy flours, I left it for 1/2 hour in the boot of the car to rise slightly. It was a fantastic success. Husband and kids are having it for breakfast with pesto as spread.

  42. Hi, Karina! I drew inspiration from this recipe and the wealth of GF breadmaking knowledge you share with us to make up my own low carb bread recipe, just posted at my blog. I gave you a shot out. :) We might have slightly different nutritional philosophies (perhaps more similar now, with the lower starch flours you use here!), but your tips, photos, and beautiful prose have made your blog a resource I had to recommend to my readers! Thanks a million for all of the love and hard work you put into your site.

  43. hi,thanks again for a fabulous looking recipe, can one just omit the gum? i've been baking without it lately (and following several GF blogs/recipes for the past 3 years)

  44. This looks amazing! Three weeks ago I threw out most of the starches I had in the cupboard. I've kept the arrowroot, just in case! I've recently put a recipe for bread rolls up on my blog which I made for followers of the SCD. This is wholegrain and yeast free. The only other thing I have an issue with is the xanthan gum. When I make your bread, I might use ground flax seeds instead! Thank you for sharing this!

  45. Hi karina,
    This seem like a interesting recipe. I do have a question though, what can i use to replace millet or sorghum flour? Since with my condition right now i have to avoid it. It will be great if there is other subsitution. I would really like to try this recipe. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  46. I am DROOLING! Looks fab and can't wait to try it this weekend! Thank you for sharing!

  47. This recipe looks great; however, I don't have any rice bran on hand and was wondering what I could substitute for it? Thanks!

  48. I adapted this recipe last night to make a Gluten-Free VEGAN Rosemary Bread!

  49. Karina, I know this is a bit late, but I just wanted to let you know that this came out beautifully! I have made it twice so far - once without rice bran as I can't find it here, but I added extra quinoa flakes and it worked just wonderfully. The second time (today) I had no quinoa flakes (organic store is out of stock till December!) so I just used quinoa flour instead. And it still worked! Due to the humidity here (I live in a tropical country) I cut down 1 tbls of oil and adjusted the water accordingly, and everything came out -perfect-. I've been craving flatbreads so this is wonderful!

  50. Hi the receipe for the olive bread you mentioned rice bran is that the oil or ?????

  51. Pam- No- rice bran is a fiber (the husks of brown rice). I find it in the gluten-free flours section.

  52. Anonymous16:03

    Hi Karina,
    With what ingredient can I replace de rice bran? It´s not easy to find that in Chile.....although it should be super´s not. I loved the recipe and want to get a result as good as it looks in your pictures.
    Tanks, Laura.

  53. Laura, I've only made it as written. I think some commenters above have experimented with replacing it- did you browse comments?

  54. Anonymous23:31

    This looks great. I see you have almond flour/meal. What would you suggest to substitute. Have nut allergies and soy.


  55. Giving up bread has been my daughter's (8yrs old) hardest part of being gluten free. Thanks for sharing yummy recipes.

  56. I would be dishonest if I did not admit I am no longer vegan- I am gluten-free and dairy-free, and will remain so all my life. But living "GF/DF and vegan turned out to be unhealthy for me. There are very few plant proteins I can actually eat; and my body was running down because I had few options.

    I am listening to my body and eating in a manner that agrees with me. We must all do this- listen to our bodies. Each of us is individual. There is no one size fits all."

    Well said, well said! Stay true to your body and feel no shame in feeding it right. Thank you for being honest with your readers too. I find that too many self-identified vegans feel like once they've gone down that road, that there is no going back, and if they do stop the diet, that they are somehow a failure. Which is absolutely not true!

    Love your blog for its wisdom and wit... and for the fabulous eats. Thank you again!

  57. Your description of the bread on your honeymoon in Italy is so dreamy. Not to mention the bread! yowza.

  58. It just looks so stunning...and with olive, I'm sure it's going to be blast! :)

  59. Thank you so much Karina for all your recipes, what would I do without you?? I want to make this so bad but I cant have yeast, I noticed another reader couldn't as well but there was no response. Can I omit it or use something else in place of?

  60. This looks so amazing Karina! Your pictures are always so beautiful as well. You make Gluten-free life look good ;)

  61. Anonymous01:35

    Aww, what a tease. I was so hoping this was actually low-carb and starch-free.

  62. the olive bread looks so awesome, my friends who have our problem would love this bread. Looks so yummy


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Wishing you a delicious and beautiful day!

Karina - Gluten-Free Goddess xox