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Hippo Bread

April 29, 2012 by brett

Gluten Free Hippo Bread

Every gluten-free cook has his or her signature bread recipe. This is mine.

A derivation of Neat Bread, Hippo Bread is superior in terms of texture, taste, and appearance thanks to its key ingredient, plain, homemade soy milk. Homemade soy milk acts as a binder, tenderizes the loaf’s crumb, adds a creaminess to the flavor, and imparts an attractive, slightly golden hue.

Gluten Free Hippo Bread

Gluten Free Hippo Bread

Hippo Bread draws upon the clever no-knead technique developed by Jim Lahey of Sullivan Street Bakery in New York and popularized by New York Times food writer Mark Bittman.

This is, by far, my (and my family’s) favorite bread.

Hippo Bread’s major drawback? It’s what I call a “two-tier” recipe, which means you need to complete one recipe before you can make the intended recipe. In this case, you’ll need to make homemade soy milk first before you can make the bread.

If I don’t have home made soy milk in the fridge, I’ll make Neat Bread, which requires only water.

But in terms of taste, texture, and overall performance, I’ll take Hippo Bread every time if given the choice. Hippo Bread tastes great plain. It also makes a wonderful “pb&j” when sliced and slathered with Knudsen’s Apple Butter and SunButter or Trader Joe’s Sunflower Seed Butter.



  • 2 1/2 c Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All-Purpose Baking Mix
  • 2 1/2 c rice flour
  • 1/2 c glutinous rice flour
  • 6 t xanthan gum
  • 2 T sugar
  • 2 1/2 t sea salt
  • 2 t active dry yeast
  • about 4 c plain, homemade soy milk
  • rice flour or medium grind cornmeal for dusting

In large bowl, mix Bob’s Red Mill All-Purpose Baking mix, rice flour, glutinous rice flour, xanthan gum, sugar, sea salt, and yeast. Set aside.

Heat homemade soy milk till warm. Add 3 c soy milk to dry mixture and mix with fork, spoon, or chopsticks. Add just enough of the last cup of soy milk till the batter is softish-wettish-fluffyish. The batter should slowly slide off mixing utensil after the slightest of protests. You might end up using the entire 4 cups, less, or more.

Gluten Free Hippo Bread Rising

Gluten Free Hippo Bread Rising

Transfer batter to a well-oiled container for rising and cover loosely with lid, cloth, or plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm, non-drafty area till double in bulk. Do not over-rise.

Gluten Free Hippo Bread Rising

Gluten Free Hippo Bread Rising

Half an hour before batter has completely risen, heat oven to 450 F. Put a 5- to 7-quart, heavy, covered pot (cast iron, ceramic, enamel, or Pyrex) in oven as it heats.

Spread large piece of parchment paper on work surface. Dust with rice flour or cornmeal. Using a well-oiled rubber spatula to gently loosen the sides of the batter from the container, turn batter form onto wax paper, taking care to keep the batter form intact and avoid collapsing its rise. Dust top and sides of batter with more rice flour or cornmeal. (FYI: Your bread will lose some of its rise during this step. In the photos, the risen batter fell about 1.5 inches after being transferred to the parchment paper.)

Preparing for Dutch Oven

Preparing for Dutch Oven

Remove covered pot from oven. Remove pot lid. Gathering the corners of the parchment paper, gently lift up batter form and turn batter into pot, taking care to keep batter form intact and avoid collapsing its rise as much as possible. Cover pot with lid and return to oven. (Ideally, you have a helper remove the pot lid as you stand with the batter in hand, ready to turn the batter into the pot as soon as the lid is removed.)

Bake 30 minutes. Remove pot lid. Bake 15 minutes (or longer if you want a harder crust). Exterior should be a warm golden hue. Tapping the bottom of the bread should produce a hollow sound, indicating the bread is done. Remove pot from oven. Using sturdy wooden spoons or spatulas, transfer bread to a cooling rack. Cool completely or till slightly warm before slicing.

Gluten Free Hippo Bread

Gluten Free Hippo Bread

Gluten Free Hippo Bread

Gluten Free Hippo Bread

One large freeform loaf

Gluten Free Hippo Bread

Do not use your hands to mix batter, as the batter will be super wet and sticky.

Ideal batter will not resemble conventional gluten dough at all; it will be much wetter, like a thick muffin batter.

Removing the lid, transferring the batter into the pot, and covering the pot with the lid again must be done quickly to avoid losing too much heat from inside the pot. (It is the heat that forms the chewy-crisp crust and seals in the moist interior.) Be careful, though, as you want to keep the batter form intact and avoid collapsing the batter’s rise. Also, be careful since the pot is heavy and HOT. Do these steps carefully but quickly.

As with all risen breads (gluten-free or not), wait till the loaf has cooled completely or till slightly warm before slicing. Cutting into a loaf too early will result in an underdone center.

Do not reduce the xanthan gum. Xanthan gum is what allows the bread to maintain its risen structure.

Chopped fresh herbs (e.g. rosemary, thyme, green onion) can be added to the bread — just fold in herbs after mixing soy milk and dry ingredients together.

Obviously, if you’re allergic to corn, use rice flour for dusting instead of corn meal.

I’ve never used commercial soymilk to make this bread, though I suppose it could work similarly. If experimenting with commercial soy milk, use a plain soymilk product that lists only soybeans and water (and nothing else!) as ingredients. Trader Joe’s offers a plain soy milk made of just organic soy beans and water. I recall the soy milk being of very good quality, though it should be noted it’s processed in a facility that also handles, wheat, milk, etc. (or so it was the last time I checked about a year ago), so proceed with caution if your specific allergens are listed on the product box. Trader Joe’s organic plain soy milk comes in a light green box, is more affordable compared to many other leading brands, and requires no refrigeration.

Gluten Free Hippo Bread

Ingredient Sources

  • rice flour – Erawan
  • glutinous rice flour – Erawan
  • sugar – C&H Raw Sugar
  • xanthan gum – Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free
  • active dry yeast – Red Star
  • home made soy milk – made using Laura Soybeans
  • cornmeal – Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free




  1. […] family enjoys eating Hippo Bread, pancakes, brownies, and other bread- and cake-type foods made with it. Soy milk’s […]

  2. M Fang says:

    I love the lego helicopter! I wish I could have a slice!

  3. […] Free Hippo Bread Image by dfb Hippo Bread is free of gluten, dairy, egg, nuts, and sesame. Get the recipe […]

  4. […] Xanthan gum-free version: Omit xanthan gum. Slightly increase Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Baking Mix and Erawan rice flour. Resulting dough will be considerably more tender and less resilient, and will require gentler handling. Because of this, the dough you pat and shape with your hands likely will be thicker (since thinner ones are more apt to falling apart, thanks to the less resilient dough). Thicker bread means you’ll need to increase the cooking time to 7 to 8 minutes. Be sure to flour your hands and dust the flatbread pieces while patting and shaping the dough to avoid having the pieces stick together or fall apart in your hands. The taste will be similar and the texture will be almost the same as the original recipe. (FYI: In this recipe, I add xanthan gum to improve the elasticity and resilience of the raw dough. This addition enables me to handle the dough roughly and make it thinner (i.e. I roll a golfball-size ball in my hands and then literally slap the ball into a flat oval almost the size of my hand. Sometimes I’ll use my fingers and tug the oval to elongate it and thin it out further). This recipe relies on baking powder and heat to give the bread its characteristic uneven, bubbly (mini-)rise and structure; xanthan gum is not employed here to maintain bread structure the way it’s used in yeast-leavened breads like Neat Bread and Hippo Bread.) […]

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