Secrets of making wheat-free bread rise

When we divorce ourselves from wheat, we lose the gluten that, when combined with yeast, generate the “rise” that gives wheat bread that light and airy texture. It means that we often struggle to create non-wheat breads that are big enough to make sandwich breads.

The rise generated by yeast just means that carbon dioxide (CO2) was generated by the metabolism of carbohydrates (amylopectin and amylose) by yeast. We can also generate CO2 by other means, called “chemical leavening.” (Frankly, I don’t like that term because it sounds like we are doing nasty, chemical things but, as you will see, the reactions to generate CO2 are quite natural and safe.) Most forms of chemical leavening involve the generation of CO2 by reacting an acid with a base. There’s also the process of “mechanical leavening,” using some physical or mechanical means of incorporating air into the mix; whipping with a power or hand mixer is one example.

Here are the methods that I have found helpful in helping to generate rise in wheat-free baking:

Use acid-base reactions–An easy way to remember this if, for instance, you are experimenting with a new recipe, is to mix your base–baking soda, or sodium bicarbonate–into your dry mix (e.g., almond meal/flour, coconut flour, ground golden flaxseed); mix your acid–citric acid, lemon or lime juice, or vinegar–into your liquid mix (e.g., egg yolks, coconut milk, water). When you combine dry and liquid mixes, you will see a foaming reaction, representing the reaction of acid with base that generates CO2. Typical proportions to use are:

1 teaspoon baking soda: 1/4 teaspoon citric acid
1 teaspoon baking soda: juice of 1/4-1/2 lemon
1 teaspoon baking soda: 2 teaspoons vinegar

You can even do this more than once. For instance, let’s say you are using lemon juice. Start with a little extra (e.g., 1/2 more teaspoon) baking soda in your dry mix. Proceed with making your wet mix using lemon juice, reserving a bit. Mix wet into dry, then proceed with adding your egg whites (see below). Then add the remaining lemon juice, again causing the foaming CO2-generating reaction to occur.

Whip egg whites–Whipping egg whites with cream of tartar (potassium hydrogen tartrate, used in winemaking) helps stabilize the whipped whites. Use 1/4 teaspoon of cream of tartar per 2 egg whites; whip at high-speed until peaks form. This represents a modification of mechanical leavening. It is usually best to add the egg whites after the acid-base step (above) is completed over 1-2 minutes; this avoids the peculiar ammonia-like smell of “Baker’s ammonia,” the product of a reaction between baking soda and the proteins in egg whites.

Microwaving–If you are using a microwave-safe baking dish, you can increase risk considerably (typically 30% increased volume) by microwaving for 1-2 minutes. The amount of time will vary, depending on the size of dish, the depth of the dough, and the ingredients, so a bit of experimentation may be necessary to generate maximum rise. I usually microwave in 30-second increments. (Yeah, yeah, yeah: I know all about the objections some people raise to the use of a microwave!)

I will often use all three methods, including the two-stage acid-base step, to generate plenty of rise when I want it, e.g., for greater rise for a sandwich bread or a fluffier cake. It’s not perfect, but you still can obtain some very nice results using these techniques.

And I’d love to hear whether any of you clever wheat-free bakers have come up with any of your own methods!

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Comments & Feedback...

  1. Thank you thank you so much. I am still doing so well on this, and it’s still easy to follow. I’m going to try this with some recipes that I already have!

  2. I used to make regular bread and it was an art and science unto itself that I never picked up but did just fine following recipes. Are there any recipes that you recommend for a good gluten-free sandwich bread using the techniques discussed above? I just purchased the Wheat Belly Cookbook but haven’t received it yet…hopefully there is one in there?

  3. KristenS

    A-ha! Now I know why my first attempt at the basic bread recipe came out smelling like ammonia! I was so stumped. And it was strong enough to make the bread unpalatable, though the texture was nice.

    • Dr. Davis

      Yes, the Baker’s ammonia is quite unpleasant!

      It took me a fair amount of playing around with the recipes to get rid of it, once and for all!

      • Sharlyne Jay

        I just tried the basic bread again and it still came out with the ammonia smell and that strong taste, what am I doing wrong? I did let the mixture sit for probably 5 minutes before putting the egg whites in, is it the cream of tartar that makes the difference?
        Thank you.

        • George C

          WHAT are you guys talking about?? There is NO cream of tartar in the Basic Bread recipe, I just made it. What am I missing?

          And then I made the rye bread, and discovered baker’s ammonia. We must get to the bottom of the cure.

      • George C

        So what was the solution? I’m afraid of making them again, for fear of the smell (both Basic and Rye).

        The buttermilk is the acid, correct? And, do you know what Sharlyne is referring to with “cream of tartar”? Are there different versions of your recipe book perhaps?

        Thanks so much, George

        • John V

          George the cream of Tarter is used when you whip the egg whites, it helps make them firmer. ~ 1/4 tsp per two egg whites. It is not mandatory. The ammonia is caused by adding the egg whites to the dough too early. After the dough batter is completely mixed give it 5 minutes to sit before folding in the egg whites that should work. it does for me. My problem is “mini” bread I have to try the rise method this weekend.

          • George C

            thanks so much for reply.

            do you know if it’s the Butter Milk that’s the Acid, that needs to be added before the Oxygen (egg whites)?

            I got HUGE rise, just that the ammonia smell was INTENSE (especially while pulling off the wax paper). Could be from beating the eggs longer. My first time I didn’t really see “white peaks”, but the second time I beat the egg whites longer, until it really started to turn to foam at the top. I had to scale back to double recipe for 3 pans, because the triple had big overhangs like the giant muffins. One big piece even broke off it was so big.

          • George C

            sorry, I’m a little thick, but I think I got it now (I’m in the middle of baking again).

            It’s the OXYGEN (egg whites), not the ACID (buttermilk, or whatever that is) that produces the baker’s ammonia.

            I’ll give it at least 15 minutes, b/c someone wrote that 5 minutes wait was not enough.

            I’ll let you know either way.

          • George C

            OK, here are the results —

            1st Shipment (of 3 loaves) – I waited 25 minutes before mixing whipped egg whites into the rest of the Rye bread recipe – lots of baker’s ammonia, though not quite as intense as the last time.

            2nd Shipment (Basic Bread) – I waited 35 minutes, still smell

            3rd Shipment (Basic Bread) – I waited 45 minutes, still smell when I go close and smell. I hope it goes away soon.

            Still huge rise every time, it’s just the smell I need help to get rid of.

  4. Deb

    I plan to try the 2nd pizza crust recipe as a bread since I am allergic to eggs. It made a great pizza crust!

    So far, we have liked the 5-6 recipes tried. I will try out all 3 of the suggestions above to make bread rise.

    BTW, you said “Microwaving–If you are using a microwave-safe baking dish, you can increase RISK ”
    and did you mean RISE?

    • George C

      that’s good detective work, of course that’s what he meant.

      I understood exactly what he meant, but couldn’t figure out how the RISK fit in – risk of more rise?? Perfect.

    • tess

      i second the xanthan-gum recommendation. depending on the recipe, you get that chewy, elastic quality that quick-breads don’t offer.

  5. Lory T

    You just gave me an idea of an additional thing I can use whey with. I have just learned how to make mozzarella cheese using raw milk, and tonight was actually my second time to make it, but I am overwhelmed with the gallons of whey I am left with…I have read using whey in soups or added (by tbsp) to cold water, etc. Now you just gave me an idea! That whey had the citric acid (2 tsp per gallon of raw milk). So now it’s time to experiment with one of your recipes. :)

  6. Cynthia S.

    Thanks for all these tips about breads but I have to say the fact that non-wheat breads are more solid or just plain different texture does not bother me ,,,I rather like it. I was never a fan of the fluffy stuff . I too have used Xantham gum in the past.
    The recipes that I have tried from your first book and now the new book are all fabulous!

  7. TJ

    I bake both yeast and yeast free (baking powder) breads. The best way to get, and keep a rid, for me is th addition of Guar gum as well as 1/2 – 1/2 cups of FINELY ground chia seeds. It requires some extra liquid in the recipe, but works like a charm.

  8. Heather

    Thank you, Dr. Davis! I am so happy you posted this info!! I was just going to post my rye bread making experience to see if anyone else had this issue. I made it exactly by the recipe and the “ammonia smell” from the bread so so strong, to me, that I couldn’t eat it. My husband, on the other hand, didn’t notice it. Weird. So I guess this explains it! I though I was losing my mind!

    I have made the basic biscuits and several different bread recipes, and to be honest, I just didn’t like any of them. I was so sad:( I have LOVED every other (and I have made lots of them) recipes in your book, but the bread is just not good. Do you think if I try these methods it will make a difference? Also, I am using almond flour/meal, is that ok? (not the blanched almond flour)

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!

    • Grace

      I’m not the Dr (of course!), but I didn’t like the bread either – I got taht horrible ammonia smell and oddly my husband didn’t notice it either! But I do two things – definitely use the blanched almond flour for the bread and biscuits. Anything you want a lighter texture for. That made a big difference for me. I will try the waiting thing before adding the egg whites to get rid of that ammonia smell. And when measuring the coconut flour, I always use a little less and sift it really well. That has helped a lot as well to getting a better texture to my breads.

      • Michelle

        I didn’t like the bread either. I am usually a good baker, and it was terrible. The ammonia smell was horrible. Any suggestions?

  9. pickinthefive

    Hello Dr. Davis,
    The “Bakers ammonia” was quite a revelation to me. I thought there was something wrong with my ingredients or that this was just an unfortunate byproduct of wheat-free-cooking. I have made at least one loaf that was unpalatable.

    For us beginners and “novice bakers” could you please provide a little more step-by-step on exactly how you avoid the ammonia odor ?

    Thanks very much,

    • George C

      i second that request for elaboration, Doctor. Please help us through this. We want to make it again, and we must get it right.

      Good News, BTW — my daughter tasted the Rye Bread, and tasted it again, and then a while later resurfaced with a question: “Are you SURE, there isn’t any of that stuff in here?” (she means gliadin) “Because I can’t stop eating it!”

      After reading the chemistry lesson at the top of this page, I could not figure out which ingredients in the Rye Bread recipe (which is pretty much exactly the same as Basic Bread, except double, plus caraway seeds, and a little less sweetener). First I thought it must be the Butter Milk. Later I found out that it’s the air beat into the Egg Whites. But what “OTHER” reaction is there before the egg whites, after which we need to wait?

      • Dr. Davis

        You will find your answer in the discussion on the blog post.

        It boils down to not allowing the baking soda to contact the proteins in the egg white until after the baking soda has reacted with your choice of acid (vinegar, lemon juice, etc.). So add the egg whites AFTER you have reacted acid and base.

  10. Janknitz

    I love baking bread for my wheat eating family, but since going wheat free myself I’ve found no need for grain free breads. They just aren’t necessary, and too much work for something that will never taste as good as the real thing.

    I sometimes make grain free crackers and wraps (like the Wheat Belly flax wrap) but bread is just not necessary.

    • Neicee

      Janknitz, I feel the same way. For me, a recovering wheataholic, eating anything that resembles bread or other items it’s too easy to justify grabbing the real thing at the grocery store. When my hubby wants a cheeseburger, I show him down the street where there are at least 5 different places to get his fix. I don’t make the psuedo replacements, yet.

      • James

        I don’t bake very often but when I do, I don’t see the result as a pseudo-bread or replacement but an entirely different (and tasty) food. Call it bread, cake, tubby-toast (hehe ;) ) it remains very palatable and nutritious :)

      • Annette

        well we want a cheeseburger we do lettuce buns and yum, messy but you can taste the meat so much better without the wheat mucking it up. and no more bloated tummy. bread does not entice me anymore i see it on cooking shows and go that is not healthy, throw that away and eat the filling.

        • Thomas

          Couldn’t agree more about the “lettuce” buns. Yes, they are messy, but the flavors shine through. I have also used the flax seed wraps cooked in a little butter and olive oil. They brown up beautifully, and because they are so thin, allow the flavors through as well. A nice alternative, and not quite as messy as the lettuce. I add no flavorings to the wraps, as it seems the onion powder and garlic powder add kind of a discernable “fake” flavor.

        • George Cauldwell

          Peppers, any color, but especially red peppers are blow-away outstanding for burgers. MUCH better than any bun, or anything else I ever had. And big dittos on the flavor comments. I never liked burgers as much as now. Messy, yes, but to me that’s a plus. Messy means meal, neat means Cliff note.

    • Grace

      We are enjoying the recipe I found for “bagel bread”. It’s a flat “bread” (I imagine like the foccacia) baked on a big cookie sheet. So far it has been the best “bread” replacement. You cut it into squares. It has onion and garlic powder in it, so it’s savory. Today I put heaping piles of chicken salad on my squares and that was my lunch. I suppose I could have eaten the chicken salad plain, with a fork, but it was just so much nicer on the squares. It’s also great toasted spread with cream cheese (like a bagel) for breakfast. I can’t exactly eat cream cheese all by itself. Or chicken liver pate. Tastes really good with that too. Or, with just some ham and cheese on top. All those things are weird to eat by themselves. So in general, I can live without bread, but sometimes you just need a “vehicle” for some other foods. It would be really good with spinach – artichoke dip too. I will be taking some to the super bowl party we were invited to so I can have some of the dips that are there. :-)

      • Deb


        Is there any way you can post the recipe here for those of us who still need bread just not wheataholic bread?

        thanks, Deb

      • James

        Hi there, here is my low carb sandwich:
        two slices of aged organic gouda for the bread replacement, one lettuce leaf, organic uncured ham or any sliced cold meat, home-made mayonnaise, herbes, spices, tomato slice, whatever else.

        So the cheese is no longer a filling but the container :)

    • Nobelly

      I feel the sme way too. I would think if it tasted good i would crave it. I think the recipes are most helpful fr those new to low carb eating who cant figure out what to eat besides a sandwich for lunch.

  11. Calculating Net Carbs Example: 1 cup of blackberries has 14 grams of carbs & nearly 8 grams of those carbs are fiber. Total Carbs – Fiber = Net Carbs
    14 grams – 8 grams = 6 grams of net carbs in that cup of blackberries.
    O.k. fine that’s easy, HOWEVER: Lets say there are 12 grams of carbs in a slice of bread.
    If you add 4 servings (8 teaspoons) of Benefiber to that meal consisting of one slice of bread say in your water or whatever, does that REALLY negate the carbs of the bread?
    Truly I can’t see it- I just don’t ‘get’ how one can only count net carbs, as if they are really getting away with eating bread or whatever with less or no carbs depending on the fiber count.
    I can easily add Benefiber to my bread machine and bake carbless (gluten free) bread according to the Net Carb logic that most have adopted as true/accurate.

    What say you?

    • Jeff G

      It’s per ingredient, not per meal.

      The carbs IN the fiber are trapped. They won’t get processed by your system. Therefore, they do not affect blood sugar.

      You can’t cause the “untrapped” carbs in a meal to become trapped in fiber by adding fiber to a meal.

      Again … net per ingredient, not net per meal.

    • Stacey Bennett

      No, the fiber carbs can be subtracted from total carbs, they do not negate other carbs. In the example of the Benefiber, you would have to add the total carbs from the Benefiber before you could subtact the fiber. If an item is all fiber, then you would have a net Carb of zero. If you added 12 carbs of Benefiber to a slice of bread, then you could subtract the12 fiber carbs. In other words, you would be adding 0 net carbs, not adding -12 net carbs.Does that make sense?

  12. Dana

    I’d like to make the Basic Bread recipe but I don’t own a food processor. Will it work if I make it using my KitchenAid Food Chopper (perhaps using the Puree setting)? Has anyone tried this?

  13. Maria

    Picked up your book Saturday night and my husband and myself have been following it thus far. Very interesting information and one I plan to share with others.

    One question: how can I integrate wheat and gluten-free foods into my son’s diet? He’s 7 and fairly picky. I made the basic bread and he took only one bite. Any suggestions you have are appreciated.

    Thank you in advance.

    • Dr. Davis

      Spread with peanut butter or natural fruit butters, Maria. Look at the many “kid friendly” recipes in the Cookbook.

      You may be dealing with a child who has the heightened desire/appetite for wheat-containing and sugar foods. It may require some time to backpedal from that situation.

  14. Susan

    I’ve been making the bread from Maria Emmerich’s site using almond flour, egg whites, baking powder, and psyllium seed husks. The way the psyllium replaces gluten is amazing! Much better than xantham gum or chia seeds. The baking powder provides the CO2, but the psyllium provides the “skin” for the air to form bubbles inside, just like wheat bread. This stuff holds together like a good sandwich bun should. It’s been such a wonderful find for me! Plus the noticeable benefits of the extra fiber, lol. Now if only it didn’t give the bread/buns that odd purplish-grey color I have to ignore, it would be perfect.

    Oh, and not to be a nit, but cream of tarter is not used in winemaking, it is a byproduct of it.

    • Kate

      I’ve been meaning to try that recipe … now I’m making it a priority. :-)
      If I’m not mistaken, I think Maria mentions somewhere in her blog that if you use the Jay Robb psyllium husks you won’t end up with the weird color.

        • Kate

          Yesterday I used Maria’s “Healthified Sub” recipe (almond flour version) to make five rolls.

          The dough was beautiful and it rose and baked wonderfully. The texture of the finished product was lovely, very similar to the texture of regular yeasty, gluteny bread with a very nice crust. I really wanted to love it, but wasn’t at all crazy about the “strong” flavor. However, by the next day the flavors had mellowed out a lot and I was beginning to see a future for this bread. I used the Vitamin Shoppe brand of psyllium husk powder. It worked great. The color of the bread resembled whole wheat and there was no greyish or purplish hue at all. The bread was a bit salty to my taste, so if I make it again I’ll try cutting the salt by half.

          • James

            Hi Kate,

            Funny you just did it, I happened to have done it too. It was quite good, even while it was cooling down and my kids LOVED IT!
            You know, when I gave up wheat, I knew I would never find a replacement that would provide me good health with the SAME taste and texture. So part of this journey had been to accept to give up classic bread and forget about its taste. When I tried the recipe linked above, it was not in the hope to recreate bread as I knew it but to provide my kids with a healthy alternative that they would grow accustomed to (they’re only 3 y.o. and 1.5 y.o and consequently are not yet “corrupted” by the seducing qualities of wheat). It’s also nice to have such a bread for picnics or other quick grabs.

          • Kate

            HI JAMES,
            There was no “Reply” link under your post so hopefully you’ll see this just *above* your post. My sentiments exactly about finding healthy alternatives rather than trying to necessarily recreate classic bread. I’m enjoying the quest and getting to know new ingredients and methods. Have you seen Gourmet Girl’s biscuit recipe? I use it all the time and also find lots of inspiration from her blog for all kinds of delicious wheat and grain-free stuff — highly recommended.
            Kudos for starting your kiddos out on the right path. Keep up the good work!

  15. Kelly

    Hi Dr Davis. Thanks for the great post. I have used this ratio to obtain a rise in dough.

    Add xantham gum:

    3 /4 tsp per cup coconut flour

    1/2 tsp per cup almond meal

    I have only baked flat bread since being wheat free. The foc bread recipee on this blog is our staple as is the flax wrap.


    Kelly G.WFF

    • William Taylor

      Hi Dr. Davis,
      I’d like to correct a serious typo in the paragraph:
      Use acid-base reactions–An easy way to remember this if, for instance, you are experimenting with a new recipe, is to mix your base–baking soda, or sodium hyroxide–into your dry mix

      I’m sure you meant baking soda or sodium bicarbonate, and not sodium hydroxide…using the latter would have serious consequences, that is what Draino is made from and is very caustic.

      • Dr. Davis

        Ahhh! Thanks for catching, William!

        Yes, indeed: sodium bicarbonate. Funny what comes out of your head late at night!

  16. Leslie

    The only acceptable wheat free replacement kid food I’ve found is the Tinkyada brand rice pasta. Quick breads, muffins, and cookies turn out well with almond flour, but sandwich bread has been a complete bust for me after many attempts with different recipes. I find it best to just go with foods that never contained wheat, like rice and potatoes with meats and veggies.

    Here is a kid friendly cheese sauce that I make constantly for Mac n cheese or over broccoli:

    Using a Pyrex glass measuring cup, put desired amount (.5 cup is about 2 servings around here) of shredded cheese in cup (we like cheddar/jack or parmesan). Put in enough heavy cream to just fill the glass to the level of the cheese (fill in the space basically). Top with a pat of butter. Microwave for 1-1:30 minutes, until cheese and butter melted into the cream. Stir, being careful of the steam that escapes when you do. Voila! No flour necessary!

  17. Holly

    I love your bread recipes. Sometimes when my bread passes all the done tests, beautifully brown on top, wooden pic clean, etc. the middle of the loaf comes out not quite done, a bit moist/doughy. Do you think this happens because it didn’t bake long enough, dough batter was too wet, or what? Thanks for all the work involved in making a great gluten free book book with delicious recipes.

    • Dr. Davis

      Hi, Holly–

      Yes, both: Use slightly less liquid and slightly more cooking time. If you find that you are getting excessive external browning but persistent incomplete interior cooking, you can lower cooking temperature by 25 degrees F, too.

      • Adri Krehbiel

        Thank you for asking this! I have the same problem. I have really loved all the recipes from the WB cookbook and I have notice that I have to cook my baking goods a little longer than recommended on the book. Dr. Davis, do you use a convection oven or just the regular over when you are baking? Thank you so much for all your great work on teaching us how to live a healthy and happy live!!!

  18. Heather

    I have been wheat free for 5 days now and I’m seeing improvement especially in a reduction of acid reflux and bloating. I plan on continuing to eating this way however my family wants to continue eating wheat for now. My question is should I continue giving them whole wheat flour, crackers, cereal, etc or give them things baked with white unbleached flour? Is the whole wheat really better than white or is it like sweetners (sugar, honey, agave, etc) all the same effect on the body? Thanks!

  19. Carol Podwinski

    My husband & I have been wheat free for 2 months n& love the results: no bloating, reflux gone, lost weight, no need for Tums anymore. Love the recipes too but as I am on Tamoxifen for breast cancer, I am not to eat flax seeds. Is there something else I could replace the flax seeds with in the bread recipes? Thank you!!!!!

  20. Lori goodrich

    My husband &i have been on wheat free for 5 weeks. I have lost 13.5 # a nd husband has lost 1.5″ off waist!! We have more energy and sleeping much better!! I tried basic bread recipe for first time and it came our dry & crumbly. I,ll use it for coating. Any suggestions? I followed measurements as per recipe

  21. Brenda

    For people who would rather buy their breads, are there any brands out there that are wheat free, or do all breads contain at least some wheat?

  22. Leah

    Thank goodness for this page! In the basic bread recipe, it says to add the egg yolks and buttermilk at the same time, but should we be adding the buttermilk first to react with the baking soda and then adding the egg yolks after a few minutes? Does the baking soda react with the egg yolks too or just the whites?

  23. jenni k.

    Surely there has to be some bread out there we can buy that is “kosher”? Allowed by Wheat Belly rules & regs? I work full time and have other things I have to do that don’t afford me the time to bake bread. Doesn’t Whole Food or other store like that have something you would approve?

    • Boundless

      > Surely there has to be some bread out there we can buy
      > that is … Allowed by Wheat Belly rules & regs?

      There will eventually be, and if you find it, be sure to report it here :)

      There was an effort last year to market such a product, but I can’t find a web site for it now.

      > Doesn’t Whole Food or other store like that have something you would approve?

      Most of the stuff in the Gluten-Free section of Whole Foods and other chains is high glycemic junk. Two slices is typically double your single-meal limit of net carbs, and consists of refined flours that will spike your blood sugar just as high as wheat.

      The other products in the GF aisle are similar horror stories, often loaded with agave or “natural” sugars, containing uselessly low levels of fat, but sporting organic or non-GMO claims for symbolic effect.

      The fundamental problem with the GF section of current stores is:
      1. Like makers of wheat-contaminated food, GF brands are, as a rule, utterly clueless about actual nutrition.
      2. They are chasing what they think are food fads and buzzwords. They think that GF is just about being gluten-free.
      3. They think their customers are equally clueless about nutrition, and to the extent that their junk sells, they are obviously correct in this assessment.

      But keep watching, and the thing to watch on a loaf of bread is when a “Low Carb” claim appears, and becomes at least as prominent as the current “GF” claim on the package. You are looking for a product that has well less than 5 grams net carbs per slice.

      Check the coolers and freezers when looking. It is apt to be some time before a low-carb GF bread has an adequate room-temperature shelf life.

      The emergence of acceptable packaged foods may or may not happen before the store adds a “Paleo” aisle or a “Keto” aisle.

  24. Laurie

    I was wondering if there was anything I could substitute for the chick pea flour in your bread recipe…I am low carb and trying to be gluten free and would like to try your bread recipe.

    • Dr. Davis

      The recipe still works fine by just increasing the almond meal/flour to compensate. The end result will be just a bit heavier, but still quite useful and delicious.

  25. Sally Gordon

    Regarding the Basic Bread Recipe… my first attempt was not encouraging. I am an expert bread baker & followed the recipe accurately. I did bake it in my wood cookstove & pulled it too soon. I returned it to the oven until it was ‘done’. It had an ammonia odor & did not taste appealing at all. Very discouraging. What happened? What did I do wrong? Any thoughts would be appreciated!

    • I too made the basic bread and it wasn’t a very successful effort. The smell and taste were off for me. I have it in my head that the chickpea flour is the offender – at least for my tastes – because everything else I have made tastes great. I just omit chickpea flour and add more almond meal/flour.

  26. Annie

    husband and I want to start the wheat belly diet. Cannot bake bread,do not have access to an oven.He loves sandwiches.Is there any substitute for bread when making a sandwich. If not, any idea for what you can have
    for lunch that does not need cooking.

  27. Winona

    Hi- I’ve tried a few of the baking recipes in the cookbook, but find that I gag at the smell and taste of flaxseed. Can I leave it out of the baking, and if so do I need to make any adjustments?

  28. Wionne

    Please help. I just purchased The Wheat Belly Cookbook. I made the basic bread recipe, and it smells like amonia and it tastes horrible. Did I do something wrong? Is it safe to eat? Will it taste better after it sits awhile? Please help , I am so dissapointed.

      • patty

        I have not made your bread recipe yet but of all the ones I ever made in the past there was never the reaction some people mention. In most breads you use the same ingreds. (eggs, baking soda etc..)so what is different about this that might cause a reaction with the ingreds.?? Maybe it is the microwaving. Do YOU ever have an “off” batch?

  29. Laurie

    Silly question…You mention microwaving first to increase volume…do you then follow by baking in the oven for the rest of the time in recipe?

  30. Roberta Walden

    I have baked the basic bread several times and have repeatedly had good success. Today, however, I did notice a peculiar ammonia smell in the bread and a moistness at the bottom when I took it out of the pan. That smell took me to the Internet and I am happy that my Internet search brought me here. First, let me say how happy I am with all the recipes and hoe much I have enjoyed learning about and living the wheat free / sugar free lifestyle . But back to today’s trouble . It was a great relief to learn that there is such a thing as “baker’s ammonia”! At first I thought something mulish have gone awry with my ingredients, but I knew it was impossible because I am exceedingly careful . Then, I thought , gee, my husband could have somehow contaminated my bread with — ? But , no, I don’t let him near my cooking projects. So, again, thanks for the enlightenment. Regarding what went wrong for me, I truly believe it was that I left my bread “cooling” on the pans too long ( I made a double batch). I turned the breads over to allow them to “dry” a little and they smell good now and I no longer notice the ammonia twang. Too, in thinking one problem could have been that I baked a double batch and I only allowed an extra five minutes to cooking time. I appreciate the education I’m getting from the two Wheat Belly books and , now, from this great blog . Thanks! Gonna eat this bread!

    • Dr. Davis

      I’m glad you figured it out, Roberta!

      No, it wasn’t the Windex: It is simply a reaction between two food components that can occur in just about any form of baking, wheat-free or wheat-including.

  31. Roberta Walden

    I have one more quick observation on ammonia smell and still-moist soda bread. When I looked up “baker’s ammonia” to be sure it was really safe to go ahead and eat my bread that smelled like ammonia while it was still warm and moist, I found a product called “Baker’s Ammonia” that is a bread leavening agent which contains ammonia!! So, not only is the bread that smells a little like ammonia while it is still “working” safe to eat, but you can actually buy a bread leavened which contains ammonia ! Smiles.

  32. Roberta Walden

    Agh! Typing on a smart phone is convenient and easy , but the spell checker is smug and assumes it is correct . In my first post here , for example, I typed “must have” and my smart phone spell checker inserted “mulish have.” And in this last post , I typed “bread leavener” and my smart phone typed “bread leavened” — and it matters — or might matter to someone else worried about their bread . What I am trying to say is that if there is an ammonia smell, it is not dangerous. The smell is the ingredients working in the natural way that they work. When the bread is cooked through as it needs to be and then cooled and dried as described in the recipe (ten minutes in pan and then take bread out and finish cooling it on a rack) the ingredients stop working and the bread is fine to eat (and good). And , again, let me say that a bread leavener which actually contains ammonia (called “Baker’s Ammonia”) can be purchased. Baker’s ammonia, then, is an “ok” phenomenon.

    There is so much to learn! –And I am sooo ready! Thanks again, Dr Davis for a good plan and good recipes .

    • Laurie

      That must be the odor we all noticed when I baked the bread for second and third time. It really is quite unpleasant and seems to have created an expectation on the part of my family that the bread would not taste so good. I still tried it and found it to be just ok. It is certainly not “delicious” as some have said, at least not to me. I’m not an accomplished baker at all, so I don’t know what the heck to do about it to make it taste better although now at least I have some ideas concerning the odor. I have looked at a lot of gluten free bread recipes which use brown rice flour — I’m wondering if this is as bad an alternative as the dreaded tapioca starches and such. Anyone know?

      • Dr. Davis

        No, the brown rice flour causes extravagant high blood sugars and all the consequences that follow. This is why I urge everyone to avoid these gluten-free flours.

        Once you get the baking techniques down, Laurie, I believe that you will be pleasantly surprised at the quality of the products you can generate!

  33. sharon dungan

    Delighted to get the EVIL grain out of my life!
    Spiked my suger with the GF flour, I’m catching on…..
    I found all the required wheat free ingredients and was disappointed with the baked goods,
    but there are so many other things to enjoy besides wheat goods.
    My body is deflating, feels Great! Will be wonderful when the rest of the world gets on board!
    Loving my fork and spoon!

  34. Jan

    Tried making the basic bread, and I liked the texture, but for some reason all I could taste was baking soda and I followed the measurements exactly. Think it would make a difference if I used 1 tsp baking powder and 1/2 tsp baking soda instead of 1 1/2 baking soda?

  35. Gale

    I read the book this week!! Cleaned out the kitchen and replaced with the almond flour and most of the ingredients listed. I KNOW how bread of any kind, and I am too an accomplished bread maker of all kinds, causes me to bloat and puts the weight on in the middle!! So reading this book really got me to see what it is that causes so many complaints. Never too late.

    Basic bread out of oven and smells good to me and looking forward to tasting. My husband is on board with the change, and I am hoping it makes a difference with some of his complaints and allergies, chronic cough and dry eyes.
    Sure hope more recipies come around but this is amazing already! Thanks so much.


  36. Roberta Walden

    Regarding taste and the basic bread recipe, I like it better when I omit the flax seed , sweetener , and cinnamon. Instead of flax seed , I use either hazelnut flour or coconut flour. As well, I am using either olive oil, coconut oil, or canola oil instead of butter . What I tell myself about this bread is that it tastes more like angel food cake than sandwich bread and , once used as the basis of a sandwich , it has more flavor and is more robust than sandwich bread . I like that, on rushed days, I can have a toasted slice of this bread for breakfast and nothing else and feel that I have had a complete meal. When I top it off with an apple and a cheese stick and am very satisfied — and dry-toasting really does bring out the nuttiness of this bread .

    • James

      Hello Roberta,

      Be careful with canola oil, it is way too rich in so-called PUFAs (poly-unsaturated fatty acids) or to be simple: omega-6. Canola oil is made out of rapeseed oil, which really screws your omega-6 : omega-3 ratio. You should aim at 1:1 but using canola oil would blow this up. In general, vegetable oils are to be avoided. Olive oil is mostly mono-unsaturated so that’s OK but animal fat is also really good and much richer in natural saturated fats (organic grass-fed butter is truly excellent – you can even clarify it into ghee to remove the remaining milk solids). Coconut oil is 90% or so saturated fat, good stuff as well. But canola ? No.

      You can read Mark Sisson’s guide to oils:

    • Doni

      Hi Roberta, my name is Doni and I am brand new at this Wheat Belly cooking/baking. Made my first loaf of Basic bread last weekend and it’s OK but would like something that is a bit sweeter and softer texture. I’m liking the sound of your recipe so this weekend going to try it.
      I do have one question for you, or anyone who can help…I don’t currently own a food processor so tried mixing my bread in a blender…didn’t work. Had to scrap it in a bowl and use a hand mixer. Could that be the reason it didn’t raise much (approx. 3 in.) or is that normal? How important is it to use a food processor?


  37. I followed your recipe exactly for basic bread in the wheat belly cookbook, and IT IS DISGUSTING!! it smells like a PERM and because it costs SO much to make I just had to try it. the taste is still making me GAG!! did you even try this first WOW! this is the first recipe I have tried in your book and may be the last including the cost of your book, I’ve wasted close to $50 on this loaf of salon PERM.

    Have I just poisoned myself? should I call the poison control centre?

    will you PLEASE do something? I feel so bad about this i dont know what to do.

    • Rick G

      Well, you could have made a polite and thoughtful inquiry instead of being as rude and insulting as possible. I haven’t tried the bread recipe yet, but I’ve tried several others, and they’ve all worked well. Perhaps you could double-check your steps and try again. If Dr. Davis takes the time to respond to your comment, he’s far more tolerant of such asinine behavior than I would be.

    • Blonki

      I am just getting started and concerned about switching bread types and came across this post regarding bread rise. I’m so glad you wrote this as I will def not try to reproduce the bread recipe you mentioned from the book. Also, you gave me a LOL moment reading your post… I wish I could help you with your question.

      • Me

        The bread is actually very healthy and has a good flavor. I found oven roasted turkey breast goes well with it. I found the turkey breast with no preservatives etc…from Costco.

        P.S. Jason your comment was very immature. Maybe YOU didn’t make the bread correctly?

  38. Darren

    I made the cheese biscuits and I had the ammonia smell and a peculiar taste. This would be the “perm” lotion smell that Jason complains of. As it explains above, the reaction of egg whites and baking soda cause an ammonia smell.

    Then a friend pointed out to me that the recipe called for baking POWDER, not soda…and I had been confused on that point. 4 tbsp of pure baking SODA is quite a lot. So I did the same recipe again , with baking powder (as the book states, which is a mixture of baking soda & cream of tartar) and the recipe worked perfectly. This time no ammonia reaction.

    • Mary Simard

      Can you please send me your recipe? I have the Wheat Belly cookbook but would like to try one that someone has been successful with. And with all the different blogs, I am a little confused.

  39. Ruth Bradford

    I have just finished reading the Wheatbelly Cookbook and am anxious to get started. I have been wheatfree (the obvious products anyway) for about a month or so and have lost 17 lbs. However, I do need some recipes. I have collected all the ingredients in the book to start making some things; but I am concerned about the number of calories in many of the recipes. Should I be??

  40. Kaye Tench

    My book definitely says baking soda and NOT baking powder for the Basic Bread recipe.
    My first loaf is in the oven and I did get a whiff of ‘not nice-ness’ [ammonia smell?] with the raw mixture, so I am sincerely hoping when out of the oven, my bread will be divine!
    Just wondering if baking soda and baking powder go by different terms in the US and the UK.

  41. Marty

    I agree Rick G. I made the bread and it’s different so I’m experimenting with different flours and cutting the recipes in 1/2 and 1/4 to save money until I get them the way I like them. Everyone should try the Ranch Dressing it’s amazing. I served it at a party and everyone went for mine instead of the bottled Ranch. Good one Dr. Davis.

  42. Diana

    Dr. Davis, can you give me some subs for flax and coconut flour as I am allergic to both? I was going to try ground chia seed and ground hemp seed. Any thoughts?

    • Dr. Davis

      Yes, good choices.

      Also garbanzo bean flour, though use as a secondary flour just to “lighten” your end-product. Also consider seed flours, e.g., sunflower, pumpkin, and sesame. Sesame is the most baking friendly of the seeds.

    • Dr. Davis

      This is explained in the blog post.

      It involves causing the acid-base reaction to occur before adding eggs.

  43. jane destross

    Dr.Davis…I am reading your book and love the “Apple walnut bread” Could you give me the nutritional value of the recipe? We also love the “ranch” dressing. Thank you for all the in depth research and information and leading my family to a healthy lifestyle.

  44. Tom

    I was surprised to read that rye is not allowed. I know that typical rye bread is actually a blend of wheat and rye, so that part is understandable, but a little searching can turn up 100% rye products (like Wasa Light Rye Crispbread, which contains only whole grain rye flour, water and salt). The glycemic index and glycemic load of rye seems to compare very favorably to wheat (see, so I’m a little confused .

  45. Cammie

    I’ve made a number of the Wheat Belly breads and bread-like items and generally been satisfied with them, though like many here bready foods have become a much smaller percentage of my diet. Now I am searching for a wheat-free recipe to substitute for an empanada or turnover dough. I don’t want to use the gluten-free and also high-carb flours that are so readily available. Do any of you have suggestions?