Gluten-Free Flax Seed Bread à la Virtuoso: Composing A Bread Machine Breakthrough


One of the greatest challenges of gluten-free baking is tackling yeast recipes. Those restricted from gluten want warm, chewy English muffins, sweet, soft cinnamon rolls, and a good crusty artisan-style bread; however the consensus is that these are the most difficult novelties to achieve, especially if you want them to be anything close to their wheat-version counterparts.

Another daunting task has been the project of creating a successful gluten-free loaf in a bread machine, and for me, that has meant countless conversations with customers discouraging them from using their bread machine for gluten- free baking.

Many bread machines lack the ability to agitate the batter-type doughs adequately, especially the devices with a mere single paddle. A vigorous mixing process is necessary to help hydrate and activate the xanthan gum for the best possible outcome in the structure and texture of the bread. Machines are often notorious for producing a disappointing, pale, misshapen loaf of bread where gluten freedom is concerned. It seemed something could be done to offer the loyal bread machine fans a promise.

And thus, it was born – the Zojirushi Virtuoso- complete with gluten-free cycle. A revelation in the world of gluten-free bread-making. This not only meant that I would have to change my approach with customers on the hotline, I would also need to face my own unresolved bread machine fears.

It’s no secret that I have little acquaintance with bread machines and I have never ventured to pursue a relationship with one. I was honestly intimidated by the thought of letting a machine take control of a recipe for me; but now with the exciting new arrival, it was a leap of faith I needed to take.

It makes things interesting when there are more than three or four ingredients in a loaf of bread. Here you can see the variety that goes into this one, and you can also be reminded that having all ingredients out before you begin is brilliant, efficient planning.

The following recipe is courtesy of the Zojirushi company and can be found in the Virtuoso’s instruction manual.

I’ve got milk.  1 2/3 cups.

3 eggs, scrambly.

Putting all of the liquid ingredients in first makes for a better mixing process.

It’s lately becoming a trend to add cider vinegar to baked goods.  This fruity acid can be cited in recipes for cookies, cakes, and yeast breads.

Its purpose? To denature and tenderize the proteins (in this case, not gluten proteins) and support flavor.

Time to pile in the dry ingredients. Here, you see  gluten-free brown rice flour in all its glory. I wanted to run this without blending the dry ingredients separately to really put this new hotshot to the mixing test, but if you wish, you may whisk the starch, flour, xanthan gum and salt together before adding to the machine.

If you pressed your face into this heap of gluten-free potato starch, you could make a fun imprint of yourself. Hold your breath first, though.

If you ever run out of sand in your child’s sand table, just replace it with potato starch; it’s one of the most appealing textures to the skin I have ever known.

And in with the rest of the goodies, whole flax seed and SAF instant yeast. Yeast and xanthan gum can be sprinkled evenly around the pan to give them a head start on even distribution.

Results from the medium crust setting can serve as a comparison for those who may prefer the dark or lighter settings.  Gluten-free products tend to be shy about browning, so I suggest using medium or dark for best results. After choosing your settings, just press start to orchestrate the melodic miracle of a gluten-free bread machine victory.

This shot was taken with 15 minutes left in the baking time. I was advised not to lift the lid sooner than that to avoid compromising the final shape with the interference. My biggest concern was whether or not the bread was going to gain any color in the final 15 minutes.

And I was all in a tizzy thinking there would be no color on the bread. Silly me. One of the great features on this machine is the top heating element.  It gets the job done. The bread is gorgeous outside…

…and inward with a tight, even crumb structure.

Bending the slice tests the strength and moisture level of the bread. If it tears, some adjustment is needed. Not bad for something that lacks gluten.

This has been my favorite way to eat bread since I was 3 years old. Imagine the many things you have always loved that go between slices of bread and know that it’s so easy to enlist the Virtuoso to help facilitate so you can regain those staples in your diet.

It’s been a relief to lift the fog a little on what seemed a relentless dilemma for gluten-free bread machine lovers. It certainly sounded musical to explain this innovation to customers after many months of disappointing them with the realities and limits of a regular bread machine.  Thanks for the Virtuoso, Zojirushi!

And running this recipe? It was smooth, straightforward – symphonic in a way.

Please read, bake, and review the recipe for Gluten-Free Flax Seed Bread.

Print just the recipe.

Amy Trage

Amy Trage is a native of Vermont where she spent much of her childhood skiing and training for the equestrian event circuit. With a strong desire to pursue food writing, Amy took her English degree from Saint Anselm College to the New England Culinary Institute ...


  1. deb1223

    How does this work with the Zo Home Bakery Supreme? Finally took the plunge about a month ago – and now there’s a new version. I do have the Gluten-Free cookbook that is directed to the Zo Home Bakery Supreme, so I have that custom setting. I may just have to try this with that version. Can’t replace it yet!!
    Yes, of course you can try it in your machine! Be sure to set your crust setting on dark! ~Amy

  2. catieartist

    I bought the Zo a year ago, and I haven’t been doing very well with trying to make wheat free bread. (gluten is not my problem, but a ‘with gluten, wheat free’ is near impossible a recipe to find!)
    Where does one find the GF cookbook written for the ZO?
    Did it come with the machine or does the company sell it?
    I so want to return to whole grain baking as I have done for decades. I hate the wimpy white bread, high starch, non-wheat equivalents. So many carbs, I worry about diabetes after a while on this diet. so I try to minimize this. Any suggestions?

    Hi Catie! I’m sorry that you are struggling with gluten free breads. I can certainly understand the desire to bring whole grains back into your life. Some wheat intolerant folks are able to consume spelt. It is a great alternative to regular whole wheat flour and behaves quite similarly. Please see more information on the cookbook with Zojirushi’s tested recipes here. Please feel free to call me on the baker’s hotline if you have further questions. ~Amy

  3. "Paul from Ohio"

    Will pass this along to my neighbor lady – looks like a keeper in a bread machine that does all the work. Amazingly hands free great tasting GF bread. Good job Amy!
    Tell neighbor lady that I hope she is having fun tweaking here carrot cake recipe. Thanks for reading, Paul! ~Amy

  4. craig987

    Can one substitute almond milk for the cow’s milk? If so, are any other alterations needed?
    Sure, almond milk would be fine- no alterations necessary. ~Amy

  5. Gypsy Cowgirl

    This looks delicious! How would one make this bread by hand or in a Bosch mixer? I no longer use a bread machine because with my family of 7, one loaf just doesn’t last so I need to make a few at a time.
    I’m also very new to GF baking so I am still unsure of how to adjust a recipe. Is there a rule of thumb?
    I don’t want you to shy away from the recipe just because you are without a bread machine, so please go ahead and try it. I would reverse the ingredients order and add the dry to your mixer first and mix evenly. In a separate bowl, you can combine the milk, oil and honey and add them to the dry and stir Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well with each addition and scrape down you bowl a few times in the process. The entire batter will need to be beaten well for a few minutes on medium high speed to aerate. Allow the dough to rise in the bowl until it has inflated a sufficient amount (should take about 1-1 1/2 hours. Then stir it down and scoop into a greased loaf pan and allow to rise again for about 1 hour. A little tip for gluten-free batter-like breads: Wet your fingertips and use them to smooth the loaf and create a dome shape before you bake. The dough will just barely rise to the top of the pan. The bread should bake at 375° for about 45 minutes. The internal temperature should be about 210° when completely baked. Please let us know how this works out and I hope you enjoy this bread as much as I did! ~Amy

  6. Anneripp

    I may have to get one for my daughter.

    Since you’re on bread machines, I want to mention when I use mine most. It’s great to have in the summer. It mixes the dough, lets it rise, and then I shape the loaf, take the paddles off of the bread machine pan, grease the “posts” and put the loaf back in. Then, I carry it out to the porch and bake it there. No heat in the kitchen and we still get great fresh breads all summer. I’ll even do roll recipes as a loaf just so I can bake outside.
    That’s one of the best uses for a bread machine, IMHO!
    Such a great solution to prevent an overheated kitchen during the hot, muggy months. Thanks so much for sharing with us. ~Amy

  7. DWgirl

    Way too many good recipes.My mom ACTUALLY grounded me from baking because she was on a diet.
    You will need to find a secret happy baking place. :) ~Amy

  8. Mrs Olson

    New idea for you – before adding to a recipe, I toast the flax seed in a covered dry frying pan (it pops a little like popcorn) for a more “browned” flavor. This is my husband’s 2nd favorite cookie ingredient (after chocolate).

    Great idea – toasting does bring out the nutty flavor of flax. I mix toasted flax seeds with peanut butter and enjoy it on toast every morning… Thanks for sharing here, Mrs. Olson. PJH

  9. Ricardo Neves Gonzalez - Petrópolis, R.J. - BRAZIL

    I’m now baking gluten-free recipes after i got a help from you and your amazing posts. I think always gluten-free breads are really a challenge, specially for new bakers.
    Here in Brazil i substitute xantham gum by CMC ( mcc ) Methyl Carboxi Celulosis and it works great well. It’s because MCC is much easier to find here.
    Another tip i have for new bakers is the hydratation of dough on GF breads. We need a dough of high hydratation to obtain softly dough no matter you bake breads or cakes. And that final wet fingers to finish top of dough is fundamental to avoid crackling of dough when it dries after baking time.
    I’d never baked using bread machine, but i’d tested this recipe with stand mixer and it turns great!!
    Another great recipe of GF treats is that of Cornmeal bread you’d posted late June, last year, moistened, softly and so far better than those recipes that asks for wheat flour !!!

    And, of course, the Brazilian Cheese Buns you told us about, Ricardo – which was actually one of the first GF recipes we posted. Delicious… PJH

  10. Grace

    how do I make a wonderful gf loaf without a Zo? I want to make just a simple sandwich loaf and I’m having zero luck, could you give me some guidance?

    Sure, Grace – if you carefully follow our recipe for Gluten-Free Sandwich Bread you’ll make a wonderful loaf. Call our baker’s hotline, 802-649-3717, if you need help along the way, OK? Good luck – PJH

  11. BearMolsumSam

    Really love our regular zo very interested in this for Gluten free… Will the bread recipe work with egg substitute?
    Thanks – will certainly study the recipes!

    Yes you can!! 1 egg = 2 tablespoon ground (fine) flax meal +3 tablespoons water. Let it sit for 10 minutes. betsy@kaf

  12. asiderits

    I baked this bread last night according to the custom times given in the link that you provided to ‘drunogluten’ above. The bread tastes really really good, but it certainly does not look as light and airy as your pictures; it is much more dense, and is only 2.5″ high. Your loaf certainly looks higher. I wonder if kneading the dough for an hour (per this link) is too much? Followed by 70 mins of baking time? Would appreciate any recommendations you can offer. ‘Airy’ gluten free bread is hard to make, and I was very hopeful after seeing yours! Many thanks!
    I am pleased to see it tasted great, but we should work on the volume, right? Did you add some baking powder to the recipe? Also, did you follow step #2 Program the following “homemade” cycle: preheat 15 minutes, knead 30 minutes, rise 65 minutes, bake 70 minutes, dark crust setting. I am seeing there is a 30 minute knead time, not 60 minutes. Try giving us a call, 800-827-6836. We could work through this with you over the phone. Elisabeth

  13. anoel

    I put the ingredients in my bread machine, set my bread machine on the dough cycle. It takes 1 hr 20 minutes to go thru the dough cycle. When it is done I take it out of the bread pan, shape it and put it into a bread pan, let it rise and bake it in an oven at 350 degrees for 30 mins.

    Can I do the same way using gluten free bread mix?

    It seems to me it would work, though since I haven’t tried it, no guarantees. Let us know how it goes, OK? I’m sure others would love to know. PJH

  14. Sarah

    I’ve been making this in my Cuisinart Convection machine on the gf setting. It is fabulous!! I premix the dry ingredients and help the machine along a little during the mixing to make sure all the dry is incorporated. It rises very high and comes out delicious!! Thank you!


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