Gluten ranks among my most favorite things. The protein that makes naan chewy, baguettes lacy, and croissants flakey (OK, butter also plays a crucial role in those layers, and coincidently also ranks among my most favorite things…have you seen my new tattoo!?) is pure magic. So falling in love with someone who’s digestive system adamantly disagrees with me on this has been a challenge! Fresh sourdough bread and warm cookies are how I say “I love you” so I needed a way to express my love without the gluten!
Thanks to Alton Brown, chocolate chip cookies are covered! I’ve developed an excellent cake recipe too! But bread!??! Store-bought gluten free bread has no soul. Sure, fry it up and smear enough condiments on it – don’t forget the homemade sauerkraut! – and you have something that will pass for a sandwich, but it leaves a lot to be desired.
Ferment all the things! At any given moment, there are at least a half a dozen jars gurgling and burping on the counter and in the cupboard. Sauerkraut, kombucha, tepache, pickles, and sourdough…lots of sourdough! I bake wheat-based sourdough every few days for my friends and neighbors, and it was really starting to break my heart not to share bread with Jefe. I read a few blogs and recipes and got to experimenting. My first (thousand) attempts produced bricks and boat anchors; nothing remotely edible. I think I remember trying to feed some to my dogs and they literally spit it out! Recipes either called for more eggs than an omelette or super obscure ingredients. Wheat-based sourdough is so simple! Just flour, water, and salt. I wanted something like that!
This recipe may have more that three ingredients, but it is completely doable and the results are heavenly! First you’ll want to make a gluten free starter. Take a look at the links above for guidance, or follow my simple directions below. Caring for a starter is a labor of love. Jefe jokes that “it’s time to feed the babies” only he’s absolutely not joking. Once you work feeding into your routine it’s really no big deal, but it is a step.
You’ll need a quart mason jar, a rubber band, and a coffee filter as her home. (I definitely recommend naming your sourdough starters! My white wheat is named Wanda, whole wheat is Josephine, and gf is Fifi.) For at least a week, probably closer to 10 days, you’ll feed your starter 50 grams of warm water and 50 grams brown rice flour once or twice daily for the first several days, then once every day or even every other day once she is active. Each time you feed, stir vigorously until everything is incorporated. As your quart jar begins to fill up, toss out about half of the volume before each feeding. I know it feels wasteful, but it’s kind of just the name of the game in establishing your starter. Once she’s alive and well you can keep the discard for other baking projects, or just use it to bake your bread! I bake often enough to keep my starter on the counter and feed daily, but you can keep it in the fridge and feed less frequently once she’s active and established. Just remember to take her out of the fridge and let come to room temperature before feeding, then leave at room temp for a few hours to allow the bacteria to wake up and eat!
Once your starter is active, it will smell, well, fermented! Slightly sour, even a little milky. If it smells super vinegary or like acetone, discard most of it and feed daily for several days to reestablish the good bacteria. Then make some bread! Here is the recipe and method that I have had the most success with. As I mentioned above, I had many MANY failures before this success! If this doesn’t work for you, I honestly am not sure of all the factors at play, but there are many! Keep persisting! There is nothing quite like succeeding and being able to share the love. Enjoy!
150g unfed gluten free sourdough starter (see above)
-feed 50g warm water and 50 g brown rice flour, cover and set aside 8 hours
1 cup water + 1/2 cup water
1/3 cup vegetable oil (I used grape seed, canola or sunflower would work well also)
2 eggs, beaten
300g brown rice flour
100g white rice flour
75g tapioca starch
75g potato starch
50g sorghum flour
25g arrowroot starch
10g guar gum
10g rice bran
650g Pamela’s All Purpose Gluten-Free Artisan Blend
Blend wet ingredients together and stir into starter
Stir wet starter mixture into dry ingredients to form a stiff dough
Cover and allow to rest overnight, up to 18 hours
The next morning, put your dough in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. Beat on low as you add 1/3 – 1/2 cup additional water. You want a sticky paste, but not a loose batter. Turn your mixer up to high speed and beat for a few minutes. Turn the mixer off, scrape the bowl and whisk, and give it another 2-3 minutes on high.
Shape your loaves
This dough is sticky! It is a challenge to form traditional baguettes and batards, but it can be done! Use wet hands to shape, or simply turn the dough into a loaf pan and smooth the top with a wet spatula. Cover the shaped dough with plastic, whether shaped on a sheet pan or in a loaf pan, and allow to prove about 2 hours. It will rise a little, but will not double like traditional wheat-based bread. About an hour – 75 minutes into your proofing time, start pre-heating the oven to 500 degrees F. When your dough is ready to bake, turn the oven down to 400 and set the timer for 20 minutes. After the first 20 minutes, rotate the pans and bake for an additional 20-30 minutes until the bread sounds hollow when you tap on it firmly. Allow the loaves to cool completely before slicing.
Please let me know how your loaves turn out! I’d love to hear from you with questions about the recipe, anything that isn’t clear, and any suggestions you may have from your own experimental journey! Thank you for following, and HAPPY BAKING!