I love bread.
Like…loooooooove bread. Especially homemade bread. And homemade sourdough bread is one of my favorite things EVER. But with a serious gluten intolerance and aversion to all things grain-based, I generally avoid all breads, even the gluten-free ones. Cause let's face it, a lot of commercial gluten-free breads taste like crap, or have a funky texture that's a little difficult to get around. While I've found some great gluten-free bread recipes to make at home, I generally avoid the temptation.
If it's around, I'm probably gonna stuff my face with it.
Because I love bread.
But now and then, I just need to give in to the urge to bake and eat and enjoy! I stumbled on the idea of making a homemade gluten-free sourdough bread, and I was immediately transfixed- especially since the sourdough starter was wild-fermented.
This had to be tried. You know, for science.
(let's just go with that).
I looked at several different recipes for a gluten-free sourdough starter, and they are mostly the same. So I started up a batch, and let it sit on my counter. I fed it twice daily, per the instructions, and waited impatiently for it to bubble and show signs that it was actually working.
I waited the full 6 days, and was pretty excited to make a batch of bread. I'd looked at a bunch of recipes online, but the one that appealed to me the most was a method I'd used in making traditional wheat-flour breads- baking the bread in a cast-iron pot with the lid on for 2/3 of the cooking time, which steams the bread, giving it that crisp and chewy crust.
I'd been using Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free flour for the starter and it's regular feedings. When I was ready to bake, I took a risk in switching up the flour in the recipe for cassava flour, which is supposed to mimic wheat flour wonderfully well. But that risk totally didn't pay off… I ended up having to use almost double the amount of water the recipe called for, and then ended up with a bread that was the approximate density of baked glue. The crust was just what I wanted…crisp and slightly chewy. But the rest… it tasted good, but trying to chew rubbery bread just isn't my thing.
Deciding to give it another go, I used the same Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Baking Flour (because why mess with what was already working in the starter?). And it was totally successful!
AMAZING gluten-free totally-delicious look-what-I-made pass-me-the-butter sourdough bread! Cue the happy butt-wiggles!
Gluten-free breads are notorious for being dense (due to the lack of gluten….fancy that) but most traditional wheat-flour sourdough breads have a denser crumb than others. Thanks to that, this sourdough comes pretty close to the 'regular' sourdough! The day after baking, we had family from out of state stop in as they passed through our town. I served this with lunch, and both of them told me that if I hadn't told them that it wasn't gluten-free, they wouldn't have known the difference.
That right there was all I needed to tell me that this is for-sure a keeper recipe!
While I seriously loved the look and feel of the bread baked in the pot (it's all rustic and stuff!), I will be resorting to putting this into glass loaf pans in the future. The crust was a little too chewy/crisp (which ended up being tough) for our personal tastes, and was hard to get around. I'll update with the results (and knowing me, probably more pictures!) in a couple weeks. I've tucked the starter into the fridge for a while- otherwise we'd be gorging on bread on a regular basis!
Below is my recipe/method for sourdough. I found most of my information on the sourdough starter in the books Nourishing Traditions and Wild fermentation as well as here, and on baking the bread here. If you like the science behind baking, I strongly encourage you to read her posts. She has some great information on how she developed her recipe using ratios of ingredients.
I ended up using some plain, unsweetened kefir to jumpstart my starter on day 3, but used water the rest of the time. You can also try this method, which uses organic red cabbage leaves and the wild yeast that naturally adheres to them as the start for the starter.
I give you this day your daily bread.
You are welcome.
Gluten-free Sourdough Bread
1/2 cup Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free All Purpose Baking Mix
scant 1/2 cup water (if your water is highly chlorinated, use filtered water)
Whisk together in a medium sized bowl until smooth.
Cover with a tea towel, and leave on your counter.
At least twice a day for the next six days, at regular intervals, add 1/2 cup of flour and scant 1/2 cup of water to the existing starter, stirring until smooth (starter really likes to be fed, so if you can manage 3x a day, do it!).
If preferred, on JUST ONE of those feedings, replace the water with unsweetened plain kefir.
When your starter is very bubbly and creates a dome on top 2-3 hours after each feeding, you are ready to make bread.
You will need a 4qt heavy duty Dutch oven with a lid (cast-iron is best- do not use stainless steel). You'll also need a bowl the approximate same size as the pot for letting the bread rest, parchment paper, and a spray bottle with water.
a bit less than 4 cups sourdough starter (Make sure the starter is bubbling before you use it. If you don’t do this, the yeast won’t be active and the bread won’t turn out well.)
about 3 cups Bob's Red Mill All Purpose Baking Flour
3/4 cup) water (approximate–you may need more or less)
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons xanthan gum
2 tablespoon coconut palm sugar
Combine starter and dry ingredients in a stand mixer fit with paddle attachment or dough hook. Set the speed to low and mix for a few seconds–just until the dough comes together as a blob. The dough will now be extremely stiff and still fairly dry.
Add your water, a bit at a time (about 1/4 cup at a time), mixing for a several seconds after each addition. The dough should gradually become like a stiff cake batter. It should not be as stiff as, say, play-doh, but shouldn't be too thin, either.
Once you have added all of the water, beat on high for about 3 minutes.
Line your rising bowl with a good-sized piece of parchment paper. It will be a bit wrinkly–do your best to smooth it down and fully cover the interior of the bowl.
There should be some parchment paper hanging over the edges–you will use these edges later to transfer the dough to the (Very hot) pot.
Carefully scrape your dough into the lined bowl. Smooth top. Cut a few slashes in the top of the dough with a very sharp knife.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place it in a warm-ish, draft-free place.
Let the dough rise for 4 to 6 hours.
The dough should approximately double in bulk.
When you are ready to bake your bread, place your Dutch oven, with lid, into your oven and pre-heat to 425 degrees. Keep your Dutch oven in there for about 1/2 hour after the oven reaches temperature so it gets nice and hot.
Carefully remove the Dutch oven from the oven and remove the lid.
Remove the plastic wrap from your rising dough. Grasp the edges of the parchment paper with your hands, making sure that you have got a firm hold on it, and carefully and gently transfer your dough to the Dutch oven–your dough will be risen and is in a fairly fragile state.
Don't burn yourself!
Spritz the top with a few sprays of water–this will help to create the crisp and chewy crust.
Place (hot) lid back onto your Dutch oven, and return to the oven.
Bake for 45 minutes at 425 degrees F. Then remove lid and bake another 15 minutes uncovered to further brown the top crust.
Remove from oven and check internal temperature of the bread with an instant-read thermometer if you have one. It should read at least 205+ degrees F. This indicates that the bread is thoroughly baked.
Let sit for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, carefully grasp the parchment paper again and transfer your bread to a cooling rack. You may remove the parchment paper now so the bread can cool.
Please note that the bread is still cooking and the crumb is setting up at this point–let it cool completely before you slice it.
This bread stores best on the counter, unwrapped at room temperature (not in the fridge). Do not wrap it in foil or plastic wrap–it will make the crust gummy. Once you cut it, store it unwrapped with the cut side down on the cutting board at room temperature or in a brown paper bag.