Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Make it Sourdough - Basic Sourdough Bread #1

L's Basic Gluten-Free Sourdough Bread #1

Basic Whole Grain Sourdough #1

Of all the gluten-free sourdough bread I have yet made, this is my favorite.  Even more exciting, I can eat it without my blood sugar spiking.  

 For my starter, I adapted a recipe from Jean Layton, in Gluten-Free Baking for Dummies. Her original recipe for the starter included brown rice flour and sweet rice flour.  I do not use rice flour and substituted the teff, buckwheat, and amaranth flours for the brown rice flour and oat flour for the sweet rice flour.  It fermented within 5 days and is still working.

I halved Layton's sourdough flour blend recipe; though the flour blend would eventually be used up making the starter and maintaining it, I didn't have a container large enough to hold that much flour. I have since purchased a container and may consider making the larger amount.  Again, I must say that I find weighing the flour is much faster and more reliable than measuring in cups.

I've made this sourdough bread several times and I'm still working on its perfection.  Until now,  I was disappointed in the looks but not the taste.  The taste is fantastic, especially when toasted.  The air holes have been good and the bread is light in weight.  When I first started making the bread, it fell about 20% -  25% as it cooled -- every time.

The original sourdough bread recipe that I've come to like orginally came from Jean Nick, The Nickel Pincher.  Her recipe for sourdough bread was very simple and traditional sourdough, without commercial yeast. Her recipe for the sourdough bread included 6 ingredients:  sourdough starter, gluten-free flour blend, sea salt, sweetener, butter or oil, and warm water.  I eventually added seed dust to increase nutrition and see if it would help with the deflating problem. I started with 1 tablespoon of the seed dust with psyllium powder and later increased to 2 tablespoons.

My gluten free sourdough starter is from whole grains. I had been using a whole grain flour blend for the sourdough bread. Since the sourdough starter was made from whole grains, the batter I chose to use with added whole grains was probably too heavy for the wild yeast. That may have been one of the reasons for the deflated bread. In the next few loafs,  I have used another of my all-purpose blends that containes oat, sorghum, corn flour (masa harina) and tapioca.  That loaf became a little lighter in mass and color and the taste was even better.  The sourdough bread reminded me of whole wheat sourdough.

I've tried baking the gluten-free sourdough in a loaf pan (8x4-in), a 2-quart lidded casserole dish, and a 5-quart lidded cast iron Dutch Oven.  I've cooked it by preheating the cooking utensil and not preheating the utensil.  The 5-quart lidded cast iron Dutch Oven was too large. So far, the parchment paper lined, lidded casserole dish, preheated in the oven, wins (whew).  I am hypothesizing that a parchment paper lined 3-quart cast iron Dutch Oven would even be the better trick.  The one with the best reviews is out of my price range at the present.

1.  Dough Placed  in Parchment Paper lined Mixing Bowl, almost ready to ferment.

2.  Dough Has Been smooth Out With
Wet Hand and Scored
3.  Dough Has Risen 12 Hours

I've used different rising times to find the best time.  I've let it rise for 6 hours and other times, 12 hours.  The 12 hour rise seems to make the best bread. The bread is always beautiful when out of the oven and falls slightly but I find it still light. I think it is one of those things that one must live with for gluten-free sourdough bread and any other gluten-free bread.  There again, all the years of baking gluten bread needs to leave my memory and let the gluten-free take over.

Flaxseed and Chia Seed Dust with Psyllium Powder

I find that the seed dust is a good replacement for the xanthan and guar gums besides being much more nutritious.  More and more gluten-free bakers are using flaxseed and chia in their bread recipes in the replacement of gums. Annalise Roberts states in her research that bread products do not rise correctly without the xanthan gum. I first questioned that flaxseed and chia seeds might be difficult for the wild yeast batter to function so I didn't use it.  Then I found that  Sharon Kane used it in her wild yeast sourdough bread.  Then I discovered Dr. Jean Layton's recipe for Pixie Dust-Seed Mixture.  The seed dust is a combination of flaxseed, chia, and psyllium.  I grind the flaxseed and chia seed in a coffee grinder and then add the psyllium.  The psyllium is ground to a powder in its container.  I found that the store brands of psyllium from Walgreens and CVS are gluten free, sugar free with no added flavoring and reasonably priced.  (Walmart's brand (Equate) stated it had 10ppm of gluten from wheat but their disclaimer statement is questionable.)

You can find the ratio of seeds and psyllium with my Basic Sourdough Recipe.  Using the seed-psyllium mixture will change the the Baker's Percentage because the mixture absorbs some of moisture.

Baked Bread in parchment paper lined casserole dish

Using a wire whisk or the wire whisk attached to the stand mixer is another technique that helps improve the volume of sourdough batter.  The whisk incorporates more air for the aerobic fermentation which helps the wild yeast produce more carbon dioxide.  This also pertains to the sourdough starter.

Seed Dust with Psyllium Powder  (thanks to Dr. Jean Layton)

20 grams Golden Flaxseeds
10 gramsChia Seeds,
15 grams  Psyllium Husk Powder

Grind all of the seeds and husk in a coffee grinder until floury.  It will have a feathery texture. Store in the refrigerator or freezer until needed.

(10 grams = 1 packed Tablespoon of pixie dust = 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum)

Basic Sourdough #1

2 cups (252 grams) actively bubbling gluten-free sourdough starter
2 cups (244 grams)  gluten-free flour blend*
1 teaspoon ( 4.8 grams) sea salt
1 Tablespoon organic sugar, molasses, or honey (honey = 21.25 grams; molasses = 21.57)
2 Tablespoons (27.44 grams) olive oil
½ to 1 cup warm water ( 118-236 grams)
2 tablespoon (20 grams) Seed Dust with Psyllium Powder

1. In a large bowl mix the sourdough starter, flour blend, salt, sweetener, Seed Dust and, oil until just blended. This can be done by hand or with a stand mixer.  Add water a few tablespoons at a time until you have a thick batter just slightly thicker than muffin batter (The dough will be sticky and not a consistency to handle or knead).  Whisk the batter 1-2 minutes to incorporate air.

2. Line a loaf pan or mixing bowl with a single sheet of parchment paper, creasing and smoothing as much as possible. Use a loaf pan to make sandwich bread or a mixing bowl for a round loaf Boule shape.  If using a loaf pan, 2 are needed; one is for proofing the dough and one for pre-heating for baking.

3. Pour the batter into the prepared baking pan or bowl, cover it with plastic wrap. Set the bowl or pan in a warm place to rise for 7 to 12 hours (or a little longer if you or the dough needs it). The longer it spends making bubbles and a sponge, the healthier it is.  Your batter should have risen at least a third by this time.  Some bakers state to let it rise to the edge of the pan, but my whole grain sourdough has never risen that high.

4. Preheat the oven with the empty cast iron Dutch oven with lid to 425-450°F for about 30 minutes. Carefully remove the hot baking vessel and lift the batter by the parchment paper and place in the heated vessel.  The parchment paper can be quickly cut so that the cover fits over the casserole dish or dutch oven.  Foil can be placed over loaf pan, if there is no lid. Carefully put the baking utensil back in the oven.

5.  Bake the bread for about 30 minutes.  Remove the lid and continue baking for another 10-15 minutes.  The internal temperature of the bread should be about 205℉ when done.

5. Remove it from the oven, let it cool for about 15 minutes, then turn the loaf onto a wire rack and allow to cool completely before slicing.  The cooling process for gluten-free bread is very important!

6.  When this bread was kept in the refrigerator for a little over a week, it was still great toasted. A couple of bloggers have stated that storing gluten-free sourdough bread in plastic bags causes the crust to become gummy or rubbery.   If storing longer, slice and place in a sealed container in the freezer or wrap the bread in aluminum foil and then place in a freezer bag; its ready for warming that way.  Toast before eating.
 Add ingredients to make flavored loaves of sour bread:
  •  diced dried tomatoes, Parmesan cheese, basil
  • grated carrots, flaxseeds  and pumpkin seed
  • cinnamon & raisins
  • grated cheese
  • chopped nuts, orange zest and dried cranberries 
  • chopped fresh rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa powder, 2 teaspoons espresso powder, 1/3 cup molasses, 1 teaspoon caraway seeds (for pumpernickel bread)

*Gluten free flour blend used in this recipe:

1 1/2 (180 g)  cups oat flour
1 cup (123 g) sorghum flour
1 1/2 cups (188 g) cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup (58 g) corn flour (masa harina)

549 / 4.5 =  122 grams/cup

Make It Sourdough - Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter
Make It Sourdough - Gluten-Free Sourdough English Muffins
Make It Sourdough - Gluten-Free Sourdough Wraps, Waffles & Pancakes


"Basic Sourdough Bread Recipe." Basic Sourdough Bread. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 June 2014. <http://www.culturesforhealth.com/basic-sourdough-bread-recipe>

"Beyond the Loaf: The Many Uses of Sourdough." Beyond the Loaf: The Many Uses of Sourdough. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 June 2014. <http://www.culturesforhealth.com/beyond-loaf-many-uses-sourdough>

"Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter." - For Dummies. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 June 2014. <http://www.dummies.com/how-to/content/glutenfree-sourdough-starter.navId-810789.html>

Kamozawa, Aki, and H. Alexander. Talbot. Ideas in Food: Great Recipes and Why They Work. New York: Clarkson Potter, 2010. Print.

"Pixie Dust Xanthan Gum Replacer." GlutenFree Doctor. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 June 2014. <http://glutenfreedoctor.com/pixie-dust-xanthan-gum-replacer/>

"The Gluten-Free-Bread Baking-with-Psyllium-Husks-Powder Test." My Gluten Free Table. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 June 2014. <http://mygluten-freetable.com/2014/04/the-gluten-free-bread-baking-with-psyllium-husks-powder-test/>

"The Nickel Pincher: Homemade Gluten-Free Sourdough Bread." Rodale News. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 June 2014. <http://www.rodalenews.com/gluten-free-sourdough>

"The Key to Making Delicious, No-Knead, Sourdough Bread -." N.p., n.d. Web. 17 June 2014.

"The Most Ignorant of All Questions: Cooling of Bread." The Fresh Loaf. N.p., n.d. Web. 17 June 2014.http://www.thefreshloaf.com/node/7979/most-ignorant-all-questions-cooling-bread

"The World of Gluten-Free Bread." : Using The Baker’s Percentage and Bread Hydration for Gluten Free Bread. N.p., n.d. Web. 11 June 2014. <http://theworldofglutenfreebread.blogspot.com/2013/08/using-bakers-percentage-and-bread.html>


  1. I have come back to this article several times in my own gluten free sourdough adventures. Thanks for this post! It's been very helpful.

    1. Glad I could help. I like that sourdough products don't spike my blood sugar. Just made the English muffins today -- they are so easy to make.