Thursday, November 20, 2014

Make It Sourdough - Gluten Free Pumpkin Quick Bread

Sourdough Pumpkin Bread with Chocolate Chips & Pecans

It's getting near the holidays.  One of the smells of the holidays I like is pumpkin pie seasoning.  I can almost smell it in my mind. On the spice shelf, I found a box of the seasoning.  It came from my mother's house when I cleaned out her house to sell it. The can was a little old and had a price of 49. My mother made quite a few pumpkin pies in her lifetime and I am almost sure that she must have refilled the little can at some point, maybe several times. I was not sure whether the pumpkin pie spice in the can was gluten free and not knowing -- I threw it out. To make sure my spice mix was gluten free, I made my own with 2 tablespoon ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoon ginger, 1/2 teaspoon allspice, 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves, 1/2 teaspoon ground mace and 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg.

I found another pumpkin spice mix recipe that included 1/4 teaspoon cardamon and 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest rather than the mace.  No matter how it is made, the smell is wonderful!  Bet you can smell it also.

The spice mix can be used in pumpkin pie, pumpkin bread, pumpkin cookies and pumpkin bread pudding.  Sprinkle it over root vegetables such as sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, acorn squash or butternut squash.  It can be the wonderful spice in a streusel topping.  Did I forget the coffee or latte?  How about in pumpkin pancakes and waffles? I read a brownie recipe that included pumkin pie spice. I'm guessing you can think of other uses for this spice mix.

Before I concoct a gluten free recipe, I usually cut the recipe in half for experimental purposes. Gluten free ingredients are more expensive than regular baking ingredients; therefore, if the recipe doesn't work, I will be throwing out fewer ingredients.  From there, adjustments can be made easier and cheaper, if they are necessary. When experimenting on this gluten free recipe, I made 12 muffins (half the recipe), rather than two loaves.

Are quick bread and muffins the same?  Sometimes -- but the baking temperature and cooking times are a little different. The Pro Baker Group from King Arthur Flour suggests baking the muffins at 400℉ for 15-20 minutes and the quick bread at 375℉ for a longer time, depending on the size of the loaf pan: the 3"x5" for 35-45 minutes, 8"x4" for 45-55 and the 9"x5" for 40-50 minutes. They also suggest that the amount of oil might be different, with more oil for the muffins.  I think more oil is used to keep them from drying out quickly.  A sourdough recipe of quick bread will take a little longer to bake because the batter is a little wetter.

Experimenting with substitution of applesauce for oil will come later.  Usually only a fourth of the butter is substituted; more causes the product to become dry. Suggestions for this substitution can be found at this site.

 I never seem to find the perfect recipe I need to compensate for gluten-free and low sugar.  So I have to experiment.  I found a sourdough quick bread recipe at King Arthur Flour, which wasn't gluten free, low sugar nor sourdough but there were good ideas for ratio of ingredients. If you don't need to eat gluten free, give that recipe a try. You just might find it to be your favorite quick bread recipe.

 I found another recipe at Cultures for Health, also not gluten-free and low sugar but it was sourdough. I found some ideas that will help in formulating a recipe for gluten free and low sugar quick bread. Remember from this post on sourdough that sourdough bread is good for you and better for a diabetic because sourdough "anything" has a lower glycemic index.

A gluten free sour dough starter can be made as instructed in my recipe at Make It Sourdough - Gluten Free Starter.  I have been able to keep that starter alive and working well since I made it almost a year ago.  I even preserved some of it through a drying process.  Using this sourdough starter, I made the following gluten free pumpkin muffins and quick bread.  The recipe turned out great. Even my grandson ate one of the muffins and he is an extremely picky eater.  The recipe is not sugar free but low sugar. I believe that some type of sugar is needed for tenderness of the bread. The sweetness for this bread comes from honey and Stevia in the Raw.  Other sugar substitutes could be used or if sugar is ok in your recipe, use whatever sweetener you like.

My gluten free flour blend* (see below) consists of gluten free oat flour, sorghum flour, tapioca flour and corn flour (masa harina).  Any all-purpose gluten free flour will probably work.  I use Dr. Jean Layton's recipe for seed dust rather than use xanthan gum or any gum because it works and because it is more healthy than the gun. If you like to use xanthan gum, and your gluten free flour blend does not contain it, use 1/4 teaspoon for each cup of the flour.

I make my own gluten flour blends because most commercial gluten free flour blends contain rice flour.  Rice flours, both white and brown, are highly processed and have a high glycemic index.  These are two of the reasons for my not using rice flour.

Now, lets get back to the Sourdough Pumpkin Quick Bread. Making the sourdough sponge is important for this recipe. The sponge needs at least 7 hours to ferment. During this process, there is a
symbiotic relationship between naturally occurring latobacilli and yeast. The bacteria ferment the sugars that the yeast use to produce carbon dioxide and alcohol (the hooch). The bacteria feeds off the alcohol. The process is a little more scientifically complicated and if you want to know more, go to this site. As a science teacher, I really can get into the process, but I won't bore you with the scientific information.

Sourdough before fermentation & before formation of sponge.
The batter was smoothed with a wet hand.

Sourdough sponge, which has formed a slight dome in 8 hours. Note the cracks in dough.  

The Sourdough Sponge at the end of 12 hours.  Notice the air pockets
in the dough on the side of sponge.The sponge is ready!

Gluten Free Sourdough Pumpkin Quick Bread

1 1/3 cup active sourdough starter (mine weighs about 205 g/cup)
1 cup pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
2/3 cup milk of choice or whey (discarded from yogurt) or kefir
2 2/3 cup gluten free flour blend 
2 tablespoons seed dust
1/2 cup butter, melted (or 1/4 cup butter and 1/4 cup applesauce)
1/4 cup honey
2-4 tablespoons sugar or sugar substitute
1 large egg (or egg substitute)
3/4 - 1 teaspoon salt of choice
2 teaspoons pumpkin spice mix
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/5 teaspoon baking powder

1.  Combine, in a medium glass or ceramic bowl, the sourdough starter, pumpkin puree, milk and gluten free flour blend. Lightly cover the bowl with plastic wrap, even punching holes in the plastic wrap. Let the wild yeast ferment the starter with the other ingredients.  It will take 7-12 hours.  Many times, I heat water in a small glass batter pitcher in the microwave.  I place the bowl of batter on top of the glass batter pitcher and close the microwave door.  Be careful not to turn on the microwave unless you remove the beginning sponge to reheat the water. The sponge will form and air holes will appear in the sponge. Cracks in the top of the sponge will probably form (note the photos of the process).

2.  At the end of the fermentation of the sponge, preheat the oven to 350℉. Prepare one or two loaf pans with butter or cooking spray.  If only one loaf pan is used, prepare a 12-cup regular sized muffin tin with butter or cooking spray or with paper cupcake cups.  

3.  Sprinkle the seed dust over the top of the sponge. All the remaining ingredients should be at room temperature.

4.  Combine the  melted butter, egg, sugar substitute (or sugar) and honey.

5.  In another small bowl, combine salt, pumpkin spice mix, baking soda and the baking powder.  

6.  Thoroughly combine the butter mixture and the sourdough sponge. Then beat in the mixture of dry ingredients. (The batter may bubble a little. That is fine.) Fold in any of the following or combination ingredients: nuts, chocolate chips, raisins currents, or dried fruit.

7.  Fill the loaf pans with the batter or fill one loaf pan and one muffin tin.  If desired at this point, sprinkle with sparkle or coarse crystal sugar on top.  Regular sugar will probably melt and not give a sparkle appearance. (Be careful with the coarse sugars. Even though their ingredients are gluten free, they are sometimes produced on equipment that process wheat and and other common allergens). The only place that I have found gluten-free sprinkles and coarse sugar is this site.

8.  Bake the muffins for 20 minutes and check for doness with a toothpick.  It should not be sticky or wet; a few crumbs may cling to the toothpick but it should be mostly clean.  Check the bread at 40-45 minutes.  If testing with an instant read thermometer, the temperature of the center of the muffin or bread should be at least 190℉ but less than 205℉.

9.  Cool 5 minutes and remove to a rack.  

If a frosting or icing is wanted, let the loaf or muffins completely cool before frosting.  Cream cheese frosting is fantastic on these pumpkin muffins or pumpkin loaf.

Sugar Free Gluten Free Cream Cheese Frosting

    1 1/2 cup cream cheese or 12 oz (1 1/2 cups) (room temp)
    1 1/2 teaspoons butter (room temp)
    1/2  - 3/4 cup sugar or equivalent in xylitol, erythritol, coconut sugar, Splenda, Stevia, Truvia
2 tablespoons milk
1-2 tsp vanilla or other flavoring you like

Great Substitutions in the Cream Cheese Frosting:
The vanilla, milk and sugar can be substituted with 1/2 cup maple syrup. This flavor is good with pumpkin. Lemon zest or orange zest can be added to any flavor. Other additions to the frosting could be coconut, nuts, eggnog, cinnamon-sugar mixture or Nutella.

Cinnamon-"Sugar" Topping:
Melt 1/4 cup butter in a small bowl.  In another small bowl, combine 1/2 cup sweetener (such as granulated sugar, xylitol, erythritol, coconut sugar, Splenda, Stevia in the Raw, Stevia, Truvia) with 1 tablespoon cinnamon.  Dip the top of muffin in the butter and then dip in the cinnamon-"sugar" mixture.

This mixture can be also used for any muffin, cupcake, toast, oatmeal, coffee, sweet potatoes, winter squash and any ingredient which you think would be great. Nutmeg can also be added to the cinnamon mix, if desired

* All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend

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

Printable Recipe for Gluten Free Sourdough Pumpkin Quick Bread


"How to Use Applesauce Instead of Oil When Baking." LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 25 Jan. 2014. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.<>

Layton, Jean McFadden., and Linda Johnson. Larsen. Gluten-free Baking for Dummies. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley, 2012. Print.

"Pixie Dust Xanthan Gum Replacer." GlutenFree Doctor. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.

"Rice Flour & Blood Sugar." LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 10 Sept. 2011. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.<>

"Sourdough Pumpkin Quick Bread." Sourdough Pumpkin Quick Bread. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.<>

"The Baking Circle Community | King Arthur Flour." The Baking Circle Community | King Arthur Flour. N.p., n.d. Web. 20 Nov. 2014.<>

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