I have been baking my own bread either commercially or for myself for many years. It is a really worthwhile exercise as bread is a staple food for most people and can be quite an expensive purchase – especially if you are coeliac.
Commercially bought gluten free bread is the most bought gluten free product and it is the one product people come to class to learn most often. My customers tell me how expensive it is and how you need to eat it toasted and how they long for a lovely bread that doesn’t fall apart and can be eaten fresh.
In class I teach an everyday bread recipe for loaves and bread rolls using active dry yeast. It is a simple and quick bread to make and you can tailor the recipe and add seeds or fruit to your liking. All this can be done in less than an hour and you have fresh bread for the week.
Sourdough bread on the other hand is a time consuming process though most of the time is spent waiting for it to rise. It is a roughly 24 hour process so I need to allocate the time to mix and prove the dough. I don’t always get around to baking sourdough but it is well worth it. The keeping time is sensational and the flavour is amazing.
This dough will only be proved once instead of twice; as the flours are easier to digest than wheat and rye I feel there is no need for the twice prove method. You certainly can press the dough back after 12 hours and then shape it and allow it to prove again for another 12 hours if you wish. This is the standard traditional way of baking sourdough but I feel it is unnecessary for gluten free sourdough.
So in the spirit of a long read, make a cuppa and put your feet up.
You need to begin this recipe at least a week before you wish to start baking because we will be making the starter or Mother from scratch. If you have read books or blogs on sourdough baking, you will know that any single sourdough culture has been active and alive for centuries and was initially a by-product of brewing beer. One blog I found helpful in determining my flour choices is a site called Gluten Free Gourmand.
To start you need to make my plain flour mix as you will be using this to feed your starter regularly.
Make up a 100% hydration starter by adding 1/4 cup of plain flour mix and 1/4 cup filtered water (non-chlorinated so the bacteria you are trying to harvest doesn’t die) in a large bowl or jar. Stir well and leave uncovered in your pantry. Feed with the same amount of flour and water each day for a about 5 -7 days until you see bubbles forming.
Try to do this at the same time each day so the starter doesn’t go hungry. At some point once the starter is active with regular feeding you will have too much in your bowl. Freely give it away to someone to continue the process of baking bread. If you won’t be making bread that often, you can store the starter in a jar in the fridge as I do. Each week on the same day take it out and stir it up, then feed it as above and leave it out for an hour to collect the air born bacteria. Then replace the lid and put it back in the fridge till next week. Once the starter is active you can begin to make your bread. If you are taking the starter from the fridge, allow it to come to room temperature first before using it in baking.
While I have made this bread using a few different flour combinations, my preference is quinoa flour so the flour mix for that is below.
Mix well together in a bowl 200g quinoa flour, 90g each super fine white rice flour, potato starch and tapioca starch and set aside. Using a balloon whisk is a good way to distribute the flours. You can make up a large batch of this sourdough flour mix so it’s always on hand when you want to bake. It will save you a little time.
Next, in the bowl of a stand mixer with dough hook attachment add: 30g psyllium husk and 320g filtered water. Mix until combined then add 430g of the sourdough flour mix and 80g of your starter. Mix on medium speed for a few minutes or until a dough forms. Now let this rest in your bowl for 20 minutes to autolyse; which simply means allow the dough to hydrate. Next add 7g salt and 1 tablespoon of either honey or sugar. I use coconut palm sugar if I’m using sugar. Mix all ingredients well for a few minutes on a medium speed or knead by hand for 10 minutes.
Take the dough out of the mixer and place it on your dry work bench. To form the dough into a boule, flatten dough out then pull a third of the dough to the middle and seal the edges with your fingers. Fold the next third over and do the same to seal the edges. Bring the side edges together then turn it over onto your dry bench. Roll the dough into a ball using your hands in a cupping and rolling motion until you have a tight surface tension on the top.
Place the dough in a flour dusted oven container or pizza stone/oven tray, cover with plastic wrap and set aside for 20-24 hours. The length of time is to allow the sour flavour to develop. This stage is called bulk fermentation.
You can score the top of the bread in the traditional way with a lame if you like (or make 4 cuts with a knife) but there is no gluten to cut so I don’t bother with this. The photo below will show that I have done this but it doesn’t achieve the same result as it would if you were baking wheat bread. The cuts allow the dough to expand to a shape you desire but it is not necessary for gluten free bread.
You will know the dough is ready for the oven when you poke it with your finger and it no longer leaves an indentation. Preheat your oven to 2300c.
Bake bread for 30 minutes with the lid on if using a Dutch oven and then at 2000c for 20 minutes with the lid off. The steam created will make a chewy crust. Alternatively if baking on a tray or pizza stone you can place another tray with water in it on the bottom of the oven for the same effect. Of course if you have a steam oven you won’t need to do this.
Once the bread is baked allow it to cool for at least an hour or 2 so it will cut nicely, and enjoy.