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Have you ever looked at the ingredients on a loaf of store-bought gluten-free bread? Yikes! I usually just do without. But there are certain occasions where you really just want the bread. Am I right??? I had such an occasion approaching which led me to begin the experiments. I wanted to avoid xanthan gum which is a commonly used thickener but it can be irritating to the gut. I also wanted to avoid potato starch which is commonly used in gluten-free baking. However, I don't do well with potato. I also knew that if I was going to be using grains I wanted them to be properly prepared (aka, sprouted or fermented) in order to improve digestibility and release nutrients.
My first loaf was such a flop that I had to throw it away! My daughter now compares the weight of things to that loaf of bread. Haha! Each round of experiments improved until finally we had a winner. It is really great because it can be used for so many things!
The first step is create a starter. It is simple but requires some patience. Using a bowl or mason jar mix 1 cup brown rice flour, 1 cup teff flour, and 1 cup sorghum flour. This is what you'll use to feed your starter. To start with combine 1/2 cup of this flour mixture with 1/2 cup of filtered water. Whisk it well to get some air into it. I keep mine in a quart sized mason jar but a bowl will also work. Cover the top with a few layers of cheesecloth and a rubber band. Set it in a warm spot out of direct sunlight. (I keep mine on top of the fridge.) Now you'll "feed" your starter morning and night, roughly 12 hours apart. It's pretty forgiving though. If you miss a feeding you can just pick up where you left off. (You can slow down the process by keeping it in the fridge and feeding it every other day.) To feed the starter you'll add 1/4 cup of the flour mixture and 1/4 cup filtered water. Each time you feed the starter whisk it well to fully incorporate air with the ingredients. This allows the natural yeasts from the air to be caught in the mixture. That airborne yeast is what will make the bread rise and create lovely pockets of air in the loaf.
You'll continue this process until you have a nearly full mason jar. Then it's time for baking! It can take a couple of cycles to get the starter mature enough to get that really lovely tang that we know as a sourdough flavor. Your starter should be bubbly by the time you feed it each day. If it isn't then you can switch out a bit of the water for kombucha or water kefir at one of the feedings. You may also get a bit of liquid on top and that's no problem. Just mix it in and continue.
Now that you have a vibrant starter let's talk bread making!
2 cups gluten-free sourdough starter
1/2 cup millet flour (buy here)
1/2 cup brown rice flour (buy here)
1 cup arrowroot starch (buy here)
1/3 cup whole psyllium husk (buy here)
1 Tablespoon ground chia seeds (buy whole here- grind in a coffee grinder or spice mill)
2 teaspoons salt
1 T honey
1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup water
1. Combine psyllium husk with 1/2 cup water. Stir and let gel while working on step 2.
2. In a large bowl combine starter, millet flour, brown rice flour, arrowroot starch, ground chia seeds, salt, honey, olive oil, and 1/2 cup water. Mix well.
3. Add psyllium husk gel to flour mixture and combine well. It will be a loose dough at this point.
4. You can also add any herbs you want at this point.
5. Oil a medium sized bowl and pour dough into it. Oil the top of the dough and cover bowl with a tea towel and set in a warm place. (top of fridge or oven with the light on)
6. Let rise 6-12 hours. I think this is very forgiving. Do what works for your schedule. I often let mine rise overnight.
7. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
8. The dough will be more shapeable now. You can really shape it however you like which is the beauty of this bread! We have even made a loaf in the shape of a dragon!
You can bake this like an artisan loaf by just forming it into a ball and baking on a cookie sheet with parchment. Create some cuts in the top to allow for more rising. Bake 45-50 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack.
You can bake this into a sandwich loaf by transferring it to a parchment lined loaf pan and baking for 50-60 minutes. Use the parchment to lift it out of the pan and transfer to a cooling rack.
You can also make bagels by separating the loaf into 6 pieces and forming bagel shapes. Then bring to boil a large pot of water with a dash of baking soda in it. Place the bagels in and boil for one minute on each side. Remove them onto a towel for a couple minutes before transferring them to a parchment lined baking sheet. Add any toppings you like and bake at 400 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack.
You can also make pizza crust by flattening it out to about 1/2 inch thick and baking for 20 minutes. Then add toppings and bake for another 10 minutes or transfer to a cooling rack and store it in the fridge or freezer until ready to use.
Whichever shape you decide to make I hope you enjoy it. I would love to see photos of your creations!
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