Guest Post: Gluten-Free Sourdough Baking

January 18, 2012 · 23 comments

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This is a guest post written by Sharon Kane, the author of The Art of Gluten-Free Sourdough Baking. She has spent years perfecting her technique for these artisanal breads. Out of this “labor of love” Sharon has become the leader in gluten-free sourdough technique. When I met her at the Weston Price conference in Dallas, I was able to taste her gluten-free breads and I must say, they are amazing. In addition, she is able to communicate the skills it takes to bake this bread, in her wonderful book which she has generously offered to my readers as a giveaway in honor of our 28 day probiotic food challenge.

Gluten-Free Sourdough Baking is a method I developed for myself when I learned that I had multiple food allergies: gluten, dairy, eggs, and soy. I was also sensitive to commercial yeast, large amounts of salt, almost all sweeteners, and fruit. Before learning about the allergies, I had been successfully making 7-day Sourdough Rye Bread using a simple recipe that used only 3 ingredients: rye, water, and salt.

To continue eating bread, I tried to find a bread that used minimally processed organic ingredients, had no chemicals, and had no ingredients that were created in a laboratory.

When I looked at the commercially made gluten-free breads, I found that they all contained something I could not or would not eat: yeast, xanthan/guar gum, baking soda, baking powder, sugar and other sweeteners, fruit juice, eggs, milk, soy, and large amounts of high-starch flours.

In addition, these commercial breads were all essentially “quickbreads” as the ingredients were mixed together, risen quickly or not at all, then baked. I believe bread processed this way will not be easy to digest and may actually stress or damage our digestive systems. This may lead to future problems down the road.

I knew the digestive value of eating fermented grains and I deeply wanted to continue eating thoroughly fermented, highly digestible breads. That’s when I began experimenting with the old-fashioned sourdough technique I had mastered, and rather than using rye flour I used pure gluten-free ingredients.

This labor of love took a few years to perfect and resulted in a nutrient-dense, pure-food bread that tastes good, has great texture, and is very satisfying. The sourdough technique, plus careful flour combining, eliminates the need for the all the ingredients I can not or choose not to use.

Here are the basic ingredients I use in my recipes:

Water Kefir to kick start and preserve the starter: (Dairy kefir or kefir whey can  be used instead of water kefir)

Whole Grain Flours (I use different combinations of these flours usually 1-3 per recipe)

  • Amaranth
  • Brown Rice
  • Buckwheat
  • Chick Pea
  • Coconut
  • Corn (sprouted corn flour)
  • Quinoa
  • Sorghum
  • Teff

Note: I do not use millet because it is believed to interfere with thyroid function, something many people with gluten allergy suffer from.

Starch Flours (Some recipes have small amounts of starch flours)

  • Arrowroot
  • Potato flour
  • Tapioca flour

Seeds (some recipes have seeds)

  • Chia seed
  • Flax seed

Salt

Oil (your choice of oil or fat)

Sweeteners

  • I use small amounts of sweeteners in some of the recipes. My book includes a conversion guide to use your choice of sweetener.

Other Ingredients

  • There are other miscellaneous flavoring ingredients like fruit, herbs, spices, garlic, scallions, onions, vanilla, carob powder, and maca powder.

The ingredients I do not use are:

  • Gluten
  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Soy
  • Potato starch
  • Xanthan gum
  • Guar gum
  • Baking soda
  • Baking powder
  • Commercial Yeast

My recipes include loaf breads, muffins, dessert breads, and pizza dough, and I am currently experimenting with crackers, cookies, and cakes intent on keeping the amount of sweetener to a bare minimum.

As long as you have water or dairy kefir on hand, you don’t need to save starter for future baking. You can begin a new starter any time. Alternatively, a small to large amount of starter can be frozen for the next batch.

Making gluten-free sourdough bread is easy, once the principles and guidelines are understood.  It is encouraging to me that those of us dealing with challenging medical issues can utilize the wisdom of the ancients to strengthen and nourish us. And Heal!

Free Starter Recipe Download: Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter Recipe

Read about my book:  The Art of Gluten-Free Sourdough Baking

View videos on making my bread  The Art of Gluten-Free Sourdough Baking

Sharon Kane is a musician, teacher and improvisational cook. She can be reached at: glutenfreesourdoughbaker@gmail.com

This post is shared at: Simple Lives Thursday, Pennywise Platter, Fresh Bites Friday, Freaky Friday, Fight Back Friday, Monday Mania, Barnyard Hop, Real Food 101, Slightly Indulgent Tuesday, Traditional Tuesday, Sustainable Ways, Gluten-Free Wednesday, Whole Food Wednesday, Healthy 2Day, Real Food Wednesday, Mommy Club, These Chicks Cooked, Hearth & Soul Hop

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Nat January 19, 2012 at 3:38 am

Why do these optional flours need to be fermented? I know that heavy grains like wheat and rye should be fermented in order to break the protein? what is the reason to ferment rice, quinoa, and other flours? thanks.

Reply

2 Sharon A. Kane January 19, 2012 at 8:24 am

Hi Nat and All,
I did some tests using fermented and unfermented gluten-free flours and found a distinct difference in my digestion, especially with rice and buckwheat. The breads with unfermented flours seem to make my stomach work harder while the breads with fermented flour seemed effortless. I never noticed any digestive stress at all so I stuck with the fermented flours.

I believe cultures that used gluten-free grains as a staple often fermented them in some way rather than eat them after a quick cook. For example: Ethiopians have a long fermenting process for the teff they use to make their fermented pancakes called Injera. South and Central Americans often soak their corn meal. I believe there is ancient wisdom in fermenting all grains.

Fermenting coconut flour does not seem to be necessary, however, and seems to ruin the taste and texture of the bread product.

Hope that helps!
sharon a. kane

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3 Priscilla November 18, 2012 at 11:15 pm

Just to let you know, the corn meal soak in South America is not fermentation. It is Nixtamalization. Soaking the corn (usually the corn is soaked/cooked before is is milled, though with industrialization this is changing in some places) in a lime solution increases the nutrition of corn by making niacin more available and adding calcium. Traditionally, calcium hydroxide, wood ash, or sodium carbonate were used.

Nixtamalaization of maize also retarded fungus growth (enhanced storage and safety) and made the maize softer and easier to grind.

This is the traditional way to eat maize, it has been the method of use since maize was domesticated. Maize that has not been nixtamalized is much less nutritious and not suitable to be a staple grain.

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4 Jill January 19, 2012 at 7:48 am

So interesting! I am wondering about oat flour, if it is gluten free. I didn’t see it mentioned, and I know it is often used in baking. I’d love to get my hands on this cookbook when we’re done with GAPS!

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5 Sharon A. Kane January 19, 2012 at 8:27 am

Hi Jill and All,
I have chosen not to use oat flour, even if it’s gluten free because some people react to it even it’s gluten-free. It doesn’t sit well with me and it’s difficult for me to experiment with something I cannot taste!

I have also chosen not to use millet because it is said to nterfere with thyroid function.

Best,
sharon a. kane

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6 Elise January 23, 2012 at 10:00 am

I’m so glad to have found this! As a sourdough bread lover, I’ve wondered if it were possible to make gluten-free sourdough bread.

Reply

7 Sharon A. Kane January 24, 2012 at 7:50 am

HI Elise,
It is indeed possible, bit of a learning curve but very possible!
Best,
sharon a. kane

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8 Dori January 25, 2012 at 12:55 pm

Hi Sharon,
I never have heard about the connection between millet and the low thyroid. Thanks for sharing. Do you remember where you got that information?
Also, I make a GF sourdough starter that uses lentil, teff, and brown rice flour. Use it to make breads, but also coffee cake & sticky buns.
Here’s a link to my starter recipe http://nourishingfoodways.wordpress.com/2011/03/29/gluten-free-natural-levain-recipe/
Best wishes,
Dori

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9 Jill January 25, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Hi Dori,
It has been mentioned in the literature and here is one place millet is mentioned:
http://www.cholesterol-and-health.com/Goitrogen-Special-Report.html

Reply

10 Alea Milham January 25, 2012 at 4:55 pm

I have never tried making gluten-free sour dough bread, but I am facsinated by the idea! Thanks for sharing this info with the HnS Hop.

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11 Sheena Cucina January 25, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Thank you so much for this post! What a great sounding book, I really would love to try out some of these recipes. I too am allergic to multiple foods; wheat, eggs, yeast, soy, potato and more…so these recipes sound so promising to me. Thanks again!

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12 Annie W January 30, 2012 at 11:48 am

I’ve been messing around with sourdough bread baking for several months with some great results and with some…um, not so good! My starter is beautifully alive and well but want to learn more for consistent results. I get stomach discomfort when I eat regular breads or almost anything with wheat in it. I am so glad to have found this site.

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13 Sangeetha July 22, 2013 at 12:15 am

Can I use this starter to bake wheat bread too? I have no problem eating wheat. That I know of.

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14 Jill July 22, 2013 at 9:28 am

@Sangeetha,
NO. There is a different sourdough starter for wheat.

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15 Alice December 31, 2013 at 5:20 am

Hi Jill,

Is there an alternative to using water kefir to make the gluten free sourdough starter?
Such as apple cider vinegar? Or SCD yoghurt?

If so, how much of either should I add?

Thanks

Alice

Reply

16 Bob March 15, 2014 at 12:38 am

Some wounderfull information like always. The one thing I did notice was the comment on oats. Gluten free equals no wheat, barley, rye, or oats. Oats are also a no, no. Great information.

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17 Jill March 15, 2014 at 11:16 am

Hi BOb,
Technically oats do not have gluten, but most are contaminated with gluten. There is a gluten free oat product from Bob;s Red Mill. That said, some gluten intolerant folks do not do well with any oats.

Reply

18 www.hihealthconnector.com September 19, 2014 at 3:33 pm

It’s very effortless to find out any matter onn web as compared to books, as
I found this piece of writing at this site.

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