Recipe: How To Make A Gluten Free Sourdough Loaf (Easy!)
So let me explain first, before we really get into it, that I am by NO means an avid baker. I’ve never actually baked a loaf of bread in my life before I decided to embark on a journey to make a loaf of gluten free sourdough. Which means I’m sorry, but by no means will I be able to help you troubleshoot this recipe! But I found one that was easy to follow, with ingredients that were reasonable to find, and I need to share it with you. Because if anyone couldn’t do it, that would be me - and I did it! I have now successfully made 2 loaves of delicious GF sourdough bread. Is it as fluffy and airy as regular sourdough? No way! But it’s way better than any store-bought GF bread, utterly satisfying to create with your own two hands, and I’m definitely making it again.. and again… and again.
I promised to share the recipe I used the first time I made this - so here it goes! Good luck to you all!
There are a million recipes out there for GF sourdough, and each of them will tell you to do it a different way. You either need to buy the blend of GF flour they’re selling, or pay attention to a particular hydration percentage, or invest in 6 different types of flours… and I’m not having any of that (mostly because I didn’t understand a lot of it, and secondly because I couldn’t find a lot of the ingredients).
In my hunt for a relatively easy GF sourdough recipe, I came across this one by Meghan Telpner. I've added some thoughts, but basically am giving you her recipe below. Her descriptions were easy to understand, ingredients made sense, and I didn’t need any special equipment. To be honest, the most important thing you need is time - something many of us have been finding ourselves with copious amounts of!
That being said, you do need the following things to make this bread:
Ceramic or cast iron Dutch oven (we use a Staub with a 9 inch diameter)
Glass or stainless steel mixing bowl
2 Mason jars
Dry measuring cups and spoons
Sieve for sifting flour
Kitchen scale, optional
Pizza stone, optional
Meghan recommends also using a pizza stone, that you place the bread on after it’s baked in the Dutch oven for its final 10 mins of baking. I don’t have one, don’t use one, and my bread is beautiful and perfect without it!
Step 1: get your starter going
TBH, the hardest part about all of this is getting the starter going. Because this was my first time making anything resembling bread made out of flour, I actually took some of my husband’s regular wheat sourdough starter and began feeding it GF all-purpose flour for a couple of weeks. I have read that if you do this for long enough, eventually there will be no gluten left in the starter. Since I’m gluten sensitive, and not celiac, this worked perfectly for me! I was able to take advantage of the wild yeast he had already cultivated, and the starter took to my GF flour with no issues.
Now, if you don’t have a starter to begin with, or are extremely sensitive to gluten, you’re gonna have to make your own starter. Here’s how:
1 Mason jar
8 cups sorghum flour
Dry measuring cups
Coth and elastic band
*Kitchen scale, optional
Make your starter:
*a personal note from me about this particular feeding guide - while you can mindfully measure cups of flour and water, I find that the most reliable and accurate way to feed the starter is to use a kitchen scale to weigh the ingredients. What I did was mindfully measure (see notes about mindful measuring at the end of the recipe) 1/2 cup of flour, and then weigh the flour. Then, when I added the flour to my starter, I would add an equal amount of water in grams (by weight). Meghan's recipe is given in cups, so you can totally do that - but I found a scale super helpful!
(Where it says Morning + Night, it means you are doing this step twice)
Day 1 Morning + Night: Add 1/2 cup flour, 1/2 cup water and 1 Tbsp maple syrup, stir and cover with cloth.
Day 2 Morning + Night: Add 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water, stir and cover with cloth.
Day 3 Morning + Night: Pour out any clear liquid that has settled at the top. Mix the remaining starter and discard 1/4 cup. Add 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water, stir and cover with cloth.
Day 4 Morning + Night: Gently mix starter and discard a 1/2 cup. Add 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water, stir and cover with cloth.
Day 5 Morning + Night: Pour out any clear liquid that has settled at the top. Gently mix starter and discard a 1/2 cup. Add 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water, stir and cover with cloth.
Day 6 Morning + Night: Gently mix starter and discard a 1/2 cup. Add 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water, stir and cover with cloth.
Day 7 Morning + Night: Gently mix starter and discard a 1/2 cup. Add 1/2 cup flour and 1/2 cup water, stir and cover with cloth.
Your starter should now be ready to go. It will have a distinctly yeasty/sour smell and will be a bit bubbly. There shouldn't be any grey fur or other indications of mold. If there is, dump and start over. You can store this in the fridge if you're not ready to bake. If you are ready, proceed to my next instructions below.
*IMPORTANT NOTE: YES, you do have to discard some of your starter every day. It’s hard to do, I get it! You’ve worked so hard to grow this baby and you don’t want to let her go!! But you do. If you don’t dump part of your starter regularly, it can encourage unhealthy versions of yeast and bacteria to grow, or can stop the fermentation all together! Please just do it - I’ve read enough stories about the downfall of not discarding to make me follow this recommendation. But know that it doesn’t have to go to waste! Save your discard, in a separate jar in your fridge, and then make these delicious GF sourdough pancakes!
Prepare your starter for baking:
When you’re ready to bake, you need your starter to be very active - lots of bubbles, rising after feeds. If you’re baking on day 7 of the starter-making process, skip ahead! You don’t need to do this step because your starter is active and already at room temperature. Go make bread!
BUT if this is a future loaf you’re making, or (like me) you just started feeding GF flour to an existing starter, you need to follow these next steps on the day before you plan to bake. Ideally start in the morning, because there’s waiting time in between steps (I do this Saturday morning, so I can bake on Sunday, for example):
Take the starter out of the fridge and using a spatula, mix well. Transfer about 1 cup of starter into a second Mason jar and allow it to come to room temperature (or if you don't have enough time to get to room temp, just let it sit as long as you have time for).
Feed with 1/2 cup sorghum flour and 1/2 cup of water, after about two or three hours, you should see some bubbling activity or, if you're not home, just trust that it's happening.
4-6 hours later, feed again with another 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water.
Allow to sit for 3-4 hours before using in baking.
To get 1 cup of active starter as needed for your bread, just before measuring it out, give your starter a light stir, and pour out the 1 cup of starter just before adding to your dough. [Any remaining starter can go back in the fridge (feed it weekly to keep it alive), OR can also be fed to bulk it up for a future recipe]
The recipe! Gather your ingredients:
You did the hardest part! Your starter is ready to go! The rest is SO EASY you’ll be laughing.
Prep: 10 hours (lots of waiting/rising time)
Cook: 1 hour
1 cup sorghum flour
1 cup brown rice flour
¾ cup arrowroot starch
¼ cup almond meal
1 Tbsp coconut sugar
3 Tbsp psyllium husk
1½ tsp sea salt
1½ cups water
¼ cup avocado oil
1 cup of active starter
1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
Prepare your Loaf
Mindfully measure your ingredients (see notes). Accuracy matters.
In a large glass mixing bowl, sift together your dry ingredients.
Once sifted, use a fork or spatula to further mix to ensure your flour is well-combined
Mix in water and avocado oil. Begin mixing with your spatula and then with clean hands, get in there and ensure dough is well-mixed. You can pull the dough off the side of the bowl and then push down in a kneading action. Mainly you want to ensure the dough is well-mixed. *it will be very wet feeling at this stage, and you’ll doubt that it will come together like bread - that’s ok! Keep going!
Set dough aside for 1-2 hours or can keep in the fridge for a day or so or overnight. If putting in the fridge, allow time for it to come to room temperature before the next step.
Once dough is set, stir in 1 cup of well-fed, active starter and 1 Tbsp of cider vinegar and using your hands, mix together until well-combined and you have a somewhat firm dough that already feels like it has a little bounce.
Transfer your dough to a towel-lined bowl or bread-proofing basket. Cover and place in a warm spot in your home and let dough rise for 4-6 hours or overnight. It should rise about 1 inch.
When ready to bake, place your pizza stone and empty dutch oven into the oven and preheat to 450 degrees. Allow the pizza stone and empty dutch oven to heat for 30-40 minutes.
With your dough now risen, cut a piece a parchment paper slightly larger then your dough so that you can hold it by the parchment when you lower it into the dutch oven.
Carefully turn your dough over, flat side down and place on parchment. With a sharp knife, score the top of your bread about ¼-inch thick in a slight 'S' curve.
Remove dutch oven from the oven and *extremely* carefully, lower your dough into the dutch oven.
Cover and put in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
At the 25 minute mark, remove lid and bake for another 25 minutes.
Remove bread from dutch oven and place back in the oven directly on the pizza stone or if not using, right on the wire rack and bake for another 10 minutes.
Remove and place on cooling rack for 2-3 hours until bread has cooled substantially. Cutting in too soon can result in too much moisture loss or potentially, a collapse of your bread.
Will keep on your counter for 3 days, or slice and store in the fridge or freezer.
Measuring To measure your flour, scoop flour into your measuring cup with a spoon and use the back of the spoon to level it off. If you feel like your flour is really packed in the package, first dump it into a bowl and give it a little fluff before measuring. Kneading You do not need to knead like you would with a glutinous loaf. Kneading is intended to activate the gluten and get the bread really spongy. We don't have gluten here so take it easy here. You just want it well-mixed.
That’s it!! You just hopefully made GF sourdough too! I hope you feel super accomplished and proud of yourself. Great work!
All my best