After browsing bags of blogs and recipe books, copious experimentation and a freezer full of trial loaves I have developed a number of recipes for gluten free sourdough breads. Some are light and airy, others are stuffed full of seeds and other delicious ingredients to add flavour and colour.
The recipe I’m sharing here was designed with ease and adaptability in mind. The method is very simple, the dough a pleasure to handle and timings are pretty flexible. You’ll need to buy a few different ingredients but I’ve pared it back as much as possible (especially compared to some gluten free breads).
When trying to replicate wheat flour in gluten free bread making it’s not as simple as using flour ground from one other grain or root. To mimic the various components of wheat flour – stretchy gluten, bulky starch – I use a blend of other flours and natural ingredients. I shy away from gums and similar additives in favour of less refined ingredients.
My initial forays into gluten free breads were relatively traditional, using off-the-shelf blended gluten free flours and yeast to leaven it. When I started experimenting with my own combinations of gluten free flours and to have a go at making gluten free sourdough loaves the results were much more interesting. By fermenting the flours before baking the nutrients in the various flours are easier to digest, with the added bonus of those tangy sourdough bacteria.
As any fan of sourdough breads might expect the results were better, great texture and flavour and the breads kept for longer. A further benefit is that they don’t have a grainy or crumbly texture, as many gluten free loaves do.
I use a rice flour sourdough starter, made as you would make any sourdough starter (see my Facebook or Instagram for method). As the flours do not contain gluten there’s no need to knead the dough as you would if using wheat flour. Students attending my gluten free cookery workshops are always surprised at how easy it is compared to a traditional wheat sourdough loaf, another bonus!
Simple gluten free sourdough bread recipe (and pizza base, bread sticks…)
100g sorghum flour
100g tapioca starch
50g rice flour
50g gram flour
8g (lrg tblsp) psyllium husks
4g (1/2 tsp) ground sea salt
240g rice flour sourdough starter (140% hydration)
Whisk together the dry ingredients, make a well in the centre and add the sourdough starter and half the water. Whisking from the centre, gradually draw the dry ingredients into the mix. Continue mixing, use a spoon as the mixture becomes stiffer, and add the rest of the water. You should have a wet dough, almost a batter. Leave, covered by a tea towel/muslin, in the bowl for 12-16 hours in a cool draft free place. The dough will rise, cracks will appear on the surface and it will be firmer and easier to handle when ready.
Take the dough out of the bowl and knead it a little to deflate, then shape it gently into a round loaf (at this stage I used a third of the dough to make two small pizza with, and used the remaining two-thirds for the loaf. If making pizza bases press into shape gently with your hands, no need to roll it out – as there’s no gluten there’s little resistance when creating the shape you want).
Line a bowl with muslin/tea towel and dust with rice flour (or use a proving basket if you have one). Place your ball of dough in, dust the top with more flour and cover with the edges of the muslin/tea towel. Leave to rise for 2-4 hours, until it’s obviously risen (if making pizza add toppings when the loaf is well risen and bake at the same time. Pizza will take 10-15 minutes to bake).
I bake all my bread in a cast iron pan/glass dish with a lid in an attempt to recreate the heat and steam in a bread oven. However this isn’t necessary, a baking tray will be fine. Heat oven to maximum temperature, mine goes to about 250c, place cast iron pan/glass dish/baking tray in the oven to heat up. When it is up to temperature remove pan/dish/tray and tip your loaf of bread in/on, score the top with a sharp knife, put lid on if using pan/dish and place loaf in the oven. Bake for 15 minutes, turn loaf around (if your oven is as uneven when baking as mine!), bake for a further 15 minutes. Turn again and reduce oven temperature to 200c (Gas 6/400F), bake for a further 10 minutes. Check your loaf, it should be browned all over with a firm crust and sound hollow when tapped in the bottom. It may need a further 5-10 minutes.