"Is that MY loaf of bread? It looks so good...THIS BREAD IS SO GOOD! I need two pieces, please. Two pieces with extra butter."
Making yogurt and baking sourdough bread were my first forays into fermentation. When Wyatt was about eight months old or so, I was really into baking sourdough. And I got really good at it. I bought my culture from Cultures for Health. I baked bread all the time, we had sourdough pancakes every Sunday, and I cared for the culture almost like a pet.
But just after Wyatt turned a year old, we learned that he (and we) were gluten-intolerant. That knowledge sounded the death knell of the sourdough starter and the end of the Bread Extravaganza of 2012. Over the next couple of years, I tried a few recipes here and there for gluten-free sourdough bread, but they mostly produced dense, boozy-smelling bricks. Awful stuff. Since then, we've tried various bakeries' gluten-free breads, and they're great in a pinch, if toasted. But I don't love the texture that xanthan and guar gums give gluten-free baked goods, so we don't eat commercial breads (or any bread) that often.
When I saw that Gluten-Free Girl's American Classics Reinvented included a true sourdough bread recipe, I pre-ordered the book. I figured that if the recipe worked, the entire book would have been worth buying.
We got our book on Tuesday, and we started our sourdough on Wednesday.* We baked on Monday.
Here's what we did:
After mixing teff flour and non-chlorinated water, we let the mix sit for a day, and then began the process of, every day, removing most of the previous mixture and adding more flour and water. After a few days, I made pancakes with some of the "extra" starter. The first time I made pancakes, I used a sourdough pancake recipe I had found. But by the second time, I had read Sandor Katz's more relaxed approach to sourdough in the Art of Fermentation, and I made up my own recipe. I took 2 cups of the starter, added a teaspoon of baking soda (the baking soda binds with some of the lactic acid, making a slightly sweeter pancake), a tablespoon or so of coconut flour and two beaten eggs. The pancakes were terrific.
Making the actual bread was easy. It's gluten-free, so there's no point in kneading it. You could knead all day and you'll never create the gluten network of a traditional bread! After shaping and a final proof, we baked each loaf in a dutch oven, with a little steam of water at the end of baking time.
If you like the idea of gluten-free sourdough bread, I think you'd be smart to pick up a copy of American Classics Reinvented and start your sourdough right away.
If you want to try building your own wild sourdough starter but don't need it to be gluten-free, check out this post from Wild Fermentation, and maybe consider adding some teff flour to your mix to speed things along.
Meanwhile, we have a new culture in the house. We are both taking a breather from baking right now as I learn what our new pet needs to stay bubbly.
*There was a point this weekend where we had Shankleesh draining, paneer being pressed, sourdough starter bubbling, and pizza dough rising. It was a busy and somewhat messy weekend over here.