Recipe: Gluten-Free Sourdough Bread

If you have a bubbly, thriving brown rice sourdough starter, then you are ready to start baking!

I recently took this bread to a church fellowship meal and an out of town guest who has suffered from Celiac Disease for 20 years said that after trying many gluten free bread recipes, her long search was over!  This gluten-free sourdough bread is it!  She wasn’t the only one who thought so because there wasn’t any left!

It is a beautiful, good tasting bread that slices well.  To print, download the recipe PDF: Gluten-Free Sourdough Bread.

Ingredients:

1 cup brown rice starter

3 eggs

4 TBS melted butter, not too hot

1-1/4 cups or your choice of milk

2 TBS honey

1 cup sorghum flour

1/4 cup brown rice flour

1/2 cup buckwheat flour

3/4 cup tapioca starch

4 tsp. psyllium husks, finely ground–not all brands are the same; I use THIS BRAND  (alternative: 1 TBS xanthum gum)

2 tsp. salt

1/2 TBS  (1- 1/2 tsp. baking soda)

Directions:

  • In a large bowl, melt butter and stir in water.  Add starter, eggs, and honey.
  • In a separate bowl, mix dry ingredients (NOT baking soda!! Reserve soda for just before baking.) Use a whisk or beaters to thoroughly blend in the psyllium husks.
  • Mix wet and dry ingredients, beating with a mixer until very well combined.
  • Cover with a lid, or plate, or plastic wrap and allow to ferment a minimum of 7 hours (12 hours is ideal).  If you need to bake bread in less time, place in the oven (turned off) and turn on the oven light to warm things up and speed the fermentation process.

{The bread batter before fermenting}

After Fermenting:

  • After fermenting, when ready to bake, preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

{The bread batter “sponge” after fermenting}

  • Place bread pan in oven with oil or butter in it and allow it to melt.  While it is melting, add baking soda to bread batter and mix thoroughly.

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{This is how it looks after mixing in the soda.}

  • Remove hot bread pan from oven and distribute oil around the pan, greasing all the sides.
  • Scrape bread batter into bread pan and smooth the top.

sandwich bread in pan

  • Reduce heat to 350 degrees F and bake bread for 50-55 minutes.
  • After removing bread from the oven, allow to sit a few minutes.  Run a knife around the outside to release from the pan if necessary, and then transfer to a cooling rack.
  • Allow to cool and then slice.

sandwich bread 2

sandwich bread

Makes 1 loaf.  Enjoy!

This bread was inspired by a sandwich bread at Cultures for Health.  The original recipe uses xanthum gum, contains more starch, and a few other differences.

 

Caring For Your Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter

 

 

gluten-free starter care

If you have never baked with sourdough, there are a few good things to know.

What Is Sourdough?

Sourdough is a mixture of flour and water that contains wild yeasts and lactobacilli. These naturally occurring cultures actually “eat” the simple sugars in the grains, beginning the process of breaking it down.  During this process, they produce carbon dioxide, which appears as bubbles, that helps rise your dough.  These cultures also produce lactic acid which prevents the growth of harmful bacteria.

Sourdough is an efficient way to bake for your family.  As long as you save some some “starter” each time you use it, and continue to “feed” it, giving it more flour and water, it will continue to multiply and serve you indefinitely. Because using sourdough incorporates the use of these wild yeasts as leavening in your baked products, this means you do not need to buy instant dry yeast from the store… so you may expect to save time and money.

Since the wild yeasts feed on the sugars in the grains, properly prepared sourdough products are lower on the glycemic index than non-sourdough goods.   Now, let me be clear here… I said it is low-er on the glycemic index… I didn’t say it’s safe to pig out  😉 Grains are still starches that provide quick energy to the body.  Moderation, as always, please.

Also, because the sourdough yeasts begin the process of breaking down the flours you bake with, the finished product is easier on the digestive system.  The wild yeasts and bacteria neutralize anti-nutrients and enzyme inhibitors that are naturally occurring in grains, and actually produce some vitamins themselves, which means more nutrition is readily available.

Other Advantages

Gluten free grains are often more dry and gritty than their glutenous counterparts, and recipes can require more starch.  As the yeasts begin to break down the grains, they are softened, giving baked goods a more pleasant texture, and our family thinks they have a richer flavor.

How to Care for Your Starter

  • Wild yeasts do not like metal.  Whether you are cultivating sourdough, kefir or kombucha, please do not store your cultures in metal–it will kill them.  You can use metal fork/spoon for mixing your baked goods; just don’t store it in metal. Keep your sourdough starter, and unbaked products, in glass.  Except for dipping, as shown in the featured photo, avoid storing in plastics as you do not want your culture to leach chemicals for your family to later consume.
  • If you are perpetuating more than one type of culture in your kitchen: ie, kombucha…  it is a good idea to keep a few feet between them.
  • Cover, but do not seal air tight.  Fruit flies and other insects just love fermented goodness.  If your sourdough is not covered, it will turn into an insect trap.  (yuck!)
  • Sourdough is more active in warmer temperatures, and slows down in colder temps.  If you keep your starter out on the counter in a moderate temps, it will probably need fed every 12 hours.  If you use it daily, then this is perfect.  If, however, you do not want to use it daily, store your freshly fed starter in the refrigerator and it will not have to be fed for at least a week.
  • After sitting, if there is a layer of liquid on top (may be clearish, pinkish or brownish), this is called hooch.  Just pour it off, down the sink, and freshen your starter: assuming your gluten free starter is brown rice, so feed it some brown rice flour and water.  Stir well, cover, and give a few hours for your starter to get all bubbly and active before using in a recipe.  If you are used to glutenous sourdough which can get frothy on top, it’s helpful to know that the rice starter does not get bubbly on top, but you can see the gas pockets all through the “sponge” through the side of your glass storage container.  (In the past, I did maintain a buckwheat starter, which I began following the same directions as the boosted rice starter.  It was easy to maintain.  I eventually threw it out because buckwheat is stronger smelling and the rice worked equally well.)
  • It is important to know guidelines for how much to feed starter.  Do not exceed 4:1. Four parts new flour and water to one part active starter.  You may feed your starter less, but do not feed it more than this at once because you do not want to weaken it. If your starter will be sitting on the counter all day, do not feed it less than a 1:1 ratio; One part starter to one part fresh brown rice flour and water.  So, for example, if I have had 1/2 cup of starter in the fridge all week and I take it out to use it, I am going to feed it 1/2 cup of fresh brown rice flour and stir in enough water to make it the consistency I want it.  If you make it too thin, the extra water will rise to the top.
  • If your starter sits too long and the top gets dry and pinkish, use a spoon to ladle off the top and discard.  Transfer to a clean glass container and then feed.
  • What about discarding down the sink?  The yeast is amazing for your pipes and septic.  A friend of ours is a septic designer and he highly recommends it!  😉
  • Recipes are mixed up ahead of time, and ferment to allow the wild yeasts to do their magic.  They should not ferment for less than 7 hours before baking.  If you are in a time pinch, remember that sourdough is more active in warmer temperatures.  You can place dough next to a slow cooker or place in an oven that is OFF: if you have a gas oven that is kept warm by a pilot light, or if you have an electric oven you can turn the light on to keep warm.  If you feel the oven is too warm, just prop door open a smidge by placing an oven mitt in the way so it doesn’t close completely.  Remove to complete and bake when ready.  If you have a cool kitchen in the winter, then again, you will want to let your goods sour longer, or find a warm spot for them.  If you have a HOT kitchen, your products will be ready to bake sooner rather than later.

If you have questions or need clarification, please ask about it in the comments.  If you are wondering, someone else is bound to question the same thing!

Well, now you are ready to begin baking with your starter, and I am ready to begin sharing recipes!

Care instructions are available as a PDF for download here: How to care for your gluten free starter

 

Making a Gluten Free Sourdough Starter

It was 7 years ago that I decided to delve into the world of sourdough!  I was pregnant with Precious #6, and I took a sourdough e-course from GNOWFGLINS Traditional Cooking School.  The class was awesome!  The series began with teaching how to make a starter from scratch and then how to use that starter to make everything from breads to cakes.  The course included a pdf for those who learn best from reading, and it featured videos for visual junkies like me–I learn best from watching and doing.  I was able to cultivate a starter from spelt flour (a glutenous ancient grain), tried the recipes in the e-course, and soon converted my own recipes to this more healthful method of preparing breads.

At the time, we ate a lot of gluten free foods as well.  I had been wheat free for many years, but everything I read about gluten free sourdough, which used a brown rice starter, said it could be difficult to maintain and that it may require re-starting a starter now and then.  I am all for easy, so  No, thank you!  And so I was too intimidated to try.

When I HAD to go gluten free, I missed my sourdough!  Gluten free grains can be more gritty, and I knew my baked goods would not be as nutritious or digestible without the benefits of fermentation.  Eventually I decided to just try it, and I’m so glad I did!  No more guilt for whipping up quick breads, lol!  This gluten free sourdough thing is good, and as it turns out, it’s easy too!  My starter has been going strong for about two years and I have never had an issue.

After sharing a picture of some fresh bread on Facebook, I received a lot of requests for a recipe.  I plan to teach a local class in September, and will give starter to participants, but for anyone who is in a hurry or not local, I decided to share the steps to going gluten free sourdough with you.  The first thing you need is a starter!

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You will need:

Filtered water,

Clean glass mason jar  (for starting your starter!),

a paper towel or clean piece of fabric with a rubber band or jar ring to cover the jar,

brown rice flour,

and coconut water kefir.  If you do not have coconut water kefir, you can learn what that is and how to make it HERE.

Since I didn’t invent this Boosted Brown Rice Sourdough Starter, I’m going to send you to the web site that taught me.  You can find instructions over HERE at The Art of Gluten Free Sourdough Baking.

One thing I will add to her directions is:  Follow her directions exactly on the first day. However,  on the second day–on the second feeding and following when you feed your newly fermenting starter, before you add the 1/3 to 1/2 cup of brown rice and water, first remove and discard 1/3 to 1/2 cup of starter.  If you do not remove starter before feeding, you are going to be swimming in starter, and larger quantities of starter require being fed larger amounts.  So simplify and remove some starter before feeding.  You will know if your starter is healthy if it develops lots of airy bubbles throughout the jar.  You will be able to see these developing as it ages… less after being fed and more before the next feeding.

Here is a look at my thriving starter:

GF sourdough starter 1

And here is a top view.  The top looks a little dry.  It has been sitting, covered on my counter all day.  I’m ready to use some in a recipe for breakfast and then I will feed it.

GF sourdough starter 2

If creating your own gluten free sourdough starter is not something you feel like tackling right now, but you want to get started baking, you can buy a starter from Cultures for Health.  It will come with instructions that are easy to follow.

Starters are fermented, so definitely expect a sour smell.  It is unpleasant to some people, but I promise your finished baked goods will smell heavenly and taste yummy… rarely ever a sour flavor when you actually eat it!

If you have questions, please let me know in the comments below… someone else is bound to be wondering the same thing!

Good luck, have fun, and when you have a thriving starter you can come back here to try out some recipes with me!

 

 

 

My Journey to Health and Weight Loss

My Journey to Health and Weight Loss copy

I was at a garage sale recently, pumped to find a cache of 50 cent fancy flip flops that I could pick from for my big girls, when conversation with the home owner turned to just that: all my girls… AND boys!

“You have 8 kids!” she exclaimed, “And you look like THAT?!?”

I have to say, it was a pretty flattering change.  I have found a hobby that I enjoy more than food…finding beautiful, small, and incredibly cheap clothes that fit me nicely by shopping thrift stores and garage sales, because for years my wardrobe size was the only small thing about me.  I was overweight and I didn’t want to invest in clothes that I was sure I would not fit for much longer… I desperately wanted to lose the excess pounds.

I was a size 8-10 when I got married.  I had a slender waist and curvy hips, but even back then I was not comfortable in my own skin.  Some kid in the 6th grade had made a comment about the size of my hips and thighs after PE hour in the school pool, and the blissful age of innocent self-awareness ended, ushering in decades of painful self-consciousness.  I was never happy with my body.  Eventually, during my high school years, I drank a Diet Coke in lieu of lunch and began the horrible practice of purging when I felt guilty for eating anything I worried would negatively impact my weight.  By the grace of God I watched a movie about the Carpenters, and was touched by the story of how Karen Carpenter died young because of the damage her body sustained as a result of her eating disorders.  I was convicted that my body was the holy Temple of God, and that I was harming myself, and by this awareness God rescued me from these damaging habits.  And yet, I still did not like my body.

During my first pregnancy I followed recommended dietary recommendations of that time and gained a whopping 40 pounds.  Precious #1 was a year old when I lost it all plus some, and was almost happy with my body for the first time.  I followed The 7 Day Miracle Detox Diet for a whole year and was smallest I had ever been in my adult life.  Then Precious #2 came along and I gained another 40 pounds, only this time I became pregnant again when she was only 8 months old, and I had not lost all the pregnancy weight.  4 more pregnancies, retaining some weight from each one, found me the mother of 7 and very overweight.

I hated the way I looked.  I hated the way I felt.  And then there was a tiny tick bite that caused a rash, joint pain and began to cause numbness in my feet, throwing my health (which was already challenged) into a tail spin.  When a doctor told me that my precious baby (#7) would inherit the bacteria that was making me sick through my breast milk, I thought I was going to lose it.  I was afraid.  And I was desperate for answers. I prayed without ceasing.

An antibiotic cleared up the numbness that had been coming on in my feet, but it did nothing for the exhaustion and joint pain I struggled with daily.  Instead, the antibiotics instigated new symptoms, like bruising easily, my hands began hurting, and candida soared.  That, coupled with growing brain fog, had me wondering if I should stop home schooling.  To add to depressing, the trip to the doctor who gave me the antibiotic revealed that my home scale (which was 17 years old) was off by 20 pounds which meant I was more overweight than I even knew.

We began to see a natural practitioner who was giving us drops which she said would eventually clear up our symptoms, but a couple of months and too many dollars later, I noticed no improvement.

I knew several people who had been diagnosed with tick borne illnesses, and their doctor had recommended that they cut all sugar and gluten from their diets.  I had spent several years completely revamping our recipes to low sugar and wheat free sourdough (spelt), and in many ways our family ate very healthy—better than others we knew.  I felt so bad, I didn’t think I had the energy to learn a whole new way of cooking, nor did I want to cook one way for me and another way for my family.  I had been doing that for years in order to deal with our various food allergies, and how exhausting!  To be honest, I really rebelled against changing my diet again, but desperation would eventually win out.

About this time our pastor asked our entire congregation to fast for two days and to pray for direction for our young church.  I was not sure I could do it, but the more I considered it, the stronger I felt the Lord was prompting to go ahead.  Baby boy was eating solid food and so I did the fast, and at the same time I made the commitment that when the fast was complete I would go back, for a time, to following The 7 Day Miracle Detox Diet.  It would be challenging, but it would be sugar-free and gluten-free.  After all, my body was God’s temple, and I owed it to Him to give Him my best, right?

During the fast I prayed for our church, but I also prayed for personal direction.  The fear and the panic melted away and I developed a new found strength rooted in faith that no matter how difficult this health challenge, God was going to be faithful to carry me through.  I read a book called The Uncommon Woman by Susie Larson.  In it, she shared how she had been very ill as a result of Lyme Disease and that during a low period God indicated to her that He was going to heal her, and He did. I was just overwhelmed reading that, and the tears came.  I felt the Holy Spirit’s peace, indicating that this was a personal promise, and I held on to it.

During the fast, I was surprised at how much better I felt.  A home-school group mom contacted me on Facebook and began telling me about a product called Plexus Slim which had helped her recover from year’s long symptoms she had suffered from Ehrlichiosis, another tick borne illness.  It had taken several months, but she felt it had been worth it.  The product was expensive, but it came with a 60 day warranty.  I hemmed.  I hawed.  And then finally, after discussing it with my husband, I decided to try it.  I wanted to feel better. The cost of not doing it and remaining ill seemed far more steep than the actual price tag.  One of the other “side effects” of using Plexus Slim was weight loss, and if that happened it would definitely be a welcomed, though I tried not to think about that in the beginning.

 

 

{This is me, the Day I started Taking Plexus Slim, sick and overweight.}

 

I had lost 4 pounds during the fast and the 2 days following, but I was suffering from headaches and body aches from the detox that was occurring.  I have known for years that I have a liver detox pathway that doesn’t work efficiently, so detoxification is hard for me.  My body tends to take the easy path which is to hold on to toxins, and so detoxification has to be deliberate and it often makes me sick.   When I started using the Plexus Slim the normal ill feelings I experienced with detox went away, my back pain faded, and even some of the little issues I had lived with since childhood (and assumed I always would) went away.  The Slim tasted good.  It is a powdered drink sweetened with stevia and Lo Han extract (Keto friendly) that you mix in water and drink, not as a meal replacement, but 30 minutes before breakfast.  I looked forward to the sweet drink every day, but more than that I looked forward to the extra energy I began to experience.  And to top it all off, I lost 15 pounds that first month.

 

You can find the rest of my story in Part 2!