Last week I experimented a lot with converting my sour dough starter to gluten free flour. I know a lot of you are on gluten free diets and even if not you are likely to know someone who is. Let me tell you... gluten free baking is a very welcome gift to anyone not eating wheat!
I was very doubtful that this would work! But it does!
My original starter came as a dried starter from Nanna Chel. This is aa regular starter from wheat flour. You can read how to start a dry starter and make your first bread here on my post Getting starter with Sour dough. This covers how to build up, feed and grow your starter.
I have never made a starter from scratch so I can't help there but it should also be possible to start one in GF flour. I always feared a science experiment gone wrong though so having a good starter given to me was easier!
To get a GF starter I took a little bit of what I had, I used less than a quarter of a cup and fed it gluten free flour. At first it was really small so I gave it a quarter of a cup of flour and a quarter cup of water and stirred it in. I did this twice a day for two days. I soon saw tiny bubbles. As it grew I fed it a bit more and on the third day it started to get quite bubbly and healthy looking. Just like old times! By day four I had quite a lot and it was really bubbly and puffy. When I stirred it the bubbles were crazy! It was just like regular starter, bubbly, puffy, stretchy... smells a bit sour and yeast like.
On day five I thought ok I have enough to make bread. Now this bread is still going to contain a tiny amount of gluten from the little bit I started out with... by now it is a tiny percent. For a celiac I would still not consider this safe but for someone intolerant we are getting pretty good by now. This is your call.... over time you are going to have a tinier and tinier percentage of gluten in there, at this point I have kept using it and feeding it so I am now feeding it is safe to call mine gluten free.
The first tries I learned a few things. I found the bread will rise well. But normally you would let your dough rise then knead it again and then put it into your pans to rise before baking your bread. This failed. It didn't rise that second time. I decided, fine, from now on I will let it rise in the pans then bake and this worked. So ONE rise only worked for me.
I used what I had learned baking so much sour dough. Yeast loves gluten. And its not getting any of that.... but yeast also loves WARMTH, HUMIDITY, and PROTEIN. So to my original bread mix I added all these things. For the protein I added a desert spoon (or three heaps teaspoons) of powdered milk and one egg. I also decided to use all the rising power I could muster ad used a teaspoon of baking powder and I used gluten free SR flour mix. All these things somehow gave me decent airy bread!
So this is my basic bread recipe....
Take two or three cups of good bubbly starter. Remember to have put some aside for future batches and feed that too.
Make your sponge. A sponge is when you feed up your starter with a big feed to get it super bubbly!
You must have a bubbly starter then a good bubbly sponge. No bubbles or low bubbles will not succeed.
You add a full cup of your gluten free flour and a full cup of water to your starter and give it a big stir.
I left mine an hour as it was super bubbly and happy.
When you are happy with the bubbles add your basic bread mix.
I added a pinch of salt,
a big blob of olive oil,
1 spoon of honey,
1 big spoon of powdered milk,
3 cups of gluten free SR flour.
1 teaspoon baking powder.
I set in my mix master to knead.
You will always have varying amounts of starter so add a bit more flour if you need to. You are looking for a good dough not too wet. Think play doh!
Line two loaf pans. (or one really big one) Put your dough in and put it somewhere slightly warm to rise. It should at least double in size.
Then bake as you would normal bread, mine were about 25 minutes.
That is it! Obviously you can use your own favourite bread recipe. I would just suggest the egg, powdered milk and baking powder as additions as you are tying to compensate for lack of gluten!
It smelled like bread, sliced beautifully and tastes like bread. Weirdly it is super white which is the give away. But as far as I have tasted this is good gf bread.
And the exciting bit to me is I can use this mix to make Naan bread, flat breads, pizza bases.... all so exciting to have!
I also think this will work to make scrolls which are great for work and school lunches.
If you are cooking both regular and gf then just have two starters running and make up a gf batch of everything. Then no one is missing out.
Given the huge prices of gluten free cooking in the stores this could be a massive saving.
I did also make GF Raisin Bread.
To my sponge I added 2 tablespoons of milk powder, 1 and a half teaspoons of cinnamon, 3 tablespoons of raw sugar, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons of soft butter, 1 cup each of raisins, chopped apricot and sultanas (you could use 3 cups of any dried fruits you like) and 3 cups SR GF flour, one teaspoon baking powder.
I mixed it up adding the dried fruit last. Form into two loaf tins, let rise until doubled and bake.
This also worked and sliced so nicely ready for toasting. I guess you could also make this up as buns. Or scrolls... then ice.
Meanwhile I have fed and grown the starter I retained. Now it is asleep in the fridge.
I hope this gives you the confidence to take some starter and just feed it Gluten Free flour. It works! I have used Aldi GF flour. As far as I can see GF flours are usually a mix of flours such as rice flour.
The softness and puffiness of a yeast dough lends itself to so many things and is just different to cake like mixes. The stretchiness, bread smell and bubbles give you that bread texture and crust too.
I think you have to experiment. I would say use any recipes you have loved and just factor in some substitutes of things you know yeast likes.... some protein, some warmth... and in spite of no gluten it still has food. At the end of the day you are dealing with a living thing. We all live in different climates and temperature and humidity play a part. Also knowing how dough should feel etc. is something you have to try. So be prepared to experiment a little bit. The internet is full of recipes and help. Look up a website called Cultures for Health. They have a series of free books to download and one of these is about Gluten Free Sourdough bread making. Once you have a sour dough starter you can make anything and never have to buy yeast again! You have your own yeast farm! I have other sour dough recipes and information if you look to the index and follow Sour Dough.
I hope this helps someone and helps the budget. Over the next weeks I will post how I went with Naan Bread and pizza etc.
This week I have the cleaning bug. Meals are easy as I am using the pesto I made and some of my spaghetti sauce I froze. I hope your week is going well! xxx
The little birds...
If you watch little birds you will see they are busy and happy! Using whatever they can find they create the most gorgeous little nest.
I would be the little bird with some glittery thread in her nest!
We can be like this. Happily working away with the things that are available to us to create a beautiful and happy home.
All the while with a little song in our heart.
Banner by Free Pretty Things for You.