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Gluten-free Sourdough bread adventure

Throughout my decade of being gluten free, I had never heard this before, but recently at a friends house, I heard a rumor that the gluten in bread breaks down in the process of fermentation with sourdough. The study that this rumor has seemingly sprouted from was done on just 15 subjects in Italy. I won't get into how the wheat in the US is far different from the wheat in Europe, but suffice it to say, it's not the same.

At first, this rumor was exciting. Could I actually have bread again? I was sure willing to try! So I took a chunk of my friends long-aged sourdough starter, fed it for a few days (that's the fun part!), and made some sourdough bread!

Much to my dismay, the answer is no, I can not, but it sure was an exciting thought!

I've been GF long enough to know the immediate physical sensations when I'm going to have a reaction, and I don't press my luck. I had a small piece of this DELICIOUS bread and gave it away, knowing full well that if it stayed in my house, I'd break down and eat, and swell up like a balloon. It's not just the inflammation that bugs me, it's the pain that goes with it. So no, it's not worth it. But damn it was good!

Onward in trying to find a solution for GF sourdough!!  When I first went GF I did a lot of baking, and prior to going GF I LOVED to bake! But as everyone who's been on this adventure says, GF isn't the same. The GF breads are dense, full of eggs (which have their own unique uncomfortable reaction for me), and use multiple types of expensive flour and gum. Yuck. So it's been a while since a I've baked a loaf of white bread and I was up for a new experiment!

But I'm a scientist at heart, and baking is a true science. And I like to research and tinker! So I started with two gluten free blends - a rice flour starter and a coconut flour "starter," along with a whole wheat flour blend to compare it to because I've never started a "starter" from scratch with a sourdough and I wanted to see what the rice and coconut flours did in comparison to the traditional whole wheat. I fed them day after day and by day 3 they all started smelling sour, the wheat and rice flour starters began bubbling, the coconut one not yet.

Perhaps I should point out  the importance of sourdough is that the sour fermenting starter is meant to be used in place of instant active yeast. Yet the recipe my friend gave me and many of the recipes I've found online have both the starter and the active yeast. I wanted to find an old school solution with minimal ingredients and no yeast.

So I got really excited when my search finally lead me to this post:

The writer has somehow squeaked out an older (since modified) recipe of a GF bread-slinger in SFO. I'm impressed - usually sought-after bakers don't give out their recipes. It does call for xanthan gum, but it doesn't call for yeast.  So I started here.

My changes to her recipe:
sub oat for millet
1 cup water
.6 cup soy milk
used rice flour starter

It definitely didn't look like the first wheat test... it looks like concrete! It smells good though, is very tacky. and I can't quite get to "pancake batter consistency" as she states in the recipe.

Unfortunately, I couldn't get it to rise - I left it out overnight (24+hrs), even. So much to my chagrin, I added yeast, then set in oven for 2 hours at 170* to see if it would rise. Nope.

I then baked it at 425 for 30, tested it, baked it 10 more, and it had tacky gooey center with a crusty outside and tastes really close to sourdough! I'd call this a first SUCCESS!

I also want to say with all the discarding of starters I was pleased to find some solutions to avoid the waste. Such as sourdough pancakes and sourdough pizza.

I never got to making anything with the coconut flour  it didn't sour up, and after a couple weeks in the fridge, it spoiled (moldy brown water on the top). The Whole Wheat starter actually did the same, and had hairy mold in it as well. So moving forward, I'll be keeping the original King Arthur flour starter my friend gave me to make loaves for friends and events, and the Bob's Red Mill rice flour that seems to be holding up nicely, and I plan to try this loaf without the yeast next time since it didn't rise with it anyway! I will continue to add to this post as I tinker!

GF Sourdough links 
As I said  I did my research... below are the links I read through to find the one I used. My web searching tip  drop below the first page return of search results. Sometimes the true gems are on page 3 (or further).

Frankly, I should have started here  I looked at so many links I had to build this list just to keep my head straight around what I was going to try and what I'd looked at over 3 days of searching. Yes, I'm that kind of researcher. 😂

The champions of baking provide a sourdough starter recipe with their ancient grain blend, but can't find a recipe for the bread to go with it.

This girls story is awesome. I may have to fly to San Francisco just to try it. Since it doesn't seem like I can order it online. And I hear SFO sourdough is as special as NY bagels.

OMG, someone posted BreadSrsly's recipe? (See above, that's what I started with.)

Starter, boule, sandwhich and baguette recipes and short ingredient lists - great info on here, and you order the starter from them.

Definitely experts, they've got an ebook and sell starter kits, and thankfully this link starts out with the recipe at the top. But a few questionable items on the ingredient list for me.

Without the xanthan gum, cream of tartar and sugar, this would be a regular sourdough recipe. I'm not into either of those ingredients, but the bread looks fluffy enough.

Boule and simple ingredients (no eggs), but she uses xanthan gum as well and the recipe is a NOVEL. Granted, Sourdough needs explanation, but I wanted to try this because the bread looks amazing but couldn't bring myself to read the whole thing.

Egg free also, but uses xanthan gum, and yeast a little more complicated on ingredients.

Eggs, sugar

6 eggs, arrowroot powder

3 flours, 2 starches, sugar, and psyllium husk. But GREAT photos and it looks like a really good bread. May have to try despite the lengthy and questionable ingredient list. (I wasn't familiar with psyllium, can't find it in my store, and upon further research, it's a laxative. No thanks.)

This one fooled me because the title mentions coconut  it's not GF unfortunately, and has some very complicated ingredients.

Self appointed bread geek. A woman after my own heart. Love her lengthy intro even. This girl has done her homework. But sadly, her recipe is secured in a book I need to buy...

... OR do I? Just when I think I've found someone that hacked the expert I keep reading and no, she just posts her photo and success. Fooled again. But she does include a GREAT sourdough pancake recipe!

This is a great coconut flour starter recipe but then no sourdough bread recipe to follow.

This is exactly what I'm talking about when I mention sifting through ads and banners and junk and text and more text and no bread recipe.

This one looks like a great recipe, the pictures show a very light fluffy looking bread.

Author's note:
One thing this journey of finding the perfect GF SD recipe showed me was that there are hundreds of earnest women out there making a living on blogging. It's impressive, and inspiring, and much appreciated. And I'm sure it's rewarding, but it leads me to want to ask them if it's sustainable, financially supportive, and something they want to do forever. Craig and I spent 4 years attempting to make a living at writing travel guides for people with disabilities and its was none of those things sustainable, financially supportive, and long term. Neither was the non profit work we did for 7 years after that. Nor the photography work I did.

So I'm so grateful that we've finally found our "tribe" and aligned with a company that does the work for us when it comes to recipe books and coaching  and all we need to do is share our story and talk about health. If you are looking for a residual income that pays you even when you're not working, check out The Freedom Revolution and join our mission of inspiring healthy living around the world. Our team is always seeking health minded women who want to inspire. Reach out.


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