For almost a year I have been trying to perfect my Sourdough recipes. Finally around March 1st week I said down to read Sandor Katz ‘ The Art of Fermentation’ again. It is a book which is an an Encyclopaedia on fermentation and its taken me almost a year to go through it. Finally the flood of sour dough boule’s on my social media feeds gave me enough motivation and got me working on my starter.
Being in a lockdown has helped the whole process, as feeding my starter has been like a daily ritual. Also the fact that after a month of the lockdown in India, my stock of baking essentials got over and I was busy grinding my own flours added to the whole Sourdough Baking spree. I couldn’t buy many ingredients as the shops I get my stuff from was shut down and couldn’t order online as Amazon and many other carriers were taking orders only for essentials and well, according to them gluten free products are not essential and that is basically because even in India most people assume that gluten free folks are fad dieters and that is something I talk in detail about in my book . Inspite of having close to 8 million (a rough estimate but it is for sure more) Celiacs in India and the FSSAI a guidance note on Celiac Disease we still face problems to get stuff . Thankfully I live in Karnataka where raw Millet grains, dals (lentils & beans) and rice flour is always available . I bought grains and dals and just ground them.
May is Celiac Disease Awareness Month and I find its very important for people know the many difficulties we Celiacs face. Even when I was sick tired , mouring the loss of a loved one and recovering from consecutive throat infections …during this COVID 19 crisis I had to soak, rinse, dry and grind my own flours. So while I am thrilled at all the new recipes I have come up due to the lockdown, there were days where I hated having to be gluten free and just ate nothing but rice, curd or dal.
Anyhow during days where I felt like I just couldn’t bother cooking or baking, seeing my sourdough starter bubble was a great mood booster. So first things first what is ‘Sourdough’ .
“Sourdough is the most common English language word to describe a mixed culture for rising bread (as well as many other culinary applications) . Essentially it is backslopping, simply using a bit of previous batch to start the next one. This is how virtually all bread was made until two centuries ago” – Sandor Ellix Katz , The Art of Fermentation.
Starting and maintaing a sourdough starter is all about patience besides that its just exactly what Sandor Katz describes it. If you make curd at home, idly/dosa or appam you will be at home with maintaing a sourdough starter. Its somewhat the same process.
I have tried many variations of sourdough starters with gluten free flours but what I liked the most was a simple brown rice flour starter . You can also use a mix of jowar, millet, flax seed, quinoa and also use a fruit or yoghurt combination. If you are a person who likes a distinct sourdough flavour please try out the other options but I prefer a simple brown rice or sorghum/jowar and water combination.
Sourdough starter – Brown Rice/Sorghum and Water
Take a glass jar or plastic container. Add a 1 Tablespoon (tbsp) of brown rice or sorghum/jowar and one 1 tbsp of water. Stir it. Again at night, do the same.
The next day morning , discard some of the starter and again feed it and stir it. Same procedure in the night. You don’t always have to throw away the discard you can use it for a lot of other recipes ( Hand made gluten free pasta with sourdough ) . Repeat the process for 6 days. In the meanwhile always make sure you stir the mixture during the day so that there is no mold formation. On the 7th day you should have bubbly sourdough ready to be used for bread. Currently in Bangalore it is summer so the temperature is perfect for sourdough maintenance. However if the weather is colder and depending upon where you live make sure your jar or container is kept in a warm place. Do cover the jar but not tightly, just put a lid and leave it or cover it was a cloth. If it is tightly closed there will be no room for the wild yeast to develop.
Once you have a mother starter all bubbled up, use as much for your recipe calls for and store the remaining in the fridge. In the fridge do close the starter jar tight. Feed it once in a week or so, to ensure it does not die. Whenever you want to use it get it out of the fridge, feed it and in a few hours your starter will be ready to use.
Now that we know how to make a starter lets look at making a Sourdough Bread.
Glutenfree Sourdough Bread
- 1 cup of brown rice flour
- 1 cup of sorghum flour
- 1/2 cup chickpea flour
- 1/2 cup tapioca or potato starch
- 1/4 moong dal/ mung bean flour
- 1/2 tbsp chia seed powder or psyllium husk
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp any kind of sugar, I prefer coconut or brown sugar
- 500 -510 ml of water
- 4 tbsp of sourdough starter
I used the following flours as these were what I had on hand and I liked the flavour of it. You could also use a simple commercially available gluten free flour mix but keep an eye on the water so the dough is not too sticky .
- Prepare a standard bread loaf pan with parchment paper or prepare a baking tray with parchment paper. If you have run out of parchment paper just grease and flour the pans.
- In a bowl mix all the dry ingredients thoroughly.
- In another bowl pour the water and add the sourdough starter
- To the wet mixture add the dry ingredients and mix it.
- You will get a sticky dough, transfer the dough into the loaf pan carefully and cover it with an oiled cling wrap or wet tea towel . If you want the bread to be baked into a boule, transfer the dough to a baking paper in an oiled bowl or a dutch oven . Cover it with a wet tea towel.
- Leave it to rise and ferment overnight. In the morning pre heat the oven to 200 degree celsius, place a baking tin with water along with the loaf pan or tray to ensure the baking process doens’t dry out the flour mixture (If you are baking in a dutch oven, you don’t need the steam by its side) .Then sprinkle some jowar flour and then score or make a design on it if you want to. Bake the bread for 50 to 60 minutes. I always give a 10 minute + or _ time for baking to account for various oven sizes and weather.
- When the bread is baked make sure you wait for it to cool down and then slice. My bread tastes good when toasted. The bread freezes well and if you are using it within 3 days,place slices in an airtight container and then refrigerate it.
What I like about sourdough bread is that it does not need any baking powder, xanthan gum, eggs and the fermentation makes it easier to digest and it is is great for my gut and I am sure will be so for most Celiacs, gluten intolerant and people with other dietary restrictions.
If you try this recipe, do tag me on Social Media
If you are looking for regular gluten free bread recipes check these out –
To know more about Celiac Disease, gluten free living and more information do check out my book