Saturday, September 19, 2009

Gluten Free Sourdough Bread as an Intuitive Art

After nearly 4 years of gluten free sourdough experimentation and observation I can now intuitively work with the never ending variations that emerge during the sourdough process. Much like people, every gluten free sourdough starter is unique. They respond to temperature, humidity, air flow, and miniscule differences in measurements.

Lately, I’ve become so adept at this kind of baking that I can “correct’ the starter or bread dough as I move through the tasks rather than dutifully following the recipe and ending up with a brick.

I can tell by the smell of the starter if it’s fermenting too quickly and needs to be fed more often. I can tell by the density if more flour blending is necessary. In a heat wave I can correct before over-fermentation sets in. The way the pizza dough comes together tells me if I need more arrowroot flour to attain that stretchy doughy quality. The quality of sponginess of the nearly finished bread batter tells me if it needs more ground flax seed.

My hope is that people who bake my bread will get a feel for working with a gluten free starter and the resulting dough so that they can correct as they go. My other hope is that they will be brave enough to try variations so that they can turn my bread recipes into their favorite breads. I love when people tell me they experimented with dried cherries instead of raisins and sage rather than coriander or used mini loaf pans instead of muffin tins.

My new motto is “Go forth and bravely bake!”.