Thursday, December 8, 2011

A Letter from a Reader

Hello dear Sharon,

I am writing to report on my most recent gluten-free sourdough baking experiences. First, I want to thank you, Sharon, again for being so amazing and inventing GFSD baking, and all these amazing recipes. I love my new book too! It's already well covered with grease spots - looks well used and loved!:)

I have been trying all the new rice-free recipes, just thinking that I want to get rid of all the random flours I had in the pantry...well, it turned out I just loooooooove the new breads! It all started with the Corn Multigrain Mini Loaves, which I wanted to make for Thanksgiving. I ended up making mini muffins instead, which turned out great, but since I had made more then 3 cups of the starter I continued feeding the leftover starter.

When I had about 6 cups buckwheat/sorghum starter I made both Tapioca Bread #4 and Multi Carob#4. YUM! We had delicious sandwiches for days. The kids and hubby were super happy. At the beginning of the year I had fallen in the rice mini-muffins rut for months, then I took the summer off from baking. Now everybody in the house feels spoiled with all these new delicious breads.

Today I made my first Teff bread. This one is definitely everyone's fave so far...and it came with a bonus! When I was mixing the bread this morning I ended up with more dough then would fit in my bread pan, but not enough for two breads. So I took the extra dough and mixed in about 1 more cup of teff flour, 2 T. molasses, some coconut sugar, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and a bunch of butter (at least 2-3T). I left it out to rise.

When I got home from work (about 7hrs later), the bread was ready to bake. The cookie dough had only risen slightly, but I thought enough to give it a shot. Well, let me tell you, the cookies turned out amazing!!!!! I'm so happy! Gluten-free sourdough cookies. And sugar free, kind of, since there was barely any coconut sugar in the mix. I think those would also taste delicious with some choc chips. Next time, I'm going to try the cookies with more starter and less added though at the end. I also would like to try lemon butter cookies. Perhaps with a rice-quinoa starter?

Another experiment, though not as exciting as the cookies, but pretty delicious was the bread pudding. We can eat eggs, so I mixed a few eggs, some coconut milk and cinnamon with some crumbled leftover corn bread, stuck it in the oven for about 45min and voila!... yum!

That's it for now! I'm gonna try to take pictures one of these days - may be over Christmas break when I have more time.

Again, thank you and God bless you!

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Teff Sourdough Starter for Samples for Wise Traditions Conference

I'm in the middle of baking countless samples for the Wise Traditions conference where I will be presenting my bread technique.

I'm baking one of my favorite slightly sweet breads, Teff Carob Coconut.

Here are some photos of the very impressive looking starter.

I like the craggy surface of the top and the spongy holes seen through the sides of the glass.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Saturday Night, November 5, 7:00 pm EST! Live Internet Radio Interview with Vickilynn Haycraft!

Wow! Another interview! This time it will be a live internet radio show by Vickilynn Haycraft, who is an excellent interviewer. This will be a relaxed one-hour talk where we will delve into gluten-free sourdough baking as well as discuss some aspects of my own personal healing journey.

Click here for a direct link to the show page.

The show will be live Saturday Evening, Nov. 5, from 7-8PM EST, so you can tune in live via that link.

This link will be available after the show to access the interview On Demand, or to download as an Mp3.

If you would like to hear the show live via phone and not on the computer, the number is 1 (347) 326-9604

We will also be open to taking live calls on the air at the above number!

Make a cup of tea, toast a piece of gluten-free sourdough bread and join me for an easy going evening!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Pancakes! New Video!

Here is a pancake video demonstrating how to make pancakes that are free of gluten, dairy, eggs, soy and yeast. Being sourdough they do have a slightly mild-to-medium sour taste so in my opinion they are perfect as a savory grain accompaniment to a meal instead of bread.

Click here to see instructional videos!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Contest Giveaway!

I'm will be giving away a copy of my newly printed book, Art of Gluten-Free Sourdough Baking on October 7! Read about and enter the contest here on my Facebook page: Enter Contest Book Giveaway

Good Luck!

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Lazy/Busy Person’s Water Kefir and Ginger-Ale

Today's guest post is by Peggy Matthews, who is a good friend who has helped me in many ways to get my word out. Most of us are always looking for short cuts and she shares the one she now uses for making water kefir. She makes a fabulous Ginger-Ale with this method. Read on!

When I told Sharon about my different approach to making water kefir she asked me to share how I do it by writing a short piece as a guest contributor to her blog. So, here it is.

My approach differs from Sharon’s in that it cuts out some of the steps so that I can quickly assemble the water kefir and then promptly forget about it. I call it the “lazy/busy” person’s approach because I am usually one or the other, depending on the day. Let me state right away, though, that Sharon’s method is the tried-and-true one that most people use with consistent success.
Here is my method, and afterwards I’ll explain what’s different about it.

Lazy-busy person’s Water Kefir (1 Quart)
1. Sugar-Water: Dissolve ½ cup of light or dark brown sugar in 3 cups of filtered water.
2. Pour off and save (for baking or drinking) almost all of your previous batch of water kefir, leaving behind the kefir granules which should be barely covered by the remaining brew.
3. Pour the new sugar-water into the jar containing the kefir granules.
4. Plop in a handful of raisins and small pieces of lemon.
5. Cover, label with date (I use freezer tape and a marker) and store in refrigerator.

Differences between Sharon’s method and mine:
SUGAR: I use more sugar (1/2 cup vs. 2 tablespoons) in order to keep the kefir granules well-fed for a longer period of time. My water kefir will not need to be made again for an entire month.

FERMENTATION TIME: I place my water kefir directly in the fridge and leave it there. Sharon let’s hers ferment at room temperature for 24-48 hours after which she removes the fruit and then refrigerates it. (I don’t want to have to remember to check it after I’ve assembled it as I’m liable to forget!)

FRUIT REMOVAL: I don’t remove the fruit. I leave the raisins and lemon in the water kefir until I’m ready to make a new batch.

JARS: I use the same jar every time. Sharon begins each new batch of water kefir in a new, clean jar by first making the sugar-water solution, then adding the fruit, then adding the water kefir grains. I prefer to throw everything into the old jar.

If there is any way to cut corners and simplify things that need to be repeated I will usually find a way to do it! The water kefir that I make works very well as a booster for gluten-free sourdough starters, and is delicious as a tonic. The one down-side to my method is that you do have to wait a couple of weeks before the sugar-water is fermented enough to be of any use. It will still taste sweet after 2 weeks in the fridge, but it can be used for bread baking at this time. After 1 month it is perfect for drinking, very fizzy and with only a touch of sweetness left.

I make Ginger-Ale by mixing pressed ginger juice with water kefir. I press my own ginger using a Samson Gear Juicer and I then freeze the juice in small ice-cube wells (about 1 tablespoon per well) so that it will last me a long, long time. I peel fresh ginger root, cut it into small pieces and feed them through the gear juicer. I like to use 1 tablespoon of ginger juice in 24 oz water kefir.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Recommendations for Same Recipe-4 different Results

My last post talked about my experiment using the same recipe with 4 different grinds of brown rice flour. If you remember, I made 4 starters using a different grind of brown rice flour for each:

1. Once-ground on a KitchenAid Grain Mill attachment on finest setting
2. Twice-ground same mill, first on medium, #4, and again on fine #1.
3. Bob's Red Mill with added rice bran
4. Bob's Red Mill

I made my Sourdough Bread #3 recipe which is a rice and chia gel based recipe. They all came out relatively well except for the third trial using added rice bran.

I thought that adding rice bran might add some needed coarseness to the Bob's Red Mill flour but it didn't work at all as I had hoped. The bran absorbed huge amounts of moisture and resulted in a bonafide brick. Couldn't even make it into bread crumbs. Went straight into the compost.

Moving on to the successes:
-The once-ground was acceptable albeit a bit heavy.
-The twice-ground was very good, rose well, tasted good, felt good.
-The loaf with Bob's Red Mill was extremely good. You can see that it rose higher than the others in the photo, it's the loaf on the right.

I have also made this recipe using Arrowhead Mills brown rice flour and it worked very well. (I didn't try this for this particular test, though)

I was very glad to know that this recipe will work well with commercially ground flour as well as with twice-ground on a KitchenAid.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Same Recipe-4 different results

A few people have written to me about how their gluten-free sourdough breads don't seem to rise properly. Come to find out that using different grinds of flour foster very different results.

I use home milled flour brown rice flour. When I first started home milling I ground it once on the finest setting on my Kitchen Aid Grain Mill attachment. It came out fairly coarse and gritty. Then I learned about grinding twice, once on medium and again on that same finest setting. The flour was finer but still on the coarse side. My initial recipes were based on this coarse and less coarse flour and produced excellent bread.

I learned that the people having trouble were using store bought flour which is much finer than my home milled. Some of them were able to switch to home milled and got much better results. But certainly there are many, many people who will never mill their own flour for all sorts of reasons. I figured I better do some trials with home milled flour to see if I could learn how to compensate for the much finer flour.

I made 4 starters using a different grind of brown rice flour for each:
1. Once ground
2. Twice ground
3. Bob's Red Mill with added rice bran
4. Bob's Red Mill

Here's a photo of the breads after baking. Look at the differences in height.

I'm analyzing the taste, texture, and crumb of these breads. Hopefully, I'll be able to make some recommendations in the not too far future. So much to learn...

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Summer Starter Tips for Gluten-Free Sourdough Starters

Just a tip to all of you baking in the hot summer weather:
Feed your gluten-free sourdough starter every 5-6 hours rather than every 7-8 hours to prevent overfermentation, which results in unpleasantly sour tastes and loaves that don't rise much. This is a good time to grow your starter partially or even completely in the refrigerator. I'm growing mine on the counter during the days and refrigerating them at night.

Also, if you have fruit flies, make sure you keep your starter covered.
Enjoy the summer,

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Honey Cake was a success!

My dad's birthday celebration went well and the gluten-filled honey cake was pronounced perfect by the family. Glad I still have the touch...even though I couldn't touch it. :-)

Moving forward into finishing up testing a whole bunch of recipes. That's my equivalent of summer reading.

Coconut Biscuits

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Grandma's Honey Cake - Photos

Here is the finished Honey Cake for Dad's 85th birthday. I think it came out right although of course, I will not taste it on account of the ingredients I cannot have (gluten, eggs, sugar, honey, coffee). I used a dust mask on my face so I wouldn't breathe in the wheat flour and washed my hands about a million times. I baked it in my basement kitchen (a make shift kitchen consisting of saved old appliances and cheap cabinets) so my regular kitchen would stay gluten-free. I washed everything in the dishwasher as soon as possible. The cake smells right, looks right and we're ready for the celebration.

I love the rich dark color of this cake.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Grandma's Honey Cake - NOT Gluten-Free

My beloved father will be turning 85 and asked me if I would make my Grandma Marion's Honey Cake for him. This is my Grandma's secret recipe from the 1940's. When she would share it with the women and girls in the family, she would make us swear we would never give the recipe to anyone outside the family. I have faithfully upheld my promise.

When my father asked me to make it for him I felt sure I did not want to handle gluten flour, eggs, piles of sugar and honey, baking soda and baking powder, crisco...At first I told him no, then thought about it for a week and realized that the man who is so generous and never asks for anything for himself was asking me for something he really wanted. And that I needed to get over whatever I was feeling and make it already.

I got out the recipe, remembering the fabulous taste and texture of this cake. I remember separating the egg whites and yolks, creaming, mixing, folding, gosh the smell of the batter was amazing. I remember seeing large slabs of it in the freezer in shimmering aluminum foil.

So I will make it next week and take it to our family celebration the following weekend. I'm really looking forward to once again taking part in this family ritual of baking Grandma Marion's Honey Cake. I may wear a dust mask when I work with the flour. I know I'll be wondering if I can convert it to gluten, egg and sugar free but I'd prefer to focus on enjoying making it again after a couple of decades of not. And seeing Dad's face when he eats it.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

To Cloche or Not to Cloche - That is the question!

A while ago a reader asked me a question about why the tops of her gluten-free sourdough breads had lots of cracking during baking. I really didn't have an answer as my breads also became cracked during baking. I thought it was just part of the package of making my rather unusual bread.

Another reader wrote to me saying she got nice smooth bread tops by using a "Pullman Pan" which is a metal pan with a slide-on lid. I ordered one of these interesting pans and had trouble just sliding the lid on and off. I returned it knowing I would avoid any pan I needed to struggle with to make work.

Then I started experimenting with rice-coconut breads in the hopes of achieving an angel food cake. When they ended up cracked on top I tried another batch and covered it while baking. I used an inverted cake pan. It worked extremely well!

Then I went back to some of my older loaf bread recipes that regularly cracked and baked them with an inverted loaf pan on top. That also worked really well to smooth those tops!

This is not a new idea. Historically, some bakers have used covered clay pots for baking breads. I've read of people making cloches out of tin foil, clay pots, roasting pans and anything else that will safely cover a pan to keep the steam in and the drying air out.

There are loaf breads in the loaf pans and rice-coconut biscuits in the round pan.


Here is a photo of a bread with a very cracked top.
Below that is a photo of my Sourdough Bread #1, that was cloched with an inverted pyrex pan during baking.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Guest Post in Cultures For Health

Read my guest post in the Cultures For Health newsletter. Cultures For Health is a wonderful company that sells all things associated with fermentation: cultures, tools, crocks, books. They are a joy to be connected with. Click here to see the guest post

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Dough Mixer Tool - What a Great Tool!!

I accidentally found this great tool poking around on Amazon. I always really appreciate a well made, ergonomic, efficient tool and this one really fits the bill.
When I first began developing my breads I used a whisk to mix the batters so I could "feel" the changes in texture. If the batter got too dense for the whisk I would switch to a wooden spoon. This tool is way more efficient than either the whisk or the spoon making it easier on the arm. Easy to clean and at an easily affordable price. I can't say enough good things about it!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

This week's experiments: Teff Carob Dessert Breads

This week's experiments included my favorite, Teff Carob Coconut Bread made in a muffin tin and mini loaf. The starter was a bit soupy so the breads were a bit heavy but the taste was still excellent. On the plus side the muffins didn't need the usual requisite toasting so I could grab them for the ride to work without having to toast.

Teff Carob Coconut Mini Loaf and Standard loaf slice

Teff Carob Coconut Muffins

The possibility of making a gluten-free sourdough cake, while staying within the parameters of my pure food standards, has been floating around my mind for a few months. Tapioca has some good potential cake properties so I added a hefty amount of it to a 2 cups of Teff starter.

I used an angel food pan and was pleasantly surprised. Besides being a bit rubbery, the finished product had a lovely flavor, a nice texture, and good crumb. This recipe has great potential. To reduce the rubbery-ness I will lessen the amount of teff flour and add some more oil.

The top was crusty and the bottom was nice like cake. I may need to cover the pan as it bakes.

If I achieve the texture I'm hoping for I hope I can double or triple the recipe and get a standard size cake in the angel food pan that is light enough to lift itself for proper rise. Will report back after my next trial.

Teff Tapioca Bread/Cake - Nice crumb!

Teff Tapioca Bread/Cake rising in an angel food pan

Teff Tapioca Bread/Cake with a crusty top

Teff Tapioca Bread/Cake with a nice cakey bottom

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Gluten-Free Sourdough Crackers

I have been working on cracker experiments for the better part of a year. I was able to get a nice looking product that even tasted fairly well only to have the crispiness turn into tough cardboard a few hours later. The birds feasted in the compost after each experiment.

I feel very sure my commitment to using a sourdough technique as well as only whole grain flours (no starch flours) has made this project more challenging. If I used chemical leaveners like baking soda/powder or thickeners like xanthan/guar gum I probably would have developed an excellent cracker recipe shortly after I started experimenting. But I don't give up easily...and I like a good puzzle.

I needed to use up a bunch of leftover home ground flours left from last baking session and thought I'd try the crackers one more time. I made my starter from leftover potato cooking water and the mish-mash of leftover flours. I had also wanted to work some more with coconut flour in my gluten-free sourdough baking. I got out my coconut flour cookbook and reread about its properties and found its high protein content absorbs more moisture than a low protein flour. I wondered if this would help improve the cardboard-y results.

It worked really well! The coconut allowed the dough to be rolled out very easily and the crackers cooked through! They were crispy right out of the oven and stayed crispy for a few hours. They still got a bit soft over the course of that day, however.

I talked to my friend, and videographer, Peggy, who is experienced in using a dehydrator for various raw foods. She explained the concepts of dehydration to me, warm air blown around by a fan. She suggested I bake the crackers for a period of time at a regular temperature to get most of the moisture out and then use the dehydration concept for a second period of baking. I have a convection setting on my oven and decided to use it at a low setting to take out the rest of the excess moisture to produce really crispy crackers.

Before my next batch I hunted around the internet looking for gluten-free cracker recipes and found a great blogger, Fresh4Five, using ground seeds and nuts in her cracker recipes.

I tried another batch with the addition of a small amount of ground sunflower seeds along with the coconut flour and together these improved the crackers to the next success point! They were a bit more dense, rolled out easily, cooked through, and were really crispy out of the oven. I tested them every few hours and they continued to be crispy! (Because I was the only taste-tester I ate more crackers over the last 2 days than I have in the last 5 years.)

I tried storing them in three different ways, 1. in the open air, 2. in a plastic bag, and 3. in a cloth in a barely covered plastic container, the way I store all my gluten-free sourdough breads. I just taste-tested them and found they are all still crispy but the one in the plastic bag is the best because it is slightly more crispy than the others.

So now I have my work cut out for me: further develop these cracker recipes, using a variety of flours in the gluten-free sourdough starters, figure out the best cooking and convection/dehydration times and temperatures, and...oh, yes...the many possibilities of flavors...(recipe to follow when perfected)

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Sourdough Bread #1 + Starter recipe

Sourdough Bread #1

This was my first successful gluten free bread. It has wonderful taste and texture, freezes well and has a long shelf life. It is a rather dense bread and although I happily ate if for 2 years I now prefer Sourdough Bread #2 and Sourdough Bread #3, from my book because they have a lighter, spongier texture. I have gotten mixed feedback from people about this recipe. Some have easy success with it and others find it less than dependable. The last time I made it, it was perfect!

Yield: 1 loaf Prep time: 20 minutes Rise Time: 7-24 hours
Baking Time: 350 for 60-75 minutes

1 cup Boosted Brown rice starter
1 ½ cups room temperature filtered water
1 teaspoon salt
½ cup brown rice flour
½ cup sorghum flour
½ cup chick pea flour
½ cup potato flour (not potato starch)
½ cup tapioca flour

Measure flours into a bowl and whisk together
Measure starter into mixer bowl
Add water and salt and stir to dissolve salt
Add dry flour mix to starter mixture and using an electric mixer, mix on low speed for 15-20 seconds until spongy. You can also mix by hand and do some simple finger kneading at the end to make it all come together
Do not overmix!
With a spatula gently push dough into oiled loaf pan
Use a hard spatula or potato masher to gently press into pan being careful to preserve sponginess of dough
Smooth top with hard spatula
Let rise 12-24 hours in cool oven or other warm place without drafts
The longer the rise, the better the texture
Bake at 325-350 for 60-75 minutes
Test for doneness using a skewer. The skewer should go into the bread evenly and come out mostly clean
Cool the bread in the pan on a rack
Remove from pan after at least 30 minutes
When completely cool, store either on the counter wrapped in a cloth and set in an uncovered plastic container or in the refrigerator in a cloth and covered
Freezes very well. Great toasted after freezing

Boosted Brown Rice Starter
Gluten free, Casein free

Prep time: 5 minutes
Fermentation time: 3-4 days

Start with one cup of brown rice flour and put it in a ceramic or glass bowl
Pour in slightly less than one cup of water and whisk smooth
Add 1-2 tablespoons of water kefir (water kefir recipe below)and whisk again
Cover with a cloth or paper towel and secure with a rubber band
Leave it on the counter away from drafts or extreme temperatures

Feed the starter, with 1/3-1/2 cup of flour and little less water, roughly every 8 hours, 3 times a day, for a total of four days, whisking smooth and covering. If you know you won't be able to feed it after 8 hours, put it in the refrigerator after feeding. You won't have to feed it for another 12 hours if it's in the fridge.

After two days put the starter in a clean bowl and continue feeding. (change the bowl so that the dried out starter that clings to the sides of the bowl stays out of the living starter)

After about 48 hours the starter should show signs of viability.
If you don’t see any bubbles or hilling you can add another tablespoon of water kefir

By the third day you should see small bubbles especially during stirring

By the fourth day you may see bubbles of different sizes and there may be a hissing, bubbling sound when they come up from the bottom of the bowl

It should take about 4 days for a brand new starter to be ready for cooking. It may take less time in warm weather and more time in cold weather. With a little practice you will get to know when your starter is ready.

You can store a small amount of starter, ¼ - ½ cup, in the refrigerator for next time. Feed it every 2 weeks by taking it out of the refrigerator, letting it come to room temperature, feed it with a small amount of flour and water, whisk and refrigerate again.

If you plan to make sourdough products a few times a week you may want to use an ongoing starter kept at room temperature on the counter. When you’re ready to cook/bake, remove a small amount ¼ - ½ cup of starter and put it in a clean bowl. Feed 2-3 times a day with roughly equal amounts of flour and water and whisk smooth. Cover and set it aside to continue fermenting. This will be your starter for your next batch. Proceed with your recipe with the remaining starter.

Free Starter Recipe Download

Water Kefir for Boosted Brown Rice Starter
(water kefir is the booster for Brown Rice Starter)

Prep time: 10 minutes
Fermentation time: 2-4 days

2-3 tablespoons Water Kefir grains (purchase from Cultures for Health)
2 tablespoons sugar (I find organic dark sugar works the best, but any sugar works)
20 raisins (or a comparable amount of figs or prunes)
1 quart of filtered or spring water
1 slice of lemon

Nearly fill a wide mouth quart jar with water.
Add 2 tablespoons sugar, stirring to dissolve, 20 raisins and a slice of lemon or lime.
Add the water kefir grains to the jar or if this is your first batch add the contents of your bottle of water kefir grains into the quart jar.
Cover with a paper towel or cloth and secure with a rubber band.
When raisins float to the top, after around 24 hours, use a nonmetal tool and scoop the raisins and the lemon slice out and discard.
Ferment the water kefir for 6-12 more hours on the counter with the paper towel.
Then store, covered, in fridge and use as needed.
When you have used the liquid down to about an inch in the jar start a new batch in a new jar and pour the water kefir grains plus the liquid their in right into the new jar, cover and ferment.
Lasts about 1 month

To replenish:
Use up the water kefir to about an inch of water kefir and water kefir grains left in the jar.
When you are ready to make a new batch just a fill a clean jar with 1 quart of water, add sugar and dissolve, add the last inch of water kefir and water kefir grains, trying to get all the grains into the new batch. Add fruit, cover and let ferment.

Other uses for Water Kefir:
tonic, a small amount through the day
supplies lactobacillus and serves as an inoculant for lacto-fermented vegetables, fruits, chutneys 2 Tablespoons per quart -2 cups for 2 gallon crock
soaking grains before cooking (2 Tablespoons) predigests and increases availability of enzymes and B vitamins
soaking beans before cooking (2 Tablespoons) predigests and increases availability of enzymes and B vitamins

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sluggish gluten-free sourdough starter?

Here's a tip: Sluggish gluten-free sourdough starter? set it near the stove while you cook. Today I began a new starter, boosted it with thawed frozen starter and set it near an enormous pot of simmering chicken soup. Besides looking really cozy it's starting to bubble. That's a record: less than 12 hours to bubbling!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Better late than never!

It's Gotta Be Gluten-Free: Kefir Starter for Gluten-Free Sourdough

Above is the link to a blogpost I accidentally stumbled upon about...Me!!!...
Take a minute and read it.