Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Why Gluten-Free Sourdough?

I created these breads and bread recipes to cope with my own multiple food allergies and sensitivities. After mastering and enjoying old fashioned sourdough rye bread I learned I was gluten intolerant and could no longer eat rye. I learned I was also allergic to eggs,dairy and soy products, ingredients that are often used in gluten-free breads. There were other ingredients used in conventional gluten-free baking that I would rather not use: commercial yeast, baking soda, baking powder, xanthan and guar gums, and sweeteners.

Wanting to continue eating bread, I looked at the ingredients
in retail gluten free breads and found there was at least one ingredient I needed to avoid in each one. If I was going to be able to eat bread I needed to be able to control the ingredients.

I began experimenting with some gluten-free flours using the sourdough techniques I had mastered for the rye bread. I learned pretty quickly that gluten-free flours are more delicate than gluten flours and spoil easily. I solved this challenge by boosting the starter with a small amount of a lacto-fermented drink called Water Kefir. I used it to begin all my starters for a number of years. Now, I dehydrate and sell my own Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter as an alternative.

What is Water Kefir?

Water Kefir cultures

Water Kefir is a culture, which is a colony of bacteria and yeast, similar to a yogurt culture. The water kefir culture is added to water, that has had sugar dissolved into it. The fermentation process begins when the bacteria and yeast eat the sugars and in exchange, put probiotics and enzymes into the sugar water. Most of the sugar will actually be consumed by the bacteria and yeast during fermentation. The sugar water turns from very sweet to sweet/sour/bubbly.

There are many uses for this tasty liquid. It can be drunk in small amounts as a tonic or digestive. It can also use it in a gluten-free sourdough starter to kick-start the bacterial activity and prevent spoilage in the starter. This enables the starter to stay fresh as it grows to the size needed for  baking. Water kefir is a culture that must be acquired and cared for. Cultures for Health is an excellent company that offers dehydrated water kefir culture with directions for rehydration.

Finished Water Kefir
Ready to drink or use as a booster

An Alternative Booster: 
Dehydrated Sourdough Starter:

An alternative to boosting a starter with water kefir is to boost it with  Dehydrated Sourdough Starter.  I recently began offering 2 of my own Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter cultures, Brown Rice and Teff. While you have to regularly care for a water kefir culture, the dehydrated sourdough starter will last many months in the refrigerator or freezer until you need it.

Learn more and purchase Sourdough Starter Here

The starters are grown in my recenlty opened dedicated Gluten-free commercial kitchen. Click for photos of the construction!

Track Record of Sourdough
Sourdough baking is an ancient and time tested bread baking technique that was used exclusively until the discovery of modern commercial yeast. It utilizes the natural yeasts and bacteria present on the grain and in the air to leaven bread. Sourdough bread becomes highly digestible because the flours are “soaked” in the starter and as well as during the long rise period.

Some people may remember their grandparents soaking oatmeal the night before cooking it for breakfast. Soaking neutralizes natural enzyme inhibitors in the grain, begins breaking down the tough cellulose fibers, fosters the formation of probiotics and enzymes and releases vitamins. All this makes for a more nutritious finished product that is easy on the digestion with many more nutrients available for assimilation. Sourdough breads have a robust taste, a long shelf life and freeze well.

One other benefit of the sourdough process in gluten-free breads is that it eliminates the need for gums and sodium-based leaveners. For people who want to eat as simply and cleanly as possible, this is a tremendous benefit!

The recipes in my book, The Art of Gluten-Free Sourdough Baking, are free of gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, yeast, baking powder/soda, and xanthan and guar gums. They use whole grain ingredients and minimal amounts of starch flours and sweeteners.

My New Recipes PDF are recipes that I perfected after publishing The Art of Gluten-Free Sourdough Baking. They were developed upon the foundation of experience I gained from the first 5 years and are simpler and use less ingredients. They will become part of my next book and are now available in PDF. The cost is only $10 for all the recipes as they become perfected.

My  baking technique is different than what most bakers are accustomed to but with a little time and patience the technique can be easily mastered. You could be baking your own high quality homemade breads soon!

 Teff Tapioca


Rice Quinoa Cranberry English Muffins

Teff Pumpernickel

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