It seems like it has been FOREVER since I’ve posted here on my blog, and I truly do apologize for that. Life has been a bit interesting to say the least in the past year here; however, we can turn anything that life throws us into something good, and that is exactly what I am hoping to accomplish on this website in the coming months. I can’t wait to share more details with you! For now, I’m just going to keep you in suspense as I have a couple wonderful recipes to share with you first. 😉 I want to thank you all for your continued support of my blog, and I’m looking forward to sharing more ways to support your health and wellness through the winter months.
GLUTEN FREE BREAD
If you’ve ever had to give up gluten for health reasons, likely one of the things that you really missed is bread. When we first started going gluten free over seven years ago, I remember trying different gluten free products in an attempt to find acceptable alternatives that my then almost three-year-old would eat: gluten free cookies, gluten free crackers, gluten free pasta, and so on. I only occasionally made gluten free bread for him, mainly when I needed to make sandwiches, but let’s face it: most three-year-olds aren’t exactly big sandwich eaters. And while the bread options that I managed to come up with were palatable, they weren’t to die for. Plus, this girl didn’t have any health issues, right? So I kept eating my regular gluteny bread (delicious baguettes that I made from scratch … my mouth is still watering).
Eventually the denial gave way to me realizing that when I stayed away from the gluten I felt incredibly better, and I said goodbye to bread and attempted to find a bread that satisfied me the way that “real bread” had in the past. I never did find it. Then along came our 3+ year stint on the GAPS Diet, and even gluten free bread got tossed out at that point in favor of whole foods and bread made from nut flour (which, by the way, is NOTHING like real bread). I pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I would likely never have the bread that I dreamed of again.
Eventually we started transitioning off of the GAPS Diet and adding in a slightly wider variety of nutrient dense foods. It was approximately 4 years after we first started GAPS that I discovered Einkorn flour, which is an ancient wheat with a much lower gluten content. I started to wonder what would happen if I could ferment the Einkorn to create a sourdough bread. After all, we had succeeded in removing all of our other food allergies and intolerances on GAPS. Why not gluten too?
The Einkorn sourdough experiment went well in that the bread was absolutely delicious; however, although I trialed it at three different times throughout the late summer of 2015, I never was 100% convinced that we were tolerating the gluten in it. My oldest son seemed spacey again; my youngest son’s cheeks may have been a bit red. The biggest giveaway for me was that he all of the sudden couldn’t live without the bread and wanted to eat a loaf of it a day … a classic sign of an allergy for him. And me? I could eat a slice of the bread and gain 7 pounds overnight from the swelling and inflammation. And so we gave our sourdough starter away and have since resigned myself to the fact that I likely will never tolerate gluten and bread is out of the picture. (Looking back, this all does sound very much like a bread rollercoaster lol. Healing journeys truly can be a lot of up-down-up-down!)
This summer I started considering the option of creating a gluten free sourdough. While I am not a big fan of gluten free baking in general as the starch content is quite high, and I prefer to eat foods with as few ingredients in their whole form as possible (which is NOT common in gluten free baking as there are several ingredients needed to create the texture that gluten gives a finished product), I decided to look into trying a sourdough bread that we could have on occasion. We enjoy travelling, and even when we go on day trips the boys sometimes like to have a sandwich now. It is extremely difficult to find a gluten free bread in the store (or even a mix) that is not packed with ingredients that I would prefer to avoid. Sourdough seemed like a better option, as the fermentation process helps to predigest some of the flours used in the final product, plus I could control what ingredients (and the quality of them) that I put into the bread I baked.
And so I started experimenting!
I am sharing with you our favorite bread recipe so far, and while it is not 100% the way I would like it yet, I have talked a bit about it on Instagram and in my Facebook Support Group, and I know several of you have been waiting for the recipe! The first thing that impressed me about this bread was that the flavor truly reminded me of the sourdough bread we made last summer with Einkorn flour. (Yay!) And while the rise is not quite what I would like it to be yet (leaving the bread somewhat thick and heavy), I have to admit it makes my mouth happy. The best part is: our stomachs tolerate it without difficulty, and the boys can have a piece here and there and don’t need to eat it CONSTANTLY like they do with its gluten-filled counterpart. #score
So let’s get started!
THE SOURDOUGH STARTER
There are many ways that you can create a sourdough starter. One of the cheapest ways is to simply use flour (like rice flour in the case of a gluten free sourdough) and water and the yeast that you have present in the air in your house. I am not going to go into the details of how you can do this, as there are several recipes you can find online to assist you. I attempted to create a starter this way a couple different times when using Einkorn flour last summer, and the first attempt didn’t go well at all; the second attempt was closer; and in the end, I ended up buying a sourdough starter kit. It worked, and it was so simple.
So that’s what I ended up doing this time as well. Cultures for Health offers a variety of different ferment starters including a gluten free sourdough starter which works wonderfully. It is a bit pricey, so the BEST thing that you can do is to find a friend who already has a starter going (remember the whole Friendship Bread thing? 😉 ) If you are local to my area, feel free to ask me for some of my starter! Trust me, I have plenty to share.
If you get your starter from Cultures for Health, follow the printed directions that come with it for how to get your sourdough starter ready for baking bread. If you get a starter culture from a friend, you are ready to proceed to the next step already!
FEEDING YOUR CULTURE
Your sourdough starter culture needs to be regularly fed in order to stay bubbly and happy. For this reason, we always lovingly refer to the sourdough culture as “the baby”. While “the baby” is needy, honestly, feeding it takes all of 30 seconds.
The directions from Cultures for Health recommend feeding your starter every 4-8 hours with brown rice flour and water. I likely get closer to 8-12 hours between feedings simply because of my schedule. A feeding will often look like this:
½ cup sourdough starter
½ cup brown rice flour
½ cup water
By the next feeding, you will have over 1 cup of fresh sourdough starter now, bubbly and ready to go. When I am getting ready to bake bread, I will then add 1 cup brown rice flour and 1 cup water to this sourdough starter to create around 2 ½ cups of sourdough starter. (2 cups of starter will go in your bread recipe, and 1/4 to 1/2 cup you keep to continue the sourdough starter.)
If I am NOT planning to bake bread soon, I will discard the extra sourdough starter (see below for ways to use this discarded starter! Don’t toss it in the trash!) and keep ½ cup of starter to feed. You can also keep your sourdough starter in the fridge for up to 3-4 days without feeding it. I take it out after about 3 days and then feed it as described above and keep it on the counter for a couple feedings in preparation for baking bread again.
** All of the above instructions can be found on the handout that comes with your gluten free sourdough starter from Cultures for Health! For more detailed instructions, please refer to this handout.
** Another tip: fruit flies love anything fermented (sourdough starter, kombucha, etc) so to keep them out of my starter culture, I like to cover it with a coffee filter and a rubber band. You can also use a clean towel instead of a coffee filter. Using cheesecloth does not work as well, as the weave is too loose, and fruit flies will find their way in.
USING THE DISCARDED SOURDOUGH STARTER
With time, especially in the beginning as you are trying to get your sourdough starter ready for baking, you will accumulate a lot of extra sourdough starter, also called “discarded starter”. While this starter may not be ready to help bread rise yet, it still has a wonderful fermented sour flavor! Another plus: if you are using to making gluten free products like pancakes and waffles, using the sourdough starter instead of regular rice flour can add excellent flavor to your final product PLUS it is fermented (meaning that the rice flour has been somewhat predigested), leading to better overall digestion of your food.
Here is one of the recipes that we’ve tried using discarded sourdough starter. It is super simple to make and like I mentioned, the sourdough starter adds excellent flavor! The original recipe can be found on the Cultures for Health website. Be sure to check out their website for more recipes on how to use your discarded starter!
GLUTEN FREE SOURDOUGH PANCAKES
2 pastured eggs
1 ½ cups of discarded starter
Pinch sea salt
½ tsp. baking soda
2 Tbs. coconut flour
1. Add the eggs to your bowl and whisk. Add the sourdough starter and stir to mix. Cultures for Health recommends feeding the starter right before you make the pancakes so that the sourdough starter is thicker; however, I have found that using starter that has been sitting for 8-12 hours or more without feeding it works just as well, especially as the coconut flour will help your final batter to thicken.
2. Add the dry ingredients to the wet and stir to mix.
3. Add coconut oil (or fat of choice) to a skillet or frying pan heated to low-medium or medium. Pour batter onto pan (I generally make 3-4 inch round pancakes). Fry until golden in texture; flip and repeat.
4. Serve warm with a drizzle of raw honey or pure maple syrup. You can also add a little ghee or grassfed butter on top.
GLUTEN FREE SOURDOUGH BREAD
So after you have created 2 cups of sourdough starter, you are ready to make your bread!!
The original recipe can be found at http://www.naturalfertilityandwellness.com. There are multiple different recipes out there for gluten free sourdough bread, including one on the website of Cultures for Health. This is the one I decided to start with as it looked easy and also included less starch than some other recipes that I found.
1 cup tapioca flour
1 ½ cups sorghum flour
1 cup gluten free oat flour
1 cup millet flour
1 Tbs. sea salt
2 Tbs. xanthan gum
4 large eggs
2 cups gluten free sourdough starter
2/3 cup filtered water
1/3 cup softened butter
2 Tbs. pure maple syrup or honey
*** Make sure that you save at least 1/4 cup of sourdough starter that you will continue to feed and use for your next batch of bread!!! You never want to bake all of your starter up, or your bread making days are over unless you buy more starter/get some from a friend! ***
1. Mix dry ingredients together in one large bowl and then liquid ingredients together in a smaller bowl. Slowly pour liquid ingredients into dry ingredients, a cup or less at a time. You can do this using a hand mixer, a stand mixer, or by hand (my preferred method, but then I do everything by hand).
2. Mix the ingredients together well. Finished dough will have a slightly sticky texture.
3. At this point you can do one of two things:
a. The original recipe states to let the entire batch of dough sit in the bowl in a warm place covered and let rise 6-8 hours. Then, take ¼ of the dough to bake and place the rest in the fridge for later. (See link here for original recipe if you wish to follow these instructions).
b. What I like to do is divide the dough up at this point (right after mixing) into 3 smaller portions. The rest of the instructions here will follow my method.
4. Divide the dough up into three equal portions. Place parchment paper down in a 9×13 baking pan as well as line a 1.5 quart casserole dish with parchment. Place one portion of the dough into the casserole dish, shaping it into a round/oval loaf. Shape the remaining two portions the same way and place them side by side in the 9×13 baking dish.
5. Cover with a towel (you can cover the casserole dish with a glass lid) and place in a warm area to let rise. I will leave the dough sitting for anywhere from overnight to 12-16 hours or so. Again, like anything fermented, the temperature and atmosphere in your kitchen will play a part in how quickly your bread rises. Gluten free bread rises more slowly than it’s gluten-filled counterpart.
6. When you are getting ready to bake your bread, preheat your oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
7. Cover the 9×13 pan with a lid or aluminum foil and place the glass lid over the casserole dish. Place both pans in the oven and bake for 15 minutes.
8. Remove the cover on both pans and decrease the temperature to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Continue to cook for an additional 20 minutes or so.
9. Remove bread from oven and place on a cooling rack. Do not cut until completely cool (I try to wait … generally I still cut it when it’s warm as I love bread fresh from the oven!)
REGULAR SOURDOUGH BREAD
For those of you who may be able to tolerate gluten, I am going to share the recipe we used for making regular sourdough bread. Even if you tolerate large amounts of gluten, I am going to share a couple recommendations with you:
• If you are using regular wheat flour, I would highly recommend using organic flour, as conventional wheat is sprayed multiple times with RoundUp, including being sprayed just before harvest to assist with the ripening process. RoundUp is a known carcinogen (cancer causing) as well as a toxin that has profound effects on the beneficial bacteria in our digestive system. Trying to lower our exposure to it is beneficial for all of us, whether we have health concerns or not.
• If you possibly can, try experimenting with ancient grains like Einkorn flour. Typical wheat flour (even organically grown wheat) that we use today has been hybridized to contain more gluten; gluten gives bread the light and airy texture we are all familiar with. However, ancient grains are often easier for our body to digest and are obviously the grains that were initially given to us to eat. Einkorn flour makes a lovely sourdough bread.
To create sourdough bread, you will also need a regular sourdough starter (not the gluten free one we talked about earlier). You can also buy this from Cultures for Health. Please follow their directions for how to get your starter culture going. Once the culture is ready to bake bread, you can give this recipe a try!
2 1/3 cups fresh sourdough starter
3 1/3 cups Einkorn flour
1 to 1 ½ cups water
Scant Tbs. sea salt
1. Grease two bread loaf pans with ghee, butter, or coconut oil. You may also wish to cut a piece of parchment paper and put this down on the bottom of your bread pan.
2. Mix all of the ingredients together, adding enough water to allow the bread dough to knead together. With Einkorn flour, the dough will be slightly sticky. Moist dough is preferable to dry dough.
3. Knead dough until it passes the “window pane test” (a small piece of dough will stretch between 4 fingers without breaking, thin enough to allow light to pass through). With Einkorn dough, the dough will not be quite as stretchy. Generally I knead the dough for around 5-10 minutes.
4. Cut the bread in half and shape into two loaves. Place into glass loaf pans that have been pregreased. Cover lightly with a towel and place the pans in a warm location to rise for 4 to 24 hours. (Overnight works really well too to enjoy warm bread with breakfast)
5. Prior to baking, preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice an “x” on top of your loaves gently with a very sharp knife.
6. Bake at 400F for approximately 30 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 210F. Tapping on the top of the loaf should reveal a slightly hollow sound with a solid crust.
So there you have it! Now you have the beginning push to start creating your own sourdough creations. This is one thing that I truly love about sourdough baking: every time is just a little different, and it’s so much fun to experiment with the amount of time I let the bread rise, the sourdough starter bubble, and so on. Don’t let a few “oops-es” discourage you! Remember that fermentation is an art, and it’s no different with sourdough baking. Sourdough starters and rising bread will change with the seasons, the humidity and temperature in your kitchen, the altitude you bake at, and so on. Every region of the world has their own unique sourdough bread and flavors, as the yeast and bacteria in their kitchens vary from place to place, adding different flavors and textures. The sourdough bread that I would make in my kitchen had completely different flavor from the bread that my mom would bake, and she used a starter that she got from me and only lives 30 minutes away!
So use these recipes as guides, and go and create your own masterpiece!!
Happy bubbling and baking!