Saturday, November 14, 2015

How to Grow Your Own Gluten Free Sourdough

Are you someone who cringes at the sight of moldy growth on cheese left too long in the deli drawer of your fridge?
Do you shudder as you open the veggie drawer to see the furry blueberries left at the bottom of the crisper drawer after eating so many freshly picked ones your stomach hurt?

Then growing your own sourdough starter might not be the fun experience I’ve had.
To grow your own yummy wild yeast colony means embracing the quirks and temperamental behavior of wild beings.
Getting passionate about bubbles forming in solution, desiring the sour smell and taste that wild yeasties can give to your bread. Craving the need to nurture and care for another living breathing being.

If you can embrace the unpredictably of wildness, here is the big secret about gluten-free sourdough.
It’s easy! 

All you have to do is take equal amounts of the Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter Food mixture and water. Mix together well.  Then put it in a glass jar, and leave it open to the air of your kitchen for a couple of days for the wild yeasts that surround you to colonize the medium, wait and watch for growth.

Typically that it only takes a couple of days before you see tiny bubbles of gas separated by the flour mixture, before you see the surface moisture layer get thicker and frothy.
Before you have live wild yeast in your jar.

That’s it,

Just food and time and you will have your very own wild sourdough yeast colony.

Simple but there are places where you need to be cautious so you get yummy instead of yucky.
So lets gather our materials first and I’ll explain a bit of why I choose what I did to make my Starter Food mixture.

In the flour mix I attempted to match the protein, fats, fiber and carbohydrates of organic hard winter wheat flour. 
That is what bread bakers who make a classic wholegrain wheat sourdough loaf use to create the thick crust, open-holed, tangy flavor and tender-threaded bread of my former dreams.

So I used the flour chart I had compiled to work out proportions.

How to create a flour mix?  Have you ever heard Shauna Ahern aka The Gluten-Free Girl, talk about this problem?  I have been fortunate to hear her speak several times, if you ever get a chance to hear her present her work, seize the moment.  Only a former teacher truly gets the body language in the description.

I will paraphrase:
Imagine a clique of middle schoolers bouncing down the hall of the school. Absolutely certain that in the world of school, they are an unparalleled force of nature.
There is the backbone girl of the clique, the one everyone goes to with their problems simply because she is guides without flash and frenzy.
Sometimes there is another girl, one of substance and presence.  Tender but firm, kind of a mommy figure, steadfast and homey.
There is the tender-hearted, moony one, the girl with the little hearts dotted over all her i’s.
Lastly the airy girls, flipping their hair just ‘cause they can, insubstantial but essential to the dynamics of the group.

Creating a flour mixture that works means gathering these components for balance in baking.
Feeding the wild yeasts for a gluten free sourdough
I started out by searching for a strong backbone for the mix, one that would allow for growth and crust without adding too much density.
I chose organic brown rice flour for its fiber component, mild taste and strong firm presence.
Next I wanted to increase the homey flavor components since I find brown rice flour to be very bland and the goal was to be a bit more whole grain.

I really like sorghum flour for a wheaty taste and BONUS it has the highest protein quantities of all the typically available gluten-free flours, even higher than quinoa. Wish I could find it in organic but my local stores just don’t stock it.

Then I went looking for my tender hearted flour and found it in millet.  Millet flour is pale yellow and very soft.  I tend to use it whenever I want a tender crumb structure.

The binder of the group I found in one of my favorite gluten-free flours: sweet rice flour aka glutinous rice flour aka sushi rice flour.  This flour has a few wonderful qualities. 
It is bland  
It is a small finely ground flour that works into the gaps between the brown rice flour grains and sticks them together.
This is my go-to flour for structure in combination with brown rice flour.

And lastly for my sourdough starter food flour blend, I reached for beans since I wasn’t anywhere close to the right protein quantity yet.
I use just a bit of garfava (garbonzo and fava bean mix) since I don’t truly love the taste. White bean flour is a larger component since it is very bland but adds a good quantity of both fiber and protein per ¼ cup.

Since I live in the Pacific Northwest and feel that shipping flours across the country is just ecologically silly. They’re heavy after all, I used Bob’s Red Mill flours for my mix. 
You can order them directly yourself right here. Whenever possible, I chose the organic ones*, but occasionally there isn’t that choice.  If organic is something you value, make sure to ask anyway. The greater the demand, the more likely we will be able to order our flours in organic.

Stirred all together till the color is uniform.  This is the gluten-free sourdough food.

Now get a gallon glass jar if you plan on baking frequently.  It doesn’t need to be sterilized just make sure it is very clean.
Scoop out 2 cups of starter mix and add an equal amount of water.  Stir well to blend the flour and water into a smooth batter.
Leave uncovered in your kitchen at room temperature

In two days, once your starter has had a chance to grow and look like this, we can bake the bread!

But what about the last group of girls?  The airy ones?
They are added when we actually make the bread.
They are just too flighty to rest comfortably in water for days.

*One of the major reasons why I reach for organics is this research about genetically modified foods and celiac disease.

Gluten Free Sourdough Food-Keeping the Yeast alive

By ,

Combining gluten free flours to create the perfect food for a gluten free sourdough bread.

Prep Time:5 minutes
Cook time:
Yield: 5 pounda
Category Bread mix
Equipment needed: Gallon jar
583 grams brown rice flour
583 grams sorghum flour
583 grams millet flour
290 grams sweet rice flour
74 grams garfava flour
155 grams white bean flour
1. Stir together till one color. I measure by grams since that is the most exact of all measurements.

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