Baking Gluten-Free Sourdough Bread, Made Easy

Something about a perfectly bubbly sourdough starter is satisfying. Just two ingredients, IMG_3958water and flour, leads to bubbles, increase of substance, and life. Then when added to a few more ingredients, it aids in the creation of a satisfying loaf of bread. Gluten-free sourdough bread is even more satisfying in that it’s not kneaded and only requires one rising. It doesn’t have to be looked after much, either. One has only to mix the ingredients and set the dough to rise. During the four or more hours the dough is rising, one has time for work, cleaning, running errands, and even a long run. Baking a nice loaf of gluten-free bread is is actually very easy.

As easy as baking gluten-free sourdough may be, just one loaf of gluten-free bread requires much more sourdough starter than a gluten-containing sourdough bread. The need for a large amount of starter means that you need to have at least two jars of active sourdough starter in order to begin baking your bread (see my post on starting and maintaining a gluten-free sourdough starter). Once your starter is lively and rearing to go, you are reading to bake a perfectly beautiful and delicious loaf of gluten-free sourdough bread, with a texture and flavor very close to that of gluten-containing sourdough bread. Continue reading

The Care and Feeding of Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter

Bread Series, #2

In the first of my posts on baking gluten-free yeast breads, I noted the importance of IMG_3014bread baking, sharing, and eating to communal participation and bonding. Perhaps the aspect of bread making that best materially exemplifies its role in binding generations, cultures, and individuals to one another is the use of a sourdough starter as leavening in a loaf of bread. The passing down of sourdough starters from parent to child provides a tangible link between generations, just as the practice of leavening bread with a sponge links bread-bakers in the 21st century with bread-bakers in c 300 BC Egypt, the first people believed to have used yeast for bread. In our family, the passing of the sourdough starter worked its way backward; my son passed his gluten-free sourdough starter up to me. I have since shared our family gluten-free starter with the wonderful people who took the gluten-free bread baking class I taught this past March. Share sourdough starter, share the love!

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Baking bread slowly, with the use of a starter or sponge, is making a come-back, even in the gluten-eating world. The popularity of such bread cookbooks as My Bread: The Revolutionary No Knead, No Work Method, by Jim Lahey, and Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day, by Joe Hertzberg and Zoë François, attest to the rise in interest in the return to traditional methods of baking yeast breads. The recipes in these cookbooks rely on slow fermentation for leavening. Slow fermented breads are more flavorful, and their nutrients are more bioavailable (easier for the body to absorb). Continue reading

Why, Yes! That Gluten-Free Pasta Is Made With Mesquite Flour!

Mexican Chocolate Filled Vanilla Bean Mesquite Ravioli With Caramel Sauce

mesquite chocolate ravioli3

I recently taught a gluten-free pasta-making class , in which one of the attendees recounted her growing up years, when she and her siblings gathered fallen mesquite pods from the ground to be given to a Hill Country rancher who used them to feed his livestock. For most of its existence in Texas, however, the tenacious mesquite tree has been the bane of Texas ranchers and farmers. The mesquite tree spreads like a weed, absorbs much of the water from the ground in which it grows, and causes other vegetation to die. Long before this hearty tree gained its bad reputation, the mesquite tree was valued as a important food source among ancient peoples in South America, Mexico, and the Southwestern region of the United States. As I explained in past post about mesquite flour, these people used the dried, ground mesquite pods and beans for drinks, as well as for breads, tortillas, and porridge. Continue reading