Today's post is from Sharon Kane, the very talented baker and author of The Art of Gluten Free Sourdough Baking. In this article she shares her journey from sourdough consumer to someone with multiple food sensitivities who needed to find an alternative. During her long journey to learn how to make gluten-free sourdough bread Sharon was focused on making it as nutritious as possible by continuing to use whole grain flours. It is important to note that many gluten free products currently on the market are made with enriched and nutritionally deficient flours. They are also often not soaked and, as she explains below, this is an important part of the process which helps to make the end result more nutritious.
Sourdough baking is a time-tested bread baking technique that was used exclusively until the discovery of modern commercial yeast. The technique 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 fermented or “soaked” in the starter as well as in 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 nutrients available for assimilation. Sourdough breads have a robust taste, long shelf life and freeze well.
I became successful at making sourdough rye bread and happily ate the bread for a few years. Then I learned I was gluten intolerant and could no longer eat my beloved rye sourdough bread. I also learned I was highly sensitive to eggs, dairy, soy and commercial yeast.
Wanting to continue eating good bread, I went to the market and saw that all the retail gluten-free breads contained one or more of the ingredients I needed to avoid. I realized that if I wanted bread I needed to be able to control the ingredients and the baking technique.
I began experimenting with gluten-free flours using the rye technique as a guide. My parameters were:
- Use gluten-free whole grain flours
- Minimize the use of high starch flour
- Use only simple food ingredients so no xanthan or guar gums nor baking powder or soda
- Minimize the use of all sweeteners
- Use high quality oils, fats and flavorings
I began experimenting with the sourdough techniques I had mastered for the rye bread and it took one whole year to make a successful bread! Five more years of research and development led me to use different flour combinations and different types of breads.
This type of baking is different from conventional gluten-free baking and is also different from conventional sourdough baking. There is a bit of a learning curve to this technique however many people have mastered it and are happily eating nutritious gluten-free sourdough bread from recipes that are free of gluten, dairy, eggs, soy, yeast, peanuts, baking powder/soda, and xanthan and guar gums.
Don't forget to stop by The Art of Gluten Free Sourdough Baking for a FREE sourdough starter recipe.