I’ve been working with gluten-free sourdough since May and have had some success . . . with many failures; baking regular bread can be tricky on its own, gluten-free breads are even more difficult. And oh boy, do I wish I could say I’ve unlocked the secrets but I can’t. Here’s what I’ve learned so far as well as a recipe for these gluten-free sourdough baguettes – which also makes terrific pizza dough.
One of the reasons I wanted to work with sourdough is taste. Personally, I love the taste of sourdough and wanted a hearty bread I could use for crostini, bruschetta, or breadsticks to enjoy alongside a nice pasta – all of which work with this dough. And as I said, it also makes a fantastic pizza crust; we took dough to Big Summer Potluck and rolled out crusts for the gluten-free pizza station – they were a big, big hit!
First and foremost, if you don’t already have a gluten-free sourdough starter, this recipe will take two weeks to make. But once you have your starter going, the dough comes together in a day. I make my starter using white rice flour and kombucha but you can also use rice flour and kefir water crystals. Jenny of Nourished Kitchen has great in-depth information on the benefits of sourdough as well as a sourdough how-to; she uses wheat flour but the formula is the same for a gluten-free starter. You’ll need to allow one full week to get a starter established by feeding it rice flour and kombucha (or water kefir) every day and then another full week of feeding your starter with rice flour and filtered water. It takes time and patience for this part of the process but the payoff is exponential. One additional note: once your starter is established, it should smell like yeast – if it begins to smell like vinegar, you’ll need to toss and start over. I don’t bake every day or even a few times a week so I store my starter in the refrigerator and have found that it will last about 2-3 months before it’s time to make a new batch.
The good news is that the dough will freeze well if you make a recipe and you don’t use it all; we make a full recipe and divide into pizza-size dough balls, drop a teaspoon of olive oil into a quart-size zippered freezer bag and place a single dough ball inside, close and freeze. Although I’ve not yet tried it, I’m betting the same would go for these baguettes.
Another plus is the recipe isn’t enriched, meaning this recipe is free of eggs, xanthan, guar, flax, chia or psyllium husks – it doesn’t even use yeast (although you can add a pinch of yeast if you want to boost your starter a bit – entirely optional). The air pockets and lift that is achieved comes strictly from the gases in the sourdough. More good news is that these baguettes, straight out of the oven and cooled about 30 minutes – are yeasty, sourdoughy and to die for spread with butter.
And now for the bad news . . . they do not keep well and by the next day the taste is off and dry. So my advice is to bake and enjoy every last crumb or bake what you need for that meal and freeze the unbaked dough for another time. Additionally, gluten-free breads need structure to hold their shape; rolling out pizza dough is completely different than shaping a baguette or boule – as the dough warms and starts to rise, it spreads out versus rising upward – unless it’s contained so it’s important to shape your baguettes with cold dough and place in the pan for rising.
Working with gluten-free sourdough is a process and I have much more to learn – this recipe is by no means the holy grail of sourdough – but it’s a decent start. I’d love to hear from anyone who makes this recipe – successes, failures, trouble-shooting – all constructive feedback is welcomed!
GLUTEN-FREE SOURDOUGH BAGUETTES
Makes 2 Baguettes
MY FLOUR MIX WHICH MAKES 1000 GRAMS OF FLOUR:
- 200 grams buckwheat flour
- 200 grams brown rice flour
- 300 grams tapioca starch
- 300 grams potato starch
- Place flours and starches into a large container with a lid and shake until well blended. Store covered, in a cool, dry area.
FOR THE PREFERMENT:
- 100 grams sourdough starter
- 245 grams filtered water
- 220 grams flour mix
- Mix all ingredients in a glass bowl; cover with plastic wrap and leave on the counter for 6-8 hours; if you have a proofing box, set the temp at 80 degrees and leave for about 6 hours. I usually start this process in the morning and then I put the rest of my bread together following the next step.
FOR THE SOURDOUGH BAGUETTES:
- 255 grams preferment (you will have preferment left over)
- 600 grams flour mix
- 150 grams filtered water, warmed to 110 degrees
- 175 grams kefir, warmed to 110 degrees
- 1 Tablespoon honey
- 1 Tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon yeast, optional
- Pour water and kefir together in a large glass container (I use a Pyrex 4-cup measure) and warm to 110 degrees (microwave); set aside
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment add preferment, flour mix, honey, olive oil, salt and yeast (if using)
- With the stand mixer on low, slowly add water/kefir and mix until well blended; the dough should come together like regular bread dough verses a batter – you may, or may not use all of the liquid depending on your kitchen – and you may need to add a bit more water if the dough seems dry; if so, add 1 Tablespoon at a time
- Mix on medium speed for 5 minutes to ensure all ingredients are well blended
- The dough should be soft and not stiff; you will be able to scrape it out of the bowl using a dough scraper but unless the dough is contained, it will spread – this is exactly what you want
- Scrape dough into a large glass bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let set on the counter for 1 hour, then refrigerate overnight
- The next day, remove from the refrigerator and divide dough into 2 equal pieces (weighing dough makes this super easy)
- Shape into baguettes and place on a parchment-lined baguette pan; score the top of each loaf with a sharp knife
- Allow dough to come to room temperature and rise – NOTE: gluten-free dough will not have the same lift as it’s gluten counterpart – the baguettes should rise about 1-1/2 times their size and will most likely take 3 to 4 hours
- Bake at 425 degrees for 25 minutes; remove from oven and brush tops with melted butter; return to oven for an additional 20 minutes or until you reach an internal temperature of 190 degrees
- Allow to cool at least 30 minutes before slicing
- Serve immediately as these do not keep well; freeze any leftovers
- These make fabulous bruschetta or crostini as well