*I have a new & improved version of this bread recipe that I will be in my new cookbook – Homegrown Kitchen: Everyday Recipes for Eating Well – available April 2017.
This has recipe been a LONG time in coming. Way back in October last year I wrote about my journey back into sourdough making. First (part one) came the frothy starter and then (part two) a lovely sourdough pizza dough, and a promise of bread. But part three never happened. This is due to my son self-weaning himself from breast-milk and overnight my past trouble with gluten returned. For some reason during my pregnancies, and while I was breastfeeding, I was OK with gluten in small amounts (something to do with hormones). When I returned to my gluten-free diet, bread became my nemesis. I tried dozens of recipes for gluten-free bread. Some were OK but often too sweet and yeasty, and they didn’t keep well. And none of them could be eaten without being toasted first. Argh I was not having a good bread day… everyday.
I reverted to buying gluten-free bread. At $7.00 – 8.00 a pop it wasn’t good for our family budget. And I like to feed my children as much gluten-free as possible (although so far they seem to be OK with gluten). The best bread I came across was the back-fermented (similar to sourdough) Cassava bread from The Breadman. It was flavoursome, and although still not edible when un-toasted, it was nice and chewy once toasted. But it was still costing us too much each week. So I researched and experimented with gluten-free sourdough until my inner chef (a trained one at that) came up with this no knead sourdough bread.
I had already made my rye sourdough starter with success so tried making it with brown rice flour. From my research I learned to include a small amount of activator such as whey or water kefir to give the starter a little assistance. Within 4 days I had a lightly bubbling gluten-free sourdough starter. It wasn’t frothing like the rye starter I had made previously but it was happy, smelt sweetly sour, and made AMAZING bread! And, wait for it… for the first 2 days after baking it can be eaten without toasting (yes, a gluten-free bread!). It stays lovely and moist due to the long soaking of the flours and the fermentation process of sourdough. BRILLIANT.
I first made this no knead sourdough bread in January and it was a eureka moment for me. Though, I said to myself at the time, one good bread doesn’t necessarily equal many good breads (speaking from experience). However, so far every bread, bar two, have been consistently delicious. The first time I forgot to add the salt (a lesson that salt is very important for the bread making process), and the second time I tried using cornmeal in place of buckwheat flour and the bread was very very dry (corn meal is like a fine polenta and absorbs a lot of water).
Besides the bread tasting great, it is super fast to prepare. I even considered calling it ‘7-minute bread’ but thought this may be a little misleading as it still needs to rise and bake. Once the ingredients are mixed and poured into the tin (about 7 minutes), there is no more work. Just unassisted time to rise plus baking time. Being a busy Mum with 2 young children, this is a very good thing. And it means that I make bread regularly, in fact every second day around here as we all eat it now. I make a gluten-free bread (pictured) for me and a Spelt, Buckwheat and Oat (see recipe below) version for the rest of the family. Following the exact same recipe just different flours. Works every time.
The beauty of this bread is that I can bake it in my bread maker on the ‘bake only’ setting. However, it can also be baked in the oven successfully as several friends I have shared this recipe with regularly do (instructions included below). I prefer to use a bread maker as it creates the perfect environment for baking bread and it is more economical than heating the whole oven for one loaf of bread. Although it is another gadget, I use it every second day, and probably wouldn’t make bread so often if I had to heat the oven each time. With the bread maker I simply put in the tin, select the ‘bake only’ setting, push start, and walk away, until it beeps incessantly at me to remove the bread an hour later. If buying a new bread maker is out of your budget look out for a secondhand one at Op shops or online auctions. I have seen several at our recycling center minus the mixing paddle (which doesn’t matter for this bread) for a few dollars. With my calculation this bread costs around $2.50 for a gluten-free loaf and $1.50 for a gluten loaf so investing in a bread maker will pay itself off over time.
If you plan to make this bread, please note, sourdough needs to be treated like another member of your family. It requires regular feeding, and attention. Not a lot of attention, but like any fermentation it needs assistance. I have my bubbly sourdough sitting on the kitchen bench so I remember to feed it every day. If it gets too sour (which can happen when it is hot in summer, or I forget to feed it for a day), I pour about half of it out and feed with 50g flour (rice, spelt, rye or wheat) and 50g water and within a day it is back to its happy self again. Follow these links for more details on the health benefits of sourdough and how to look after a sourdough starter.
Gluten-free Sourdough Bread
I make this No-Knead Sourdough Bread both with gluten flours for the family (see variation below), and gluten-free for myself using the same gluten-free starter (which between you and me is actually the better tasting of the two loaves). It is so difficult to tell the difference between the breads I have to wrap my loaf in a special tea-towel so it doesn’t get eaten by mistake. The recipe below includes the gluten flour option at the bottom of the ingredient lists. Here is a short video I made of making the bread so you can get an idea of the process, and consistency of the mixture. *I used a gluten-free loaf in the video and for all the photos.
First make the starter:
50g brown rice flour
50g warm water
1 tablespoon whey or water kefir (not absolutely necessary but assists the fermentation)
(Note: do not use glutinous white rice flour, from experience this makes the starter very gluggy).
Put the ingredients into a clean ceramic or glass bowl and whisk well to aerate. Cover with a clean tea towel and leave in a warm place (ideally at least 18°C and up to 28°C).
For the next 4 days feed every 24 hours with 50g flour and a 50g warm water. Whisk to combine, you want a consistency similar to a pancake batter. After about 4 days the mix will start to ‘breathe” with bubbles on the surface and smell sweetly sour and yeasty (not offensive). In cooler weather or if you haven’t used whey or water kefir to activate the starter it may take 5 – 7 days to start bubbling. Once you have bubbles you are ready to bake.
Looking after your starter:
Continue to feed the starter with the same quantity of flour (50g) and water (50g) once a day. Keep covered lightly with a clean tea towel. If using less than twice a week keep the starter ‘dormant’ in the fridge. Bring it out to room temperature a day before making bread to ‘awaken’ the yeasts, feeding with 50g flour and 50g water to make a pancake like batter. See above for what I do if the starter gets too sour (it will have a strong offensive sour smell). Follow this link for more details of looking after a sourdough starter.
Keep the starter in a place where the temperature is relatively consistent and not too warm. I always keep my starter in the corner of my kitchen bench away from the oven and direct sunlight.
To make Bread:
1 cup brown rice flour
1 cup buckwheat flour
1/2 cup tapioca (arrowroot)
2 tablespoons flaxseeds or chia seeds
1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt
1 cup ‘active’ bubbly gluten-free starter
1 tablespoon olive oil
300 – 350ml room temperature water (preferably filtered)
sesame seeds to sprinkle on top if desired (I don’t always do this but it looks nice)
*Variation – Spelt, Buckwheat & Oat option: use 1 cup white spelt flour, 1 cup buckwheat flour or wholemeal flour, and 1/2 cup rolled oats
Combine the dry ingredients in a large bowl and whisk to combine and aerate. Make a well and pour in the starter, oil and 250ml water. Use a wooden spoon or spatula (not metal when using sourdough) to mix together and then beat vigorously for half a minute (the beating part is important to incorporate air). The mixture will be wet but thick like a cake batter (see video for correct consistency). Depending on the flours used and the humidity you may need to add a tablespoon of water at a time to get the right consistency.
Pour the mixture into a prepared loaf tin, sprinkle with sesame seeds (optional) and cover with a tea towel and leave for 5-8 hours in a warmish place (in summer on the kitchen bench, in winter by the fire or in a hot water cupboard). The bread is ready to bake once it has risen about a third, with small bubbles on the surface and a slight ‘dome’ effect.
To bake, either use a bread maker on the ‘bake only’ setting to cook for 60 minutes (see above). Or in an oven at 190C for 60-70 minutes until the loaf sounds hollow when tapped on its base. If using the oven, you will get a better crust if you can create steam in the oven. The easiest way to do this is to place an oven tray in the shelf under the bread tin. When you put the bread in the oven pour 1 cup of boiling water into the baking tray and quickly close the door. The steam will be trapped in the oven.
Once cooked, cool the bread completely on a cake rack before cutting (this is important to retain the moisture in the bread). Store wrapped in a tea towel on the kitchen bench or in a bread bin. This bread will keep well for over a week.
*Winter Tip: If you don’t have a nice warm position (by the fire or a hot water cupboard) for the bread to rise in, then it is a good idea to use warm water rather than room temperature water for the dough mixture. This will give the wild yeast a kick start.
You can make this bread with a small amount of yeast in place of the sourdough. It definitely isn’t as tasty as the sourdough version but it can be used as a back-up option if you don’t have a starter on the go.
Replace the 1 cup of starter in the recipe with 1/2 cup brown rice flour (or white stoneground flour), 1/2 cup warm water, 1 teaspoon cider vinegar and 1/4 teaspoon yeast. Whisk together in a jug then add to the dry ingredients along with the water and oil, and continue as above.
*Please feel free to share this recipe with your friends and I would love to hear how it works out for you, or please ask if you have any questions.