Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Understanding Gluten Free Sourdough Part I

I just love a good challenge.  And every once in awhile, I tackle a new project and get "all in".  Gluten Free Sourdough became a bit of an obsession for me.  There are very few books on the subject, few recipes online, and I just thought it sounded, well, like fun!  Plus, I love the health benefits that sourdough (fermentation) provide.  

For those of you, like me, who know and love sourdough, but know (knew) nothing about it, let me give you a cliff notes version of what I understand about it.

Please note, gluten free sourdough, (in my book) is a whole different kind of animal then it's counterpart wheat or rye sourdough.  It needs to be babied, mostly needs a secondary rise ingredient (ie baking soda, baking powder, yeast), and more hands on time.  But once you taste those oh so magical pancakes, its worth every bit of work.


Sourdough is a process of a grain flour (rice, wheat etc) combined with water that uses wild yeasts and bacteria in the air to cause a chemical reaction that neutralizes phytic acids and cause "good things" to grow in the batter.  It creates a rising agent to help baked good get fluffy.

(It is beyond the scope of this post or my expertise to go into detail on phytic acid, but check out this link by Weston A Price on it.)

Starter is made with wild yeast and lactobacilli found in the air.  The water and brown rice “absorb” and begin to ferment as these elements combine.  Wild yeasts use oxygen and the simple sugars in flour.  It produces carbon dioxide (bubbles), ethanol and acetic acid(sour), and acetic acid (keeps baked good fresh.)  Lactobacilli does not need oxygen.  It also gives out small amounts of carbon dioxide, ethanol and lactic acid (antibotics keeps from spoiling), but it’s main job is to neutralize phytic acid.

How your recipes will turn out also depends on the consistency of your starter.  There are basically three “types.”  Thick, Medium and Thin.  Different recipes will often specify which starter type to use.  Mine tends towards the medium to thick range.

Each time a recipe is made, liquid and flour will need to be adjusted a bit, due to the changing nature of the sourdough starter.  It takes practice.

Hooch is the liquid that can accumulate on the top of the starter.  Pour off or stir in.

Other flour mediums may be used to create a starter.  Teff creates an intense sour taste, much like injera bread.  Quinoa will produce a fluffier mix.  For the purpose of this class I chose to stick with brown rice flour.

Starter needs to be stronger and more mature for breads.  Things like pancakes, English muffins, and cupcakes work well with baby starters.

No comments:

Post a Comment