Monday, March 17, 2014

GF 24-hour Sourdough Bread Recipe

This is a very traditional sourdough bread recipe, using artisan methods to create a nice, tangy, San Francisco-style sourdough bread.  If you like a really sour-but-smooth sourdough bread, this is the recipe for you.

There are just a few differences between this recipe and a standard wheat-based recipe.  The most notable difference, of course, is the psyllium husk, which is a gluten substitute.  Read more about psyllium and other binders here.  Then of course there's the flour.  I use my own Bread Flour Blend for bread baking, but if you live outside the U.S. read my post Make Your Own Gluten-free Bread Flour.  If you use your own flour blend, you may have to adjust the amount of water and psyllium you use.

Why sourdough?  It's incredibly delicious, for one thing.  The natural process of fermenting the bread through the sourdough process makes it really good for you, too.  Then there's the fact that sourdough bread stays fresh much longer than regular bread.  It will stay soft and flexible for about four days, and it can stay good for a week or two on the counter without molding - even in damp climates like Portland, Oregon where I live.

If the sound of spending 24 hours making bread intimidates you, let me reassure you that it really isn't very much work.  Most of the time is spent in letting the bread rise.  There is actually very little active time in this recipe - in fact, baking sourdough bread is much more flexible than baking bread with commercial yeast.  Also, the schedule is extremely flexible to allow for your schedule, whatever it might be.  I usually mix the dough after work and then bake the bread the next night, and I developed this recipe to easily fit into a "bake the next day" scenario.  I have put notes in the recipe where you can fudge the timing - even for hours or days.  Only the last rise is time sensitive and takes some attention to the dough.

24-hour Sourdough Bread Recipe

First mix: 10 minutes
First rise: 16-24 hours
Second mix: 5 minutes
Second rise: 2-4 hours
Bake time: 45  minutes

Whisk together until blended in the bowl of a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl with a fork:

490 g Spring Water (don't use tap water or any chlorinated water)
30g whole psyllium husk (or 20g ground psyllium husk)

Mix into the liquid with the paddle attachment or by hand with a wooden spoon:

328 g Bread Flour
50 grams wild yeast Sourdough Starter (@120% hydration)
12 g (1 TBSP) sugar

The dough will be pretty wet, like the photo to the right.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let stand at room temperature for 16-24 hours.  The longer it rises, the more the dough builds its sour flavor. (If you need to go longer than 24 hours on the first rise, put the dough in the refrigerator after 6-12 hours.  You can leave it in fridge for up to a day or maybe three, but let it get back up to room temperature before the next step.)

The dough should have doubled in size by the 12-hour mark at room temperature.  After that time you won't see much difference but it will still build flavor.

When the first rise is done, punch the dough down.

Knead into the dough by hand or with the dough hook on your stand mixer:

100 g bread flour
1 1/4 tsp salt
12 g (1 TBSP) sugar

When the flour in completely incorporated into the dough, make a ball of the dough by hand, bringing the seams to one side so the ball is continuous dough on the other side.  Place the dough ball seam-side down on floured parchment paper.  The dough will be tacky and a little shaggy, so just do the best you can.  It doesn't have to be perfect.  Spritz the top of the dough with a little water.  Cover the dough ball with plastic wrap so the plastic is touching the dough to keep the water in, but it's loose enough to let the dough expand while it's rising.  Invert a large bowl over the bread while it rises for 2-4 hours.  Check it regularly after the 2 hour mark to see if it's ready to bake. You will know the bread is ready to bake when it has risen quite a bit and a finger mark gently poked against the surface of the dough doesn't fill in immediately anymore.  Once it passes the "finger test" heat your oven to 450 degrees F with a cast-iron dutch oven inside.  Now you can shape the loaf.

Shape the bread into a slightly tighter ball by tucking the sides of the dough underneath all around the edge.

Let the shaped dough rest while the oven heats for 15-30 minutes.  Just before baking, score the loaf with a sharp knife, making 1/2 inch slashes.  A cross-hatch pattern is traditional for sourdough bread in the San Francisco style.

Carefully take the hot dutch oven out of the oven.  Grab the parchment paper by the edges and lift the bread into the hot dutch oven.  Before putting the lid back on the pot, spritz the inside of the dutch oven several times with water.  Place the lid on the pot and return it to the hot oven.  

Bake the bread for 20 minutes at 450.  Then, take the bread out of the dutch oven, remove the parchment paper if you can, and place the bread on the rack.  It should be lightly browned by now.  (If the bread doesn't brown, it's because the skin dried out.  You may have to brush it with oil or butter during the last 5-10 minutes of baking to get it to brown.)  Bake for another 20-30 minutes or until the top crust is deeper brown and hard.  The bread should sound crisp on the surface and hollow in the middle when tapped on the top.  Once it is done, you can take it out of the oven and cool on a rack for a chewy crust.  For a crispy crust leave it in the oven, turn off the burner, and prop the oven door open with a wooden spoon.  Leave the bread in the oven until cool.

Bread is difficult to slice while still warm.  For better slices and a tangier flavor, wait a few hours or overnight before slicing.  If you just can't wait to try it, at least let the bread cool for 20-30 minutes or so before cutting into it.

Enjoy some artisan sourdough bread!  It will stay soft for up to 4 days on the counter in a plastic bag.   Putting it in a paper bag will keep the crust crispy.


Vicki Montague said...

Wow! This looks amazing. I have recently started experimenting with sourdough and am having lots of fun. I need to get some gluten free pysillium and give this a go!

Gina Kelley said...

Thanks Vicki! Making sourdough bread is really fun. I like using psyllium because it hold well enough to do free-standing loaves like this one, but the bread is still soft and flexible inside. I've combined it with other things before, like chia and flax seed, but psyllium is a great one-ingredient binder. Let me know how your experiments turn out!

Valerie said...

I'm excited to bake this bread! I just finished mixing the first mix. This is my first time baking with psyllium, and I'm a bit nervous about it- my dough was very sticky, almost gelatinous. Is this normal?

Anonymous said...

This recipe is great. It's exactly what I've been looking for, close to regular bread with no eggs and no gums! I follow a low FODMAP diet so I don't have to be strictly GF, I can tolerate a bit of spelt. I experimented with using a small amount of wheat based sourdough starter which I fed up with a mix of brown rice/millet, sorghum and spelt flour and I use the same mix for the initial mix the and add starches for the second knead/mix. This process and mix of flours seemed to work really well for me. I've also made a regular loaf and bread rolls using mini loaf tins with the mix. Thanks for the recipe!

Mike Lucas said...

Thanks very much for this recipe. 3-4 years ago I used to be really into sourdough bread baking, but then I discovered gluten-free and paleo and gave it up. I never missed the bread itself that much but I really missed the baking! It was wonderful to be able to make GF bread that was similar to my old sourdough, and it came out with fantastic oven spring, good crumb and great flavour!

I read some of your posts on and saw some of the progress you made to develop this recipe. I have some questions for you that I'll post later on.

Mike Lucas said...

My biggest question is around the flour addition after the first rise. Is there a reason that you decided to incorporate more flour at that point? I can understand why you want to leave the salt addition until later on (kind of like a very like autolyse), but wouldn't it be simpler to add all the flour at the beginning?

I actually second-guessed the amount of water you had used (I'd never used psyllium before and considered the over 100% hydration to be too high!) so I left out some water at the beginning. Then when trying to add the flour after the second rise, the dough was too dry, but luckily I was able to add more water at that time and it turned out well.

Gina Kelley said...

Mike - Thanks for following me here from TFL and for trying my recipe! I'm glad you're enjoying it.

There is a reason for the flour addition after the first rise. This is a pretty typical step in traditional recipes. At first I thought the addition of flour for the last was just meant to make the dough less sticky to knead in traditional breads, and skipped it. Then I decided to try adding it back into my GF recipes and got better results, especially with the rise. My thinking is that the new flour is fresh food for the yeast, and gives the dough more spring on the last round. It's especially helpful for home bakers who don't have a professional level of control over all the variables. If the yeast kind of burns out a bit - if the dough over-proofs slightly on the first step - adding more flour helps to correct that.

Holding back the salt until the last rise is supposed to help the yest grow in the first step, but I'm honestly not sure how much of a difference this makes. I haven't done enough comparisons.

The whole psyllium husk do suck up a lot of H2O, but I wonder what the humidity in other climates can do to the recipe, so it doesn't hurt to second-guess the hydration and adjust before the last rise.

Thanks for the excellent questions and the great comments!

Mike Lucas said...

Thanks for answering my question Gina, that totally makes sense. The experimenter in me does want to see what happens when adding all the ingredients at the beginning (possibly with 1-3 hour autolyse before adding salt), so I'll let you know if I try that!

I should mention a couple things with the last batch I made. I tried using no sugar in the beginning, and only 9g sugar after the first rise. It still browned very nicely (though I did preheat to 500F, and baked at that temp for the first 15 min before turning down to 460 for the rest of the bake).
I should also mention that on the first rise my dough had tripled or maybe even quadrupled in size by the 18 hour mark! I guess my sourdough starter is happy to be used for bread again!

Gina Kelley said...

Mike - I'm glad your bread is turning out nicely and it sounds like you are getting phenomenal rise! All the things you're mentioning experimenting with I have also tried. I left in all those features to help with the rise on the last step - gluten free bread often has trouble getting volume after the first rise. The addition of the sugar is the only thing that I'm not sure is that helpful. It's one of those things that I tried taking out for a few recipes, then I wasn't sure about the impact, so I left it in to be safe. It doesn't hurt the bread, and it might help the yeast grow during the first few hours. I imagine that with the long rising time, the bread doesn't need the extra help sugar gives for browning, and the yeast should consume it all - it doesn't actually sweeten the bread. So that's what I'd experiment with first if I had my say - and let me know what you find out!

A word about autolyse - this term refers to resting the dough before adding the yeast or starter. It's supposed to condition the dough and improve flavor. I have never tried this and don't know if there's any advantage in GF baking.

Adding the salt after the first rise is just meant to keep from slowing the yeast down while it does the majority of its procreation at the beginning. I don't know if this technique has its own term. I'd either throw the salt in at the beginning too or just add salt before the last rise. Adding the salt in the middle of the first rise probably wouldn't have any benefit and might slow down your first rise.

If you do experiment with adding all the ingredients at the beginning the benefit would just be saving time. I have tried this and I've noted that my bread gets less rise on the last step and less oven spring, but it's still good!

Sarah said...

This bread is absolutely amazing! I used some leftover starter I had from making injera (so it was made of teff flour), but otherwise followed the instructions exactly with great results. I can't believe how good the sour flavour is, and how nicely textured the loaf is. Thank you for your always brilliant bread recipes!

Gina Kelley said...

Sarah - I'm glad your bread turned out so well! I have never made injera but I've used a teff starter for this bread with good results, so I'm not surprised your injera starter did the trick. Thanks for the positive feedback!