Mild Country White Sourdough Bread

I gave up on producing a showy loaf a long time ago.  I always rolled my eyes a little when I saw photos online of perfect bloom or wide-open crumb.  "The mustard is going to just fall right through," I would think to my self disapprovingly, shaking my head a little.

It turns out, I was just jealous. After a decade of gluten-free bread baking and recipe development, and through a collaboration with some other bakers, I've come up with a gf sourdough bread recipe that produces an open crumb, a large bloom, and sometimes, if I'm lucky, an ear.  

The bread has a very mild, pleasant sourdough flavor and is very light in color.

The crumb is very open but not too delicate.  It has a chewiness to the texture that I associate with a good sourdough bread.  The crust gets a nice browning and it toasts up nicely. And I don't mind the mustard falling through as much as I thought I would.

Many thanks to Michael Hollesen who came up with the original version of this recipe.  We both borrowed ideas from other recipe developers including Roman Jan, and many others helped by sharing their experience and ideas.

For a variation on the recipe and method to add inclusions like cheese, peppers or herbs, check out this newer version of the recipe:

Mild Country White Sourdough Bread

Mix #1: 20-30 min
Rest time: 2 hours
Mix #2: 1-2 min
Rise time: 6 hours
Chill time: 20-40 minutes
Bake time: 45-55 minutes

Total time: 9-10 hours, or more if needed

If you don’t have a sourdough starter, fry this easy recipe ready in 5 days:

Gel in a separate bowl:

265g Spring water at room temperature
25g Psyllium husk, ground

Mix in a stand mixer:

145g tapioca starch
145g potato starch
60g ivory teff (or brown teff for a more rustic look and pronounced whole grain flavor)
50g millet flour
30g potato flour
24g sugar

When dry ingredients are mixed, add:

40g sourdough starter, at or past its peak, preferably either teff or millet 
12g or 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
100g egg whites (3 egg whites for me)
150g Spring Water*

Mix with paddle attachment on low.  The dough will look crumbly at first but mixing for three minutes should create a wet dough. If mixing by hand, it may take a little longer but you don't have to mix constantly.

Add the psyllium gel from the first step to the wet dough and mix until well combined, about two minutes.

Mix on low until incorporated:

15g pink Himalaya salt 

Let rest in bowl of stand mixer, covered, about 2 hours.

Mix the dough again about 1 minute, scraping down the sides and re-mixing if needed.  Scoop the dough into a floured banneton and smooth the top so it's evenly distributed. 

Check the level it’s at and note the height of the center of the dough or take a photo. 

Let rise (covered) at room temp ~70°f/21°C until it just barely starts rising, 6 more hours or about 8 hours total ferment time from first mix.  The top will dome up about one rung higher on the banneton.  Other indications of readiness are that the dough starts looking puffier on the surface, that it no longer smells like raw flour, and it’s jiggly and springy when poked.  The surface is suddenly less tacky.

Conversely, signs that it is not ready at the 8-hour mark are that it has sunken, spread out or shrunk slightly, that it still smells like raw dough, and that the center looks very raw and maybe even transluscent. The pattern of dough on the surface is still very sharp and defined.  If the dough is not ready yet and shows these signs of underfermentation, it may take several more hours for it to proof.  This can be a sign that the starter was not active enough or that the ambient temperature is a little low.  It will proof but it can take some extra patience.

Once the dough starts rising, place the banneton, still covered, in the freezer for 30-40 minutes.  In the mean time preheat your oven to 450°f/230°C.  Remove the chilled dough from the freezer and carefully invert onto lightly floured piece of parchment paper.  Lightly flour around the edges of the boule. Shape the dough into a boule by carefully and gently pulling the edges toward you and tucking them under the loaf with the long side of the hand or a bench scraper.  Be as gentle as possible since the dough is already proofed.  The chilling helps with handling but care is needed to shape gluten-free dough after it has risen. After shaping transfer the bread to the pre-heated baking vessel and score.  If doing the one-slash score on a boule (as pictured) it needs additional decorative scoring to expand correctly and vent additional water as the hydration is so high.  

This is the scoring pattern and placement I've found creates the best belly 

Bake 30 minutes covered, 5 minutes uncovered, and 10 minutes straight on the rack.  If at any point it starts looking too brown on top before the bottom is set, then turn down the heat in the oven.  Since this recipe has so much egg it’s best not to brown it too much because egg burns easily.  If it still needs additional time (not hollow sounding tapped on bottom) then leave it in the oven right on the rack with the oven turned off and the door closed. After the bottom of the loaf is set and firm, and makes a very hollow sound when tapped with the knuckles, you can cool it on a cooling rack, or, if you would like to prevent shrinkage, you can cool it in the oven for awhile with the door cracked open.  I usually do this if the seam of the bloom isn’t completely set and crusty on top. I’ve been baking at night and cutting open the next day but I don’t know if that’s necessary to wait so long.

*A note about hydration:

My recipes in general seem to need hydration adjustments for other climates/other grinds of flour/random acts of nature. This recipe for me can go either up or down in hydration and still come out.  A higher hydration might create a slightly tackier feel to the inside, but the bread will stay fresh longer and have a more open crumb. A lower hydration makes the dough a little bit easier to handle and shape.  It can take a few tries with a new recipe to nail down the perfect hydration for any baker.


Beth said…
This is far and away the best gluten free bread I’ve ever had/made. I have made it twice now - once my starter (sorghum and millet) was a little weak so I added a tsp of yeast. I chilled the dough a little longer because I found it makes for easier handling oh and I used powdered eggwhites plus 90 grams of water. All that said this is simply amazing bread! I noticed you have a similar bread flour blend but it isn’t quite the same - any thoughts on making other breads (croissants for example) with this blend?
Gina said…
Hi Beth, thanks for your kind words! I have tried making croissants with similar blends to this, and I've found that there is too much starch and egg here to make a manageable dough. The last test I did, the dough was very difficult to handle and the pastries did not hold their rise. But they were very flaky and tasty! Next time I'll try something like this but with less starches added, whether that means using more whole grains or using something like white rice flour, I'm not sure.

Thanks also for letting everyone know the modifications that have worked for you. The high amount of egg in this recipe inhibits the yeast a bit, so adding a pinch of baker's yeast to boost a sluggish starter is a good call. I was wondering if dried egg white would work, thanks for testing that! I've also played with the chill time and it doesn't hurt to go longer. Probably every fridge is different too so it may vary by user. I'm so glad you like the recipe!
Beth said…
My starter is happy and active now so no additional yeast required. Chilled 3 days because I was busy still perfect rise if more tart. Added a half jar of calamata olives and 1 tbsp rosemary at the end of mixing and reduced water 20 grams - my dad who also needs gluten free panicked when he took a bite because he couldn’t believe it was really gluten free.
serger nubee said…
Hi Gina,
I made your sourdough bread and my husband says it’s the best bread I have made. I have to agree. I was a little nervous because I put it in the fridge right before bedtime and thought it might not rise staying too long in the fridge. Instead it rose so much I was afraid it had lost all its rise and that the small amount of starter would not be enough to keep the rise in the oven. It did not fall, the crust is perfect, it is soft and you couldn’t tell it was gluten free. This may be the only sourdough bread recipe I need. Thank you so much for sharing your recipes.

Gina said…
Wow, that’s really nice to hear Janet! Thank you for your wonderful comment. I’m so glad you enjoyed the bread. I have also proofed it overnight in the fridge and it came out fine. It just takes a bit longer to bake. That 40g of starter goes a long way!
Gina said…
Beth, I haven’t tried chilling this bread for that long. I guess I was afraid it would get too acidic and collapse. I’m very glad that it held up to the test and developed more flavor to boot! I will have to try this myself now. Your inclusions sound pretty good too.
Sirisha said…
It looks awesome. Instead of eggs can we replace flax eggs and if yes how much quantity. Thank you
Gina said…
Sirisha, I am still working on an egg-free version of this bread. Flax eggs might work, but I suspect it will proof much faster without the egg so keep an eye on that if you decide to experiment!
Robbie_00 said…
Hi Gina,
Continuing with my last comment:
I put the dough in a 9” banneton and put it in the freezer for 1 hour. However, the dough was so wet it got stuck in the banneton even though it was well-floured. I gently pried it away from the sides with a stiff spatula, but the crown of the loaf stayed in the banneton. Even though freezing helped the dough to keep its shape, it spread out quite a bit.
Which of the starches or flours could I add to the dough so it was not so wet?
Gina said…
Hi Robbie, your previous comment fell on another post but I think you’re referring to this recipe. The long ferment is specifically for a small amount of sourdough. If you’re not confident in your starter, the time to add yeast would be at the second mix. Then if you added a teaspoon I’d expect it to be risen and ready to bake in one hour from the time the yeast was added. I suspect that your dough became too wet due to extreme over-fermentation, if you added a teaspoon of yeast in addition to the sourdough starter at the beginning and let it rise for six hours. This recipe really depends on sourdough fermentation to work, and you really have to watch the dough. If your starter isn’t super active yet try a sourdough discard method and save this recipe for when your starter is really strong. I am working in a discard recipe that I hope to have ready soon!
Unknown said…
Hello Gina, I am trying your recipe after many failed attempts at GF sourdough. 🤞 Can you clarify for me, in the comments I've seen discussion of proofing overnight in the fridge. Would this be the second rise? Thanks so much!
Gina said…
Yes, that’s correct, parking the dough in the fridge would be best for the second rise. I’d suggest letting it ferment at room temperature for at least a few hours after the second mix and before the fridge. So mix, rest two hours, second mix, rise three hours at room temp and fridge overnight for example.
Stef said…
How necessary is the sugar? We are trying to avoid it right now.
Gina said…
Stef, I’m not sure how necessary the sugar is if your starter is truly active and ready at peak. I haven’t tested this recipe without sugar recently. I can tell you that the sugar is minimal and is mostly consumed by the fermentation process. But this recipe is not intended to be low glycemic index. It’s formulated with maximum starches. If it’s cane sugar you’re avoiding you can certainly sub for honey or agave or any other natural source of sugar to feed the yeast. Omitting it entirely might change the rise time and create a loaf that’s more dense.
Unknown said…
Hi Gina!

I’m really excited to try this recipe and have two quick questions. Do you think this will work using a sourdough starter made with superfine brown rice flour? Also, do you have a suggested substitute for the millet flour which I avoid because of thyroid issues. Thanks so much!

Gina said…
Hi Jayne, For millet I’d try sorghum or light buckwheat. I haven’t tried it with a rice starter yet but I don’t see any problem with that. It should work. Hope you like it!
Jeannie said…
Wondering if this will work w/o the egg or if aquafaba would work as a replacement?
Gina said…
Hi Jeannie, I have had a little success with bean flour or aquafaba, but it’s been a little inconsistent and not nearly as much volume. I’m still working on it!
Anonymous said…
Are you able to post a picture of the scoring design prior to baking? That would be so helpful!

I’m excited to try the recipe!
robin said…
do you have nutritional information for this bread?
Gina said…
I have posted a photo of the scoring just before and during baking. I hope that helps!
dchiu said…
Hi! I just learned of your site and your recipes look amazing! I can't wait to try. I wondered if there was a trick to printing the recipes where everything prints correctly? Mostly, the ends and beginnings of pages, miss several lines of ingredients...thanks!
Robin said…
Do you have the nutritional information for this bread? It’s so delicious! It my favourite sourdough recipe!
Lcorb26 said…
Is there a recommendation for subbing the teff? I hate to buy yet another flour! I have oat, millet, sorghum, buckwheat, brown and white rice. lol thx
Gina said…
Sorghum is the closest sub for teff. Buckwheat might work well too. It might change the performance slightly to sub flours. I chose teff because it is more flexible than sorghum.
Angela H said…
What size bowl are you using to proof? Also do you use a Dutch oven?
Gina said…
Hi Angela, I have a few bannetons I use for this recipe. They are about 8-9 inches. I have used a Dutch oven but I usually use a cloche to bake now because it’s lighter.
Julie said…
Is there any substitute for potato flour?
Gina said…
Hi Julie, people usually substitute potato flakes (instant potatoes) for potato flour if they can’t find the flour. However if you need something that’s not potato then cassava flour also works in this recipe.
Anonymous said…
I’ve tried to make this loaf serval times. I made it perfectly the first time and now I can’t seem to get it to rise. I have a very active starter and I make other sourdough bread with it just fine. I really want to be able to make this one because of how light and fluffy it was compared to others. I don’t know what I am doing incorrectly. It just will not rise.
Anonymous said…
I’m interested that there is such a long fermentation time at room temperature, even with raw egg in the mix - this is not an issue from a food safety perspective?

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