Simple Sourdough Focaccia: A Beginners Guide
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Sourdough is having a moment. Longtime sourdough bakers may cringe at this proclamation, just as our grandparents likely roll over in their graves when they hear toast is a thing.
But its true. I cannot open a magazine without seeing a feature on a bakery and its naturally leavened loaves I cannot scroll through Instagram without seeing a crumb shot of a halved sourdough miche, a beautiful web of irregular holes, or an intricately scored, thick-crusted boule being presented like Simba to the animal kingdom.
My interest in sourdough in recent months has been spurred by a number of requests about how to make my mothers peasant bread with a sourdough starter. Initially, I thought why? The beauty of the peasant bread is that it doesnt require a starter or a long rise or any fussy techniques it can be on your table start to finish in three hours. Everyone will rave.
Over the years, Ive been able to answer questions relatively easily about how to make the peasant bread morph into something else: a boule with a thick crackling crust thank you Jim Lahey or a thinner round to use for pizza or something palatable for the gluten-free crowd.
But achieving that sour taste even a subtle sour taste is something yeast, even with a long slow rise cannot achieve. And, moreover, natural leavening is natural leavening no yeast allowed.
Want To Make Your Own
There are about a million recipes, instructional videos, and books on sourdough, but there is no right way to make a loaf, Kimbell says. The secret, it seems, is just practice. If youre interested in delving into the world of sourdough, check out Kimbells recipe, along with 50 other options, at sourdough.co.uk.
While the sourdough process makes bread easier on my gut, I still cant eat as much as I want. Since I have a wheat intolerance, not an allergy, I have to limit my overall intake of fructans, which are also highly concentrated in garlic and onions. And if Im eating bread, I exclude foods high in FODMAPs like apples, cauliflower, and beans, just to name a few.
I learned to make sourdough so I could set my own proving time to reduce the fructan load even more. Personally, I find a 24-hour rise is best for my digestion, but depending on individual sensitivity, Kimbell says bread can rise for up to between 36 to 48 hours.
I have people who say just sourdough itself is easily digestible, Kimbell says. I have another lady who has colitis who couldnt digest it after 12 hours, couldnt digest it after 24 hours, but then did 36, and shes now eating as much bread as she can stuff in her face because shes eating bread for the first time in years.
Some Important Tips For Gluten
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Gluten In Sourdough Bread
Gluten is the name for a group of proteins found in wheat, rye, and barley. It causes damage to the intestinal lining in those with celiac disease, so its essential to avoid all sources of gluten if you have this condition (
Those with a gluten sensitivity or wheat allergy should also avoid gluten and wheat-containing foods.
The main ingredient in sourdough bread is usually wheat flour which contains gluten.
While one lab analysis of the gluten in wheat sourdough bread has shown that it has less gluten than other types of wheat bread, the amount can vary .
This means there may still be unsafe levels of gluten in regular wheat sourdough bread.
However, gluten-free sourdough varieties, which are made from gluten-free flours like rice, sorghum, or teff, are available .
The Food and Drug Administration requires all products that are labeled gluten-free to have a gluten content below 20 parts per million .
If your sourdough bread contains wheat, rye, or barley, it also contains gluten. If you have to follow a strict gluten-free diet, only purchase sourdough bread made from gluten-free grains.
All About Psyllium Husk
Psyllium husk is our gluten for this bread: it provides the binding properties and elasticity that helps the dough become workable. It gives the structure and support for the bread to rise, as well.
Psyllium is a form of fiber that is derived from the husks of plantain seeds 1. It has a lot of health and digestive benefits, but its the gelling, fiber-filled aspects of the plant that were after here!
From my experiments: you need psyllium husk for good gluten-free sourdough bread. For my bread recipes, I wouldnt try to replace it. Psyllium helps make the dough workable, so it doesnt squish and stick all over the place. Its also what makes your bread chewy and stretchy.
NOTE:psyllium husk and psyllium huskpowder are different. You want the full husk. You can generally find it more easily anyways, but make sure you dont use the powder. Its much more absorbent and I have not tried it in my tests. I usually find it in the supplement area of most grocery stores.
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The Tools Youll Need To Get Started:
- A happy starter: you want peak activity before you start baking.
- Banneton: you can also use a bowl lined with a clean cloth tea towel, but bannetons do give you beautiful ridges and provide a great environment for your bread to rise. I like using an 8-inch banneton.
- Lame: this is a razor blade youll use for scoring your bread before baking. A sharp knife will work well too. My lame is from Wire Monkey Shop.
- Stand Mixer: this is optional Ive made many loaves using a bowl, a wooden spoon, and my hands. But if you have one, making bread using your stand mixer and a dough hook makes things super easy.
- Dutch Oven: you dont need a Dutch oven per se, but it definitely helps: the lid traps the heat and steam, and it helps provide a wonderfully crunchy crust. By preheating the Dutch oven, it also helps support your breads lift once it hits the hot oven. I have a pricey 5.5qt Staub dutch oven that Ive had forever, but more affordable options also work just as well. Ive linked some options beneath the recipe.
- Parchment Paper: I find parchment tremendously useful for making a sling to help lower your bread into the Dutch oven, so it doesnt lose its rise from getting dropped into the Dutch oven, which can deflate the loaf. If youre really invested in bread making, you may want to invest in something like this silicone baking mat thats perfect for lowering and lifting your bread into the Dutch oven.
How Sourdough Bread Is Helping People Eat Gluten Again
If youre sensitive to gluten, sourdough bread could be your new best friend.
Gluten is the most misunderstood substance of the new millennium, so demonized that even coffee, yogurt and body wash are labeled gluten-free as a selling point.
But weve been eating grains for some 100,000 years, so what accounts for the sudden, massive increase in gluten intolerance?
Marketing accounts for most of it: Eighty-six percent of Americans who think theyre gluten-intolerant arent. But it also has to do with the way were baking bread.
The invention of quick-rise commercial yeast has replaced the way weve baked bread since the beginning. But now, the rising popularity of sourdough bread is teaching us something: Its easier to digest.
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My Bread Is Gummy Inside
Chances are, one of the following is the case:
- You didnt cook it long enough
- You used too much water
- You cut into the bread too early, or accidentally broke the crust somehow while it was cooling
- You dropped the bread dough into the cast iron skillet too hard
Typically, its the first one. I would usually recommend baking longer! If you find your bread is getting too dark on the bottom, and still gummy on the inside, try lowering the temperature and doing a longer bake. This will help the bread dry out in the center for the perfect consistency, which is soft but not wet or sticky at all!
Boom You Just Made Some Righteous Gluten
I sure hope this recipe works well for you, and enables you to enjoy delicious and nutritious homemade bread that you may have otherwise been missing. Please let us know how it goes by coming back for a review, sharing how your personal tweaks to the recipe go, or to ask questions! I would also love to see your results over on Instagram by tagging #homesteadandchill and/or @deannacat3. Happy baking!
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Step : Proof Overnight
Next, were going to transfer the dough into the proofing basket, aka banneton. Proofing is essentially the final rise. After much experimentation, we have found the best results with our gluten-free sourdough bread when the room-temperature bulk fermentation phase is followed by a long cold proof in the refrigerator. This is almost exactly how we bake our wheat-based sourdough bread, with one exception: time. Wheat is more forgiving and can sit for up over 24 hours in cold proof. On the other hand, gluten-free sourdough peaks and falls faster, so I suggest a 7-12 hour cold proof instead.
By putting the dough into a banneton, it helps it form and hold the perfect loaf shape. A banneton proofing basket is made from woven material, which allows extra air into the loaf adding to the rise. Last but not least, using a banneton for proofing makes the transfer into the hot baking pan a bit easier. If you do not have a bannteon, simply transfer the dough into a smaller bowl (a loaf-size bowl that will easily fit in the fridge.
To transfer the dough into the banneton:
Use Of Selected Strains Of Lactobacillus For Removing Gluten And Enhancing The Nutritional Properties Of Gluten
Forty-six strains of sourdough lactic acid bacteria were screened for proteolytic activity and acidification rate in gluten-free flours. The sourdough cultures consisted of Lactobacillus sanfranciscensis LS40 and LS41 and Lactobacillus plantarum CF1 and were selected and used for the manufacture of GF bread. Fermentation occurred in two steps: long-time fermentation and fast fermentation using the previous fermented sourdough as inoculum with Saccharomyces cerevisiae . GF bread started with bakers yeast alone was used as the control. Gluten was added to ingredients before fermentation to simulate contamination. Initial gluten concentration of 400 ppm was degraded to below 20 ppm only in the sourdough GF bread. Before baking, sourdough GF bread showed phytase activity ca. sixfold higher than that of GF bread started with bakers yeast alone. Atomic absorption spectrophotometric analysis revealed that the higher phytase activity resulted in an increased availability of free Ca2+, Zn2+, and Mg2+. The concentration of free amino acids also was the highest in sourdough GF bread. This study highlighted the use of selected sourdough cultures to eliminate risks of contamination by gluten and to enhance the nutritional properties of GF bread .
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Can I Make This Gluten Free
That is a question I am not sure about since I have not tried this recipe with gluten-free flours of any kind.
However, my gut tells me that I definitely dont think almond flour or spelt flour will work. A baking flour that is a cup-or-cup style replacement of traditional all-purpose flour is the only flour I think has a flying chance, but I do not know if it will work.
I have only made the recipe exactly as written. If you make the recipe with gluten-free flour, please comment how it went for you.
How To Make Gluten Free Sourdough Taste Sour
There are three main distinguishing features of sourdough: taste smell and texture. You might expect that the most difficult feature to achieve in gluten free sourdough would be texture, but as you can see from the photos, the artisan texture, open cell structure and crunchy crust are present in each of my loaves made with my gfJules Flour or my gfJules Bread Mix.
The smell is something that is quite noticeable from the starter. It should be tangy and rather sour smelling to know its really active. If your starter isnt smelling very sour, it needs to age longer and/or be fed more.
But the sour taste was the thing that seemed to be most elusive for me in my bread experiments. Thats fine for me, as I dont prefer a sourdough taste in my bread, but I know many of you do.
My breads came out tasting yeasty and mild, just perfect for sandwiches or dipping in olive oil and balsamic .
No, the sour taste didnt come easily. I did achieve it when I allowed the bread to rise overnight, so if you are searching for that sour, I recommend budgeting time for an overnight rise.
I allowed my bread to rise as I described above, then placed it in the refrigerator overnight , then removed it the next day to sit on the counter to come to room temperature before baking. THEN the sour started to show through!
If you do any experimenting of your own and find other ways to make this bread taste sour-er, please share in the comments below!
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Ferment It For 7 Hours Or Longer
Sourdough bread is transformed when it is fermented for 7 hours or longer. Then it is not only easily digested, but can often be handled by those who are gluten intolerant. Here is a recipe to make overnight sourdough bread. It is the best one for beginners and the one I think tastes the best. Well . . . thats not entirely true. I love so many, but this one has a great flavor and is easy. I have devised a slower, longer fermentation method that is even more effective for those who have severe gluten problems.
Why Sourdough Bread Isnt Gluten
Its true that the fermentation process for sourdough bread partially breaks down the gluten in the flour, which is the origin of the claim that sourdough bread is safe for people who have celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity. However, it only breaks it down partially not enough to render the wheat-based bread gluten-free .
The buzz around sourdough as a potential option for rendering wheat-based bread gluten-free comes from some recent research. These studies looked at whether very specific strains of sourdough lactobacilli and yeast could break down the gluten in wheat flour completely if given enough time to work their magic. This process of breaking down proteins into fragments is called hydrolysis.
In one study, people with diagnosed celiac disease were randomly assigned to one of three groups. The first group ate pretty standard gluten-y bread, which had 80,127 parts per million of gluten in it . The second group ate bread made with flour that had undergone the hydrolysis process extensively the resulting bread had 2,480 ppm of gluten in it . And the third group ate fully hydrolyzed bread, which had 8 ppm of residual gluten in it.
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Our List Of Ingredients
Only fresh spring water and the most nutrient-rich gluten-free grains go into our sourdough-based gluten-free breads. We source top quality rice, corn, millet, quinoa, sorghum, and buckwheat directly from our trusted farmers to ensure our breads are full of the essential vitamins and minerals that make up a healthy gluten-free diet.
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Baking Gluten Free Sourdough Choosing The Right Pan
As you can see at the top of this post, there are many different options when it comes to baking your gluten free sourdough bread. If you prefer to make an artisan-style loaf, no bread pan is needed.
For that method, I found that lining a large glass bowl with oiled parchment sprinkled with more gfJules Flour was the best way to support the bread as it rose.
Once risen, I simply lifted up on the parchment and laid it out onto a baking sheet for the bread to bake.
The bread will take more of a free-form shape, but its really beautiful and impressive!
Using either the artisan or bread pan method, you may choose to dust the top of the loaf with gfJules Flour before baking for a more rustic look, or simply brush olive oil onto the top, or both.
I like the look of the flour with the golden finish of the olive oil in combination, so most of my loaves pictured are done that way.
Allow the dough to rise covered with oiled plastic wrap to help keep the loaf warm and moist. I like putting the loaf into a preheated 200F oven, then turning the oven off, but turning the light on. I do this with the bread rising in either the bowl or the oiled and floured bread pan.
You can allow the bread to rise here for a minimum of 1 1/2 hours or up to one day if youre baking egg-free.
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