It was good weather for baking, so I decided to make a number of gluten free sourdough recipes this week. I started out by making a big batch of active starter, to use for all the different baked goods (pizza, bread, cinnamon buns). It was a quick and handy way to get a bunch of recipes made at once!
However, I will admit that I still really struggle with my gluten free sourdough starter. And I’m still not convinced it’s worth maintaining and feeding unless you intend on baking gluten free sourdough starter weekly. My issue is that it just isn’t as robust as a wheat based sourdough. Also I find that spontaneous fermentation of rice flour has always worked well for me.
Regardless, a healthy batch of starter is often handy to have on hand. My basic recipe is based on rice flour. But you could probably use any gluten free whole grain flour that you want (look at my gluten free bread flour mix post for examples of whole grain flours). However, I would be wary of store-bought flour mixes because xanthan gum and other additives wouldn’t be very good for sourdough.
- Whole grain gluten free flour (I use rice)
- Filtered water (do not use chlorinated tap water)
- Large glass container (metal and plastic won't harm the sourdough, but the acidity of the sourdough might harm the container).
- Put equal parts of water and flour (1/2 cup each) into a glass container. Mix it with a fork, loosely cover with cheesecloth and leave it in a warm spot.
- Stir daily with a fork, and wait until you see signs of fermentation before you add any more flour or water (usually takes me 2 days to see bubbles)
- Once it starts to bubble feed it with a ½ cup of flour and ½ cup of water, twice a day. It will be ready to bake with within 2 days.
- If reviving from the fridge, simply start at the feeding step until you have an active starter.
1. Feeding: For my recipes you need to feed your culture equal parts of water and flour by volume (1/2 cup each). It is a bit more liquidy than other cultures, but I like to have that hydration ratio for my recipes.
If you keep your sourdough at room temperature it will need to be fed at least every 12 hours to keep bubbling happily. In the refrigerator it will need to eat at least once every 5 days to keep bubbling happily.
2. The flavour and properties of your sourdough are based on the local strains of yeast and bacteria. This variability in yeast influences the flavour and leavening time, which is why every region of the world will produce a very different type of bread. Some areas have famous strains (Montreal, San Francisco) but most regions should be able to make a decent sourdough starter. However, poor air quality might result in a bad tasting, or under active culture. If you have a hepa air filter in your home it might be difficult for your to have an active local culture.
3. If you don’t feel like taking the five days to start your own starter you can buy one, or use kefir; however, if you keep the starter going in your kitchen it won’t take long before the local yeast and bacteria take over the party.
4. Gluten free sourdough culture has the tendency to get a pink or blue hue based on yeasts and molds in your home. While it’s not a good thing… it’s not bad unless it smells bad. The colour should go away as your starter becomes more active. Don’t use a bad smelling or moldy starter. That would be disgusting…
Here’s a picture of the top of my starter bubbling away after 1 day, 2 days and 4 days.