When our family made the switch to a gluten-free diet, there was one thing we found especially difficult to find: a healthy gluten-free bread that was delicious. Yes there were lots of recipes on the internet, and many box mixes for sale, and even fully baked loaves available at the grocery store -- but very few of them weren't loaded with lots of things that we had already eliminated from our diets as we moved towards eating in a more healthful way. Of the few we found that didn't contain objectionable ingredients, they still consisted in large part of refined starches. What's worse they really didn't even taste that good. That's when we decided we'd rather adjust to a bread-less life, then waste our daily caloric quota on something that not only wasn't really contributing important nutrients, but wasn't even that tasty. After all -- the whole point of going gluten-free was to improve our health. We were used to eating whole grains. What sense did it make to eliminate gluten but then load up on refined starch, sugar and fat?
But then I got an idea to try making bread using whole grains and a "sourdough" approach. After much experimentation, I found a way to make a 100% gluten-free whole grain bread. My recipe has no added sugar, no refined starches, and no added oils. It is eggless and dairyless too. There are no scary ingredients, and except for xanthan gum, none that average people in the world might not be familiar with. (For those new to this journey, xanthan gum is sold in natural foods stores, as a dry white powder. It is made from a fermentation process, and helps gluten free products stay together and can also be used as a thickener.) I am so excited about this recipe that I decided to just give it away -- whether you decide to buy my book or not. I figure if you do try it, you might just want more healthy gluten-free recipes to enjoy -- then I figure you'll buy my book.
You will not believe how wonderful this tastes! In fact it has gotten rave reviews from my non-GF friends. I realize that the instructions below may sound a little daunting at first, but really once you create a good starter and learn to care for it, the rest is really easy. And trust me -- this bread is sooooo worth it!
I am especially proud that I found a way to make a truly whole-grain bread that has NO added oils, NO egg or dairy, and NO refined starches or sugars. But let me warn you, when you pull it steaming out of the oven -- in spite of the fact that it is nearly impossible to slice beautifully until it cools -- it is hard to not stuff hunks of it right into your mouth -- it is THAT good. (I've learned to make two loaves at once in order to have one that I can slice up into neat slices.)
For the record, Buckwheat itself does NOT contain gluten. Botanically, the plant is not even related to wheat (in spite of its name). Buckwheat is actually in the rhubarb family. I prefer to grind my own buckwheat flour, from whole raw hulled buckwheat to assure I am getting 100% of the whole grain in a fresh state. There is a possibility of cross contamination when using whole grains – depending upon the facility that packaged them. If you are extremely sensitive to gluten, you may be better off purchasing pre-ground buckwheat flour that has been batch tested and guaranteed gluten-free.
The first recipe below is for the starter. (A gluten-free/casein free sourdough starter) You will need to store finished starter in the fridge, and “feed it” a tsp of water and tsp of flour (mix it in) every few days. All freshly ground flours should be stored in the freezer.
NOTES ON WATER: I USE DISTILLED OR RO WATER FOR ALL MY FOOD PREPARATIONS. IT IS POSSIBLE THAT IF YOU USE REGULAR TAP WATER IN THIS RECIPE, SOME OF THE CHEMICALS IN THE WATER MAY PREVENT THE SOURDOUGH CULTURE FROM GROWING PROPERLY. I SUGGEST THAT YOU USE PURIFIED WATER.
Making the GF/CF Starter
5 large dark red organic grapes. (some people have gotten non-organic grapes to work!)
1 cup of buckwheat flour (finely ground – important for starter)
1 cup of water
- Gently rinse the grapes with water. (Be careful that you don't wash the naturally occurring yeasts off of them.) Then peel the skins and set aside. (You can eat the insides now.)
- Place the flour and water into a small bowl and mix well, breaking up all lumps.
- Add the grape skins to the flour and water mixture and mix a little more.
- Cover the bowl with a wet cloth napkin and set on the counter, out of sun for 2-3days.
- Stir the mixture several times a day. Keep the napkin wet.
- Smell the mixture and check for an increase in volume and bubbly look. Look for the surface to turn slightly mauve colored. When this happens, search for and remove all remnants of grape skin.
- Feed the mixture a teaspoon of buckwheat flour and a teaspoon of water about every 12 hours for 3 more days.
Now your starter is ready to use. I find that if I keep it out of the fridge for another week – and keep feeding it every day, (or making bread every day) it seems to work even better.
To Make Sourdough Bread:
1 cup buckwheat flour
1 cup water
¼ cup sourdough starter (from above recipe)
2 cups buckwheat flour
1 cup garbanzo flour
½ cup raw shelled sunflower seeds (OPTIONAL -- leave out for lower fat product!)
2 & 3/4 cups plus 2 TBS water
½ cup ground flax seeds
1 ½ tsp salt
1 ½ tsp xanthan gum
1 tsp baking soda
- Mix 1 cup of flour and 1 cup of water and add your entire jar of starter (about ¼ cup). Cover bowl with wet cloth. Let sit about 12 hours.
- When bubbly, with rich “sour” smell, remove about ¼ cup of the starter. (refill the same amount back into your starter jar) and put it back into the refrigerator for use next time. The rest of this starter will be used in step 5 below.
- Place the remaining 2 cups of buckwheat flour, garbanzo flour, sunflower seeds and baking soda in a large bowl and mix well with a wire whisk.
- Place 2 ¾ cups plus 2 TBS of water and the flax seeds in blender and blend until thick and creamy. Add the salt and xanthan gum and blend well.
- Pour the wet into the dry, add the starter and mix well. This will be more of a thick batter, then a dough.
- Cut a piece of parchment paper about12 x 14 inches and set it in a loaf pan. Spoon the sourdough into the pan, stand the edges of the parchment paper up straight to support a moist cloth napkin that you place on top of this.
- Set undisturbed for 6- 14 hours (depends on temperature) – until it increases in size, nearly overflowing pan. The time will be less if you can keep temperature at about 100 degrees. Bake it in a preheated oven at 360 degrees for about 60-70 minutes. After it cools, store in the refrigerator. If you want very thin slices – wait until it is completely cool to cut it.
Additionally we have found after storing it in the refrigerator, it tastes MUCH better if we pop the slices in the toaster oven before serving them. Interestingly -- even when toasting -- the slices don't really brown up much -- but they will got hot and fragrant and really yummy. If you really want to impress people (and fat is not an issue) -- serve it with a nice pesto or garlic --olive oil spread (that recipe is in my book too.)