Gluten Free Sourdough Baking

Monday, August 3, 2015

We have a super special treat for you today! Several of you have asked for knowledge about Gluten Free Sourdough Baking. I don't a thing about gluten free, so I asked the amazing Natasa if she would mind preparing some info for you. The following is a guest post written by her, and it is so detailed and interesting! I know you will enjoy it!

Natasa Djuric is the real sourdough baking specialist and the author of My Daily Sourdough Bread blog ( where she shares her knowledge on how to bake delicious and great-looking sourdough breads and other sourdough goods at home. She is also the author of the online step-by-step sourdough baking master class Instantly Experience the Power of Real Sourdough Baking ( which includes more than 25 diverse both gluten and gluten-free sourdough recipes and enhances your baking skills and health to another level.

Taste for sourdough is growing worldwide and that is easy to understand. Crusty loaf, made in honoured way using and harnessing the raising power of wild yeasts and bacteria. Real sourdough baking is an object of craft, beauty and nourishing. Its characteristics and flavour is vastly superior. It's no surprise that more and more people are learning this ancient skill.

Just like sourdough baking, gluten-free baking in general has gained a lot of attention in the last years. Many people suffer from hidden gluten sensitivities and to uncover this for yourself you need to go gluten-free for at least few weeks and monitor your body and well-being.

Bread is a major part of the modern diet. It’s a staple in our everyday lives and many people are eating some type of bread with most of their meals. Going gluten-free and eating no bread can be nightmare for some people, because there are no decent alternatives to gluten breads and gluten-free baking is quite a challenge. Let's explore this further.

Gluten is a protein found in flours like wheat, barley, rye, oat, spelt, einkorn, and Khorasan wheat. It is very important in the bread making process. When flour is mixed with water, the gluten swells to form a continuous network of fine strands. This network forms the structure of bread dough and makes it elastic and extensible.

In gluten-free baking we are baking with gluten-free flours and we need to figure out new ways that replace the gluten.

Commercially available gluten-free breads are often risen quickly and contain ingredients which don’t nourish our bodies and mind on the long run: xanthan/guar gum, commercial yeast, baking powder, sugar or other artificial sweeteners, fruit juices, eggs of unknown source, artificial vitamins, minerals, folic acid and B vitamins, soy and large amounts of high-starch flours.

Gluten Free Sourdough Baking (Sourdough Surprises)

I like to keep things simple, easy and natural, regarding both the ingredients and the processes. And for me natural process refers to sourdough fermentation.

Sourdough or lactic acid fermentation can enrich bodies in many ways. Lactic acid produced during the sourdough fermentation has the ability to lower the insulin responses, assisting you to maintain healthy weight and prevent cravings, as well ensuring your blood glucose level remains in line, helping you to guard against various diseases especially diabetes. Fermentation improves the overall nutritional profile of your flour and with this you can gain maximum nutritional benefits from your baked goods.


Besides baking without gluten, gluten-free sourdough baking means baking leaving out rising agents like commercial yeast that rise the dough very fast and no lactic acid fermentation can take place.

However, this doesn’t mean gluten-free sourdough baking is difficult, it is just different and often less complicated than gluten sourdough baking as we simply mix all the ingredients and let the dough ferment. Once we understand the behaviour of gluten-free sourdough, options for baked goods are limitless. We can bake pizzas, pies, scones, focaccias, pancakes, crackers, biscuits, etc.

Gluten Free Sourdough Baking (Sourdough Surprises)
Grain Free Millet Sourdough Bread
First, let’s look at what kind of flours can be used in gluten-free sourdough baking:
-       Buckwheat flour*
-       Quinoa flour
-       Millet flour
-       Brown and white rice flour
-       Corn flour
-       Amaranth flour
-       Sorghum flour
-       Teff flour
-       Oat flour**

Not all of them are available everywhere. The best option to keep gluten-free baking at low cost is to buy flours from grains that are local to where you live or are easily available and inexpensive and also to mill your own flours at home. Grinding flours at home keeps the nutritional value of your flour at the maximum level and it also enables you to prepare the grains prior to milling, like soaking or sprouting them.

Each of these flours behaves differently in the terms of water absorbency and the effect on the final crust and crumb result, so it’s better to start with less water and to gradually add more water later when you see how much water your flour can handle.

*If you are gluten sensitive and want to use buckwheat make sure that it's certified gluten-free, since it's very often cross-contaminated due to being processed in facilities in which also gluten grains are handled.

**Oats contain avenin which is an equivalent of gluten in wheat. It has been intensively debated in the last years whether oats are safe for celiacs. It’s up to a personal choice to decide whether to include it in your gluten-free diet or not. Just like buckwheat, oat is often cross-contaminated with other gluten containing grains.

Binders are optional but often preferred adding in gluten-free sourdough baking. Their function is to bind moisture and help make breads and other baked goods less crumbly. This ability to hold the water is called hygroscopy and you will notice this if you soak husks or seeds into water – the mixture will turn into a gluey and thick substance. What is more, binders listed below are all beneficial to our bodies in general. They represent a good source of dietary fibre and help to improve and maintain regular gastrointestinal transit.

Common types of binders I use are:
-       Psyllium husk and psyllium husk powder
-       Whole chia seeds or ground chia seeds
-       Golden and dark whole flaxseeds or ground flaxseeds

Sometimes you may add other ingredients to discover and create new flavours and textures, like:
-       (Roasted) seeds and nuts (sunflower, sesame, hemp, and pumpkin seeds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts)
-       Fats (butter, ghee, coconut oil, olive oil)
-       Dairy products (milk kefir, yogurt)
-       Flakes (millet, buckwheat, quinoa or rice flakes)

Equipment for gluten-free sourdough baking:
-       Baking tin for proofing and baking breads
-       Baking stone or baking tray for baking pizzas, scones, etc.
-       Grain mill to mill your own flour (buying grains instead of flour is usually much cheaper)

Gluten-free sourdough starter
The basis for gluten-free sourdough baking is a vibrant, stable and active gluten-free sourdough starter. Just like creating gluten sourdough starter, the process is the same for gluten-free starter. It usually takes 3 days to build your gluten-free starter from scratch. All you have to do is to mix flour with water, let it sit at the warm place for 24 hours or until active, feed it for the first time, let it ferment for another 24 hours and then feed it again. I advise you to use freshly milled flour since they ferment faster than store-bought flours.

Gluten Free Sourdough Baking (Sourdough Surprises)

General tips for gluten-free sourdough baking
-       don’t compare with gluten baking
-       be patient, practise makes perfect
-       get to know the flour you are using and adjust the process

There is flood of recipes on the internet for gluten-free breads. The huge problem with most recipes for gluten-free breads out there is that they are either calling for hard to get flours or highly processed gluten-free flours which as well are full of starches, synthetic vitamins, minerals and binders. More, the end result is often dense, crumbly, expensive bread without texture, taste, structure or crispy crust. In other words, I didn't come across gluten-free bread that is simple, good for digestion, natural and easy to make.

So one day, I challenged my boyfriend and myself who will first make decent gluten-free sourdough bread. After some trial and error he came out with amazing gluten-free bread and it turned out that sourdough fermentation worked best and gave best results. The end results were bread, a process and a recipe that you can make at home without complicated ingredients.

It’s gluten-free bread that is soft and airy, yet moist and flexible. It has crispy crust, tastes great, its' gluten, egg, soy, gum and dairy free, cheap, simple & quick to make, it cuts without crumbling and falling apart. You can bend it a good amount without breaking and it holds together well. At the same time you can enjoy benefits of sourdough fermentation.

And it's just glorious for sandwiches too.

This process and recipe are really a breakthrough in gluten-free baking. For the first time, gluten sensitive or people with allergies can have great bread back into their diets without suffering the consequences of gluten or other allergens in their system. It's also very welcome for people that like taking care for their bodies.

I prepared special video and downloadable pdf tutorial to show exactly how to make gluten-free sourdough bread and gluten-free sourdough starter and you can check it here (

Happy gluten-free sourdough baking!

About Natasa Djuric


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