Pros & Cons of GF Vegan Sourdough Bread Making
GF sourdough bread is amazing! Since I learned how to make it, my life without bread is OVER!
But I want to give you the complete picture, through the eyes of Savvy Vegetarian, before you begin gf sourdough bread making.
Pros of GF Sourdough Bread
Gluten free sourdough bread tastes wonderful!
It’s easy to make and doesn’t take a lot of time.
Bread is the ultimate comfort food and now I can have it gluten free.
GF bread solves the problem of what to make for gf breakfast/lunch/supper without cooking.
Friends and family are agog with admiration that you did this amazing thing – bake real gluten free bread!
Gluten free people who don’t bake or maybe even don’t cook at all are now your friends for life.
Bread making is meditative, it fosters communing with nature, and develops the virtue of patience.
But to every good thing, there’s a downside. Have you noticed?
Cons of GF Sourdough Bread
You have to keep feeding your sourdough starter, or it dies of starvation.
As long as the starter is going, you have to keep making bread, and branch out into corn muffins, pancakes, etc.
You can put your sourdough starter into hibernation in the fridge or freezer, but it may or may not come back to life for you.
GF bread is made of flour, and has sugar in it (agave is still sugar sorry to say). Stevia might be an acceptable sugar sub, but I haven’t tried that yet.
I’ve found to my sorrow that flour (even whole grain gf flour) and sugar (all forms) aren’t the best thing to eat for someone who tends toward belly fat, high blood pressure, and diabetes. I’m often in denial about it, but facts are facts.
Now I have to restrain myself from eating TOO MUCH gf sourdough bread, and make other people eat it for me, so I end up baking bread for a crowd.
I go through so much gluten free flour, I may have to start charging for the bread, and I never wanted to go into the bread business.
To comfort myself, I’ll just have to eat another slice or two of gluten free bread. After all, bread IS the ultimate comfort food!
Even with the downsides, after developing a recipe, and eating a lot of gf sourdough bread, I’m still enthusiastic.
With my last batch of bread, I used up all my starter, and I’m anxiously nurturing another bowl of starter, so I can make more bread.
Enough about me and bread. Let’s talk about my experiences baking gf sourdough bread.
But that doesn’t stop me from adding just a few more tips and observations!
My Top 10 Tips for GF Sourdough Bread Making:
1. The sourdough starter needs to be fully developed – it takes 5 – 7 days to become yeasty, so be patient. When it’s ready, it will have a distinctive sweet yeasty smell, with a mixture of liquid and foam on top. When you feed it, it will become very bubbly in a couple of hours.
2. You can make sourdough starter with any flour - it’s simply not true that gluten is required. But as Jean Layton, aka The Gluten Free Doctor, points out, it’s best to use a mixture of gf flours, not starches such as potato or tapioca.
3. GF starter is a bit of a delicate flower, and needs to be kept consistently warm, 75 or 80 degrees F, with no drafts. It will keep in the fridge, for up to a week, but may or may not revive.
4. GF Sourdough is a batter bread, not a kneaded bread. But it needs to be very vigorously mixed to develop a nice holey crumb. So either use a stand mixer or beat well with a sturdy wooden spoon and a strong arm for about 15 minutes.
5. The consistency of the batter is important. Too liquid and it won’t stand up, will rise too fast, then is liable to collapse. The bread will be flat on top and too moist and gummy. If the batter is too stiff, it will have trouble rising and the bread will be dense and heavy. If you’ve ever made quick bread, that’s about the right consistency, but just a little stiffer. If you can smooth the batter in the pan into a rounded shape, and it stays that way, then you’ve got it right.
6. Rise gf sourdough bread as much as possible in the pan. When the batter has risen, what you see is what you get when you take it out of the oven. The gluten free bread batter will rise double before you bake it, but it won’t rise much in the oven. I’m not sure why, but probably it has something to do with no gluten.
7 GF bread takes much longer to rise than glutenous bread. Three hours minimum. And again, a consistently warm environment is essential. What I do is turn the oven on low, then rise the bread on top of the stove, covered with a cloth. You could also use an electric heating pad on low under the bread, which should be on a rack.
8. When I made yeasted wheat bread, I found that a 50/50 mixture of whole grain flours and white flour made a lighter more edible loaf. It’s the same with gluten free bread, but instead of white flour, use a combination of starches: tapioca starch, potato starch, corn starch and sweet rice flour (definitely qualifies as a starch) to mix with the whole grain gf flours.
9. If you follow the 50/50 principle, you can use pretty much any combo of whole grain gf flours you like, but keep neutral tasting millet or sorghum flour as a base. Teff, buckwheat or amaranth are all strong tasting flours to use in addition.
10. For best results, cool your gf sourdough bread completely before slicing, so it can finish cooking inside and the crumb can set.
More GF Sourdough Bread Recipes: In case you don’t want to make MY recipe, here are the best gf sourdough bread recipes I found online. These are not all vegan, but feel free to sub for egg and dairy:
Enjoy! Judith Kingsbury, Savvy Vegetarian