Gluten-free Sourdough Egg Bread

When you google special-diet recipes, you realize that everybody's got different requirements. ("Hmmm...that fried chicken IS gluten-free, but it's definitely not vegetarian! Gotta get those search terms straight...") And googling Special Diets is what forces you become a Recipe Developer instead of merely a connoisseur.

I wanted a bread with no gums, but also no gumminess; I wanted to avoid milk proteins, refined grains, and most grains at all; I didn't want to use nuts, I wanted a nice crust, and I definitely wanted my bread to hold together without crumbling. Not having off-tastes was important, and I didn't want to use leavening agents apart from the natural microbes in sourdough. Oh, and I also didn't want a bread that "is not as good as Real Bread, but it tastes better toasted!"

This time, I copied down ten recipes, and read through many more. I came up with various flour blends and overspent my food budget on buying specialty flours that I knew I'd likely use only once. Then I started baking.

My third trial yielded a bread with a lovely, moist texture, a flavor and yellow hue that reminds me of challah, and good looks, to boot. :) It tastes good on the second day (the longest a loaf has ever lasted in our house), and it would probably taste _great_ toasted - not that I've tried...

An important procedure in this sourdough technique is that most of the fermentation happens during the initial fermentation. After you put the batter in the pan for the second rise, very little time elapses before popping it into the oven. The first rise can be shorter or longer based on necessity, but the second rise is not as flexible, I've found. If you over-proof, the bread will not rise so much in the oven, and will be denser in the middle. Start the bread the night before if you want to bake in the morning.

It's hard to impart the vagaries of different ovens and pan types and textures using the written word, so I hope instead that this recipe helps inform YOUR recipe development, and that you will share any tasty variations you come up with!

180g. arrowroot flour
180g. whole cassava flour (not tapioca, although I'm curious if that would work)
1 1/2 tsp. salt

~2 cups boosted brown rice starter, made with 1.5 cups flour and enough water to make a stiff starter
1-2 tbsp. honey (amount depends on sweetness and browning desired; more will yield more browning)
4 eggs
1/3 cup avocado oil or ghee
1/2 cup lukewarm filtered water - amount depends on the thickness of your starter

Sift dry ingredients together; sift wet ingredients into dry. Add water gradually - you want a thick batter. Not as thin as pancake batter, but not so thick that you have crumbly clumps in the bowl. Just in the middle is about right, and you'll get a feel for it after you try it once or twice. :) It'll be just pourable.

Once everything is nicely combined, cover your bowl and let it sit in the fridge for at least 8-12 hours. It will bubble and rise like a batter, not a dough, but there will definitely be activity in there.

When you're ready to bake, line a 9-inch round pan (or equivalent) with parchment paper. It doesn't need to be exact - just flatten the excess paper up around the sides so that the batter will contact only parchment, not pan. Pour the batter in, and cover for twenty five minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to about 450f degrees. If your oven is a chancy propane oven like mine, it's good to preheat a cast iron griddle or pizza stone so that the heat will be spread out around your pan and not cause the crust to scorch.

After the bread has risen for 25 minutes, nothing much will look like it happened. Go ahead and pop it in the oven with its cover, and bake for about an hour and five minutes - until it looks beautiful, the bottom crust is golden, and the internal temperature is about 200f. (Alternatively, bake it covered for 45 minutes and uncovered for another 15-30 minutes, yielding a slightly thicker top crust.)

Allow to cool by removing the bread in its parchment "sling," removing the paper, and letting it sit on a wire rack.



Winter 2019
Turns out this recipes makes a fantastic PIZZA!

Use one recipe of bread, made with olive oil instead of ghee. Allow to ferment for 20 hours or so in the refrigerator.

Line two half-hotel-size sheet pans (or perhaps a jelly-roll type pan, full size) with parchment paper, and spread a bit of olive oil on top. Spread the dough in place (the oil will seep around the edges) and let rise for 25 minutes. Preheat the oven to 500f.

Meanwhile, blend up:
1 large bunch fresh spinach
1 cup pesto
1/2 tsp. salt
a little extra olive oil
1 clove garlic

Spread this mixture on top of the prepared crusts, and bake on a lower oven rack for about 25 minutes, depending on oven. The crusts should be nicely browned on the bottom.

Meanwhile, shred approximately 8-10 oz. goat cheese (gouda works well).

Sprinkle the cheese evenly over the pizzas and bake for 5 minutes more, till nicely melted.


Summer 2019
Low Vitamin A bread variation:

This is just a bit different in terms of texture - the batter begins a TEENY bit looser and firms up in the fridge while it ferments. It takes a bit of trial and error to get the texture just right, but it's like a dense french bread when it's right, which is worth the effort. :) Let it ferment in the fridge and then rise and bake as indicated above.

180g. arrowroot
180g. tapioca
180g. brown rice flour
45g. white rice flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt

2 cups brown rice starter
1 T. honey
1/3 c. avocado oil
5 egg whites
1 cup water

In the morning, after fermenting the batter but before "proofing" it for 35 mins. prior to baking, I add 1/2 tsp. sifted baking soda to the batter and whisk thoroughly. This gives a lovely texture with ever so slightly larger "holes" from yeast bubbles after baking.

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