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If you think that baking a loaf of gluten-free sourdough sounds like an impossible dream then this recipe will definitely change your mind. This incredible Gluten-Free Artisan Sourdough Bread has a cracking crust, soft and airy interior and tasty flavour. This recipe is vegan, no knead and made without any commercial yeast.
Are you intimidated by the whole sourdough journey? It can seem overly complicated at first glance with a lot of terminology and methods that might seem unfamiliar.
I can assure you though that as you conquer each step to creating your perfect Gluten-Free Sourdough Bread (artisan style) that the whole process will suddenly start to make sense. There is a natural rhythm to it and every sourdough baker soon starts to forge their own path. You’ve got to start somewhere though right? And this recipe will help guide the way. It takes a few practice loaves to really get into the swing of it but soon you’ll be subbing your own flours, deciding your own proving times and fermenting your starter for as long as you see fit.
Let’s first break down the whole process step-by-step so it becomes a manageable task and not a baking pipe dream. I hope you will soon realise that baking an excellent loaf of gluten-free sourdough bread is totally achievable, very rewarding and incredibly enjoyable.
Table of contents
- Why you’ll love this recipe
- What are the basic steps?
- Making the starter
- How to refresh your starter from the fridge
- What is a levain?
- Ingredients needed
- Recommended ingredients
- Step-by-step instructions
- Recommended equipment
- Scoring your bread
- Pro tips and troubleshooting
- Starter to loaf timetable
- How to store
- How to freeze
- Extra resources
- What to do with leftover sourdough bread
- More bread recipes you’ll love
Why you’ll love this recipe
- This is a gluten-free, no-yeast, no-knead and naturally vegan sourdough bread recipe.
- We take seemingly complicated methods of sourdough baking and break it down step by step.
- Your resulting bread will have a great crust and be soft and tender with the customary airy holes on the inside.
- This artisan loaf has a delicious flavour which is neutral in taste and can be served any way you choose.
What are the basic steps?
- Make your starter. This process is begun at least 14 days prior to baking.
- Refresh your starter. The day before baking.
- Make your levain and leave to ferment. The day before baking.
- Use levain plus other ingredients to make and shape your bread. The day of baking.
- Prove your bread. 1-4 hours before baking.
- Bake your bread.
- Allow your bread to fully cool.
Making the starter
I’ve written an extensive post on what a starter is and how to make your own including which flours to use. I recommend reading that if you don’t already have a starter ready to use.
READ MORE >>> How to make a Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter
How to refresh your starter from the fridge
Unfortunately there is no hard and fast method to refreshing your starter from the fridge, it relies on a variety of factors:
- What flour you use to feed it (some flours are more sluggish than others).
- The climate you are in (the warmer the ambient temperature the quicker your starter will be to wake up).
- How established your starter is (the more mature starters know the score and will quickly become active).
Over time you will get to know exactly how much to feed your starter and how long before baking you should take it out of the fridge. It's usually about 24 hours prior to baking. If I am planning to bake my bread on the Saturday then I will take my starter out of the fridge on Friday morning. It may need 1 or 2 feeds to get fully active enough for using for a bread recipe.
What is a levain?
A levain is the stepping stone between your starter and your loaf.
It is a bit like a bigger version of your starter. You take some of your mother starter and feed it with a larger amount of wholegrain flour/s (often different from the ones you use to feed your mother starter). This is the start of creating a specific flavour profile for your desired gluten-free sourdough boule.
You then leave your levain to ferment and let the starter do its work on the flours. On average you can leave your levain from between 6-8 hours but you can leave up to 18 hours.
The longer you leave your levain to ferment the stronger the sourdough flavour.
Once your levain is ready you then add the starch and protein flours, other ingredients and shape your loaf.
You might recognise other names for a levain, sometimes it is called a preferment, sometimes it is called a sponge.
READ MORE >>> What is a levain and how is it different from a starter
For the levain
- Gluten-free sourdough starter. Your starter should be at peak activity – at least 2-4 hours after being fed.
- Brown rice flour. Economical and flavour neutral wholegrain flour with a lovely artisanal texture.
- Sorghum flour. A white wholegrain flour with a good earthy taste which pairs well with most flavours.
- Filtered water. It should also be warm, about 40C.
For the bread
- Psyllium husk. This recipe uses the whole husk. To help with binding the bread and giving it a lovely bouncy texture.
- Filtered water. Room temperature.
- Olive oil. To soften the crust and tenderise the bread.
- Brown sugar. Kickstarts the natural yeasts in the starter but also gives it good depth of flavour and helps the loaf to brown.
- Potato starch. (Note, not potato flour). Reacts with the liquid in the bread when hitting the heat to give a great rise. It helps bind the bread together and give lightness.
- Chestnut flour. A protein rich flour which reacts well with the natural yeasts in the starter, gives excellent flavour and a lovely tender crumb.
- Salt. A good salt content balances the flavours of the bread.
Substitutions for the gluten-free flours
This recipe has been tested to the nth degree using this flour combination only. That is not to say you can’t substitute these flours for ones you prefer, but I can’t guarantee the results.
With that caveat in place, here are some substitution suggestions.
Tip: Try to keep to at least 2 x wholegrain flours in the levain and 2-3 starches/protein flours in the bread.
|Original Flour||Possible Substitutions|
|Brown Rice Flour & Sorghum Flour||Buckwheat Flour, Quinoa Flour, White Rice Flour, Teff Flour|
|Potato Starch||Tapioca Starch, Arrowroot, Sweet Rice Flour, Sweet Potato Starch, Cassava Flour|
|Chestnut Flour||Almond Flour, Legume Flour (like chickpea flour or lentil flour)|
For full recipe instructions go to the recipe card at the end of this post.
How to make the levain
- First prepare your starter by giving it a large feed. This should be enough to produce 200g starter for your recipe.
Don't forget to set aside the mother starter too (at least 40g if you follow my starter maintenance routine) which you will need to maintain for future bakes.
e.g. if you have 120g starter from the fridge then set aside 40g in one glass jar which you will feed and this will become your new 'mother starter.' Place the rest of the starter - 80g - into another jar and feed with 80g flour + 80g water (always feed at least 1:1:1) which will create 240g starter which you will make your levain with (it produces 40g more than you need but you can use this discard for another baking project).
- It should take your starter 2-4 hours for it to reach peak activation.
Peak activation. Your starter should look bubbly, moussy and spongey and at peak activation it forms a slight dome. Once the dome has deflated your starter is past peak activation.
- Mix together brown rice flour, sorghum flour, 200g of active gluten-free starter and filtered water in a glass mixing bowl.
- Place cling film over the top and leave to ferment for 6-8 hours (or up to 18 hours)
How to make the bread
- Mix psyllium husk and water together then leave for a few minutes to form a gel.
- Add olive oil and sugar and mix until smooth.
- Whisk the potato starch and chestnut flour together and add to the bowl with the salt. Combine.
- Finally add the levain and mix for at least 5 minutes until the dough comes together.
- Tip out onto the work surface and roll into a smooth ball.
- Place into a banneton, lined with muslin and floured with brown rice flour, and leave somewhere warm to prove.
- Once the dough has risen by ⅓ then turn the dough carefully upside down onto a wide and long piece of baking parchment. Holding the baking parchment carefully transfer the bread dough to a pre-heated dutch oven. Score the surface of the bread with your lame.
- Place the lid on the dutch oven and bake for 1 hour with the lid on and 10 minutes with the lid off.
- Remove from the oven and leave to cool completely on a wire rack.
- Digital Weighing Scales. Every ingredient in this recipe has been weighed to achieve accurate results (even the liquids). Digital scales are relatively inexpensive and will revolutionise your gluten-free baking if you are not already a convert.
- Banneton. This is a wicker bowl you use to prove your artisan bread in. This recipe has been tested with both an 8 inch banneton and a 10 inch banneton. It works with both and the method and baking times are exactly the same. The smaller banneton gives a taller round cob (and is the one I used for the photographs). The 10 inch allows your loaf to spread out a bit more. If you don't have a banneton you can use a glass bowl lined with a muslin or linen cloth.
- Lame. This is the very sharp blade you will use to score your bread.
- Bread sling. This is not essential but I really recommend it. You can get by with using a sheet of baking parchment to transfer your proved bread to the dutch oven at first (it's what I used in the photos). However if you start baking sourdough regularly then the bread sling is great as it prevents any potential slippage of your baked loaf when you are removing from the dutch oven and is reuseable.
- Dutch oven. This is my preferred method for baking sourdough. Your bread will get great oven spring, good browning and will ensure your loaf is evenly baked.
Scoring your bread
Why do you score?
Scoring your proved bread is essential as the cracks allow fermentation gasses to escape during the bake, it allows the bread to open up and adds steam into the bread helping it to rise.
How to score your bread
Use a sharp knife or a lame (a specific blade designed to score bread). All you need for the technical purposes are one or two large slashes into the surface of your proved bread dough. However you may also create beautiful designs with your scoring as you gain confidence in the technique.
READ MORE >>> Scoring Bread Dough
Pro tips and troubleshooting
- Weigh all your ingredients for accurate measuring, yes including liquids!!
- Avoid using any metal or plastic when making your sourdough. Glass or ceramic mixing bowls are best and silicone or wooden spoons are better for mixing.
- Cling film is used to cover the bowl when your levain is fermenting and whilst your loaf is proving. The plastic helps seal in the warmth and aids the yeast activation. Remember to brush the underside of the cling film with a little oil so it doesn’t stick to your dough.
- Mixing. Mix the bread for at least 5-10 minutes which allows the starchy flours and psyllium husk to properly activate and will help to avoid a gummy loaf.
- Dusting your banneton. Use brown rice flour. It gives it a lovely artisanal look and protects the bread from sticking to the banneton.
- Do you need to line your banneton? This is a sticky dough so I prefer to use the linen provided when you purchase the banneton or a muslin cloth.
- Make deep cuts with your lame. Cut quickly and confidently.
- How to prove your bread. Prove somewhere warm with a touch of moisture. A laundry room or airing cupboard is perfect. However, my preferred method is to place my banneton on the middle shelf of a turned off oven, door closed, with a tray of just boiled water on the floor of the oven. It’s a great environment.
- How do you know when your dough is proofed? The bread should have risen by at least a third in size. It can take between 1-4 hours.
- Bread deflates when you remove it from the banneton? This means your loaf is overproved. Punch it down, knead for a few minutes and re-prove. Or bake as it is, it will still taste good- just be a little flat.
- Work quickly as soon as your bread is ready for the oven as you don’t want your bread to fall. Very gently turn it upside down onto the bread sling (or baking parchment) and use the sling to lower gently into the dutch oven. Do not drop or bang your bread dough or it will start to deflate.
- Allow your bread to cool completely before cutting to avoid any potential gumminess.
- Not rising? If your bread is failing to get a good oven spring then add ½ teaspoon ground ginger to your flour mix. It may be an old wives tale but lots of bakers swear it helps to activate the natural yeast. You can’t taste it.
Starter to loaf timetable
|Friday morning||8am||Remove your starter from the fridge (if that is how you store it) and refresh with a generous feed. Skip this step if you maintain your starter at room temperature.|
|Friday afternoon||4pm||Feed your starter again. This time you can discard if needed. You can separate the mother at this stage and make sure to feed the remainder enough to create 200g starter.|
|Friday evening||8pm||Make the levain (and place your mother starter back in the fridge).|
|Saturday morning||6am||Make the bread.|
|8am||Place the bread in the oven.|
|9.10am||Remove the bread from the oven.|
|Saturday lunchtime||1pm||Slice and enjoy!|
How to store
The crust of your sourdough boule is its own natural protection so prior to cutting you can leave unwrapped in a cool dark place or in a bread box.
Once the boule has been cut you can store cut side down in a bread bin or wrapped in aluminium foil in a cool dark place.
The bread tastes good up to 3 days after baking then it starts to get stale.
How to freeze
Allow your sourdough bread to fully cool then you can freeze whole, double wrapped in cling film and aluminium foil to avoid freezer burn.
Or you can slice and freeze in slices. You can then take the slices out one at a time to either toast directly from frozen or leave to defrost at room temperature for an hour or two. This is my preferred way of freezing my bread.
My journey to creating the perfect loaf of Gluten-Free Sourdough Bread would not have been possible without consulting these following resources:
What to do with leftover sourdough bread
There are lots of recipes you can make with leftover sourdough. Why not try:
- Gluten-Free Bread and Butter Pudding
- Gluten-Free Sourdough Bread Pudding
More bread recipes you’ll love
- Gluten-Free White Sandwich Loaf
- Gluten-Free Irish Soda Bread
- Gluten-Free Happiness Bread
- Gluten-Free Naan Bread
- Easy Cheese Bread Rolls
I urge you to give this Gluten-Free Sourdough Artisan Bread a try. If you do then please leave a comment below and give the recipe a rating which helps others find the recipe on Google. If you then go on to use this recipe as a launch pad for your own culinary creation then I’d also love it if you’d share it and tag me on Instagram. It is so lovely for me to see your versions and variations of my recipes.
Gluten-Free Artisan Sourdough bread
- 200 g active gluten-free sourdough starter
- 160 g sorghum flour
- 160 g brown rice flour
- 350 g filtered water - warm
- 30 g psyllium husk - not ground
- 300 g filtered water
- 125 g potato starch - not potato flour
- 110 g chestnut flour
- 15 g salt
- 20 g olive oil
- 20 g soft light brown sugar
- Whisk the sorghum flour and brown rice flour in a large glass mixing bowl then add the active starter and the filtered water. Mix together with a wooden or silicone spoon. Place cling film over the top of the bowl and allow to rest for 6-8 hours or up to 18 hours.
- Combine psyllium husk and water in a large mixing bowl or stand mixer and stir until the psyllium husk has been absorbed by the water. Allow to gel for 3-4 minutes.
- Add olive oil, sugar and mix in until smooth.
- Whisk the potato starch and chestnut flour together with the salt then add into the mixing bowl and combine.
- Finally add in the starter and mix for at least 5-10 minutes until the dough comes together.
- Turn the dough out onto a smooth and clean work surface. Roll the dough around using your hands until the dough forms a smooth ball with as few cracks as possible as these will appear on the finished bread.
- Line a banneton with a linen or muslin cloth and flour generously with brown rice flour.
- Gently lift the bread dough ball and place it inside the banneton nice side down (as it will be flipped later).
- Cover the banneton loosely with oiled cling film.
- Place the bread bread somewhere warm with a moist atmosphere for between 1-4 hours. The dough should rise by about a third.
- Pre-heat the oven to 220°C/ 200°C fan assisted oven / gas mark 7 at least 1 hour prior to baking. Place the dutch oven fitted with its lid into the oven at the same time to heat thoroughly.
- Once the bread is proved, remove the cling film and place a length of parchment or bread sling over the top of the bread and carefully insert the loaf onto the sling.
- Lower the sling with the bread on it gently into the dutch oven. (The bread is baked on top of the sling)
- Bake for 1 hour.
- Remove the lid and bake for further 10 minutes to finish browning. Remove from the oven, take the bread out of the dutch oven using the sling and slide onto a cooling rack to cool.
- Leave to cool completely before cutting to avoid gumminess.
Flour substitutionsThis recipe has not been tested with any substitutions. However feel free to experiment with your preferred flour choices. Wholegrains should be swapped for other wholegrains, starchy flours should be swapped for other starchy flours and protein flours should be swapped for other protein flours. READ MORE >>> Gluten-Free Flour Cheatsheet
The StarterREAD MORE >>> How to make a Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter Active sourdough starter. Your starter should be bubbly, mousy and sponge like. It achieves prime activation about 2-4 hours after feeding. It will have formed a slight dome on top. If the dome has deflated the starter is past prime activation. Filtered water. It should be about 40°C. The warm water helps activate the starter.
- Use a glass or ceramic mixing bowl. So it doesn’t prevent the yeast from activating.
- Levain resting time. The longer you leave your levain to ferment the more sour your finished loaf will taste.
- Psyllium husk. You can substitute for the powder but you will need less of it.
- Mix your dough for at least 5-10 minutes to ensure the starches and psyllium husk are full activated - it helps avoid a gummy loaf.
- Banneton. If you don't have a banneton (bread proving basket) then use a glass bowl lined with a muslin or linen cloth.
- Proving your bread. Prove somewhere warm with a touch of moisture. A laundry room or airing cupboard is perfect. However, my preferred method is to place my banneton on the middle shelf of a turned off oven, door closed, with a tray of just boiled water on the floor of the oven.
- Be very careful transferring your bread dough to the dutch oven, if you drop your dough in it will deflate. Handle with care.
- Don't forget to score your bread - it helps it rise.
- It is so important to allow your bread to cool completely before cutting, otherwise it will be gummy.
- The bread tastes good up to 3 days after baking then it starts to get stale.
- How to freeze. Allow your sourdough bread to fully cool then you can either freeze whole or in slices.