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  • Writer's pictureClaire F.

Sourdough Diaries: The first attempt

Social media has made it no secret that everyone and their mother have been trying their hand at baking sourdough bread. I longingly double-tapped post after post, trying not to let the jealousy get to me, but of course, it’s hard to have a gluten-full social media timeline in your gluten-free life. In a late-night googling spree, I found out that in fact there is such a thing as a gluten-free sourdough starter. But I was quickly discouraged when I began to read how convoluted the instruction was for making one (I did not want my kitchen privileges taken away for creating a monster out of flour and yeast). When I thought all hope was lost of pursuing my bread making dreams, my friend Caroline (check out her blog here) and her mom Caitlin offered to make me one as an early graduation gift! I was thrilled and of course so grateful for their generosity. I could not wait for it to be ready! After about a week, Caroline stopped by my house for a socially distanced sourdough starter hand-off, and I was so excited. She and her mom have quickly gained the title of my quarantine fairy godmothers.

This is the starter recipe that Caroline and her mom used. After keeping the starter in the fridge for a few days (that is what you do if you are not feeding it daily) I finally was ready to make my bread after I felt like I did adequate research. I decided to use the recipe from Holy Cow Vegan for a Sourdough Boule because it was both gluten-free and vegan and it had very positive reviews. This recipe was a little intimidating to start with because it involved 4 different types of flour, xanthan gum, and a 10 hour proofing period, but I was determined to try my very best. I was able to find all the ingredients I did not already have at my local grocery store. Two days before my baking day, I fed the sourdough starter 1/2 cup of GF flour and 1/2 cup of warm water each day and l let it rest on my countertop.

I started the baking this morning at about 8:00 am, I wanted to get it done all early so it would have time to proof all day (while I took my AP Lit online exam, attended Zoom classes, and napped). I followed the Holy Cow recipe pretty exactly when I was making my dough, except I used arrowroot starch instead of tapioca flour (simply because I had bough the wrong thing). I definitely recommend coating your hands in olive oil while kneading, because it was pretty sticky at first. I proofed the dough in a metal bowl lined with wax paper covered with a dish cloth in my oven (while it was powered off).

This is a picture of the dough before I proofed it, the black specks are from the buckwheat flour. It expanded quite a lot after proofing but I did not get a good photo.

After my day of school work and rest, I was ready to bake. The recipe said to cook it in a dutch oven (a large cast-iron pot) that had been heated 500 degrees in the oven. I followed this instruction but it was a little scary to take the dutch oven out when it was so steaming hot, so make sure you have your best oven mitts for this. Before I put my proofed dough into the pot, I scored the top, I don't know what purpose this serves, but I like the aesthetic. Then it was time to finally bake, it baked 30 minutes with the lid of the dutch oven and 20 minutes without. When I took it out of the oven, I was honestly shocked by how good it looked. The dutch oven was scalding so I couldn't take the loaf out for about half an hour.

These are pictures of my bread once it was finally cool enough, isn't she beautiful?

Then it was time for the true test: how did it taste! I took a tiny slice and took a tiny bite, the bread was warm, soft, and had such a great crunch. The flavor was a little dull (I forgot to add salt oops) but I could clearly taste the sourdough flavor which was my goal. Once I slathered on some vegan butter, it tasted so darn good. I served some with vegan butter to my parents and they were also very impressed with how it turned out.

This is a picture of the bread sliced and though it does not have the huge bubbles you see in traditional bread, I am very happy with its overall color and texture.

That's all for my first bread diary, I hope to make bread (or something else with my starter) every week and share it as a series on this blog. For next time I will probably try the same recipe, but aim to improve the flavor by experimenting with salt and possibly some herbs!

Thanks for reading :)


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