15 January 2015

Sourdough Artisan Bread - And Gluten Intolerance

Sourdough Boule / www.delightfulrepast.com

Sourdough bread has become a staple in our house. I make it in loaf tins for sandwiches (Sourdough Sandwich Bread) or in artisan loaves round or oval, with unbleached all-purpose flour or with some whole-grain flours mixed in. 

It's really quite flexible. If you're new to sourdough baking, it's probably a good idea to make just one recipe multiple times to get a feel for it, then branch out from there.

If you are gluten-free, you might want to check out the research on sourdough and gluten intolerance. Studies have shown that true sourdough bread (made with wild yeast starter and no added commercial yeast) does not present the same problems as ordinary wheat bread.

Some people who have problems with wheat assume it's the gluten, but in some cases the problem stems from the fact that the wheat was genetically modified. And that is something we should all be aware of, whether we have gluten intolerance or not. Check out The Real Reason Wheat Is Toxic.

I'm not qualified to give medical advice and am not suggesting that anyone ignore medical advice or what their own body tells them. I just thought the information might be of interest to you. I do recommend using only organic flours as I always do.

Postscript: Although conventionally grown wheat in the US might be GMO and/or sprayed, that is not true of all countries, as pointed out by Anne in the comments below.

Here is How to Make Your Own Sourdough Starter.

Sourdough Dough First Rise / www.delightfulrepast.com
Sourdough Artisan Bread 

(Makes one 27-ounce boule) 

2 cups fed 100% hydration sourdough starter (Follow Step 1) 
3/4 cup water (plus 1 or 2 tablespoons, if needed)
1 3/4 teaspoons salt
3 dip-and-sweep cups (15 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, divided 

1 Feed up your starter to 2 cups: Take 2 tablespoons starter out of refrigerated storage container. Put it in a 2-cup glass measure (actually holds 3 cups, so shouldn't overflow when starter doubles). Stir in 1/2 cup flour and 1/3 cup water. Stir vigorously, cover loosely and let stand at room temperature for 8 or 12 hours. 

Tip: See sample schedule below to plan your bake. 

2 Stir down starter and add 1/2 cup flour and 1/3 cup water. Proceed as in previous step. 

3 Stir down starter and measure 2 cups of starter into 2-quart glass measure. With a dough whisk or large spoon, stir in water, salt and 1 cup flour. When all the flour is incorporated, stir in 2 cups of flour a half cup at a time. Stir until dough just comes together into a shaggy dough (quite stiff, but still sticky). With one hand, knead the dough right in the bowl, just enough to incorporate all the flour without adding more water. At this point, you may gradually add up to 2 tablespoons water, if needed. The dough should be just slightly sticky, not wet. Cover loosely with oiled plastic wrap or lid and let stand at room temperature overnight. 

Tip: Any leftover fed starter can be added to your stored starter in the refrigerator or just kept on the counter if you're making more bread in a day or two. 

4 Place a square of parchment paper on a rimless baking sheet (which will act as a "peel" later). Using no more than 1/8 cup altogether, Sprinkle some of the flour over the parchment. Scrape the dough out onto the floured parchment. Put a little of the flour on top of the dough and with floured hands, press dough gently into a roughly 12-by-8-inch rectangle. Fold it in thirds like a letter; then fold that rectangle into thirds, forming a square. Pick up the ball of dough and tuck the edges under, forming the dough into a smooth ball. Place the ball back on the parchment. Turn a large glass bowl over it, or cover it loosely with an oiled or cooking-sprayed piece of plastic wrap. (I use a cake dome.) 

5 Let rise until doubled. This can take anywhere from 3 to 5 hours (or longer*). The dough needs to rise until the dough doesn't quickly spring back when poked with a floured finger or knuckle. 

* When baking true sourdough bread with no added commercial yeast, rise times are not so predictable. It takes as long as it takes. But if you bake fairly regularly, you'll have an idea of how long.

6 When you’ve got about 30 to 45 minutes left, place oven rack in lower-middle position and place pizza stone or Lodge Pro-Logic 14-Inch Cast Iron Pizza Pan on rack. Preheat oven to 475 degrees for at least 30 minutes. 

7 Just before baking, brush the excess flour off the parchment, brush the loaf with a little water and cut a "+" about 1/4-inch deep on the top and slide the boule on its parchment square onto the hot stone. Reduce temperature to 425 degrees. Bake for about 45 minutes, or until crust is beautifully golden and middle of loaf is 210 degrees. If it's getting too brown, cover loosely with foil.

Tip: You may use a lame (pronounced lahm), razor blade or very sharp knife*. Holding the blade straight, make each cut quickly and about 1/4-inch deep. You might have to make the cuts twice. If the blade seems to be dragging, wet it before each cut. 

Tip: For reasons I won't go into (something about lactobacilli and yeast and blah blah blah), sourdough bread sometimes doesn't brown as well as other breads. If you're into the well-browned crust, take the loaf from the oven about 5 minutes early and brush the top with a little olive oil and put it back in. 

8 Remove from oven, using the rimless baking sheet or pizza peel to lift the boule off the pizza stone. Let cool on wire rack for 1 1/2 hours before slicing. My favorite way of slicing* a boule is to cut the loaf in half, turn the cut side down and slice, but you can make long slices if you like.

* Use a very sharp knife to cut the "+"--I use my Wusthof Classic 3-1/2-Inch Paring Knife. For slicing, I use my Wusthof Classic 10-Inch Bread Knife.

Sample Schedule for two 8-hour feedings 
Day 1
6:00 am First feeding
2:00 pm Second feeding
10:00 pm Make dough
Day 2
10:00 am Shape loaf 

Sample Schedule for two 12-hour feedings
Day 1
9:00 pm First feeding
Day 2
9:00 am Second feeding
9:00 pm Make dough
Day 3
9:00 am Shape loaf

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from Amazon through one of my links, I receive a small commission, at no cost to you, which I use toward the expenses of running this blog. Thank you! 


Angie's Recipes said...

There's nothing like homemade bread. Your artisan boule looks great, Jean.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Angie! I'm a breadaholic anyway, but especially with sourdough!

Lorrie said...

I can smell that bread from here. There's nothing like homemade bread warm from the oven slathered with butter.
Do you make your own sourdough starter?

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Lorrie, thank you! AND thank you for the question -- I forgot to put a link to my How to Make Your Own Sourdough Starter, but have now corrected that!

Thomas "Sully" Sullivan said...

“Yeast is yeast and west is west, and the wrong one I have chose…” Oh, stop me before I kill again! But you’re much too young to have heard that song, so I’ll drop with the schmaltz and just say that despite my avoidance of bread, your recipes always look good enough to…um – eat! I do buy a glob of sourdough at Whole Foods sometimes, Jeani. What I like about the visuals of your sourdough is the texture. Obviously great potential for soaking up butter (butter makes it better). PS avoiding emails today so as not to tax the war between my newsletter mass mailing and algorithms, but said I’d let you know: both my Sullygrams and later the column at SU are going out/up today, Jeani!

Anne said...

Wheat in the UK is definitely not GM and the article you linked to is a bit inflammatory. I don't buy organic wheat because I trust conventional farming (we don't all spray with Roundup before harvest). I have every respect for anyone with diagnosed coeliac disease but not for the faddy self diagnosed gluten intolerants as I suspect their complaint is more likely due to the highly processed products they're eating rather than gluten. Sorry, that was a bit of a rant. Your sourdough bread looks great.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Sully! Good to know you're picking up sourdough at Whole Foods. And yes, butter makes everything better!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Anne, not a rant at all! I so appreciate your comment! Friends who have problems with wheat here in US went abroad for a couple of months and had no problems with wheat in the UK (or in Italy) probably because, as you mentioned, though it was conventionally grown it was not genetically modified and sprayed. I suspect a lot of people in the US who are not coeliac but have problems when they eat wheat may not actually be gluten intolerant but have problems because of the GMO and pesticide and so might actually be able to eat organic wheat.

Susan J Meyerott, M.S. said...

You know I love this post! I posted it on every place...except facebook because Angie Schneider's cat picture came up instead of your bread. Sue

My Garden Diaries said...

Ok... So this looks amazing! I have yet to make sourdough and wish I could have you over to teach me!! It looks amazing!! Happy weekend friend! Nicole xo

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Sus, thank you! At least it was a cat picture -- I do love cats! :D

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Nicole, thank you, that would be such fun! But I can coach you along the way from afar!

Glenda said...

Hi Jean, Research has shown that a lot of people who think they are gluten intolerant really have irritable bowl syndrome caused by an inability to digest, amongst other things, fuctans.
All humans have trouble with fructans but some more than others. Usually, if they monitor what they are eating they can isolate the problem and restrict one or two items from their diet. These people can usually cope with spelt flour which has gluten in it. Also, as you point out, commercial breads have lots of chemicals etc in them as well as added gluten to make the bread rise in minutes not hours. No wonder it upsets some stomachs. People are just blaming the wrong guys in a lot of instances.

The Cranky said...

You really make me want to try sourdough again, rather than my 'lazy' bread. When I'm feeling better!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Glenda, thanks for the additional info! I know there are plenty of people who really are gluten intolerant, but I'd like to help those who might really have another problem discover what is making them unwell.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Jacqueline! But I must tell you, if you look past my lengthy and detailed instructions for sourdough starter and sourdough bread, it really IS lazy bread -- many hours of just going about your business while the dough does its thing! Hope you feel better soon.

Bethany Carson said...

My mother and sister made sourdough for quite some time. The first few loaves were very good, but I did eventually get tired of it (don't tell anyone)!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Okay, Bethany, your secret is safe with me! ;-)

TONY said...

Politics, health, science, all in one article Jean. The very survival of the human race!!!!
Good one, Jean.
PS You missed out religion and "rock," music!!!!!!

All the best, Tony

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Tony! I hadn't thought of it like that. Dang, now I'll have to work religion and rock and roll into the story and post a revision!

Gingi said...

It is seriously on my cooking bucket list to make a great sourdough bread.. but I haven't gotten around to it yet! Your photos look so yummy, btw! Thanks for sharing!

Anyhoo, I found you through a fellow blogger and thought I would just stop by and say hello! It would totally make my day if you did the same... or better yet, keep in touch! <3 - www.domesticgeekgirl.com

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Gingi, an urban homesteader definitely needs to be making sourdough! Just follow my directions for making your starter and take it from there! If you get into a routine with it, you'll never have to buy storebought bread again!

Tania@ MyKitchen Stories said...

I love bread. i love sour dough particularly, but any bread that is baked in my house remains until i finish it- which I do. So, none is baked. It doesn't stop me marveling at what you bake and how wonderful it looks!

Gingi said...

Jean, I seriously may have to take you up on it!! I am going to be getting into bread making this summer.. we're actually starting an amaranth grains garden patch this spring so I can try my hand at working with new grains! So maybe this summer?! Anyhoo, thanks for stopping by my page, I look forward to keeping in touch!!

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Tania, thanks so much! Maybe just make a loaf every two weeks (your starter can just rest unattended in the refrigerator in the meantime), it keeps well for several days.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Gingi, I've used a lot of different flours/grains but haven't gotten around to amaranth yet. I haven't met a grain yet I don't like!

Lea Ann (Cooking On The Ranch) said...


Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Lea Ann, ROTFL! (I just learned that means rolling on the floor laughing!) But don't be jealous; when you make up your mind to try it, I'll walk you through it!

Maureen | Orgasmic Chef said...

This bread is gorgeous! Bread making is on the to-do list for Friday so starter will come out of the fridge tomorrow for regular feeding.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Maureen, thank you! I just love having discovered a whole community of other sourdough bread bakers like you out there!

Sippity Sup said...

I do believe that (like yogurt) the cultures in sour dough have healthful digestive benefits, and that might be part of the gluten equation. GREG

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thank you, Greg! You might be onto something with that.

Sarah {Grounded & Surrounded} said...

I have been wanting to try sourdough for quite some time. Being 100% gluten free, I have researched the possiblility of being able to consume sourdough. It is definitely on my list, I will bookmark your recipe and let you know if I find the time to give it a try ;)

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Sarah, I'm so excited to hear this! I want to hear all about it when you try it. It really takes no time at all. Making the starter might take a week or two, but it's all "waiting" time; takes literally a minute to feed your starter once a day to get it going. Then the bread itself just takes a few "active" minutes.

Swathi said...

sourdough gives amazing tasty bread my weakness. yours come out perfect.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Swathi, thank you! It's definitely my weakness as well! I love naan, too.

Prairiekuchen said...

What a GREAT article! I have done some research on the whole gluten free deal as well. I personally don't have a problem with gluten, but try not to eat a ton of it. I found a company in Minnesota that sells organic heirloom flour and a LOT of people that can't handle gluten can eat their flour because it hasn't been altered 1000 times. Interesting, isn't it??

TONY said...

Could you use your sourdough to make a new version of a 400 year old hot cross bun? Just wondering Jean.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Prairekuchen, thanks so much for your comment. I had hoped to get a discussion going about the gluten issue, but though people tweeted me they didn't comment here.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Tony, :D -- nope, can't recommend sourdough for hot cross buns, 400-year-old or otherwise!

ellenhawley said...

Thanks for this. My sourdough starter lost its oomph a while back. I've refreshed it and it's working well now. I'm keeping it on the counter and feeding it daily, but I like your suggestion for storing it in the refrigerator and then bringing to full strength before each baking.

Jean | DelightfulRepast.com said...

Thanks, Ellen. It works well for me. I have such a routine now of making this bread twice a week, I could do it in my sleep!