The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Gluten Free Breads

stefan24's picture

Gluten Free Breads

Why do gluten free recipes use so many types of flours/starches? Woud it be possible to just use one or two?

suave's picture

For the same reason it takes 10-20-30-40 ingredients to make fat-free "sour cream" or vegan "chicken".  It's not easy to force things do what they are not meant to.

sharonk's picture

I was a successful 100% rye sourdough baker before I was diagnosed with celiac disease. It took me a year but I was able to devise a gluten-free sourdough technique based on the rye technique. I found the starter had to be treated differently than rye or wheat starter to prevent spoilage. I also found that at least some flour combining seemed to be necessary for proper texture and taste. One major benefit of the sourdough process is that it gave the bread an excellent shelf life, 5-7 days unrefrigerated. 

I have worked for 5 years on my technique and have developed many recipes based on different starters and flour combinations. So far I managed to develop 1 single-flour bread using quinoa flour. It has enough natural sponginess that it holds its own. If the quinoa grain is carefully rinsed and dried before grinding the finished bread tastes sweet rather than bitter. (quinoa can be taste bitter). All my other recipes include at least 2 flours.

One of the reasons many gf recipes call for many ingredients is that starch flours like arrowroot, tapioca and potato are used to "fluff" up the bread. Some retail breads and cakes are almost all starch flours. I discovered that the fermenting process naturally  creates enough fluff so that I was able to eliminate the starch flours. I just had to be careful not to beat or knead the fluff out of it. The batter (it's a batter, not a dough) has to be handled carefully to preserve the fluff and sponginess.

Here is my basic Starter Recipe. I boost and preserve it with 2 tablespoons of a fermented drink like water kefir, kombucha tea, milk kefir or whey:
Make a starter by mixing equal amounts of gluten-free flour and water. Add 2 tablespoons of water kefir or other fermented liquid. You can read about these fermented drinks in this post.
Feed every 8 hours or so with equal amounts of more flour and water. After 3 days it should be ready to use.

I also grow these starters in the fridge reducing the feeding frequency but extending the time it will be ready to 5-7 days.

Message me if you want more info.


hanseata's picture

it's not that easy to make it taste right. What you buy at supermarkets often tastes like card board.

But at least it's doable - I made two different kinds for a friend, with six different kinds of flours, and both tasted good.


hanseata's picture

I would add some nut flour now and then, because that always tastes good.

Do you do a GF sourdough, too, Jane?


hanseata's picture

I have a Swiss recipe for Baseler Kirschkuchen (cherry cake from Basel) that is made entirely with unbleached, whole ground almond meal. When I first baked that in the 70s I had no idea that there was something like gluten intolerance, I only wondered how a cake could be made without wheat flour. I made it many times, it tastes very good.

As for a GF sourdough bread, you might just try letting part of the flour mixture (ca. 64 %) ferment for three days at room temperature (flours mixed with an equal part of the water).

What Italian dessert recipe with nut flours do you like best?


Samantha M's picture
Samantha M

Learn more here about gluten free bread baking