The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

The Bread That Would Not Die (Secret Ingredient: Chia Seed)

sharonk's picture

The Bread That Would Not Die (Secret Ingredient: Chia Seed)

I tried one of my newest gluten free recipes and came up with a very tasty bread. It had a nice crumb, a nice rise and a nice crust. When I travel I always bring my own bread. I was getting ready to travel to a family event. I sliced up one loaf and packed it in my suitcase. To be sure I would have enough bread I also took the loaf I had previously sliced and frozen the week before. When I got to my hotel room I unpacked the still slightly frozen bread, leaving it to thaw in the open air. Meanwhile, I happily ate the fresh slices as I moved through the weekend’s events. I had forgotten about the thawing slices in the open air until I began packing and saw them. Being unsure they were still good but unwilling to dump them, I repacked them and brought them home. When I got home I toasted up a piece and Wow! it was still fantastic! There were a few pieces left so I wrapped them in a cloth and set them on the counter to see how many more days they would still taste good. They were still excellent even 2-3 days later. So this was a previously frozen bread that had thawed in the stuffy air of a hotel room, inadvertently left in that same stuffy air for 3 days, repacked and traveled a total of 700 miles. The bread just would not get stale, old, or gross!


For a gluten free bread to be treated this way and still taste so good is very, very unusual. Most people who must eat gluten free bread, whether they bake their own or buy it fresh, eat it fresh for one day and put the rest in the freezer because it dries out so quickly. My gluten free sourdough bread stays fresh on the counter for 5 days wrapped in a cloth, sitting in an open plastic container. It keeps 10 days in the fridge if it hasn’t been eaten up by then. It also freezes, thaws and toasts up beautifully. I have always been proud of the long shelf life of this palatable bread.


The packed, frozen, thawed, repacked, retoasted loaf that was inadvertently ignored in the hotel room was an experimental loaf. I used one of my standard recipes and added 2 tablespoons of chia seed gel to it. Recently I baked another loaf using this same recipe, with chia added, and tested the limits of its shelf life. It lasted 10 days! stored on the counter, in a cloth, in an open plastic container. By day 8 it lost a little of its bounce but gained a great crispiness in the toaster.


Chia seed is a wonderful addition to baked products. Adding 2 tablespoons of chia seed gel to baking products will extend the freshness and shelf life. The chia seeds attract moisture which is retained in the baking product.


To make chia seed gel, take 2 tablespoons of chia seed and mix it into 8 ounces of water.


Stir with a whisk or fork every 5-10 minutes for a half hour.


It is suggested to let the chia seed gel sit for 12 hours before using.


It keeps for 2 weeks in the fridge.


althetrainer's picture

Thanks Sharon for sharing this information.

Yippee's picture

I'm very interested to give this a try.  Can I get chia seeds at grocery stores like Whole Foods and the 2 TBS of gel you mentioned is to how big a dough? Could you please give more specific information?  Thank you.


sharonk's picture

Thanks for reading and responding! I get chia seeds by mail order at Mountain Rose Herbs, a wonderful company that has organic and natural herbs, spices and other bulk items at reasonable cost. Whole Foods does not carry chia seed.

I use 2 TBS of gel for a loaf that fits into a standard loaf pan. This is a gluten free sourdough recipe so I'm using 3 cups of sourdough starter plus 1 cup of other flours with no other liquid, except oil, added in.  I hope that explains it for you. I'm not so familiar with the descriptive bread language I see used on this site. I'm learning it slowly.


Good Luck




sharonk's picture

Hello Dollhead,

Thanks for sharing your story about the miracle bread. It does seem like a miracle when it has such a llong shelf life! Can you explain what you mean by letting the dough age? how is that done and what does it do for the texture?


and to think that chia seed was a trendy "pet" and it's really a superfood!



Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

Sharon, does the gel play a role in trapping gases to raise the bread?   I was reading along and there was an advert for whip cream chargers which got me to thinking about CO2 & N2O gases in those pressurized bottles.  Would it be possible to put strained Chia gel into a dispenser, charge it with gas, spray a foam into a bowl of ingredients, carefully fold together and bake?  I can picture some real mind blowing bread possibilities.


subfuscpersona's picture

How do you make (and feed) a gluten free sourdough starter?

Every formula for a sourdough starter that I have seen uses either wheat or rye flour to create the starter, as well as to feed the starter once it is established. Neither wheat nor rye are gluten free (though a rye starter would have less gluten than a wheat starter).

I would be really interested what flour you use to feed your sourdough starter.

Thank you.

sharonk's picture

Hi Sub,

I make a brown rice flour starter. I mix 1 cup brown rice flour plus just less than 1 cup water, whisk together. I also add 2 tablespoons water kefir as a "booster" because in my experience rice starter can tend to spoil before it's really ready to use. If you look at my bakers blog I have 2 postings that talk about water kefir and where to get the culture to make your own. (easy and cheap, has many uses) I use water kefir because I am allergic to all milk products. If you can tolerate dairy products you could use 2 tablespoons active culture yogurt or milk kefir as a booster with the same results.


Then I feed the starter every 8-12 hours, probably 8 in summer, with 1/4c-1 c flour and a slightly less amount of water, mix and let ferment till the next feeding. That's it!  Read through my blog postings to get some more background on gluten free starters.


Good luck!


sharonk's picture

Hello Minioven,

I'm not sure how charging chia gel with CO2 would work but it sounds intriguing! I know that some gluten free recipes call for seltzer as the last ingredient right before baking to give it that "poof". Let us know how it goes if you try it!



Big Brick House Bakery's picture
Big Brick House...

I make bread from scratch, grind my own grain, but I have friends that need gluten free, I found a flour mix that seems to do well, but what you are talking about... well it's greek to me, I need a further breakdown of terms, def., and useage.  I have googled terms and other info and I am more confused now.  I would like to have something that has more flavor, and that looks like bread, moist and plyable. 

What is Water Kefir Grains? please provide the most basic def. so I can understand.  how does this work in the bread process, is this an endless process, or do I have to keep purchasing them. 

Can I use my stone mill to also grind brown rice for my friends or is that to much exposure to wheat?  I have so many questions...


sharonk's picture

Hello big brickhouse,

I am not surprised you have so many questions. It took me 2 years to figure this all out and then another year to develop really workable recipes. The water kefir grains are a "culture" like a yogurt culture but based on nondairy sources. I chose this because I am allergic to milk products. I purchased my grains once and reuse them over and over. they can last indefinitely with the proper care. They create a liquid that acts like a preservative in the starter, while boosting the production of lactobacilli. I started to use this for the starter because the brown rice starter tended to spoil before it was ready to use. (gluten free starters act  a bit differently than rye and wheat starters and need different treatment).


In the gluten free community, it is strongly suggested to avoid cross contamination by using different equipment especially for grinding. I now have 2 kitchen aid mxers, and 2 kitchen aid grainmilll attachments. I started out with the one and cleaned it everytime I needed to grind rice but it was too laborious. I also teach class and have celiacs in class more sensitive than I am so I realized I had to have completely separate equipment to make sure noone got sick from my equipment. I read that a well known flour mill has to grind 36 batches of oats on it's standard grinding equipment before they can be considered gluten free. 

At this point I have a new gluten free kitchen and retired my old appliances to a basement kitchen where I still make old fashioned rye bread for my husband. I have separate loaf pans, utensils, ovens, mixers, racks. This way I can teach class and not worry.

If you want to bake for your friends you should probably get separate grinding equipment or buy ground flour. Cross contamination can make a celiac very sick and have a lot of intestinal pain.

If you want to try my recipe and methods I have some free recipes on my blog for the starter, the water kefir liquid and my first successful loaf. If your friends are tolerant of dairy you can use active yogurt culture instead of water kefir. I also sell a recipe package that explains in great detail the different techniques and tips needed to master this sort of baking along with recipes that are soft and pliable.

The sourdough techniques do a lot for this bread. There are many gluten free recipes on the web that achieve soft, pliable, tasty breads and cakes but they use ingredients that I cannot use myself so I have gone this further step to develop recipes free of dairy, egg, yeast, sweetener, soy. Your friends may not have such stringent needs as I do, you may be able to find an easier method to please them.

One more thing, I am seriously considering opening a mail order bakery for my breads since I am getting calls from people all over the country with the same allergies as I have. I already sell the recipe packages but not everyone can bake for themselves. This is a business I know nothing about and am feeling a bit daunted by it all...and I really want my bread to get to the people who need it...

thanks for asking,




sharonk's picture

Hi K,

I get my chia seeds online from mountain rose herbs. They are organic and priced well.


Good Luck,