The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Gluten-Free Sourdough

CAphyl's picture

Gluten-Free Sourdough

I made my first gluten-free sourdough loaf, adapted from a recipe by Nicole Hunn in her book, Gluten-Free on a Shoestring Bakes Bread. (I've attached a link to her blog site below.)  I made a sourdough starter that was gluten-free, per her instructions in the book.  It doesn't work that well (probably my fault), so I may try and redo it, as I froze the liquid starter before I made the Mother starter.  Gluten-free bread is always such a disappointment compared to my regular sourdough, but this was the best I've made so far.  It's always heavy and has a real gluten-free taste to me, but it was OK. It does have a bit of the sourdough taste. I actually added a little yeast during the process because I didn't believe the starter was going to perform well.

The crumb was less dense than I have had with other gluten-free loaves I have made in the past.

I actually used King Arthur Ancient Grains and whole wheat gluten-free flours to make the bread (which deviated from her recipe), combined with the starter I made earlier. I'll have to try it again to see if I can improve each time.


pmccool's picture

Thank you for an interesting post.  Does Ms. Hunn rely on gums for binders in her recipes, or does she use psyllium husk or other binders? 

There's a strong correlation between use of xanthan or guar gums and the directive "stales quickly; freeze for storage" that I've seen in many on-line recipes.  That contrasts strongly with my very limited use of psyllium husk in gf breads where the bread stays moist and flexible for a week or more at room temperature.

I'm curious about your experiences.


CAphyl's picture

Paul:  Good questions.  I have used psyllium husk in some GF recipes, but not this one.  I have attached a recipe below with it and have varied results.  The bread is good, but has a tendency to be gummy. Interestingly, Nicole Hunn uses xanthan gum in her recipes.  The thing I found most challenging about her recipes is that you have to make multiple flours: basic gum-free gluten-free flour for the sourdough starter, GF bread flour, High Quality AP GF flour and Whole-grain GF flour.  This is very time consuming, and I feel like I got the quantities wrong because I had to make the different flours from scratch, weighing and measuring all of them. In her GF Bread Flour, she uses unflavored whey protein isolate, and that was new for me.  Her high quality GF flour has brown rice flour, superfine white rice flour, tapioca starch, potato starch, potato flour, xanthan gum and pure powdered pectin. That's a lot of mixing!

I agree that the bread made with p. husk stays really moist, perhaps too moist.  As I mentioned, it can be a big gummy. Perhaps that is because the recipe (below) has p husk, ground flax seeds and ground chia seeds.

I can say that some of the GF breads I've made with xanthan gum did end up being bricks pretty quick.

I have had really good experiences with sweet GF breads.  I just made cranberry orange walnut and banana chocolate walnut breads and got good reviews from family and friends when I was in the UK last week.

I hope that is helpful and answers your questions.  Best,  Phyllis

Gluten Free Farmhouse Seed Bread

I’ve tried a lot of gluten-free recipes and modified  this one, which I found online by Ali and Tom of Whole Life Nutrition..

Wet Ingredients:

2 ½ cups warm water (105 to 110 degrees F)

2 ¼ teaspoons active dry yeast (1 package)

1 tablespoon agave nectar (you can use maple syrup as a substitute)

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup ground chia seeds

1/4 cup whole psyllium husks


Dry Ingredients:

1 cup teff flour

1-1/2 cup all purpose gluten-free baking flour (like Bob’s Red Mill—reserve some flour for kneading)

½ cup brown rice flour

1 cup gluten-free oat flour

1 ½ teaspoons sea salt

¼ cup flax seeds



Olive oil spray (or olive oil)

Toasted sesame seeds

Toasted sunflower seeds


Place the warm water in a bowl or 4-cup liquid glass measure. Add the yeast and agave nectar, whisk together. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes to activate the yeast. The mixture should get foamy or bubbly. If not, dump it out and start over.


While the yeast is activating, mix together the dry ingredients in a large bowl.


After the yeast is activated whisk in the olive oil, agave nectar, ground chia seeds, and psyllium husks into the water-yeast mixture. Let stand for 2 to 3 minutes (not any longer) to let the chia and psyllium release their gelatinous substances. Whisk again.

Pour the wet ingredients into the dry and mix together with a large wooden spoon until thick. Then knead the dough on a floured wooden board to incorporate the flour. Add more teff and all-purpose flours, a little at a time, until the dough holds together and isn’t too sticky (about ¼ to ½ cup total). Don’t add too much flour, otherwise the dough will become very dense; it should still be slightly sticky. Form dough into a ball, place back into the large bowl, and cover with a damp towel. Place in a warm spot to rise until it is doubled in size, about one hour.

After the dough has risen, place a pizza stone in your oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place a pan of water on the bottom rack of the oven (the one beneath the pizza stone).

Punch down the dough and turn out onto a lightly floured wooden board. Knead the dough for about a minute. Then form into a round ball. Place on a square of parchment paper and use a sharp knife to cut a shallow “tic-tac-toe” pattern on the top. Spray (or drizzle) with olive oil and sprinkle the seeds on top. Let rise for about 30 minutes in a warm place while the oven and stone are preheating.

Carefully lift the parchment paper with the risen loaf and place it onto the stone in the oven. Bake for about 40-45 minutes; if bottom is soft, bake for 10 more minutes. Remove from oven and let cool 30 to 60 minutes before cutting into it. The bread will be very gummy hot out of the oven.


clazar123's picture

I have a limited experience with GF, also but I did do some comparison with psyllium amounts on one of my bakes. I found that if there is too much it just makes for a wet ,dense dough. If you add chia seeds, flax seeds and then oat flour, your loaf is pre-destined to be heavy, dense and wet. I believe I used about 1 tbsp. psyllium per loaf. If they are ground fine, then use about half that amount.

You got such a nice looking crumb, good color and good oven spring on the pictured loaf. The crumb looks a bit moist but not too bad.  GF bread reminds me of rye bread, more than anything. The dough behaves that way and the texture is close.

Have fun.

CAphyl's picture

If I make the recipe above again, I will take the quantities down of the chia and flax seeds and the husk.  The loaf I made yesterday was better, but it was a totally different recipe and the loaf was really heavy.  I agree that the crumb was the best, but I also added yeast to the recipe.....GF is a challenge!  Best,  Phyllis

reptilegrrl's picture

I found the recipes in this book to be pretty awful.


Lately I like a blend of psyllium and flax meal in my breads. I do not like xanthan gum.

Rocketdog69's picture

Can xanthan gum be used in non-GF sourdough bread?