Gluten free sourdough starter recipe


  • Recipes
  • Dish type
  • Bread
  • Yeast bread
  • Sourdough bread
  • Sourdough starter

This is a step-by-step guide on how to begin a gluten free sourdough starter without yeast. It's made with brown rice flour and buckwheat flour.

9 people made this

IngredientsServes: 1

  • 700g brown rice flour, divided
  • 350g buckwheat flour, divided
  • filtered water, at room temperature, as needed

MethodPrep:10min ›Extra time:4days resting › Ready in:4days10min

  1. Mix together the brown rice flour and the buckwheat flour until well combined.
  2. Day 1: Whisk together 1/3 of the flour mix and 175ml filtered water in a glass jar. Stir well until smooth and no lumps remain. Cover with a piece of cheesecloth or a clean linen tea towel and let sit at room temperature (21 degrees C), far from drafts or direct sunlight. Do not cover with cling film, the circulation of air is important. Every once in a while, stir the mixture with a fork or whisk. Check to see if small bubbles start to form in the mixture. These bubbles indicate that wild yeast is forming.
  3. Day 2: As well as stirring, you will begin to feed the starter on day 2. In the morning, mix 4 tablespoons of flour mixture and 3 tablespoons room-temperature filtered water. Once mixed well, add the flour-water mixture to the jar with the starter mixture. Stir well and continue to stir throughout the day if possible. Every 12 hours, add this same feeding mixture (4 tablespoons of flour mixture plus 3 tablespoons water) to the mother mixture.
  4. Day 3: By now, you should notice an overall sponge-like texture. If this is the case, your starter is ready to use. At this point, it should be kept in certain conditions to keep from over-growing. Keep it sealed, in the fridge.
  5. If your starter has only a bit of foam at the top, but you notice a fragrant smell of yeast, these are good signs and could be that the room is too cool. Check to make sure the location is draft free. If you don't notice these minimal signs and a note a foul smell, discard starter and restart.
  6. If your sponge is still very watery but has a sponge forming, mix well, take out 1 mug of the mixture and discard (or use in another recipe); feed the starter every 6 hours.
  7. By day 4 your starter should be ready. Keep the starter covered in the fridge and feed every two weeks or each time you measure out any starter.

Tip:

When not being used, your starter will need to be maintained. To feed: Allow the starter to reach room temperature. Take out 1 mug of starter (use in a recipe, freeze or discard) and add 60g of flour mix combined with 80ml of water. Allow the starter to reach room temperature and allow to rest until the starter has begun to foam and bubble. Cover and put back in the fridge.

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Gluten-Free Sourdough Flatbread

If you're looking for a great-tasting and versatile gluten-free bread, try toasting these tangy sourdough flatbreads as a snack for your favorite dips and spreads or use them as rounds with your favorite sandwich fillings.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup (227g) ripe (fed) gluten-free sourdough starter
  • 2 cups (312g) Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon instant yeast
  • 1 teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (9g) salt
  • 1 tablespoon (14g) olive oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cups (113g to 170g) warm water
  • Everything Bread and Bagel Topping, optional

Instructions

Place the starter into a mixing bowl. Weigh your flour or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, yeast, xanthan gum, sugar, and salt add to the starter. Use an electric mixer (hand or stand) to mix on low speed until just combined.

Add the olive oil, egg, and water, and beat on high speed for 2 to 3 minutes. The batter will have a thick, paste-like consistency.

Allow the dough to rest for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, or until puffy. The rise won't be dramatic.

Preheat your oven to 500°F. Stir the dough to deflate it. Brush three pieces of parchment paper with olive oil, and set them on three baking sheets.

Perfect your technique

Gluten-Free Sourdough Flatbread

Using a jumbo cookie scoop (2-tablespoon capacity), portion dough onto the paper and, with oiled hands or pastry roller, flatten it into a 4" to 5" round. Sprinkle with seeds or topping seasonings. Repeat with the remaining dough you should be able to get about 6 rounds onto each baking sheet.

Place the baking sheet(s) into the oven, or transfer the parchment directly to a preheated pizza stone. Bake for 5 minutes for crispier breads, bake an additional 3 to 5 minutes, until the edges are golden brown. Cool on a rack or serve warm from the oven.

Tips from our Bakers

Be aware: some of your baking ingredients can be a hidden source of gluten. Learn more at our blog post: For gluten-free baking, think beyond just flour. For additional information on King Arthur-produced products, read the complete details of our allergen program, including our contact-prevention practices.


What is a wild yeast sourdough starter?

A wild yeast sourdough starter, gluten free or otherwise, is a combination of flour and non-chlorinated water that is combined to creative an environment conducive to the growth of the naturally occurring yeast that is all around us and in gluten free flours.

It’s essentially a controlled rot, like kombucha, but if you think of it like that, you may not ever want to make it so let’s move on. When yours is good and active, as described in the recipe card below, you’ll be ready to bake fresh gluten free sourdough bread with it!

Are all sourdough starters gluten free?

No! They’re not. If a sourdough starter was made with gluten-containing flours, it contains gluten and should be avoided if you are on a gluten free diet. Period.

The wild yeast does not remove the gluten from gluten-containing flours. Please consider the source if anyone tells you otherwise.

Why bake with wild yeast?

Commercial yeast, like the instant yeast granules that we use in our gluten free white sandwich bread and many other gluten free bread recipes, is a single, isolated strain of yeast.

A pure “wild yeast” starter contains no commercial yeast at all. A wild yeast sourdough starter is great when you can’t get your hands on commercial yeast because the cupboards are bare.

Once it’s “active,” a sourdough starter can be used to create sourdough breads of all kinds. I have a whole chapter of pure sourdough breads in my bread book, GFOAS Bakes Bread.

Those recipes are more complex, and use my gluten free bread flour blend which contains some harder-to-source ingredients. This recipe is for a simple, liquid wild yeast gluten free sourdough starter, and the recipes are not interchangeable.

It does take time to cultivate, though, so it’s not a quick fix. It also must be maintained by being refreshed at least once a week. Otherwise, it may become inactive or over-active and spoiled.


Gluten-Free vs. Regular Sourdough

Making a gluten free sourdough starter isn't any different than making a regular sourdough starter.

- Both start with flour and water.
- Both take a few days and both get bubbly.
- The only real difference comes when you're ready to make sourdough bread and you have to pull out all the various types of gluten-free flours.

Gluten free sourdough starter can be made in as little as seven days using gluten-free flour, water and a medium-sized bowl. I personally have successfully made gluten free sourdough starter with brown rice flour, but I've read others have had success with white rice flour, teff flour, sorghum flour, or even a gluten-free all-purpose blend.

Typically, in the same way that using a blend of alternative sweeteners will work best when substituting for sugar, using a variety of flours will work best for your gluten-free sourdough.


  • 1 cup sifted gfJules Gluten Free All Purpose Flour (135 grams) OR 1/2 cup gfJules Flour PLUS 1/2 cup ONE of: sorghum flour buckwheat flour teff flour quinoa flour, millet flour, brown rice flour
  • 1 cup filtered water - room temperature
  • 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar (with "the mother" - shake the bottle)
  • either 1 teaspoon gluten free dry yeast OR 2 Tablespoons yogurt (dairy-free works fine)

To make the gluten free sourdough starter, add starter ingredients to a non-reactive bowl or container made of glass, stainless steel or food-grade plastic.

Whisk together until no lumps are present and all the flour is incorporated, then set aside with a loose cloth covering the top. The room should be at least 70F, or place it in a warmer location like near your oven or in a warmer room.

Allow the starter to sit, loosely covered, for 24 hours then discard half the starter (about 1/2 cup). Add to the remainder of the starter another 1 cup (135 grams) gfJules Flour All-Purpose Flour (or 1/2 cup gfJules and 1/2 cup alternate GF flour listed above) and 1 cup cool filtered water (if your kitchen is particularly warm) or lukewarm filtered water (if your kitchen is particularly cold).

Re-cover and allow the mixture to rest for 24 hours.

At this point, the starter should show signs of activity, but if not, don't despair, and don't throw it out! Repeat the halving and discarding and replenishing step every 12 hours (or as your schedule allows) until the starter begins to bubble and rise (becomes active).

If it does not seem active after 2 days of this feeding cycle, try one or more of these things: stir in another 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar switch to 100% of whole grain gluten free flours listed above stir in 1 Tablespoon honey or try moving it to a warmer location.

*Also, be sure your starter is not too thick. It should be the consistency of pancake batter, not dough.* Add more filtered water if necessary -- if the starter is too thick, it cannot bubble and grow.

Once it seems to have come alive, continue feeding the starter 2 times a day in the same way (discard + add flour and water). You can place some of the more active discards in a separate container if you're like me and can't bear to throw it away each time! Then you'll have simultaneous starters going. The discard process gives the yeast proportionately more food to digest each time it's fed, so it's a necessary part of the process.

Continue this process for 7 days OR until the starter doubles in volume or looks very bubbly and active within 6 hours after feeding. At that point, feed one more time, then allow to rest for 6 -12 hours before using. If not using for a recipe right away, or after using some in a recipe, with remaining starter, transfer to another container that can be covered and placed in the refrigerator until ready to use. If the container has a lid, DO NOT tighten it completely. Feed starter once a week if stored in the refrigerator.

As I mentioned earlier, I found it hard to part with any starter by tossing it down the drain, but traditional methods say to feed the starter and then discard all but 1/2-1 cup of starter many times, I divided it into another container and gifted the starters to ambitious gluten free friends. You could also use excess starter (once active) for other recipes like coffee cakes, scones, muffins, pancakes . just use your gluten free starter in place of yogurt or sour cream or even milk in many recipes!

Every time you use the starter for baking, pull it out the night before to allow it to come to room temperature and feed it again. Ideally it would be fed and sit for 12 hours before using. Once you've added the starter to your recipe, feed the remaining starter again and return to the refrigerator.

Now that you have your active starter, you're ready to bake your gluten free sourdough bread!

Baking Gluten Free Sourdough — Choosing the Right Pan

As you can see at the top of this post, there are many different options when it comes to baking your gluten free sourdough bread. If you prefer to make an artisan-style loaf, no bread pan is needed.

For that method, I found that lining a large glass bowl with oiled parchment sprinkled with more gfJules Flour was the best way to support the bread as it rose. Once risen, I simply lifted up on the parchment and laid it out onto a baking sheet for the bread to bake.

The bread will take more of a free-form shape, but it’s really beautiful and impressive!

Using either the artisan or bread pan method, you may choose to dust the top of the loaf with gfJules Flour before baking for a more rustic look, or simply brush olive oil onto the top, or both. I like the look of the flour with the golden finish of the olive oil in combination, so most of my loaves pictured are done that way.

Allow the dough to rise covered with oiled plastic wrap to help keep the loaf warm and moist. I like putting the loaf into a preheated 200F oven, then turning the oven off, but turning the light on. I do this with the bread rising in either the bowl or the oiled and floured bread pan.

You can allow the bread to rise here for a minimum of 1 1/2 hours or up to one day if you’re baking egg-free.

The bread won’t have risen a lot, as most of the rising happens when it’s baking.

Feel free to oil and flour the bottom and sides of the pan or use lightly oiled and floured parchment for easier removal from the pan.

Gluten free sourdough dough bread in Pullman Pan after rising for 3 hours.

After rising, cut slits in the top of the loaf to direct the rise. Since the oil and/or the flour were applied before the slits were cut, the inside of the slits will appear different from the crust and it gives the sourdough the hand-made look it deserves.

Regarding bread pans, I experimented with all kinds and sizes. My personal preference was the Pullman Pan that I used in most of these photos. The bread dough is a bit too voluminous for a traditional 9 x 5 (or smaller) bread pan in those, this wet dough would rise high and then tended to collapse a bit, leaving some un-cooked looking areas in the center.

The Pullman Pan (mine is 12 x 4 1/2) seemed to be the perfect size to allow the bread to rise with support up the taller sides.

Gluten free sourdough bread in Pullman Pan lined with parchment. The bread is done when the internal temperature is at least 205F.

The time it takes to bake this bread will differ based upon the pan used and of course, on individual oven variations. I highly recommend buying an internal thermometer to take the bread’s temperature before removing it from the oven. The internal temperature should be at least 205F before removing it from the oven to cool.

Gluten Free Sourdough bread with Gluten Free Lazy Susan from WordsWithBoards.com.

How to Make Gluten Free Sourdough Taste Sour

There are three main distinguishing features of sourdough: taste smell and texture. You might expect that the most difficult feature to achieve in gluten free sourdough would be texture, but as you can see from the photos, the artisan texture, open cell structure and crunchy crust are present in each of my loaves made with my gfJules Flour or my gfJules Bread Mix.

The smell is something that is quite noticeable from the starter. It should be tangy and rather sour smelling to know it’s really active. If your starter isn’t smelling very sour, it needs to age longer and/or be fed more.

Gluten free sourdough dough with fried green tomatoes (recipe at gfJules.com).

But the sour taste was the thing that seemed to be most elusive for me in my bread experiments. That’s fine for me, as I don’t prefer a sourdough taste in my bread, but I know many of you do. My breads came out tasting yeasty and mild, just perfect for sandwiches or dipping in olive oil and balsamic (which we’ve been doing nearly every night for weeks now!).

No, the sour taste didn’t come easily. I did achieve it when I allowed the bread to rise overnight, so if you are searching for that sour, I recommend budgeting time for an overnight rise.

I allowed my bread to rise as I described above, then placed it in the refrigerator overnight (still covered), then removed it the next day to sit on the counter to come to room temperature before baking. THEN the sour started to show through! (note: if you’re baking egg-free, leaving the dough covered in the oven turned off overnight is a good way to get that sour taste.)

If you do any experimenting of your own and find other ways to make this bread taste sour-er, please share in the comments below!

Storing Your Homemade Gluten Free Sourdough Bread

I always recommend storing your baked goods at room temperature in a sealed container, and this gluten free sourdough bread is no exception. The simple truth is that if you put baked goods into the refrigerator, they will dry out. You can put them into the freezer when they are fully cooled, but they will need to be warmed or toasted before enjoying again.

This gluten free sourdough bread is still soft and delicious after a few days in a zip top bag with the air squeezed out of it and stored at room temperature. Depending on the size of your loaf, you may need to cut it in half to get it to fit into a gallon sized bag, but other than that, it’s easy to just seal it up and grab a slice whenever you like!

If you’d like to bake a regular gluten free artisan loaf without the sourdough starter, check out my Gluten Free Artisan Bread Recipe. And of course, my award-winning gfJules Gluten Free Bread Mix works well for any kind of sandwich bread, oven or bread machine, hamburger/hot dog bun or baguette recipe! Click on the “description” tab to find links to all these gluten free bread recipes or use the search bar above.

So let’s get down to baking great gluten free sourdough, shall we?


An electric grain mill

After Teffleanor started bubbling away and looked like she’d stick around for the long haul, I decided to finish grinding all of my teff for hungry Teffleanor’s feedings. To do that, I plugged in my electric grain mill.

For several years, I had coveted a wood-encased electric grain mill but couldn’t bring myself to buy one new—the KoMo grain mill I had my eye on costs about $800. Then one day, my neighbor gave me hers. She had baked bread when her kids were young—they now have kids of their own—and had stopped eating bread altogether so she no longer needed the beautiful, sturdy and well-made mill.

If I’ve convinced you to grind your own flour, you may find a secondhand grain mill through your Buy Nothing Group, Facebook Marketplace, Nextdoor, Craigslist, at a thrift shop and so on. Like other niche appliances, grain mills can easily go unused and collect dust—and not the flour dust that electric mills send billowing out in clouds.


Different People, Different Methods

Understand that most people will probably use different methods to make a starter. Just like no two people will ever make pizza the same way. Below are my tips on how to prepare a simple active Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter.

I’ve tested everything from adding kombucha, grapes, water kefir and apples to create pleasant smelling starters. Each method has different outcomes. I’ve even placed fruit beside my starter to see if the bacteria from the fruit would magically fly into my starter to make it sweeter.

My friend Melissa Torio makes her starter with kombucha yeast.

Start with a simple method. As you get better at experimenting you can test different ingredients to achieve a lively bubbly starter that you will love to bake with.


Gluten Free Sourdough Starter Troubleshooting

Can I Feed My Sourdough Starter Without Discarding?

Technically you could, just like you saw in the video I tried to discard less at the beginning and it ended up with slowing down the fermentation and the accumulation of a large amount of discard. So it better to feed smaller amounts and keep it minimal.

What Do You Do With Sourdough Starter When Discarded?

I don&rsquot throw away my discard, I keep it in a separate jar in the fridge for use in other recipes. It can be used in gluten free sourdough pancakes, tortillas, waffle recipes, crackers (see my posts below). Every time I have to discard, I transfer it in the other jar. The buildup can be used immediately or during the week.

What Is The Difference Between Sourdough Discard And Starter?

The discard is just unfed starter. It can always be fed again later to make it active. Once a sourdough starter is established, there is no need to discard every time you feed it. Simply add flour and water to the jar, and stir.

Recipes Made With Sourdough Starter Discard

What Type of Flour To Use

The best flour type to use is a wholegrain variety. Whether is brown rice flour, buckwheat, sorghum or teff it doesn&rsquot matter, they are more nutritious than the refined varieties.

For consistent results, is best to avoid switching flours while you&rsquore building the starter. Stick with the same flour you started so you don&rsquot disrupt the process. With time you can switch to a combination of flours, and even move it to a 100% different flour feed.

What Water To Use For Sourdough Starter

I use filtered water, and I do recommend using filtered water if possible. The microorganisms from the sourdough starter can be affected by chemicals in the water. If you live in an area with heavily contaminated water than is best to use filtered or bottled water.

Gluten Free Sourdough Starter Feeding Schedule

I recommend feeding your starter every 18 hours for the first 2-3 days, to see how it behaves. If it stays the same with little activity than wait up to 24 hours before next feeding. If the starter develops bubbles quickly and rises up in the mason jar then reduce the time.

Beyond those 3 days if the starter bubbles becomes quite active, rises and falls well before each feeding, then you need to feed it more often (because the microorganism finish their food quickly). If is not falling before you feed it again, then you can extend the time between feedings. It all depends on the temperature in your kitchen, adjust the time accordingly.

Starter Feeding Ratios

My golden feeding ratio is: 1 part starter to 1 part flour and 1 part water (by volume). It easier, quicker and is working.

These amounts are a just a general guide. If your starter ever seems too dry or too wet, feel free to add a splash more water or flour until the desired consistency is reached. I usually keep it at the consistency of a pancake batter.

Kitchen Temperature

The ideal room temperature for you gluten free sourdough starter is 75-80°F (23-27°C).

If your house stays warm, building your sourdough starter will take less than 7 days. If you keep your house cooler, still works, it just may take 7 to 10 days, as I described my method above.

A good trick, I&rsquom sure already many people know it, is to tuck the jar in a warm dark location like a turned off oven, with walls that are still warm from a previous bake. Check with your hand, it shouldn&rsquot be hot, just barely warm.

Another option is to place a pot with steaming water inside and keep the door closed. The oven becomes a warm and moist environment for the yeast to to grow.

The Gluten Free Sourdough Starter Is Not Bubbling

If the gluten free sourdough starter is still not bubbling after 3-4 days of starting it, it means it needs more time and it needs some help to activate. This is the case if it smells nice and not acidic.

To encourage faster fermentation make sure the water you are using is slightly warm, around 85-90 F (29-32 C) and that after feeding you are keeping it in a warm spot.

Let your starter rise as high as it wants to, and don&rsquot feed before it begins to fall.

Also take into account that sourdough starters that are thin and runny may not show as many bubbles. But they are still active.

It Develops a Layer Of Liquid And Smells Acidic

This layer of liquid (called hooch) sometimes forms on top of the starter. This is an alcoholic by-produce of the yeast and can smell really acidic or like alcohol. This is a sign that is needing more food and getting too hungry faster thus becoming week.

The problem: it&rsquos not being fed enough and/or often enough.

Solve it: pour it off, then discard most of the starter and adjust your feeding schedule accordingly. If a second feeding doesn&rsquot work as well, you can increase to a 1:2:2 feeding ratio.

Sluggish Gluten Freee Sourdough Starter

It started to get more bubbly but then it got lazy and shrank in size? To revive it, pour off (discard) all but about 1/2 cup of starter (you can eyeball it) and then feed it with equal amounts of flour and filtered water (1/2 cup each).

When The Starter Is Ready To Bake

Bubbles in your starter is a great sign, but if it isn&rsquot strong enough to raise itself up, it definitely isn&rsquot strong enough to leaven your bread. A &ldquoready to bake&rdquo starter, at 100% hydration, should triple in 4-5 hours after feeding.


Gluten free sourdough starter recipe - Recipes

Gluten Free Sourdough Bread

I am fully aware that it has been actual YEARS since the last time I blogged, but, life came at me fast. In the past two years I’ve dedicated myself way more fully to my day job (co-director and teacher at a Montessori school). I was pregnant and then found out at 20 weeks we had lost the baby. I lost my dad to a heart attack. And now, I’m pregnant again, at the end of my second trimester, due this summer. I wrote another cookbook, which will be out this summer. And of course Everett has continued to grow and change and be his weird intense amazing self. It’s been… a lot.

I’ve also struggled with how people’s interactions with blogs changed. There’s a lot of “ugh story skip to the recipe.” Which… I get. But I did this thing for free for a lot of years, and the story telling was a part I loved, and a part that let me have genuine connections with people. For a while, at least. But I get it, the internet changed, instagram killed blogs, etc.

AS IT WERE. I am back because I have something to share that needed a more permanent home than my instagram stories. Along with the rest of the world stuck at home, I decided to try my hand at sourdough. Since I have celiac disease this would have to be, of course, gluten free. I read every gf sour dough recipe I could find and was overwhelmed by all the speciality flours. I’m still working from home full time, plus parenting, I don’t have time for 5 flours. Then! I happened upon a King Arthur Flours recipe for a gf starter using their measure for measure flour. This is my favorite gf flour, so I decided to give it a whirl.

It is now important to note that KA does not have a gf sourdough recipe to go with it. I decided to see if I could wing it with a rough understanding of wet/dry ratios gleaned from recipes with too many flours and tried my hand at a gluten free sourdough using KA measure for measure flour. AND IT WORKED. Y’all it is light, fluffy, has a great crumb, tastes good, and is seriously magic. It’s so good that if someone served it to me in a restaurant I would think they messed up and it was regular bread.

I decided this recipe was worth sharing since I honestly couldn’t find a gf sourdough recipe that was low maintenance and the world deserves one. Here it is, folks, the first recipe on B&S in two years. Enjoy!


How did you develop the recipe?

As I’ve said so many times before I’m not one for faffing.

It’s why I created my wholegrain gluten free flour blend. I was fed up with having to have a myriad of different gluten free flours in my cupboard. I wanted just one that I could rely on to use in all my baking.

This recipe originated from one by Naomi Devlin in her book, River Cottage Gluten Free. I took her oat and chestnut sourdough recipe and made it by own.

Firstly, rather than using lots of different gluten free flours I replaced all but the oat flour with my wholegrain gluten free flour blend. That makes it much simpler. And don’t be tempted to use a different flour blend because you won’t get the same result either in texture or taste.

Secondly, I used milk kefir instead of sourdough starter.

Finally I used whole eggs instead of just egg whites, because I hate wasting eggs.

If you’re not sure what a gluten free flour blend is then read this article: What On Earth Is a Gluten Free Flour Blend? It will help you to understand why your baking doesn’t always work and will save you a lot of money.

One of the great things about my gluten free flour blend is that it can be used to make everything. From cakes to bread, pastry and even pasta. It’s also a source of protein and fibre being made from 70% wholegrain flours.

If you love this recipe then sign up below for my free recipe ebook. In it I give you recipes for gluten free Yorkshire puddings, scones, pancakes, Victoria sponge and so much more. You’ll also get my weekly newsletter of recipe inspiration.



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