About a month ago, I made a gluten-free bread recipe by Dan Lepard that sort of blew my mind. I’d never made gluten-free bread that rose so well -IT DOUBLED! I’d also been used to baking gluten-free bread dough that looked more like quick bread batter. This dough was sturdy! Shapeable! Dare I say: “fairly similar to gluten dough?” The secret to this bread lies in the psyllium husks and ground flax, both have rad “binding” abilities which gives the bread amazing structure like the gluten proteins in regular flour do.
The bread also had such a delicious crispy crust without tasting like cardboard. However, due to some unknown cause, my first attempt had a slightly gummy interior, I suspect I didn’t bake it long enough or that altitude played a role there. I sent my mom the recipe and she made the loaf on the same day with better success than I had. Regardless, we both agreed on one thing: we needed a sourdough version and a stronger flavor profile.
My mom’s loaf:
We both kept playing with the recipe and last week during spring break at her house, we had a break through.
Toasted and half eaten:
Over the process of the last year, my mom had converted her positively ancient sourdough starter into a gluten-free starter. We made a seeded sourdough version of the bread and the results were brilliant, full bodied and full flavored. However her crust didn’t brown very well and the bread still didn’t contain any whole grains. So, when I got home I resolved to improve on the recipe even further.
Raised in a proofing basket:
I tested and tested and then tested again until I had a crusty brown sourdough loaf that crunched like artisan bread, was decidedly not of the cardboard variety and had some whole grain flour in it.
Many thanks to Dan Lepard for his original recipe that my mom and I used as a springboard. Our collaborative adaptation on his bread is printed below with his permission.
Vegan and Gluten-Free Crusty Olive Oil Sourdough Peasant Bread
Makes 1 very large delicious loaf
Adapted from Dan Lepard’s wonderful Gluten-Free Bread recipe here
1- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Put a pizza stone or stoneware baking sheet in the oven and allow it to heat while the oven heats up. In a bread maker, stand mixer, or other kneading apparatus (maybe a big ol’ bowl if you’re going to be kneading with your hands) add the water, sugar, salt and yeast. Give the liquid a quick stir, then mix in the “proper” sourdough start or the “faker” sourdough start. In a separate large mixing bowl thoroughly whisk together the cornstarch, brown rice flour, psyllium husks and the ground golden flax seeds. Pour the flour mixture into the now bubbly yeast mixture. Immediately add the olive oil and mix well to make a smooth thick batter.
2- Knead for 5-10 minutes until dough is uniform and gluten bread dough like, then cover with a clean cloth and leave for 20-30 minutes, or until doubled in size.
3- Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Sprinkle a small handful of cornmeal onto the paper. Place the dough on the cornmeal and carefully roll and shape the dough into a fat sausage, about the length of the tray, making sure the loaf is nicely and evenly covered with the cornmeal. Using a sharp serrated knife, make several diagonal slash marks across the top of the loaf. Cover with a clean cloth and leave to rise in a warm place for 20 to 30 minutes, or until nearly doubled again.
4- Carefully lift the loaf WITH parchment paper off the baking tray and transfer to the preheated clay baking sheet or pizza stone. Do not burn yourself! Bake for about 50-55 minutes, or until the loaf is a very deep golden-brown in color all over, indeed, it may even look slightly burnt. But I promise the crust will be super delicious. Brush with extra virgin olive oil (if desired, because it really makes it taste so good) and leave to cool on a wire rack before slicing.
p.s. Try not to eat the whole loaf by yourself at once: psyllium husks and flax seeds are necessary for the structure in this loaf, but they’re also known for their unparalleled ability to get the digestive system moving…
Mom’s French toast made with this bread:
To make your own gluten-free sourdough start, you can use the recipe below. To make my starter, I used 1 cup of “cup for cup gluten-free flour” with an equal amount of water. Then followed the rest of the ingredient list and directions in the link. I had brilliant results.