Art of Gluten-Free Baking
Sourdough Bread (Boule), Gluten-Free (edited 5/2/11 to correct cup measurement for flours)
Special Equipment Needed
-kitchen scale (this recipe is best done by weight rather than volume--although I've included approximate cup measurements)
-4 qt Dutch oven w/a lid: Lodge, Le Creuset, Mario Batali, Martha Stewart, Dansk are all good brands
-4 qt bowl (one the same size as your Dutch oven)
-stand mixer (this will work best, but a hand mixer will do in a pinch)
-spray bottle with water for spraying top of the crust
-instant read thermometer is nice to double-check the interior temperature of finished bread, but you can do without it (they are cheap--get one!)
Ingredients (measurements are in weight ounces, not fluid ounces)
Note: if your starter has been dormant (e.g., in the fridge and not being fed/watered) you need to wake up the yeast before you bake with the starter. Feed and water the yeast and give them several hours to wake up and start bubbling again before you make the bread. If you don’t do this, the yeast won’t perform very well and the bread won’t turn out well.
approximately 6 oz (3/4 cup) water (40% BP)
Place the mixing bowl from your stand mixer on the scale and set it to zero. Add 5 oz each of your 3 flours. Add your salt, xanthan gum, and granulated sugar. With a spoon, mix well.
Add your starter. Place bowl on mixer and fit with paddle attachment. Set the speed to low and mix for a few seconds--just until the dough comes together as a blob. The dough will now be extremely stiff and still fairly dry. Add your water, a bit at a time (about 1/4 C at a time), mixing for a several seconds after each addition. The dough should gradually become like a stiff cake batter. You need to run the mixer for several seconds after each addition to be able to judge how the water is being absorbed. For me, in Seattle this fall, it's routinely taken 6 oz (3/4 cup) of water to make the appropriate dough consistency. Your area and conditions may need more or less water. You don't want the dough to be too thin or soupy (like pancake batter), but you also don't want it to be so stiff that it's like Play Doh. Once you have added all of your water, beat on high for about 3 minutes. Your dough should be smooth at the end of this time.
Line your rising bowl with a good-sized piece of parchment paper. It will be a bit wrinkly--do your best to smooth it down and fully cover the interior of the bowl. There should be some parchment paper hanging over the edges--you will use these edges later--don't cut them off right now. The reason I have you use parchment paper instead of greasing the bowl is that you are going to transfer the risen dough to the Dutch oven for baking at a later point.
Carefully scrape your dough into the lined bowl. Smooth top. If you want to, cut a few slashes in the top of the dough with a lame (a bread slasher) or a very sharp knife. Cover bowl with plastic wrap (I usually use a rubber band to keep it on the bowl) and place it in a warm-ish, draft-free place. Your oven with the light turned on in it is a nice place. Or, if you're baking other things, on the top of the stove is great--so your dough can take advantage of the warmth to encourage rising. A friend of mine puts hers in a large pot with a lid and keeps it next to the stove while she's cooking other things.
Let the dough rise for 4-6 hours. I've let it rise all sorts of different time periods, and 4-6 hours seems to work well. I've let it rise overnight, for about 12 hours, and its been OK. There's really no "shoulds" in this stage. Just go about your business and come back to it when you can. The dough should approximately double in bulk. Of interest is the fact that a longer rise time does not necessarily correlate with a lighter baked bread.
When you are ready to bake your bread, remove the bowl of dough from the oven (if you've been letting it rise in there). Place your Dutch oven, with lid, into your oven and pre-heat to 425 degrees F/220 degrees C/Gas Mark 7. Keep your Dutch oven in there for about 1/2 hour--so it gets nice and hot. When you're ready, carefully remove the Dutch oven from the oven and remove the lid. Remember: it will be extremely hot!
Remove the plastic wrap from your rising dough. Grasp the edges of the parchment paper with your hands, making sure that you have got a firm hold on it, and carefully and gently transfer your dough to the Dutch oven--your dough will be risen and is in a fairly fragile state. Be very careful--it is easy to burn yourself at this step. At this point, you can cut the parchment paper edges so there is not so much extra hanging over the sides. Spray the top with a few sprays of water--this will help to create the crisp and chewy crust. Place (hot) lid back onto your Dutch oven, and return to the oven.
Bake for 45 minutes at 425 degrees F. Then remove lid and bake another 15 minutes uncovered to further brown the top crust. Remove from oven and check internal temperature of the bread with an instant-read thermometer if you have one. It should read at least 200+ degrees F. This indicates that the bread is thoroughly baked. Let sit for 15 minutes. After 15 minutes, grasp the parchment paper again and transfer your bread to a cooling rack. You may remove the parchment paper now so the bread can cool. Please note that the bread is still setting up at this point--try to let it cool completely before you slice it. It's hard to wait, but you will be happy you did!
This bread stores best on the counter (not in the fridge). Do not wrap it in foil or plastic wrap--it will make the crust gummy. I have found that Debbie Meyer Bread Bags are terrific for storing this (and other gf) bread. My local food co-op carries them.