First attempt at gluten free sourdough

but a bit sad inside!

I have been baking successful gluten free bread for a while now ( ) and finally decided to take up the challenge of sourdough.  My starter uses a mix of 2/3 buckwheat flour 1/3 brown rice flour (following the method provided by SourDom (thanks!)

Gluten free flour mixes tend to be very thirsty, so I think my results may be due to the hydration as well as over proving. Working on both issues for the next batch! 

The crust tastes good, but the uncooked innards are a bit strong.  I cooked at 40 minutes 210 oC, but extended that out by another 40 minutes when I realised something was wrong.

332 users have voted.


dougfal 2011 October 5

I'm very keen to hear the result of your experiments! My wife misses sourdough bread more than anything else in the coeliac diet.



Staffo 2011 October 5

 Hi Doug,

Second attempt was much better.

I reduced the amount of available liquid by throwing in some chia seed. 

The bulk rise was overnight without heat (room temp was about 17 oC)

Proved during the day - room temp up a little to about 19 oC, so I added a little warmth for the last couple of hours before baking at 225 oC at 4pm.

Result is still a bit wet, but at least this time there is a crumb that looks a bit like bread and not like goo!

I'll rest a few days to mull over the results, then do try another!





Staffo 2011 October 7

 Third loaf,

Major reappraisal:

reduce hydration - now at 100% (300g flour mix, 300g water)

no added sugars

first rise 1 hour

short knead (2 minutes)

overnight rise - approx 17 oC (9 hours)

bake (with water bath) in hot over 230 oC 10mins

reduce to 215 oC bake for 10 mins

reduce to 200 oC bake for 40 mins



crumb is much better - but still too wet

could have risen more before baking

strong crust - crumb just under the crust looks good



Gluten free breads I have developed using commercial yeast are very thirsty, so I am finding the wet result a little puzzling. However - will keep reducing the hydration.  Time to adjust the gluten free flour mix a bit.

Long - overnight - rise at room temp doesn't seem enough - might try a shorter rise in a warmer environment - then a retard in the refrigerator followed by a warm up before baking.


Would appreciate any thoughts ...




dougfal 2011 October 8

 Buckwheat and rice flour are both pretty strong - maybe some corn meal or tapioca might help? And I've had some success baking yeasted GF bread by adding vegetable gum - xantham or guar - to bind it a little better.

BTW, the best GF bread I ever tasted was made from manioc (cassava) flour, but I can't get a reliable source here. That was in Vancouver, so maybe you'll have better luck.

Happy baking!

Staffo 2011 October 8

For the sourdough bread I have been using a mix of buckweat, brown rice and arrowroot. I'll be adjusting the ratios of those in the flour mix.  For the starter I am using just buckwheat and brown rice flour - with arrowroot or tapioca in the starter there might be too much starch.

I have already developed a few pretty good GF bread recipes with cornflour / rice tapioca - see  (would love to show you some pics, but I haven't been able to upload them to this forum) However, those GF breads all use commercial yeast and are relatively quick to make - say 2hours from start to baked loaf.  The flour mixes I developed for them don't work very well with sourdough.  So, I'm going to go back to the start and work out new lines of GF flour mix.  I also need to work out the method.  As there is no gluten, there is no need for time or technique to develop the gluten! However, the kneading and rising and resting do other things to the sourdough.

A while ago I did some tests with xanthan gum and found that it is unnecessary.  As part of a school science project the students baked 3 loaves: no gum, 3/4 teaspoon gum and 1 1/2 teaspoons gum.  When put to the taste test with 2 classes and with other teaching staff (sample size of about 40) the 'no-gum' loaf won on taste, texture and appearance.




dougfal 2011 October 9

 Agree abt the gum - you can get a better texture, but the taste suffers.

Watching progress with great interest!



Staffo 2011 October 9

 Hi Doug,


Tried again today - mixed dough before church and left it on its own!

Baked it this evening (spent about 5 minutes kneading at about 2pm, then left it to prove while I did some other baking).

I haven't been able to post pictures on this thread, so I have put them in a facebook album.  Here is the link:

There are pics from all four loaves I have tried so far.  

Hydration for loaf #4 was down in the 60-70% range.

Crust is very strong - I suspect that it prevented the oven rise - even with slashing.

I also suspect that I need to prove the loaf in a warmer environment - finding the right balance is tricky - need to make a purpose built box with a thermostat! 

I'll be working on the flour mix again in loaf #5  

It is a real challenge working out which variables to play with - and how much to tweak them!





Staffo 2011 October 10

 Hi Doug,


Tried again today - mixed dough before church and left it on its own!

Baked it this evening (spent about 5 minutes kneading at about 2pm, then left it to prove while I did some other baking).

I haven't been able to post pictures on this thread, so I have put them in a facebook album.  Here is the link:

There are pics from all four loaves I have tried so far.  

Hydration for loaf #4 was down in the 60-70% range.

Crust is very strong - I suspect that it prevented the oven rise - even with slashing.

I also suspect that I need to prove the loaf in a warmer environment - finding the right balance is tricky - need to make a purpose built box with a thermostat! 

I'll be working on the flour mix again in loaf #5  

It is a real challenge working out which variables to play with - and how much to tweak them!





Staffo 2011 October 11

Changed the GF flour mix to include more arrowroot, less rice flour.  

Just cut the loaf - texture looks similar to #4.

Still heavy and dense, even though it roughly doubled in size!

Surprised to find that it is still very moist with hydration at 65%.

Reminds me a bit of some rye breads I ate years ago! Similar texture, colour, and flavour too!

I want to get more air into it - make it lighter. Only because I prefer a lighter bread, not because is it too dense.

Staffo 2012 June 11

Great excitement!  Loaf number 6 passes on taste, texture and appearance.

After number 5 (the chooks enjoyed it!) I went back to the drawing board, looked around the net to see what lessons others had published, considered each change and decided:

1. keep the drier mix

  1. 2. go back to my basic bread mix and make a few small changes

3. work on the rising and baking techniques


This is what I came up with:

Bread mix uses:

Buckwheat, Brown rice flour, Arrowroot, Flax meal, fibre, salt

Using Farinam's calculator the scaled recipe is:

Starter: 150

Water: 230

Flour Mass: 300

giving a hydration of 81% (remember this is gluten free - most of the extra water is absorbed by the fibre)


Made the dough at 8.45 am in a kitchen heated to 20oC (this is Tasmania in the Spring: overnight min 5 oC daytime max 16 oC)

Refreshed the starter jar at the same time. (this is important, I think!  * see below)

At about 3.20pm the starter in the jar was showing activity and beginning to expand.

Kneaded dough for about 5 minutes.  Formed into a loaf and wrapped in an old linen teatowel dusted with rice flour. Left it to prove in the warmest part of the kitchen.

Slashed at 5.30pm and placed in a cold over with a bowl of boiling water and set the over to 200 oC for 1 hour. (Many thanks to Meg at for this insight)


Our house guest likes it, and commented that it tastes and feels like a light rye bread.


Here are some photos (I finally figured out a way to display them!  See link at the end for the full set of photos for loaves 1 to 6.)

6th loaf   6th loaf showing a more open crumb   6th loaf showing a close up of the crumb


* watching the refreshed starter over the past week suggested to me that when the starter was getting active, the dough should be getting active (assuming that the starter was refreshed about the same time that the dough was made).  This started me thinking about the best time to knead.  I chose to knead when the starter, and hence the dough (if my observations/ logic are right) is when the dough has started rising, but not too long after. (With my GF breads that use commercial yeast I knead after 15 to 20 minutes, shape the loaf and rise again another 15 to 20 minutes then bake at 200 oC).

dougfal 2011 October 14

Your commitment and perseverance are beyond question! I'm giving this a go first chance I get.

Great work! 

Staffo 2011 October 22

With the weather warming up a bit this week (NW Tasmania) the kitchen has been a little warmer - so proofing seems to have been better.

Loaf 8 is another gluten free made with buckwheat and brown rice flour mix (with a few other gluten free inclusions - tapioca (cassava) flour, flax and psyllium). 

Loaf 9 is a similar gf flour mix, but with out the buckwheat - only brown rice flour.  It was a later thought and didn't have enough time to prove properly, and is more dense than it would have been if it had the same time to prove as the buckwheat loaf.  Having said that the brown rice loaf turned out well enough.  I'll do some more work with that flour mix!


Both loaves were baked on a terracotta "stone".  The effects of the stone are evident in the bottom of the loaf - much more even rise; no layer of more dense crumb along the bottom of the loaf.


Loaf 8 is the long loaf, loaf 9 is the round loaf


loaf 9 (round) loaf 8 (long)  

loaf 8 more open crumb than earlier buckwheat loaves    loaf 9

Adriana 2011 October 25

Hi Staffo,   I just stumbled across this site and wanted to say that I enjoyed reading your posts and full marks for sticking with it.  I teach people how to make gluten free bread and as you said, there is so much to observe and learn and it's fascinating to read about your experiments with sourdough.  I get quite a few requests for gluten free sourdough and have until now just read about the process without really wanting to go there.  In reading your posts a few things come to mind.  You mention kneading which is curious to me as there seems little point to knead a gluten free bread since there is no gluten to develop.  I was wondering why you would do this with your sourdough versions.  Also, in my experiments I found that the dough needs to be less like dough and more like a thick cake batter.  I stumbled across this by accident when I accidently forgot to add one of the flours listed in a recipe. The resuting loaf was one of the best I had made, with a good crumb and decent crust and amazingly light. The flavour was very similar to a brioche.  I do use xanthan gum, fast acting yeast (which I am sure is a big no no) and powdered gelatine. Since then I have gone on to experiment with different flours, teff, buckwheat, etc and following this principle of a batter rather then a dough does seem to produce good texture.  What I find lacking is that gorgeous crust you get with sourdough and the acid sour flavour which is what people who are Coeliacs really appreciate and miss the most. 


So back to your beautiful looking loaves I wanted to say- (and perhaps you have cracked this by now)- would they benefit from being less dough like and more cake batter like? and is there something else you could add like gelatine to help stabilise the structure of the loaf pre baking?  Look forward to hearing from you.  Adriana

dougfal 2011 October 27

Outstanding stuff, Staffo. My starter's coming along nicely, won't be long until I get baking.....

Keep up the good work! 

Staffo 2011 October 28

Hi Doug and Adriana,

Good to hear that you are nurturing a gf starter Doug!  I'll be interested to hear how you go with it.

Sorry to be slow to resopnd Adriana, I have been thinking over the approach I have taken. Before I started experimenting and working out my own recipes I tried all the GF bread mixes that were available in the shops where we live (North West Tasmania, Australia).  I was dissatisfied, especially with the batter mixes because, although they could be made in our bread maker, the results were ususally less than satisfactory: thin crumbly crust (if you would dignify it with that name!), short life (usually began to crumble after 24hours), couldn't be used for sandwiches. The only way those "breads" were reasonable was toasted, and even then it was pretty sad toast!  GF loaves bought in the supermarket were only a little better, but they were quite dense and also very expensive. Bread became an uninteresting luxury where it had been a staple, and an interesting and delightful staple with the variety available from a good bakery.

At first I tried to improve the commercial premixes.  Most were significantly improved with the addition of an egg!

Then I started playing around, looking for gf flour mixes and trying them to make my own bread.  None really performed well unless I made a batter. But, I suspected there was a better way. So I started looking around and trying different ingredients - using an instant yeast (I used to use this when I baked bread years ago - I started when I was at university in Sydney - there was a bread strike in the late 1970s - I was a poor student, so I taught myself how to make bread - and kept it up for years afterwards).


Sorry about the digression -but it helps to understand why I developed the approach I now use!

Back to the development: I looked for ingredients that would make a dough pliable.  I found a few ingredients that were useful, and others that were not.  Much as I like olive oil, it seemed to me that it was too heavy for use as an ingredient (although I have tried it when kneading with good results). I also tried some seeds that produce a gel when soaked in water - e.g. quinoa, flax, chia.  They were promising! 


I still remember my excitement the day I took my first loaf that looked, smelled, sounded and tasted like real bread out of the oven.  From that time I have kept exploring and experimenting.  One thing I really yearned for was fruit bread - so that was fairly high on the list once I had a viable bread recipe.


Now I am working in two directions. First with sourdough, second - as a result of my sourdough experiences - on different flour mixes to work out what is really necessary to turn out a good loaf.  I have slimmed down some of my earlier recipes as I discovered some ingredients are not really needed.  I have also adjusted the quantity of some ingredients to improve the properties of my loaves. 


Now that I have some good reliable recipes I am beginning to play with more exotic breads like croissants - now there is a significant GF challenge! (first batch tasted right but the texture was far too coarse)


The big question you asked is why knead? 
Fair question.  I have noticed that the ingredients that keep my dough pliable work better if they are kneaded a little - I noticed that when I worked the dough it developped a bit better and could be formed in to a loaf more easily.  The best way to test this was to try making knotted rolls and then a plaited loaf. 


To gum, or not to gum! 
At first I didn't use gum, then I started using it.  Then I did an experiment with some science students where we made 3 loaves: 1 with a lot of gum, one with a little and one with no gum.  We then submitted the loaves to staff and students at the school for testing and rating on taste, texture and appearance.  The gum free loaf won on all measures.  Quite surprising!  So now I no longer bother with the gum. 


Doug, if you are still with us - I am currently working with brown rice flour and playing around with that. I have just put two loaves in the oven: one sourdough based on brown rice and a little millet, and one with commercial yeast based on brown rice. I should have mentioned, some of the other drivers that influence what I try are: requests from friends with dietary restrictions and the preferences of other members of the household!  One has gone off buckwheat, another has decided against sourdough (prefers sweeter bread).


With my work on GF sourdough I have taken the view that I want the sourdough bread to be as close to "real" sourdough bread as possible.  This has forced me to look carefully at all ingredients and decide again if they are really needed. Consequently my sourdough recipes are tending to be one of my GF flour mixes, salt and water with a little oil for kneading.

mowing-man 2011 November 29

 Hi Staffo

Popped over here after you left a comment on my sourdough post

on my blog - thanks! Your loaves look great! Interesting how your recipes are developing - I also don't use gum, am interested in psyllium and chia to replicate the stickiness of gluten and have had good results with non-sourdough breads using egg and gelatine.

Shame to mess with the sourdough simplicity though isn't it.

I like  general  baking with white sorghum flour as it has that wheaty musty smell and flavour that I miss being gluten-free. I am becoming so sick of the brown rice smell and taste : ) Haven't tried it out for SD bread though.

Thanks for all your work - I shall have a go at your recipe as soon as I get a chance!


Tracey (the mowing man's wife)


Staffo 2011 December 4

Hi Tracey,


I have kept the work going and this weekend produced my first loaf that I would call successful. A buckwheat boule that uses buckwheat, brown rice, tapioca as the basic flour mix. I also used untreated water this time and got the result I have been looking for.  (I'd love to use rain water from our tank, but we have an old roof, with all sorts of interesting paints on it! I use it for the garden , but am not confident to consume the tank water!)

The Buckwheat Boule - nice over spring - I have to improve my slashing!

Boule shape is not too badnice light, open crumb

Staffo 2011 December 7

Crumb just a little sour. Crust just slightly chewy.  Baked Saturday, but still fine to eat today (Tuesday) without refrigeration, without toasting, without spreads!  Buckwheat flavour present, but not overly strong - a pretty tasty and useful bread. Plan on finishing it off for breakfast or lunch tomorrow!


Cielkaye 2011 December 7

Hi Staffo, you are a star. Is there a chance you could post a recipe and method for your best result to date?

Staffo 2011 December 8

Hi Cielkaye,

Is that like a final work of art?

I am finding sourdough so interesting and so complex that refining and distilling a definitive recipe & method seems way off in the distance.  Sorry to disappoint.

If you have the the time & patience, read all the entries above carefully and you might be able to distil what you need. Especially entries around 10 Oct 2011.  There are enough variables in this game to keep me going for a while.  At present I am only able to bake two batches most weeks.  In between times I ruminate on them!

I have the ordinary GF bread working pretty well, with recipes available ( ) if you are interested.

Staffo 2011 December 31

I'm currently on family holiday in Perth, Western Australia. I decided to try bringing some starter with me.  Results have been good. I made up some bags of flour mix at home as well.  It has almost been like making up packet mixes!

First task was to get the starter working.

Second task was to work out how to care for the sourdough in totally different surroundings. Different kitchen - no great drama, different oven - a few more challenges. Finding the GF flours for new loaves was only a bit of a challenge - wouldn't buy from one store as they had open bags of flour with GF flours and gluten flours all together!

Results have been good so far. Filtered water (filter jug) has worked well.

Temperatures have been the biggest challenge - started using the refrigerator to retard! (no need for this at home in Tasmania)

Millet loaves and buckwheat loaf have been made using my buckwheat and brown rice starter. Good results that have met with approval with family and friends.

Still doggedly sticking to a flour and water approach, without fancy additives.

I am becoming confident that my approach to GF Sourdough can be replicated in different environments.

I am now keen to try different gf flours to make starters and try different types of bread.


@Cielkaye - sorry about the "brush-off" earlier I was busy and was not confident that my approach was stable enough to share.  Working on it!






gherinm 2012 January 5

Hey Chris,


Congratulations on a spectacular achievement.  That is definitely the best gluten-free sourdough I've seen.  Are you selling the recipe in your etsy store now, or are you still perfecting it?




Staffo 2012 January 6

Hi Matt,


No, not selling any GF sourdough recipes yet.  I still have a lot to learn about it before I publish for sale. Sounds strange, but the simpler the bread, the more complexity involved.  With yeasted breads, once you have established an approach, it is pretty easy to get a range of sound working recipes.  With sourdough there is less scope for fiddling the ingredients, so I have to look to technique to make it work. That is where the challenge lies.  I have made buckwheat, millet and sorghum.  My preference if millet, however I am using a buckwheat based starter.  I suspect (un-reasoned gut feeling!) that if I can develop a millet based starter the millet sourdough will be even better.  I also need to revisit the sorghum. The bread was OK, but nothing to get too excited about.  That too used the buckwheat based starter. I have learned a bit since I tried the sorghum, and I have refined technique an ingredients.


I think I may have made the comment somewhere in my earlier entries, but I'll say it again, my GF sourdough sticks as close to regular sourdough principles as possible.  The starter is a cultured flour and water mix.  The sourdough is a mixture of starter and gf flour mix and water. At the moment I am buying flour, but I'd love to try using home ground flour.  I suspect (not quite as above!) that would also improve the bread because the flour would be fresher and less oxidised.





Staffo 2012 January 20

Millet Sourdough

This loaf is by far the best sourdough I have made. It is a millet loaf and it uses my new millet starter.

I developed the starter by following (roughly) Sourdom's method for making a starter from scratch.

The crust is thinner than other loaves, and is about right, could be a little harder. The crumb is open, soft and almost delicate on the palate.

Millet crumb - open, soft and almost delicate on the palate.

When the starter was developing I noticed that it would get to a point of almost doubling in volume, then shortly after, it would begin collapsing.Regrigeration would slow, but not stop the collapse. This suggests to me that timing is more critical with the millet starter - and sourdough that uses it.  I didn't observe this behaviour with the buckwheat & brown rice starter.


More photos on facebook.

Staffo 2012 January 25

This week I made a buckwheat dough, and realised after I had kneaded it that I left out the tapioca flour!

What to do? ditch the dough and start again, or press on and see what happens?

The results were pleasantly surprising!

Buckwheat boule

Buckwheat boule

These photos doesn't show the colour well enough - a fairly dark crust - and a dark crumb:

Buckwheat crumb

Buckwheat crumb

I probably should have baked it a little earlier as the dough slumped a little. Overall though a really good result! One friend who sampled this said it was really tasty with a complex flavour and a hint of honey.

Cielkaye 2012 January 26

 I had great success a few days ago with my soy starter in a GF buckwheat, millet, soy and chia loaf. Oh and water and salt of course. I am away in the country again and want to replicate this and get pictures before I put up the recipe here for anyone who wants to use it. My celiac friends are swooning over it. How sad not to be able to get great bread easily.

Staffo 2012 January 26

Well done, I am glad you have been able to work out an approach that gives you the results you want.

I am still dabbling with sourdough and enjoying the results, but not yet confident to publish!

On the other side, with yeasted breads I am going ahead in leaps and bounds with Croissants, Chelsea Buns and Hot Cross Buns - all GF and all really tasty! (

Looking forward to your pictures.



Cielkaye 2012 January 27

 I have had phenomenal success with yeasted GF breads. Crusty, free form and incredibly fast simple. I will take photos of them as I make them and perhaps post them and give members the chance to contact me for recipes. I will not be selling the recipes, and I will check with the moderator as to whether this is ok given that this is a sourdough site. I want to replicate the recipes as some I have only made once and the ingredients can be expensive.

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