The gluten-free life can be a little lonely sometimes. Whether you’re avoiding grains for serious health reasons or because you prefer to eat a lighter diet, most people find life without bread a difficult chore. Gluten-free coconut flour and other non-grain flours make bread possible again, but yeasted breads, and especially gluten-free sourdough bread, are a bit more difficult to find in the marketplace. Homemade coconut flour sourdough starter to the rescue! There’s no need to deny yourself the pleasure of sourdough bread, especially when fermented foods offer so many wonderful health benefits such as healing gut disease and boosting your immune system with powerful probiotics.
Coconut Flour Sourdough Starter Recipe and Techniques
The magic begins with a gluten-free starter which you create in four steps.
1. Combine 1/8 cup Coco Treasure Organic Coconut Flour with ½ cup non-chlorinated water in a large bowl, and whisk until the mixture is smooth. The mixture should be somewhat like pancake mix, pourable but not too thin. Cover the bowl with a plate, making sure there’s at least a 1/2-inch gap of air at the top.
2. Feed your starter. Approximately every 12 hours add another 1/8 cup of coconut flour and ½ cup purified water. Stir well and return the plate. In 24-48 hours the mixture should begin to get bubbly and release a pleasant aroma of fermentation. If no bubbles form, try feeding the starter every 8 hours. If there is too much starter in the bowl to allow a ½-inch air gap, simply pour some off and use it for a batch of sourdough waffles.
3. In a few days the starter should become extremely bubbly and create a nice dome-shaped top about 2 hours after feeding. When it has reached this stage, you’re ready to bake bread.
4. Maintenance is required! Remember, your gluten-free sourdough starter is a living organism that requires food and water to survive. If you plan to use your starter frequently it can stay unrefrigerated and covered on your counter or pantry. Unrefrigerated starter does require continued feeding every 12 hours. For more occasional use, transfer the starter to a jar with a tight-fitting lid, and place it in the refrigerator. When refrigerated, the mixture only needs to be fed once a week. Follow these steps for refrigerated maintenance:
- If a clear-to-amber liquid forms on the top of the mixture, pour it off. The liquid is not harmful and is the normal accumulation of alcohol from the fermenting yeast.
- Pour out all but 4 ounces of the starter before each feeding. Use the extra for quick breads such as pancakes, waffles, flatbread or pizza crust, or give the discarded portion to a friend to make their own starter.
- Mix 1/8 cup coconut flour and ½ cup lukewarm water into the remaining starter. Mix until smooth, and cover.
- Leave the newly fed starter at room temperature for up to 4 hours then refrigerate.
To prepare your starter for bread making, follow the first three bullet points above. Do not refrigerate. Allow it to become bubbly and feed every 12 hours until the mixture doubles or triples itself between feedings. That means the fermentation has become powerful enough to make bread rise. If needed, feed the starter once or twice more to make sure you’ll have enough left after making your recipe. For example, if your sourdough bread recipe calls for 2 cups of starter, make sure you have 3 cups of starter available or continue feeding until you do.