Gluten-Free Sourdough Baking Tips

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Is your gluten-free sourdough ready to bake? Has the dough been proofed long enough? How can you tell? Improve your bakes with my latest gluten-free sourdough baking tips.

Ready to Bake? Gluten-Free Sourdough Tips. What is the best proofing time?

Gluten-Free Sourdough Experiment

Improving the texture of gluten-free homemade bread takes practice. Experimenting with gluten-free sourdough recipes requires patience, but achieving your preferred texture, colour, and flavour is rewarding.

I took my recent 7-Inch Sourdough Boule recipe for this experiment. You can mix the dough by hand or with a stand mixer. For this test, I used my mixer.

My experiment was to test which proofing time (rise time) would create the best crumb and texture.

Ready to Bake? Gluten-Free Sourdough Tips. Best rising and baking time. How to tell if bread is done.

What I Tested

No kneading is necessary for the gluten-free sourdough recipe that I used. I weighed the dough after mixing it and divided it into four equal parts—no folding or kneading technique is necessary.

Each dough quarter was gently rounded with my hands.

I scored the tops with four lines just before baking. With some parchment paper, I transferred the first dough ball, unproofed (no rising time), to my preheated Dutch oven, then right into the oven to bake. See top right (A) in the photo below.

The other three dough balls were dusted with flour and placed in a bowl or banneton basket (covered) while waiting to bake at different intervals. See top right in the above photo.

Four little gorgeous little gluten-free sourdough boules. Ready to Bake? Gluten-Free Sourdough Tips

Proofing & Baking Intervals

Most of Fresh is Real’s gluten-free sourdough bake after a 3 to 6-hour rise time. The temperature in people’s homes can vary, affecting how fast or slow their dough rises. 

The Simple Sorghum Sourdough is my only recipe that proves in the fridge overnight. The extra step is to help break down the ingredients to make the bread easier to digest. The GF starter gets mixed in after the overnight rest in the fridge.

Proofing smaller loaves can be faster. I estimated that 3+ hours of rising time for the last dough quarter would be enough. A large loaf could take longer, especially if it’s cold in your kitchen.

  • (A) 1st quarter – baked right away
  • (B) 2nd quarter – baked after a 60 mins (1-hour) rise
  • (C) 3rd quarter – baked after a 75 mins (2.25 hours) rise
  • (D) 4th quarter – baked after a 195 mins (3.25 hours) rise
Four pictures of gluten-free sourdough bread dough rising in a 7-inch banneton basket. The dough in pictures 3 and 4 had the best rise as the dough included a bit more water.
Full batch gluten-free sourdough rising in a 7-inch banneton basket.
The dough in pictures 3 and 4 had the best rise as the dough included a bit more water.

Best Gluten-Free Sourdough Proofing Times

  1. If unsure, proofing the dough for at least 3 hours is a great start.
  2. Refer to the suggested time in the specific recipe’s instructions.
  3. A well-hydrated dough could rise faster. Avoid over-proofing it. Less time is best in this case.
  4. A drier dough could take longer and might not show a significant sign of growth. 
    Start with 3 hours and adjust for future bakes. Take notes.
  5. The best tip is to take a finger and gently press down on the surface of the dough. 
    It’s a great sign if it springs back up (even a little). Start preheating your oven!
  6. Gluten-free sourdoughs will not double in size when proofing. (Note: I don’t use xanthan gum.)
    Half an inch to one inch (or more) in growth is perfect! Get ready to bake!

Above, you’ll find a great example (number 4 in the photo) of dough ready for baking. The dough in examples 1 and 2 is on the dry side, so the rise is not significant. It does show signs of a bit of growth.

Additional GF Baking Tips

  1. Bake With Steam. Add a couple of ice cubes under the parchment paper for the first part of baking with a covered Dutch oven. Doing so will create steam and encourage your dough to rise. This trick works best for a free-form loaf. If your oven has a steam setting, you could bake your bread pan loaf uncovered and use the steam tray with water. Without a steam setting, you can place a baking dish on a lower rack and pour some water or a few ice cubes to create the same effect.
  2. Preheating Your Oven. Getting your oven nice and hot before you bake is important. You can even preheat at a higher temperature and lower the heat to what you need just before baking. It is equally important to preheat your baking vessels/tools simultaneously.
  3. Having a Plan B. Many people get discouraged if they feel their dough is too soft or thin to hold up as a free-form loaf. If that happens, consider baking the dough in a parchment-lined bread pan. Also, reducing the rising time is often best for a dough that contains more liquids. 

Other Factors to Consider

It’s important to note that the ingredients you use, the liveliness of the gluten-free starter, and the environment in which you bake will also play a role in the outcome of your loaves.  

The GF sourdough for this test is thicker. It contains psyllium husk, which makes it manipulable by hand. Other recipes could have a batter-like consistency and might not have psyllium husk, flax or other similar binders. 

I feel that all gluten-free vegan sourdoughs require some resting/rising/proofing time. It gives the ingredients a chance to soak up the liquid and transform into something magical that will bake into a beautiful, nutritious loaf with a good rise.

Is My Gluten-Free Sourdough Done?

With this baking experiment, I tried something new. I took the gluten-free sourdough bread out once I felt it was ready, which is when it’s golden brown, the crust is hard, and the loaf sounds hollow when tapped. 

Then I finally used a new digital thermometer to take the internal temperature of the bread. A gluten-free sourdough is ready when it reaches about 210°F. 

Keep in mind that larger gluten-free sourdoughs will require more baking time. The full-size one-loaf sourdough recipe bakes for 80 minutes.

I baked each smaller quarter for 60 minutes. One hour is usually a great starting point for any size loaf, then keep baking until you achieve the perfect doneness.

Baking Temperature for Gluten-Free Bread

Over the past few years, I’ve baked many bread recipes at 450°F. I’ve also experimented with hotter temperatures, at times reducing the heat for the second half of the baking.

Baking at 425°F works well too. Keep in mind that your bread may have to bake for longer if you lower the temperature.

When baking bread, I try and keep the process as simple as possible. If you were a baker at a bakery, you probably wouldn’t have time to fiddle with baking temperatures. You would find the ideal baking temperature for the specific bread recipe in your environment, kitchen and season and stick with it.

Are the bottoms of your loaves too dark? Pay attention to where you place your loaves in the oven. Is your oven hotter than you think? Test the actual heat with an oven-safe thermometer. Consider reducing your oven temperature for your next bake. Also, test the doneness of your loaf with a digital food thermometer. It might be ready sooner in your oven.

Experiment Results

Baking gluten-free sourdough without any proofing time will yield a denser texture. See (A) in the photo above. It is still edible but letting the dough proof for a few hours helps create a much more pleasant mouthfeel.

Boule (B) had a one-hour rise, and it looked and tasted pretty decent.

I was excited to see the third boule (C) come out of the oven. It had an excellent shape and baking rise. I feel that proofing GF sourdough for at least two hours is necessary.

The fourth (D) didn’t have the best overall shape and baking rise, but it did have the best springiness to the bread texture. It rose for a little over three hours.

My favourites were (C) and (D) for sure! These sourdoughs were smaller, so they didn’t need as long of a proof.

I’ve never tested a gluten-free sourdough with xanthan gum. I am not sure if it would improve the rise or texture in a good way.

The bottom sliced boule had the longest proofing time at just a little over 3 hours.

Takeaways

Testing different proofing times for gluten-free sourdough was a fun experiment! I test variations of my bread recipes all the time. It’s honestly the best way to learn and improve baked goods, especially for allergen-friendly recipes!

I hope my tips gave you something to think about and even try next time you bake a gluten-free sourdough bread recipe.

If you have any questions or tips to share with others, please do so in the comments at the bottom of this post. Thank you!

A beautifully scored boule of gluten-free sourdough bread.
The 7-Inch Sourdough Boule is a wonderful smaller gluten-free sourdough bread recipe.

More GF Sourdough Recipes

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Join the Fresh is Real Facebook baking group! It’s a great place to ask your allergen-friendly baking questions, get tips and inspiration and share recipes! Anyone can join!

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Three jar of active bubbly GF Sourdough Starter ready to be used in a sourdough bread recipe.
You can make a gluten-free sourdough starter with brown rice, millet, buckwheat, sorghum, GF oat flour, or teff flour.
Making a grain-free sourdough starter with cassava flour is possible.

GF Sourdough Starter Recipes

Gluten-free (and one grain-free) sourdough starter recipes:

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ALLERGEN NOTE

Make sure the ingredients you purchase are prepared in a facility free from the top allergens YOU AVOID. Gluten-free products should be certified GF and clearly labelled. Consult your medical professional with your dietary questions.

Even certified gluten-free ingredients such as GF oats, corn, seeds, etc., can create health problems for individuals following a GF diet. Always consult a medical professional if unsure about ingredients for your needs.