Gluten-free Sourdough Egg Bread

When you google special-diet recipes, you realize that everybody's got different requirements. ("Hmmm...that fried chicken IS gluten-free, but it's definitely not vegetarian! Gotta get those search terms straight...") And googling Special Diets is what forces you become a Recipe Developer instead of merely a connoisseur.

I wanted a bread with no gums, but also no gumminess; I wanted to avoid milk proteins, refined grains, and most grains at all; I didn't want to use nuts, I wanted a nice crust, and I definitely wanted my bread to hold together without crumbling. Not having off-tastes was important, and I didn't want to use leavening agents apart from the natural microbes in sourdough. Oh, and I also didn't want a bread that "is not as good as Real Bread, but it tastes better toasted!"

This time, I copied down ten recipes, and read through many more. I came up with various flour blends and overspent my food budget on buying specialty flours that I knew I'd likely use only once. Then I started baking.

My third trial yielded a bread with a lovely, moist texture, a flavor and yellow hue that reminds me of challah, and good looks, to boot. :) It tastes good on the second day (the longest a loaf has ever lasted in our house), and it would probably taste _great_ toasted - not that I've tried...

An important procedure in this sourdough technique is that most of the fermentation happens during the initial fermentation. After you put the batter in the pan for the second rise, very little time elapses before popping it into the oven. The first rise can be shorter or longer based on necessity, but the second rise is not as flexible, I've found. If you over-proof, the bread will not rise so much in the oven, and will be denser in the middle. Start the bread the night before if you want to bake in the morning.

It's hard to impart the vagaries of different ovens and pan types and textures using the written word, so I hope instead that this recipe helps inform YOUR recipe development, and that you will share any tasty variations you come up with!

180g. arrowroot flour
180g. whole cassava flour (not tapioca, although I'm curious if that would work)
1 tsp. salt

2 cups boosted brown rice starter
1-2 tbsp. honey (amount depends on sweetness and browning desired; more will yield more browning)
4 eggs
1/4 cup ghee
1/2-1 cup lukewarm filtered water - amount depends on the thickness of your starter

Sift dry ingredients together; sift wet ingredients into dry. Add water gradually - you want a thick batter. Not as thin as pancake batter, but not so thick that you have crumbly clumps in the bowl. Just in the middle is about right, and you'll get a feel for it after you try it once or twice. :) It'll be just pourable.

Once everything is nicely combined, cover your bowl and let it rest, in a room temperature spot, for 5-14 hours. It will bubble and rise like a batter, not a dough, but there will definitely be activity in there.

When you're ready to bake, line a 9-inch round pan (or equivalent) with parchment paper. It doesn't need to be exact - just flatten the excess paper up around the sides so that the batter will contact only parchment, not pan. Pour the batter in, and cover for forty minutes.

Meanwhile, preheat the oven to about 450f degrees. If your oven is a chancy propane oven like mine, it's good to preheat a cast iron griddle or pizza stone so that the heat will be spread out around your pan and not cause the crust to scorch.

After the bread has risen for 40 minutes, nothing much will look like it happened. Go ahead and uncover the pan anyway, pop it in the oven, and bake for about an hour - until it looks beautiful, the bottom crust is golden, and the internal temperature is 205f or higher.

Allow to cool by removing the bread in its parchment "sling," removing the paper, and letting it sit on a wire rack.