Inspired by all of the canning, pickling, cheesemaking, and breadmaking in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, I pulled out the brown rice sourdough starter that’s been sitting in the fridge since some time in mid-2016. There were certainly no guarantees, as it was well past the “best by” date, but the ol’ starter started.
Part of what kept me from starting it was the worry that I’d forget to feed it and waste a bunch of flour and time. Not really a worthwhile thing to worry about. Luckily, I was feeling inspired and that pushed me right past this silliness.
The process was pretty straightforward, despite the various sets of instructions for keeping the starter fresh or refrigerating it.
I emptied the powdered starter (essentially a bacterial colony) into a water and brown rice flour mixture which is both its food and its home. For the next few days, I emptied out all but about a half cup of the mixture and added fresh flour and water until things started getting interesting. When I pulled the cloth cover off the glass jar around day four or five, the starter was slowly bubbling. This meant that the bacteria were metabolizing (eating) some of the media I had carefully supplied them with and, presumably, multiplying happily.
After feeding for one more day, I began making the gluten-free sourdough recipe over at Cultures for Health (suppliers of the brown rice starter, along with all kinds of bacteria-based kits for kombucha, kefir, and yogurt).
This is where the dream went a little bit pear-shaped. I made the batter and let it rise for about 18 hours (it was slow rising, as the recipe said it might be). After that time it honestly had not risen all that much, but I was eager to see how this bread would bake up. I also figured that it had done all the rising it was going to do in 18 hours.
There was a bit of a skin on the top, so when I transferred the dough into the cooking vessel, I gave it a stir. I checked a couple of times during the 40-minute cooking time, and things were not looking promising. The dough flattened out and settled comfortably into a cow pie shape, complete with cracking along its rounded edges.
After it cooled, it looked like a cartoonish cookie or a rounded flatbread gone wrong. The flavor is not too bad; it tastes pretty breadlike, and definitely has a pronounced sour tang. I’ve been reminded that my judgement on these kinds of things is not to be trusted (one time I offered D what I called a “brownie”–it was sweet potato-based–and her assessment was, “it’s been a long time since you’ve had a brownie.”).
Anyway, we enjoyed it sliced in half and layered with kale pesto, grilled peppers and onions, and cheddar cheese for dinner the other night, and it added some nice crunchiness.
A goodly sized wedge still sits on the counter, every day becoming more likely to be consumed by chickens than humans. (Update: The chickens did indeed receive a decent chunk.)
I’m not under any delusions that this bread is a good choice nutritionally just because it’s gluten-free. Bread made with lots brown rice flour and potato starch doesn’t contribute much nutrient-wise, and it pushes other things out of the diet. But it was a fun side experiment to channel some of the inspirational energy I’ve developed through reading. And it got me into the rhythm of sourdough a bit, which I’d like to keep playing around with.
One of the things I’d like to do when I make it again is test my insulin response. I’d also like to see if I can get it to rise a little more respectably.