Yup, this whole buckwheat bread is gluten-free. Better yet, it has only three ingredients, and you can get two of them at the normal grocery store (and the other one is water). No grain mill or expensive flour required and you don’t need any atypical kitchen equipment to make it. It makes for a great sandwich. It tastes fantastic (unsurprisingly, it tastes like rich, savory buckwheat), and although it doesn’t have the texture of bread with gluten—it’s a little cake-ier—it also doesn’t have any of the gross gums, sweeteners and fillers that many store-bought gluten-free breads have. It’s an easy win for the whole foods crowd.
This is not my brainstorm. This is one of those delightful grain things we fermented at Sandor Katz’ residency, but I’ve tweaked the loose recipe we made, and broken things down into specifics. My soaking and fermentation times are significantly longer than those we used at the residency, but this is the end product that best fits my preferences, so this is how I’m making it.
I am not gluten-free (I don’t eat a ton of carbs, though so my grain intake is very limited), but I am a little obsessed with this bread. It is one of those simply genius recipes that’s hard to believe until you try it.
Gluten-Free, Naturally-Leavened, Whole Buckwheat, Sourdough Bread Recipe
This is a pretty versatile bread. You can add a variety of seeds (sunflower is super tasty). I’ve been busy working on this basic recipe, so I haven’t experimented much beyond sunflower and sesame, but I’m betting you could throw other goodies in there with great success. Just make sure you add them before fermentation. You don’t want to disturb the batter too much just before baking. Also, make sure to check out the photos for hints on how things should look at each stage. Getting this to where I liked it took a several dozen pounds of buckwheat, and the visuals are the key.
- 2 cups (375 g) hulled, whole buckwheat
- 1 cup (235 ml) filtered water, plus more for soaking
- 1/2 teaspoon (3-4 g) kosher salt
- 1/3 cup (45 g) sesame seeds (optional)
- Rinse buckwheat and remove any debris. Place buckwheat in a large bowl and cover with at least 2 inches of water. Cover with a cloth and let it soak overnight.
- Drain buckwheat well in a fine mesh strainer. DO NOT RINSE! That slimy stuff is what makes this work. You’ll lose a little of it just by draining off the soaking water. No worries on that.
- Pour the strained buckwheat into the blender or food processor and add 1 cup of filtered water, salt and sesame seeds. Pulse until combined, but not smooth. In a Vitamix, this is like 2 seconds of it running, followed by 2 to 3 pulses. In a food processor, it’s more like 10 pulses. Your goal is to integrate the liquid and grain so that they don’t separate when poured out of the blender, but also leave some of the grains relatively in tact. If it gets too smooth, no worries! It will be just fine, but it tastes nicer and has a way better texture when not fully blended. If you pour it and you’re seeing too much water separated, blend it again. Better over-blended than under-blended, but you can also toss it back into the blender for another pulse or two if it pours and separates quickly.
- Pour it into a large glass bowl (the same bowl you soaked it in is fine), cover with a kitchen cloth to keep dust out and let it sit for 24 hours at room temp. If your home is particularly warm, you may want to cut that time, or if it’s particularly cool, you could go up to 36 hours. I’ve tested this at room temperatures ranging from 64°F (17.7°C) to 78°F (24.5°C), (all in the same summer month! Thanks, climate change!) and I was able to bake it after 24 hours of fermentation at both temperatures.
- If you want to measure how much your dough/batter has risen, place a piece of tape along the side of the bowl, even with the level of batter. This isn’t a glutinous bread that will double in size. It tends to rise between a 1/2 inch and an inch. You’ll be able to see the bubbles in the batter that tell you it fermented, though, so keep your eyes peeled for those.
- Once it’s ready, heat the oven to 425° F (218° C), and gently pour batter into a greased loaf pan. Since this bread doesn’t rise a ton, I prefer a deep loaf pan so that I get a more sandwich-worthy slice. It should be full to about a 1/2 inch below the rim of the pan. My best results have been in my 1.5 quart Pyrex loaf pan.
- Place it in the oven, middle rack, and allow it to bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Mine is done at 38 minutes. You’ll know it’s done when the entire surface looks like cracked desert sands. The edges should be lightly browned. The middle will set last, so if you see a wettish spot there, it hasn’t finished baking.
- Allow to cool completely before removing from pan. It should release easily once cooled.
- This loaf will keep for 3-5 days at room temperature. Underbaked loaves will be wetter and won’t keep as long. You may want to store those in the fridge.