Gluten-Free Sourdough Buckwheat Bread Recipe

3 ingredient gluten free bread

Finished loaf. Crispy out layer, cake-y interior. Loads of savory panache.

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.Loaf of gluten free whole buckwheat bread recipe

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.

Crumb on gluten-free sourdough bread recipe

This ain’t no gluten bread. You can tell because it isn’t exactly beautiful and the crumb is not airy and chewy. It’s dense and cake-y, though, which provides its own pleasures.

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.

Actively fermenting buckwheat gluten free bread

Those bubbles in the batter indicate that fermentation happened! Yay! You’re ready to bake it.

Gluten-Free, Naturally-Leavened, Whole Buckwheat, Sourdough Bread Recipe

Makes 1 loaf, adapted from a loaf made at the Sandor Katz fermentation residency

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.

dough consistency of gluten free bread

I call it batter because it’s way wetter than dough. Make sure to gently smooth out the surface. it won’t rise a ton, so what you put in will be similar in shape to what you take out. This is a smoother version of the dough/batter than I prefer.

  • 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)
  1. 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.
  2. 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 dint of draining off the soaking water. No worries on that.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. Allow to cool completely before removing from pan. It should release easily once cooled.
  9. 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.
Gluten free sourdough bread with three ingredients

The edges are browning, so it could be tempting to pull this out of the oven. Don’t do it. Wait until that wet patch in the middle is as craggy and dry looking as the rest of the surface.

Cauldron Ferments Giveaway!

Cauldron Ferments Logo

Cauldron Ferments is Kickstarting a brand new Fermentation Company

To me, community is one of the most important aspects of fermentation. There are communities of microbes involved in every ferment, yes, but the community aspects of fermentation include much larger multi-cellular beings, too (aka humans). If you’re involved in the fermentation community, you’ve probably had the joy of seeing “competitors” collaborate along with a remarkable amount of shared food and knowledge. It makes me feel fuzzy and it makes me proud of the fermentation community.

Cauldron Ferments Carrots

Spicy Carrots in your belly!

I mention this in part to explain why, although I’m a DIY kinda girl, I am always so happy when I discover new (or new-to-me) fermentation companies popping up, and why I want to do whatever I can to support them. When I spot a fermenty kickstarter, I’m almost sure to contribute (if free of fear-mongering, of course). When the Kickstarter is from one of my new BFFs* (Best Fermentation Friends, of course) I will for sure contribute and I will also recommend that others do the same!

You, dear reader, are one of the “others” in that equation today. I’m very happy to recommend Cauldron to you, since I had the chance to eat and drink some of Bethany’s (one of the three co-founders of Cauldron) ferments at Fermentation Fantasy Camp and they were mighty tasty! Believe me, you want this company to be successful, and you probably want to be a part of that success. Cauldron will be kicking off their Boston-based line of ferments with a few delightfully probiotic, pickled products, and now you have the chance to win them!

Black and White Sauerkraut. Simplicity at its best.

Black and White Sauerkraut. Simplicity at its best.

In honor of the final week of their already nearly successful Kickstarter, Cauldron is offering up a 26 oz. jar of one of each of their initial line of pickled products to one lucky Phickle winner! Those products are:

  • Black and White Kraut: A black pepper sauerkraut.
  • Dilly Beans: A classic for good reason.
  • Firecracker Carrots: Spicy goodness for your (healthy) guts!

Cauldron Ferments Launching Product Line

So be part of the community movement and pay yourself back with a gut full of happy, healthy probiotic bugs. The Cauldron Ferments Kickstarter ends in 5 days, so make sure that you join the many who have already supported Cauldron before Sunday, June 14th! They have awesome rewards, and any amount would be appreciated.

This contest is for Continental United States-dwellers only, but everyone can (and should) support Cauldron’s efforts to probioticize Boston! Also, please be aware that this prize will not be shipped until Cauldron has their commercial kitchen space. The recipes are thoroughly tested and ready to go, but you know, legally, they can’t give you food they made at home (I know, I know, fermented vegetables are the safest. This is dumb. But it is what it is and they want to get it to you as soon they can, but be prepared to wait a few months until they’re up and running!).
a Rafflecopter giveaway

caudron ferments dilly beans

Something about fermented green beans is just unbelievably difficult to resist. I bet you’ll eat this jar in one sitting.

All photos courtesy of Cauldron Ferments. I was not paid for this endorsement, but Cauldron will be supplying the fermented prize for the winner, free of charge to me or the winner!

Grain and Bread Ferments with Sandorkraut

It’s pretty hard to know where to start when talking about the specifics of Fermentation Fantasy Camp, so I’m going to break it down, very generally, by subject and share recipes for some of the things we made together there. Several of these are posts I’ve had in the works for a while, but it’s impossible not to learn from Sandor Katz, so you’ll benefit from the added knowledge I gained at FFC. Others are things I’d never made before, and those I’ve only been playing with since I returned. In both cases, I’m excited to share them with you over the coming weeks and months!

I’m starting with the grain ferments we tasted and worked on, because there were quite a few that I had never tried before that were super cool (stay tuned, gluten-free friends) and because right off the bat at the first meal, I enjoyed a genius fermented grain situation that I believe to be Sandor’s own brainstorm. This is now a part of my home cooking regimen.

Not including alcohols (because they get their own post), here is a list of the grain ferments we made or at least tasted over the course of the week at Sandor’s:

  • Koji – Grains (in this case barley) inoculated with Aspergillus oryzae mold spores to make tasty things that smell great and can be used to ferment other things, such as miso (that will be another day), soy sauce and sake. We’ll make koji together very soon, here on Phickle!

    Making Barley Koji

    Holly showing some love to the finished koji

  • Koji Pickles – A totally new-to-me way to pickle! It’s pretty awesome and I’ll definitely be doing a lot of it in the coming years, and sharing more about it with you here in the near future.
  • Injera – Ethiopian flatbread made from teff flour. A longtime Phickle fave!
injera fermentation

Injera is one of my very favorite breads. We’ll make it here soon!

  • Sandor’s mixed bowl of fermenty grains – More coming soon on this genius idea!
  • Nixtamalized corn – Corn that is boiled with an alkalinizing substance such as “Cal” or wood ash to basically make the hull come off more easily. This is used to make a variety of foods and beverages, including tamales (nix-TAMAL. Get it?)  and chicha, the Andean corn beer.
Nixtimilizing corn to make chicha

Corn turns bright orange when nixtamalized.

  • Nuka – Nuka is the Japanese word for rice bran. Making a nukadoko is making a pickling bed from rice bran. There are instructions for how to build a nukadoko in my upcoming book!
Nukadoko bed

The rice bran mixture that makes up the nukadoko pickling bed.

  • Takuan* – This is probably my favorite thing that we tasted that I’d never made before. It’s been on my list since I saw it on Wild Fermentation, but after tasting it, I will definitely be making it this fall when the daikon comes in. It’s slightly sundried daikon packed into a rice bran mixture and left for 6 months to ferment. The flavor is dreamy, AND we got to go down to Sandor’s cellar to retrieve his giant crock of takuan.
Takuan Radishes in a crock

One of the best-tasting ferments I’ve ever eaten. A fall project for sure!

  • Idli/Dosai – Idli are the small rice and lentil patties that have always made me very confused about the existence of gluten-free bread. I’m sure some will disagree, but gluten-free bread is usually pretty gross, whereas idli are delicious and naturally gluten-free, with no weird gums and fillers as ingredients. Dosai are made with the same ingredients, they’re just made into crepes rather than patties after begin thinned with water.
  • Sourdough Pancakes – Easy peasy use for that leftover starter.
  • Buckwheat Bread – This incredibly simple, gluten-free bread is king to make some GF sandwich bread seekers very happy!
  • Regular ol’ (delicious) sourdough breadBethany made this as a treat for us. We ate two loaves before lunch was served, topped with loads of fermented condiments, of course.

Any classmates reading, please feel free to correct me if I missed anything!

*Tasted only. Did not make.

Fantasy Camp at the Foundation for Fermentation Fervor

Foundation for Fermentation Sign

Accurately named. Impossible not to have your fermentation fervor stoked when you stay here.

In case you missed it, I spent a week in April camping with a small group of fermentation-obsessed folks at the Foundation for Fermentation Fervor (aka Sandor Katz’ amazing place). It’s been a little hard to write about this, because like many of my favorite life experiences, it’s hard to do it justice. I don’t know what to equate it to, exactly, because I think it’s pretty much a unique experience. Has Jacques Pepin ever invited a group of passionate young (stranger) cooks into his home to eat his food, cook with him and hang out with his friends and family? Did 90s Michael Jordan (or insert currently relevant world-class athlete (I don’t know sports)) invite a group of NBA hopefuls to shoot some hoops with him, frequent his favorite hotspots and camp out on his couch for a week? Pretty sure the answer to both of those is “nope,” but fermentation’s Pepin/Jordan offers this kind of immersive experience, and it is as fulfilling and surreal as you’d think.

The Foundation for Fermentation Fervor

The view of the house from the camping/firepit area

Camping out at the Foundation for Fermentation Fervor

This was one of two camping areas near the house. My tent is the messy one that looks like it might fall down.

We were a crew of ten participants, with occasional pop-ins from Sandor’s friends. Our group was composed of three owners of current fermentation companies, 2 soon-to-be company owners, a cook and homesteading jack-of-all-trades, a chef, a talented mushroom forager and organic fertilizer-maker and me. We came from California and Oregon, Colorado, Puerto Rico, Nashville, Boston and Philly. We have divergent life experiences, but we all share a fermentation obsession and most of us privately copped to excessive adoration for Sandor, but I personally think we held it together relatively well in his presence. And, fully in keeping with the summer camp vibes, there are people I met here that I hope to keep in touch with forever.

We spent our days cooking and eating way too much excellent food and fermenting in a dream fermenting kitchen. There was an abundance of ingredients, including loads of rare (to me), fermented ingredients like balo balo (a Filipino shrimp ferment) and hammonatto (a soybean ferment with amazing flavor, detailed in The Art of Fermentation). We had access to a beautifully designed space loaded with all the equipment you could ever want for fermentation from loads of jars, crocks and carboys to gigando, cleverly hacked incubators. We even got to play a little bit in Sandor’s incredibly well-stocked cellar. I’m not saying I got choked up down there, but that’s just because that would be embarrassing to say.

Kitty the dog

Kitty the dog. Loves a good ear scratch.

Outhouse at the foundation for fermentation fervor residency

The prettiest little outhouse you ever did see.

Over the coming weeks, I’ll walk you through some of the details of our dream days and the many, many ferments we made, started and ate during our week there. For now, I’ll just share the general breakdown of our days so you can (hopefully) get a feel for how this worked. I believe that these residencies will continue to happen twice a year, some for beginners and some for a more experienced crowd. If you love fermentation, I HIGHLY recommend that you apply. You can find information about the application process on the Wild Fermentation site.

Bacteria Stained Glass

Stained glass bacteria slide window in the kitchen. AMAZING!

Bethany of Cauldron Ferments and Caiti of Saueressen mix a nukadoko

Bethany of Cauldron Ferments and Caiti of Saueressen mix a nukadoko

Assorted Ferments made by Sandor Katz residency participants

Folks brought great ferments to share. Meads, hot sauces, vegetables, cheeses, kombuchas and more!

Our days went something like this*:

  • 7:30-9 Wake up and get showered/ready. Eat breakfast someone else made or make your own breakfast from a wonderfully stocked pantry and fridge. Local eggs, duck and chicken, grains (often fermented) of all kinds, sourdough pancakes and lots and lots of coffee with raw, local goats’ milk were generally available.
  • 9-9:30 Sandor’s housemate, Leopard, is a qigong practitioner and teacher, so for those of us who wanted to participate, we had some amazing 8 Brocades time outside before starting class. (Side note: Despite my nerve-damaged body and general lack of coordination, this made me feel amazing and I’m currently ISO some group qigong in Philly if anyone has a hot tip.)
  • 9:30-11:30 Fermentation Class! Sandor had a loosely observed agenda of things to cover. Some days were packed with lots of ferments, other we focused on just one or two ferments for a whole morning. We tasted finished samples, went through the process of making them together and dug deep with questions (with Sandor Katz. In Sandor Katz’ kitchen. Did I mention we hung out with Sandor Katz and fermented stuff in his kitchen?).
  • 11:30 – 1 Lunch and lunch clean-up. Lunch and dinner were always made and eaten communally. We were encouraged to pilfer the pantry and make whatever we were inspired to make for most meals. Sometimes there was a theme, sometimes there was just an almost comical variety of dishes to dig into. Not everyone cooked at every meal, but we all sure as hell ate at every meal.
  • 1 – 5:00 or 6:30 Afternoon Fermentation Class. Same deal as the morning. We would taste finished versions of the ferments we were making, ask loads (seriously) of questions,  make multiple ferments per Sandor’s agenda. Some days we took a break in there, which Bethany and I used to peel sticks (It’s a thing. I’ll tell you later.) These classes were immersive and open. We had time to approach each ferment in an in-depth way, explore questions and even alternative projects. It was, simply put, the way I would like to spend most days.
  • 6:30-8 or 9 Dinner and clean-up. Sandor frequently made trips down to his amazing cellar to pull up a few bottles of country wine or mead for us. We started sipping and cooking around 6:30 and cooking maybe around 7. Dinner was the same deal as lunch, a big, communal affair where everyone contributed to the food prep or cleaning. We ate together on the covered porch most nights and sometimes talked about the big things.
  • 9 to whenever – Hang out with new, fermenty buddies. Go to bed at “Country Midnight.” My circadian rhythms definitely adjusted to the sunrise and set as they never have before. I have never been seen waking up before 7 without an alarm, but I was one of the first people up every morning, generally well before 7am.

In short, we spent days the way every fermenter wishes she could always spend her days! Specifics coming soon.

*All of these are vague estimations. Every day was different, and we spent a lot of time picking each other’s brains on topics both fermented and unfermented. We shared our stories and experiences. We peeled sticks (it was awesome!). We drank a ridiculous amount of coffee. We also took field trips to a local goat farm and to Sandor’s former intentional community, a short walk from his current home, and were encouraged to forage for additions to the dinner table. It was paradise.

Communal meals were often made with local goods, like these amazing sweet potatoes.

Communal meals were often made with local goods, like these amazing sweet potatoes.

Fermentation Dream Pantry

Do you not want this pantry for your very own? I’m still having dreams about this pantry, you guys.

A kitchen with a couch, fireplace, gorgeous old chimney and a view of an amazing fermentation library.

A kitchen with a couch, fireplace, gorgeous old chimney and a view of it all from an amazing fermentation library.

A spread of fermenting foods in crocks

At the end of the day, there were frequently loads of crocks and bowls full of ferments.