A few months ago, my mom joined me in a trek down to Vancouver, WA where we attended a gluten-free sourdough bread baking class by Charles Luce. It was amazing. Brilliant. The absolute best money I’ve ever spent.
I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was so excited to meet with other gluten-free folks and attend my first ever gluten-free class of any kind. The class itself exceeded my every expectation. It was held in a gorgeous home owned by the founders of Gling . They were the nicest couple and their home was amazing. And the kitchen to die for. But while I can wax poetic for thousands of words about that fabulous home and all the features in that glorious kitchen – that’s not the point of this post….
So, mom and I arrived and met the other 10 or so “students.” I’m terrible with names and I couldn’t tell you who anyone is at this point – heck, I couldn’t have told you 2 hours after we left. Haha. Anyway, Charles spent the first hour or so discussing different flours and all things bread baking and I learned about things I’d never heard of before. Autolysing. Colloids. Charles is a veritable encyclopedia of information about everything that has to do with gluten-free sourdough.
After a information packed morning, we moved to the actual baking part. First up he baked some gluten-free sourdough buckwheat rolls that he’d had proofing overnight. Believe me when I tell you I about swooned. Without a doubt the most fantastic food to have passed my lips since going gluten-free. Moist. Chewy. Delicious sourdough tang. I inhaled the entire piece in mere seconds. And immediately wanted the rest of them for myself. Bravely I restrained myself and instead made a sandwich with one – yep. Best sandwich EVER.
Once we’d finished lunch, we broke in several groups to experiment with making bread that had differing water contents. My group was in the middle – not too moist, not too dry. We made a sourdough millet dough and since the class was just a few hours and not and entire day and night, we added yeast so it would rise within our allotted time. Once the dough was ready, we divided it up and each of the members of the group made a baguette. As all loaves were rising, Charles did a Q&A session and my head was filled with more valuable information. It was during this time that I really regretted that I had to close my food biz. If I were still open and able to sell what I could now make? Wow. I’d be the most popular person on the Olympic Peninsula. At least in the gluten-free circles!
When the class was finished, we took our 2 loaves and headed out to meet a few of my sisters and other family for a meal at the Spaghetti Factory in Portland, OR. Gluten-free pasta – woot! I took my gluten-free sourdough millet baguette in with me and proceeded to polish off the entire loaf…slathered with their garlic butter. I had to stop myself from moaning.. it was SO good. And before I make myself out to be some kind of gluten-free glutton… please note that the loaf was very small. Well under 1 pound. It wasn’t *that* much. However, after that meal, demolishing the second loaf over the next 2 days and a previous weekend out of town trip where I ate nothing but sandwiches I’d packed, needless to say, I had to restrict my bread/sugar intake the next few weeks. A few extra pounds somehow found their way onto my weight. Curse you, delicious gluten-free bread!
Fast forward to now. I finally had some extra $$ and was able to order a plethora of different gluten-free flours and begin my own sourdough bread experiments. First on the agenda was the sourdough buckwheat bread. Made with just buckwheat flour, brown rice flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, yeast, sugar, gelatin, xanthan gum, salt, water. It was actually very easy to make and the end result = perfection. Moist and tender, flavorful bread with a delightful crust. It’s *just* like the sourdough bread I remember getting from San Francisco in my pre-gluten-free years. Only even more moist and tender than that bread. I seem to remember that almost being a bit dry and choking a bit on it. Of course, that could be because it was such a treat when my dad would take a biz trip in that area and bring back loaves of sourdough bread (one for each daughter), that we tore into them like wild savages, cramming fistfuls of the tangy goodness down our throats. Or not. ha!
I’ll post recipes and the sourdough starter info that Charles gave us in another post later. I’m on a roll (no pun intended) and will be creating sourdough millet bread next. And then sourdough pizza crust, sourdough rolls, and more!
If you are in an area where Charles is giving one of his classes, I cannot recommend it enough. I’ll be going again when he next makes it to our next of the woods. I could take his class for a month and still be learning new things when I finished. Why this guy isn’t running a gluten-free bread shop, I have no idea. But I’m thankful he’s not and instead imparting his knowledge to those of us fortunate enough to be able to attend!