That’s a gluten-free sourdough croissant that Chris made, more than 50% whole grain!I was totally honored to interview him all the way from Australia, and I think he’ll fascinate you as he did me:
Video Interview: Chris Stafferton on Baking Bread That is Gluten-FreeIf you can’t view the video above, click Chris Stafferton Gluten-free Baking at Home Interview to see it directly on YouTube.
Grab the Audio:Click here to download the mp3 version of the interview (to take with you) or just listen to it now without taking the resources on your device for video.
Abridged Transcript of the Gluten-free Bread InterviewIf you don’t have time to watch the whole video, use these notes to glean some info and decide where you want to “skim” the vid. There are a few parts that you must see, when Chris shows us around his kitchen!I want to start with your story first, Chris. I think there are two really important pieces to learn. First, how did you fall in love with baking? Second, how did you get to be a gluten free specifically baker, what’s that part of your story? (0:59)
- 1:16 – It all started when Chris’s mother discovered at the birth of her first child that his father was useless in the kitchen. This sparked his mother to decide that all of her kids would be able to take care of themselves in the kitchen.
- 1:51 – Twenty years later, Chris decided that if he had to cook for himself he was going to make it into a hobby and enjoy it.
- 2:22 – Testing through his doctor led Chris to a gluten-free diet. This was a difficult finding for Chris as he is a bread lover. At that time, the gluten-free options were not tasty (to say the least). His daughter was found to need a gluten-free diet as well and Chris took it upon himself to provide her with all the goodies children want but in a gluten-free way, so she would not miss out.
- 3:51 – When at university there was a bread strike in Sydney and Chris could not find bread so he started to make his own. He became more passionate about baking after he had to go gluten-free.
- 6:07 – It took a lot of time. Finding ingredients on hand was a challenge due to living in a smaller regional community in Australia. “It took me about a year before I produced a loaf that excited me.”
- 6:44 – A basic sandwich loaf baked in a pan. You can find it in his Etsy store: Chia Poppyseed Bread. It has no gum in it!
- 7:26 – Chris shows us what is left of the first bag of gum he every bought! It’s now over ten years old. “It’s just there to remind me. You don’t need gum.”
- 7:44 – Started with chia, flax and psyllium husk to bake. Psyllium husk was used as his staple ingredient to structure his bread. Using chia or flax can get to be expensive but using the psyllium husk, in the amount Chris uses, is relatively inexpensive.
- 8:24 – For a really fine, smooth dough use ground husk (like this one on Amazon). If you are making a generic plain rough bread you can use the whole psyllium husks. Base the husk vs. ground decision on how fine you need your dough to be for your finished product to turn out the way you want it.
- 9:54 – Gluten only does part of the job of doing the binding of holding the gas inside the dough. The starches help with this and psyllium husk, when evenly distributed throughout the dough, helps to achieve the trapping of the gas as well.
- 11:31 – Chris explains why he is working so hard to simply make really good bread that just happens to be gluten-free instead of focusing on being gluten-free first.
- 11:53 – To make the best bread that he can, Chris uses a really small number of ingredients.
- 12:19 – Chris lists the various flours he keeps in his kitchen. Since he mills his own flour these are mainly stored as the whole berries, including millet, brown rice, many other unique rices, buckwheat, and quinoa.
- 13:28 – Chris explains his new loaf which he calls “The Emperor’s Baton”, which is made from black rice. It produced a really deep purple bread.
- 14:59 – Chris does use tapioca starch to help achieve stretch on some of his breads. To get really stretchy bread you would need to use a polished white rice.
- 16:20 – The structure changes that occur with the use of the polished white rice also help to hold in those gasses.
- 17:08 – Playing with it like that is one way to see how it feels. A traditional store purchased rice flour and millet will be gritty.
- 18:27 – Chris owns four different mills.
- 19:35 – Hand mill: His main reason for purchasing a hand mill was to work on tempering his flours. He found he really had to use them with brown rice as if it had gained the slightest bit of moisture it would muck up his mill.
- 21:10 – Chris has both types of Mockmill, the attachment for a stand mixer and the Mockmill 200, which gives him really, really fine flours.
- 21:45 – Even with all of these mills Chris still often puts some of his grains through the mill multiple times to get the consistency that he wants! Start at coarsely ground (10 on a Mockmill), then go to level 5, then to level 1 (finest).
- 21:58 – That is Chris’s secret to achieving the best consistency for sorghum and rice. The best part – no sieving!
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- 23:10 – For an everyday bread you would only need to mill it once.
- 24:31 – It will depend on how fast the turn over in your store is for the given flour.
- 25:58 – Chris tells us which grains he keeps on hand, how he stores them and how often he purchases them.
- 27:37 – Chris uses a variety of things including yeast, sourdough, a fermented honey water (a 50/50 mix of raw honey (use the code Katie15 for 15% off at that site!) and water and he leaves it to ferment), as well as a grape ferment from his own garden.
Above: Chris’s Gluten-free Sourdough Bucket Millet Braided Bread – he says this braid isn’t even a good one! 😮When starting a sourdough starter, of a gluten-free nature, is it necessary to mix several different grains or stick with the same grain? Let’s say I just want one jar in my kitchen for gluten-free sourdough. What would you recommend? (29:28)
- 29:57 – Chris suggests for the new sourdough gluten-free starter going with a quinoa starter. Very robust and easy to use. It’s very quick to spring back to life if unused for a period of time. We are working on this starter right now and will report soon about how it’s going!!! You can see a bit of our experimentation (and success!) on Instagram, especially the saved story. –Katie
- 30:43 – Flavor profiles:
- Quinoa: slightly nutty, earthy flavor
- Buckwheat: very earthy flavor
- Millet: yeasty flavor similar to a beer
- Brown rice: grassy, chardonnay flavor and aroma.
- 31:07 – It is ok to use any sourdough starter in a bread since the amount you use will not greatly impact the flavor of your final product. Buckwheat is the only one that you should use if you really want a sour sourdough flavor.
- 32:13 – You can start one this way. Chris will generally mix them while he is mixing the dough by simply using half of each to total out to what the recipe calls for.
- 33:04 – Chris has found that by leaving a solid lid on, he is able to leave his gluten-free sourdough starters on the counter unfed for a day or two. He thinks that this is linked to humidity within the jar.
- 35:18 – Flour based starters are just flour and water and it takes about two weeks to get it the point it can be used. Your kitchen will need to be a 20-32 Celsius (68 degrees in Fahrenheit).
- 36:52 – Chris says your starter does not need to have a breathable lid in the beginning either. Any flour you get already has yeast and bacteria in it from where it was grown. Chris used closed lids to avoid the dust and other particles that were floating in the air of his old home. He wanted to ensure good bacteria in his cultures so he used the closed tops and it has worked great since.
- 38:55 – Chris discusses the importance of the soil health for your grains and how it impacts your sourdough.
- 40:04 – Do not use the sourdough starter that you are discarding in the beginning since the starter culture has not well established yet so you can not be certain of the culture that you are using.
- 40:54 – It’s mainly just a time thing. After about eight days you will get a consistent behavior from your starter.
- 41:38 – With quinoa on the second or the third day you will see a sudden explosion of activity but then it will settle down again. You are looking for a consistent activity of feeding, doubling in size, calming, feeding, doubling in size, calming activity.
- 43:10 – Chris’s gluten-free sourdough starter recipe is 1/2 kilo water and 1/2 kilo flour (500 grams). You can start as low as 30 grams of each though if you are making a smaller starter batch.
- 44:05 – It will mainly depend on how quickly you want to do it.
- 44:25 – Quick yeast recipes can take about two hours but they require more ingredients than a sourdough that takes a few days to make. The bacteria in a sourdough are doing it all in time in the sourdough version.
Above: Chris’s Gluten-free Millet and Brown Rice BaguetteSo what kinds of tools and resources beyond a good mill and a straight sided jar would you recommend for someone to really make gluten free baking work? (45:13)
- 45:22 – Pyrex bowl, wooden spoon, dough whisk, shower cap type of cover or wax wraps, scale.
- 46:58 – Chris suggests sticking with a cover that can keep the humidity right in the bowl so using a tea towel but have it be damp so the tops does not dry out.
- 48:00 – Chris suggests using weights in grams, not measurements in cups, so that everything is measured accurately. And do not use chlorinated water.
- 49:10 – Once the bread is in its final form Chris uses a Banneton. You dust the pan and let the bread do its final rise in there and then turn the dough out carefully and then you can bake. (Here’s a circle Banneton.)
- 50:15 – Usually two. He often lets a big bulk rise happen the first night then lets it rise in the Banneton on the second. You could also let it rise in a lined basket if you do not have a Banneton.
- 51:37 – Baking gluten-free means you will have less sticking as well.
- 52:04 – Yes, it is so that the bread can rise and give the cultures time to work in the sourdough and change the sugars as well as the gases. Plus it makes it more digestible.
- 54:07 – Chris shows us his bread that came out as a ‘disaster’.
- 54:34 – Chris cuts into another loaf of gluten-free artisan bread to show us how wonderful it looks. This you have to see! Amazing!
Find Chris Stafferton’s Amazing Gluten-free Breads Online:
Other Gluten-free Recipes on KSdon’t expect amazing sandwich bread here…yet!
- Gluten-free Flatbread in 7 minutes (buckwheat and brown rice) No flour needed!
- Gluten-free Dairy-free Pumpkin Muffins
- Autumn Spiced Orange Veggie Pancakes (grain-free!)
- Gluten-free Bacon and Green Onion Savory Muffins
- Favorite Soaked Gluten-free Pancakes
- Gluten-free Soft Pumpkin Cookie
- Perfect Gluten-free Dairy-free Pastry Dough
More Grain Grinding Challenge Series Posts
The Grinding Challenge Series is getting me to use my Mockmill grain mill! Here’s what we’re covering:
- Intro to the challenge and a video of setting up the Mockmill for the first time
- How to Translate Whole Wheat Recipe to Einkorn (and an interview with an einkorn farmer)
- Bio-Individuality – why it’s both the new face of health and the genesis of this whole project
- How to Translate Baking Recipes to Weights
- Why Baking with Weights is the Best for Kids
- Testing Pizza Dough with Freshly Milled Grain: Whole Wheat, Einkorn, Gluten-free (whole grain and not-whole-grain)
- Interview with a Master Gluten-free Baker
- Testing Tortillas with Freshly Milled Grain: Whole Wheat, Einkorn, Gluten-free
- Why Mill Your Own Gluten-free Grains?
- How to Make a Gluten-free Sourdough Starter
- Whole Grain, Gum-Free Gluten-free Flour Blend (& a bit on whether xanthan gum is bad for you)
- Interview with a Grain Milling Expert
- The Official Kitchen Stewardship® Mockmill Review
Recipes We’ve Worked on in the Series:
- Spelt Banana Muffins
- Einkorn Applesauce Muffins (with peanut butter variation)
- 100% Whole Grain Gluten-free Tortillas
- Whole Wheat Pizza
- Crispy Crust Gluten-Free Pizza (amazing!)
- Einkorn Pizza Dough
- 100% Whole Grain Gluten-Free Pizza Crusts (no gum!)
- How to Make a Gluten-Free Sourdough Starter
Don’t worry, if you don’t have a grain mill or couldn’t imagine yourself grinding grain yourself, I’ll be sure to address when any of these CAN’T be done with commercial flour. Usually, recipes are very compatible!