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Using Sourdough Starter with some commercial yeast Recipe?

breadmaking's picture

Using Sourdough Starter with some commercial yeast Recipe?

Hi fresh Loaf team

I finally managed to put together a gluten free sourdough starter (just added GF flour to the regular SD and kept adding the same until it progressed)

Now I would like to make bread / buns with this starter using GF flour like chickpea or sorghum flour.

Would appreciate if you could guide me. The bread does not rise, is there a recipe which uses SD along with a pinch of commercial yeast or any other.

I am not comfortable (had issues with yeast) in using commercial yeast but don’t mind putting a little store bought to get the bread going as long as I can use the SD as well. Putting a bread together is easy on my hands and I must admit I do love bread.

Thank you for reading my post

gerhard's picture

If you have a healthy sourdough culture producing lots CO2 there is nothing in the gluten free dough structure capable of holding onto the gas so the addition of yeast might add more gas but if it can’t be captured it won’t help. Gluten free recipes generally contain gums to mimic gluten's function.

breadmaking's picture

please let me know what gums that mimic gluten - thank you for your suggestion

gerhard's picture

recipe to gluten free by just replacing the wheat flour with something gluten free. I would suggest getting a recipe for gluten free yeast bread and then replacing the yeast with your sourdough. Doing it this way you at least start with something known to work with commercial yeast and you are just changing to a wild yeast present in the sourdough. 

breadmaking's picture

Thank you i might try that way. I did look for GF bread recipe and yeast free, and found some with SD only but that did not make the bread rise. Did many trials and errors. Will try again. Appreciate your help

Dan_In_Sydney's picture

I'm a good month and a half late but if anyone still cares, the two word answer is: xanthan gum.

If you can't find it, guar gum is similar but xanthan gum is more stable across both pH and temperature ranges (both of which are important with sourdough baking).

breadmaking's picture

Thank you Dan_in_Sydney

No you are not late in your kind reply. I am still working on my bread issues.

You mentioned Xantham Gum (i have seen it in canned coconut milk , am aware it is a thickening agent?) 

But can i use it with my SD starter in lieu of commercial yeast. Will it make it rise a bit? meaning the bread

thank you for your help

Dan_In_Sydney's picture

Quick reply (for me) because I'm off to bed in a minute.

I think you might be misunderstanding.

Excluding water, there are two components that are responsible for the rising of bread:

  1. A chemical reaction to generate gas.
  2. A structure to trap and expand with that gas.

The first is the job of yeast. It's worth noting here that a sourdough starter is simply a combination of yeast and some portion of (flavour-enhancing) bacteria. The latter can be ignored for our purposes - what matters is that a sourdough starter contains yeast and yeast will feed on sugars contained in starches (pretty much flour of most types) and generate gas (carbon dioxide).

The second element is the structure to contain that newly-generated gas. In standard wheat flour, that structure is gluten. Gluten forms a network that functions like a balloon, trapping the gas and expanding with it.

It is this second part that gluten-free flour/bread - by definition - lacks.

SO, some other ingredient or combination of ingredients must be used to fulfil the same function. (That of trapping the gas.)

In this case, some kind of gum substance (a hydrocolloid, to be exact) that will form a viscoelastic structure when hydrated and be capable of trapping and expanding with the gas the yeast is producing.


As a diversion, it's worth noting that wheat flour is about 12% gluten and about 78% starch and, while the gluten is largely responsible for trapping the gas, the starch (which is the main portion of the flour after all!) provide the bulk structure - the framework and the glue holding it all together.

Loosely, you can think of a bread dough as like little balloons embedded in a larger block of starch, with the yeast generating gas to fill the bubble.

You have the gas-making yeast (whether from the SD starter or the commercial product) and you have the starch from whatever flour you are using - rice, potato, etc . . . What you don't have and thus need is something to function as those 'balloons'.

In wheat bread, that is gluten; in gluten-free bread, xanthan gum is probably the best choice available to the home baker.


Just circling back - the SD starter and yeast are alternatives as they both perform the same function: generating gas. To be clear, you absolutely can use both together but that just means you have two sources of gas-generating yeast and no amount of gas will make your bread rise if there is nothing to collect and trap that gas!

To answer your question: you have 1 measure of starch, 2 measures of yeast and 0 measures of 'gluten-equivalent-balloons'. If you get rid of the yeast and add in xanthan gum, you will have 1 measure of starch, 1 measure of yeast and 1 measure of a gluten-equivalent ingredient to for the ballons.

So, technically, the answer is : yes; just not for the reasons it appears you think!


breadmaking's picture


Thank you very much for your tireless response, truly very grateful!

yes i may add the gum.

With appreciation 

Dan_In_Sydney's picture

No problems at all, though in truth all I did was elaborate on Gerhard's answers (which were correct!).

I would recommend, as has already been suggested, looking for a recipe.

Check, specifically, for one with that uses xnathan gum and matches up with whatever flours you have/prefer and give it a try.

There are various ingredients that will form that balloon structure but each is a little different. Guar gum is probably the most similar to xanthan but, for me, I can find xanthan more easily and I believe it is the more stable of the two anyway.

The other oft-mentioned one is psyllium husk. Like xanthan gum, this forms a gel-like substance when mixed with water and so it will hold the carbon dioxide and stretch with it. HOWEVER, psyllium husk breaks down at higher temperatures so it's unlikely to get any 'oven spring' and indeed may well deflate when baked!

I can't say as I haven't even tested it but, knowing the properties of it, it stands to reason.

There are LOADS of different formulations for gluten-free bread and they each give varying results trying to find their own compromise of taste, density, mouth feel (e.g. grittiness) volume, moistness and, of course, dietary requirements and preferences.

That last one is a biggie that you should be on the look out for - some people, for example, inveigh against xanthan gum based on the fact that it is derived from a bacteria acting on sugars. Or perhaps they are okay with that as they know that bacteria are natural and microorganisms feeding on sugars and proteins are essential to all life on the planet and, besides which, help produce some really great things . . . except this bacteria is grown in a lab so, science ingredient = bad. Or, perhaps they are fine with that part too but what they cannot abide is that this particular lab-grown bacteria is fed specifically on corn or soy and thus GMO and 'frankenfood' the Monsanto Illuminati and we're back to science ingredient = bad.

Sorry - that was me galloping away into the distance of personal frustration!

The point is that the reason for one recipe specifying this ingredient or that ingredient is that the people writing them having their own preferences and convictions that may have nothing to do with optimising the structure of the end product and getting it as close to 'real bread' as possible. This is why I have - and continue to - go into such uneccessary detail - to try and help disentangle it a little.

The simple fact is that wheat is a kind of magical confluence of factors that produce bread as we know it but part of that is because 'bread as we know it' is wheat bread! In other words, the vast body of knowledge and richness of styles have evolved due to the inherent properties of wheat flour. The ingredients and processes used to make 'bread' - from the basic and rutic to the laboratory-devired and minutely measured have been determined with reference to wheat and how to get the most out of it. This includes additives (or not,) mixing strategies, proofing regimes, choice of vessel and baking times and temperatures.

That said, modern wheat flour, when hydrated, fermented and baked as per usual, results in many desirable characteristics, which is why it has supplanted all other grains.


Thus, all decent gluten-free breads will use a mixture of at least 2 but usually three or more ingredients, each of which will provide an approximation of one of the roles/characters of wheat flour.

In general, you want: something for bulk; something for water absorption (softness, lightness, etc . . .) and cohesiveness; and something to contain the gas.

The oft-used blend to achieve that is:

  • Rice flour (bulk with a clean, neutral taste).
  • Potato/tapioca/cassava starch (not 'flour').
  • Xanthan gum (gas-retention).

Rice flour alone doesn't absorb enough moisture and will be gritty and dense. Starches like potato and tapioca will 'cut' that and add more desirably mouthfeel and lightness while also helping the final dough stick together, however if you use too much, the bread will turn out dense and/or crumbly.

That's the technical part - getting the strucural and baking characteristics to produce a 'good' loaf.

To that basic formula (and there are substitutions, to be sure!) some people will add in other flours and starches. Some of this will be for purely nutritional reasons, like adding protein or fibre, others will be for a certain taste or to spread the flavours around so that you get the benefits without having a particular flavour dominate (as many can).

BUT, start with 'good old' rice flour, potato starch and xanthan to get a feel for how those components work.

Really, this is the same type of advice as 'normal' baking: start with a 100% white flour loaf first before you go adding rye and khorasan and whole wheat and soaked spelt berries and so on!

Best of luck and I look forward to your results!


breadmaking's picture

Thank you Dan_in_Sydney for all your kind help in making me understand all about gluten flours and using gums.

The rye/pumpernickel flours have been suggested by my physician, though they do have gluten. However, white and wheat flour i have to avoid. 

I like the rye as it is dense and filling and i tend to eat less of the bread.

I will check to see which gums are easily available here.

I will try again with the rye bread mentioned by mygerman recipes site.

Will definitely keep you posted as to how my experiments went.

Thank you again, and truly grateful for your kind help

Dan_In_Sydney's picture

Rye is an interesting one because rye works rather differently to wheat in severwal ways.

First, in has lots more pentosans, which absorb lots of water so rye flour will absorb more liquid than wheat flour.

Also, it has 'gluten' but not the same as wheat (as you know) so it's actually down to the starch and the pentosans (which are carbohydrates) to for the structure of the bread.

One of the key processes in bread fermenting is the breakdown of the starches into simple sugars to feed the yeast.

This is well and good except that, in rye bread, the lack of (workable) gluten means it's all on the starch to sort out the structure The outcome is that rye bread suffers a lot more degradation from the action of the amylose because the enzymes are eating away at the structual supports!

As a double-whammy the amylose enzymes in rye flour are much hardier than those found in wheat flour and survive and continue to eat away at the starches long after their wheaten equivalents have called it quits.

. . . which is why a sourdough is the leaven of choice for rye - sourdoughs bring more acid to the table and the enzymes will be slowed down at lower pH levels. (So, using sour dough = more acidic dough = lower enzyme activity = less damage to the starch = better structure.)

This, I believe, is why 100% rye loaves are rather prone to sagging in the centre. (Could be wrong there.)



breadmaking's picture

Thank you very much Dan-in-Sydney for your explanation, all this is quite an experience, i have been struggling with this since being vegan, and avoiding gluten  - minus rye as much as possible.

I have received much help from this wonderful website and am very grateful, including the support and help from You, Ilya and other members who have taken the time to respond to my concern.

There are 3 kinds of breads i will try and save those recipes if the breads turn out well.

I will be happy if they turn out edible to be able to share with other struggling bakers like me.

It has been over a year, and am still in the same spot except for managing to make a gluten free sourdough starter finally with lots and lots of discard. Thank you to all who have helped me.

The 3 breads are from these websites... mygerman rye bread no yeast,

Fresh is real website and Dr. Berg - the worlds healthiest bread (intend to sub with SD for the yeast and the Almond flour with 1:1 Sunflour seed flour as to grow almonds they consume alot of water, and not comfortable in using almonds to suit my health needs - i heard sunflour seed flour does the same thing)

truly very grateful for your tireless help

Stay safe




Dan_In_Sydney's picture

<duplicate post; sorry>