Gluten Free Baking – Introduction

Baked GoodsProbably nothing can seem as daunting to the new gluten free cook as gluten free baking.

Let me say, firstly, that you can lay any apprehension aside about this subject, because the hard work has already been done for you.

Gluten Free Baking Today.
Not only are commercially-baked gluten free breads more widely accessible today, but virtually the entire range of other baked gluten free products has expanded as well. Products like pizza crust, cakes, muffins, cookies, biscuits, pies etc are now relatively easy to find in most places.

What Is Used To Replace The Gluten?
The big challenge with Gluten Free Baking, of course, is how to mimic the function of the gluten in regular bread with gluten free ingredients. After all, most people want to get a result as close to the look, feel and taste of the regular breads and pastries they loved so much in earlier days. Right?

It’s amazing what a need, desire and creativity can bring about. Because of the increasing demand of the ever-growing celiac community, hundreds of commercial and domestic experimenters eventually came up with the “goods” (saving you all the hard work).

Particularly, ingredients like Xanthan Gum, Guar Gum, Gelatin, eggs, pectin, grated apple, bananas, and tapioca starch are often used in specific ways.

Xanthan Gum
Xanthan Gum was developed in the early 1960’s and is used widely in a number of industries as a thickener. It’s production involves a fermentation process and corn syrup. In the food industry it is used in everything from salad dressings to bread mixes. 

It is good to keep in mind though, that some people are allergic to Xanthan Gum (symptoms can include intestinal gripes, diarrhea, headaches and temporary high blood pressure).  

Guar Gum
Guar Gum is made from the endosperm of guar beans. It works similarly to Xanthan Gum and can be used as a less expensive substitute when needed. It too can have a laxative effect.

How Much To Use?
Generally you can easily substitute one gum for the other, however I’d recommend using a little bit more Guar Gum if you are substituting form Xanthan. Even up to as much as 50% more or so.

Most people feel that the Xanthan Gum gives a better result for making breads (you’ll find it widely used in gluten free bread mixes), whereas the Guar Gum results in spongier, cake-like texture

The amount of the gums used depends on the type of recipe. Generally you’d use more for a pizza crust (like 2 teaspoons), less for breads (say 1 tsp) and least amount for your other baked goods such as cakes, cookies and muffins.

Sourdough Gluten Free Breads.
When we began our natural foods store in the early 90’s in Brisbane, the availability of commercial gluten free breads was still in its infancy. The population at the time was around 1 – 1.5 million and I recall only two small specialist bakeries producing Gluten Free breads (we were luckier than most).

Our bread classes, at the time, were focused around naturally leavened, sour-dough breads ….. you know, the way our ancestors made bread….. whole, natural and good for you.  Our classes included sourdough gluten free breads as well.

Eg. a 100% brown rice loaf made with freshly ground brown rice flour and an equivalent loaf  made using organic Sorghum.

Only simple, whole-food ingredients, were used …. Freshly-ground organic flour, filtered water and celtic sea salt.  That’s it !  It IS possible to do it that way.

Granted, it did look like a bit like a brick, but the taste was there, it kept well and you could feel the wholesome, sustaining nutrition when you ate it .

[ I know that there are a few of you out there who are still interested in this way of doing things …. i.e to get away from the more refined and often complex mix of ingredients, baking powders etc. needed to make the gluten free loaves with broader appeal. Even though the “brick look” is definitely UN-cool these days, I feel this type of baking is far better for you.…… we will address this topic at a later time. ]

Till next time…..
To you health and Gluten Freedom

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply

Powered by WebRing.