Wheat, barley and rye flours all contain an important binding agent, a protein called gluten. Gluten free baking is created with flours that do not contain gluten such as rice, tapioca, potato, almond, arrowroot, garbanzo, millet, quinoa, sorghum, teff and soya flours. Usually a mixture of two or three of these flours mimics the taste and texture of the wheat flour we’ve all come to know so well. However, after finding the flour combo that works for your recipe, you will find your batter or dough will lack elasticity and structure.
The two most popular gluten substitutes are xanthan gum and guar gum. Many people have problems digesting guar gum so xanthan gum has become the most widely used gulten substitute in most recipes, and pre-packaged gluten free foods.
Xanthan Gum is made from corn and is very close in structure to other fermented corn products such as corn syrup. Scientifically it’s called a polysaccharide because it is a long chain of three different forms of natural sugar, all of which are present in corn sugar. A bacteria called Xanthomonas campestris is added and fermentation takes place. The end result is a powder, appropriately named xanthan gum.
Since xanthan gum is used in many dairy products, dressings and sauces as a thickening agent, you have most likely eaten it, even if you don’t require a restricted diet!
You can find a bottle or small bag of Xanthan Gum in any health food store, and more recently, I’ve been able to find it at a few large chain grocery stores in the baking isle!
If you cannot eat gluten or corn, and you cannot digest guar gum, there are other alternatives to try:
Carrageenan (a vegetarian substitute for gelatin).
For each of the above substitutes, add 1 to 2 teaspoons per cup of gluten free flour blend.
Baking without gluten is not as difficult as it was a decade ago. With doctors in America now recognizing and testing for Celiac Disease and gluten intolerance, the market has opened up for baking items to re-create your old gluten-containing recipes into tasty non-gluten items.
The amount of non-gluten convenience foods has also grown tremendously over the last decade! It is now possible to find many different gluten free grains that are ground finely enough to use in a substitute flour mix when baking. Don’t forget the binding agent, though! Without out the gluten protein, your resulting dough or mix will simply pour out of the bowl!
Two of my three children and I all have Celiac Disease. Luckily, I was an enthusiastic cook beforehand! The first diagnosis came 12 years ago, long before there were gluten free prepackaged foods in stores! I studied and learned how to cook and bake gluten free. I hope you enjoy my shared knowledge!