Gluten is a blend of proteins – gliaden and glutenin – that provides the elastic properties in dough. After liquid is added to wheat flour, it traps the bubbles from yeast, which allows baked goods to rise.
Gluten products are of special importance to many people who suffer from gluten-intolerance, allergies, or coeliac disease, which is a serious inflammation of the small intestine. More gluten-free labeling and product alternatives are available due to increased interest in dietary restrictions and Government intervention. It is possible to enjoy a wide variety of freshly made foods that are gluten-free, including white and rice breads.
Many foods contain gluten, including roasted nuts, baking powder, hot chocolate, semolina, pre-grated cheese, soy sauce, packaged meats, and mustard powder. Most processed foods also contain gluten. If a food label lists “starch,” “extracts,” or “filler,” gluten is probably present.
Gluten flour (vital wheat gluten) is wheat flour minus starches. Mix with low-gluten flours, as too much will turn foods leathery. It is useful in pizza dough and flatbread and adds density to bagels and other yeast-based goods.
• When using flours that are gluten-free, add xanthan gum or guar. These can be found at health food stores and will add elasticity and form to doughs and baking mixes.
• Glutinous rice does not contain gluten.
• Cake flour has a lower gluten content than all-purpose.
• The more a dough is kneaded, the tougher it will become as the gluten strands become stronger. Always follow recipes exactly for the type of flour used and how long to mix.
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