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 is a combination of proteins present in many flours such as barley and rye, but especially those that are wheat-based. When water and flour are mixed and kneaded, it is gluten that makes dough bind and become sticky. Carbon dioxide bubbles created by yeast are trapped within the dough’s elastic strands, causing it to rise. Gluten also is the flavor-absorbent base of a vegetarian meat substitute called seitan. 

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.

Flours that do not contain gluten include rice, potato, soy, buckwheat, and tapiocaCornmeal is also gluten-free.

Usage Tips

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.

• Beers and ales contain gluten, but wine and sherry do not. Whiskey products lose the protein during the distilling process.

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.

Try one of our favorite gluten recipes:
Cinnamon Rolls