Discover the most commonly used gluten substitutes gluten substitutes for gluten-free baking. You can get a fluffy and delicious gluten-free breads just adding some gluten substitutes.
Want to learn how to cook and bake delicious gluten-free desserts and breads, but the doughs are too hard and not spongy or elastic? Don’t worry, there’s a solution for that. You only need a gluten substitute to get fluffy and delicious gluten-free doughs.
Gluten is a protein that, among other things, binds doughs, gives them elasticity, texture and firmness.
To prepare gluten-free breads, cookies and sweets, we must first understand what gluten is, what functions it’s and how we can replace it.
Gluten is a protein found in grains such as spelt, wheat, barley, kamut, etc. and has various properties and functions in baked goods and sweets.
The main properties or functions of gluten (in baking) are:
- Gluten provides cohesion and elasticity to doughs. This makes a bread dough (with gluten) very elastic and it doesn’t break. Therefore, bread WITH GLUTEN is easier to work, knead and handle
- In addition, gluten helps to bind sauces or mixtures, as it binds the ingredients and absorbs liquid.
- Another property of gluten is that it makes doughs juicier because it absorbs water and keeps the bread fresh longer. **On the contrary, GLUTEN-FREE breads tend to have a drier, sandier crumb. A bread made with gluten-free flours dries out quickly and immediately loses its freshness.
- It helps to maintain a crisp and firm crust on breads.
- When you make a sourdough WITH GLUTEN, the dough has much more elasticity, sourdough strength and more activity compared to gluten-free doughs.
If you make a bread with gluten-free flour and don’t use gluten-replacing ingredients, you’ll have as a result
- A bread with a firm, airless, dry or sandy crumb
- The next day the bread isn’t worth much because it’s very dry and hard.
- Also, you’ll have difficulty kneading the bread dough because it’s not elastic, but a sticky dough that breaks when kneaded.
- and so on and so forth …
In short, if you want to bake bread with gluten-free flour, you need to find ingredients that create this binding and elastic effect, so that your bread will be juicy,
To make a gluten-free dough elastic, you need to replace the gluten with certain ingredients that create the binding and elastic effect that makes gluten stand out.
The 4 best gluten substitutes for gluten-free baking
Here are the 4 best known and most commonly used gluten substitutes for gluten-free baking
- Psyllium husk
It’s a type of fiber that absorbs many times the volume of water in doughs. It makes dough elastic, and cohesive, it doesn’t break, and it’s easier to knead and work with.
- Xanthan gum
It’s a carbohydrate that, when mixed with liquid, forms a viscous gel that gives cohesion to the dough. Creates a similar bind as psyllium husk.
It absorbs water and becomes slightly gelatinous, which makes the dough hold together. It should be used together with other gluten substitutes such as psyllium or xanthan gum.
- Ground seeds like chia or flax seeds When you mix flax or chia seeds with hot water, it creates a viscous gel that makes the dough more manageable and cohesive. They’re usually used in very small amounts and should be combined with other gluten substitutes.
If you want a gluten-free dough that’s fluffy and easy to work with, you need to combine several gluten substitutes. It’s not enough to use only one gluten substitute, but it’s important to combine a few, for example: corn starch + psyllium husks + xanthan gum and rice flour.
Gluten substitutes for gluten-free baking
There’s no single ingredient that replaces gluten 100%. In gluten-free baking, you have to find other ways to achieve gluten’s binding and elastic effect without using it.
There are several ingredients that create this binding and elastic effect. If we combine some of these ingredients, we can make a spongy and elastic bread dough.
In gluten-free baking, starches are the key to a tender, fluffy and airy crumb.
Starches make dough fluffy and give bread a thin, crispy crust. You can use potato, tapioca or corn starch. These three work very well for making gluten-free bread. If you want to know more about starch, I recommend you read Eva’s post Glutendence. Click here
Psyllium husk is the husk of the seed of the Plantago ovata plant. It’s a fiber that absorbs many times more liquid. It makes a dough much easier to work with because it gives cohesion to the dough. Bread doughs made with gluten-free flours tend to break and are difficult to work with.
When you add psyllium husks to bread dough, you can knead the dough much better because it becomes more elastic and cohesive. This ingredient works similarly to xanthan gum because when you mix psyllium with water, you get a viscous and cohesive mixture.
Xanthan gum is a polysaccharide commonly used in industrial products and foods. It’s very suitable for thickening doughs and making cohesive and elastic doughs. Combined with psyllium husk you get a nice dough.
Is a polysaccharide obtained by grinding the seeds of the Cyamopsis tetragonoloba plant. Guar gum is of vegetable origin that absorbs water and forms a viscous and sticky mass.
Whipped egg whites are a perfect ingredient to add air and fluffiness to doughs. Egg whites also add protein to the dough.
It’s usually used in small amounts and along with other gluten substitutes to make gluten-free bread. If you add a lot of egg whites, the bread will have a cake texture.
Gelatin absorbs water and adds elasticity and cohesion to dough. And as Eva from glutendence says, gelatin keeps bread fresher longer.
For more gluten substitutes and lots more information about gluten, I refer you to glutendence’s post. Click here to read it.
Chia and flaxseed
You can use them ground or whole. Chia seeds soak up the liquid and make the dough very chewy. Use chia seeds in little quantities. if you use too much chia seeds in a dough, they’ll soak up too much water and you’ll get a very compact bread.
Use Chia and flax seeds in small amounts and along with other gluten substitutes such as xanthan gum, starch, etc.
For more information and posts on gluten-free cooking, click here.
Check out my post “Types of gluten-free flours for cooking and baking”, click here.
For more information on gluten substitutes, check out Eva’s blog Glutendence. It’s a blog about gluten-free cooking with recipes that work and lots of information about gluten, gluten-free cooking, celiac disease, etc. Click here