How to Retain Freshness in Gluten-Free Baked Goods
Wheat gluten is a key component in preventing staleness. To retain freshness and retard staling in gluten-free baked goods, choose higher-protein gluten-free flours.
As baked goods age, they can become stale. Everyone has eaten a piece of stale bread! The tender crumb becomes tough and the bread is stiff. Many people think that the bread has simply dried out, but that isn’t what happens. When bread stales, the starch in the bread retrogrades, meaning that the starch molecules rearrange as the bread ages, forming a crystalline structure that’s unpleasant to eat.
In addition to choosing higher-protein flours, here are other ways to make your gluten-free baked goods taste fresh longer:
Freeze the bread or rolls soon after baking. Freezing stops starch retrogradation. Thaw the products at room temperature, but be sure to thaw only the amount you’re going to eat immediately.
Use a bit of fat in the recipe. A tablespoon of oil or melted butter in a recipe for French bread can help reduce staling.
Don’t store baked goods in the refrigerator. The dry atmosphere and cool temperatures in the fridge encourage retrogradation.
Add a little bit of vinegar to each recipe. This adds a pleasing sour taste to plain breads and helps retard mold growth.
Add a little bit of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) to breads. This also adds a pleasant slight sour taste and increases the nutrition of your breads.
You can use staleness to your advantage. Stale bread is excellent in bread puddings and stratas and is tasty when toasted. Heating rolls and whole loaves of bread can help re-gelatinize the starch for a very short period.
Of course, the best way to avoid staling is to eat your gluten-free products quickly! Your family will be so pleased by your baking that you probably won’t have to worry about your baked goods sitting around long enough to go stale.