The Components of Gluten-Free Doughs
Part of the Gluten-Free Baking For Dummies Cheat Sheet
Many people are working in labs and universities around the world to help make gluten-free products as close to wheat-based products as possible. If you're going to make gluten-free baked good, you want your dough to replicate many of the structural elements that gluten provides to wheat-based products. Here are components of gluten-free doughs that can replicate the stretchy, weblike characteristics of gluten:
High-protein flours: Though the proteins in gluten-free flours never act exactly like gluten, they can come pretty close. Choose high-protein flours to make yeast breads and pizza doughs. Different proteins from different flours make a structure that’s pretty close to the unique structure of gluten.
Tapioca starch: This starch, also called tapioca flour, has a strong elastic quality that replicates the springiness of gluten.
Egg proteins: Egg proteins, when beaten, align and form a weblike structure very similar to gluten. This manifests in the form of a foam, which provides the small air cells that contribute to bread’s crumb structure.
Milk proteins: The proteins and fat in milk products can also form a foam that creates a fine crumb structure. Think about whipped cream; proteins and fat in that product create a web that holds air.
Gums, gelatin, and pectin: Xanthan and guar gums add plasticity and elasticity to gluten-free doughs that mimic gluten’s structure and function. You can use gelatin to create some of this weblike structure, too. Pectin, a compound found in fruit, also forms a gel that replicates gluten’s structure.
Flaxseed and chia seed: These slurries are a good substitute for gums and eggs in gluten-free doughs. They form gels that, again, trap air and create a smaller crumb for nice texture.