Baking hints and tips
Although regular breads and cakes are not included in a gluten free diet, there are many creative ways in which people with coeliac disease can have their cake and eat it!
Gluten gives bread, cakes and pastry the right texture. Without gluten, bread is less chewy and cakes and pastry can be drier and more crumbly. However, there are many specialty gluten free flours on the market that work well in your favourite recipes. Our online shop has several cookbooks dedicated to gluten free cooking and baking.
Xanthan gum, pronounced "zan-than gum," is a type of starch produced by fermentation (the same process used to make yogurt, cheese and wine). It is widely used in food and household goods and may appear in ingredients lists as xanthan gum or E415. It’s a completely natural, vegetarian product which causes no known health problems when used in the recommended amounts.
Xanthan gum is used to improve the texture and shelf life of gluten free products. It mimics gluten in terms of keeping the baked products moist and the texture soft. It comes in powder form which dissolves easily in water. Mix it with the gluten free flour mix before adding any liquid — you may need to use more liquid than usual as xanthan gum can absorb quite a lot. It does not need heat to thicken and is not affected by oven temperatures either, making it versatile to use.
The amount you use depends on whether the gluten free mix you are using already has some form of gum. The basic principle for a gluten free mix that already contains a gum is as follows:
- Bread: 5 ml (1 teaspoon) for every 450g (1lb) gluten free mix
- Pastry: 1.5ml (¼ teaspoon) for every 225g (8oz) gluten free mix
- Sponge cakes: not absolutely necessary, a matter of preference
- Rich fruit cakes: 2.5 ml (½ teaspoon) for every 225g (8oz) gluten free mix
- Light fruit cakes: 1/8 teaspoon for every 175g (6oz) gluten free mix.
You can find xanthan gum in the free from aisle in most of the major supermarkets. A lot of health food stores and organic shops stock it and it is also available by mail order.
Guar gum comes from the seeds of guar beans (Cyamopsis Tetragonolobus). It acts as a thickener and bulks out food.
As with all gluten free cooking, cleaning and hygiene precautions must be taken with breadmakers regarding cross contamination if the equipment has been, or is also used for, food which contains gluten. Additional pans can be bought for some models of breadmakers if you want to have a separate one for gluten free baking.