Sunday, 21 July 2013

Protein and Starch: The Structure for Gluten Free Bread.

To successfully recreate texture, structure, and strength in bread using gluten free flours, you must use alternative flours to mimic gluten’s strength and elasticity by understanding the important role wheat flour plays in bread baking.

Wheat Field

Wheat flour contains two valuable components used to develop structure in baked goods:  protein and starch.

Protein:
There are as many as 30 types of protein in wheat flour, but only two of those create gluten and are most important for our purposes: gliadin and glutenin. When they come in contact with moisture (water, milk, etc.) and are stirred, they produce gluten which gives elasticity, strength and shape to baking recipes.

Gluten protein provides strength, structure and stability to baked goods so they don't crumble apart. It also creates little pockets of air in the batter to produce light, fluffy baked goods. Even though gluten is nice and strong, it is also what lends that tender elastic crumb to cakes and breads.

The higher protein found in flour indicates a higher level of gluten, which results in a more elastic, better-textured bread.

Starch:
The word starch originates from a German word meaning 'stiff'. When a starch is added and heated it swells and expands sucking in any available moisture in its surroundings thereby giving the product more stability. The exact temperature is dependent on the specific starch but all begin to gelatinize (absorb water and set). Gelatinization is an occurrence which takes place in the presence of heat and moisture.

Starches strength are weaker than protein. It can do some of the heavy lifting in gluten-free baked goods, but it needs help from protein.

Gluten Free Flour Blend

So that’s why we mix gluten free whole-grain flours that are very high in protein (Remember, protein means structure and stability!) with starches. The nutritional value is very low in starches but they help make the flour mix hold together and make it look white enough to make familiar-looking baked goods. Make a gluten-free flour blend using a ratio of about 60 percent high-protein flours to 40 percent high-starch flours. This ratio makes a flour blend that acts pretty much like all-purpose wheat flour in baking recipes as well as being more healthier.

Examples of high-protein gluten free flours: Amaranth, quinoa, millet, sorghum, buckwheat, teff, bean flours and nut/seed flours.

Low-protein gluten-free flours work well in more delicate recipes such as cakes and cookies. High-protein gluten-free flours are useful for making products that need a strong structure, such as yeast breads, and pizza crusts. Even still breads need extra strength to cope with the longer rising times needed by the yeast and that is where gluten substitutes like psyllium, flaxseed and chia seed, role comes in to play.

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