Thursday, 12 September 2013

Alternative Grains and Pseudo-cereals used for Gluten Free Baking.

Gluten is most often associated with wheat and wheat flour but can also found in barley, rye, and triticale – a wheat hybrid. Gluten proteins in wheat flours make dough elastic and stretchy, and gas-retaining ability that produces a light and airy interior structure and a tender crumb within baked goods.

Baking without gluten can be challenging because gluten contributes important properties to various types of baked products. Bread is perhaps the most challenging gluten-free baked product to make because gluten provides structure, creates a tender crumb, and retains gas. In addition to replacing the wheat flour with gluten-free flours and vstarches, other additives can hold gas. These products include psyllium, chia seed, flaxseed and other gums. With experimentation and practice, a combination of gluten-free flours and binders can be used to create a loaf with good volume, softness and texture.

Many of the alternative grains and pseudo-cereals provide a wide variety of gluten-free flours, starches and baking aids used in combination to mimic the structure provided by wheat flours. Cereal grains are members of the grass family that are grown for their edible starchy seeds. Pseudo-cereals are grown for the same purpose and can be used in the same manner as cereal-based grains but are not members of the grass family rather they come from seeds of broadleaf plants. The three major pseudo-cereals are amaranth, buckwheat, and quinoa. The chart below summarizes the profile and qualities of these grains and pseudo-cereals.

Profiles of Alternative Grains and Pseudo-cereals.

Gluten Free Flours and Starches
Pseudo-cereal native to South America
Higher in protein, fiber and iron than most grains
Provides structure and binding capability
Pleasant, peppery flavor
Best used in combination with other gluten-free flours
Used as thickener and in baking similarly to cornstarch
Legume flours include fava beans, garbanzo beans, soybeans
Good source of protein and fiber
Best used in combination with other gluten-free flours to balance taste and texture
Bean flours complement sorghum flour
Nutritious grain rich in B-vitamins, magnesium, dietary fiber and antioxidants
Strong, somewhat bitter flavor
Best used in pancakes or yeast breads in combination with neutral gluten-free flours
Chia (Salba)
Like flax, ground chia seeds can add nutritional value to baked goods
Neutral in flavour
Corn flour
Used in breads, waffles, and tortillas
Corn meal
Used in spoon breads and baking powder-leavened breads
Corn starch
Works well in combination with tapioca starch
Ground flax seeds increase nutritional value
High in soluble fiber which allows gel formation; retains moisture and gives spongy texture to baked goods
Nutty, bold flavor
Adds color to baked goods
Powdery consistency, color similar to cornmeal
Delicate, sweet flavor
Suitable for use in flatbreads and muffins
Montina (Indian rice grass)
Milled from a grass native to Montana
High in fiber and protein
Nut flours include almond, pecan, walnut, hazelnut, filbert, and chestnut
Contribute flavor and nutrition to baked products
Best used in combination with other gluten-free flours to balance taste and texture
Pseudocereal native to South America
Good source of protein, folate, copper and iron
Mild, slightly nutty flavor
Suitable for cookies, cakes and breads
Potato flour
Neutral flavor
Blends well with stronger flavored flours
Potato starch
Provides a light consistency to baked products
Helps retain moisture, combines well with eggs
Bland flavor, low in fiber and nutrients
Rice, Rice bran
Comes in brown, white and sweet varieties
Best used when combined with other gluten-free flours and binders or gums
Neutral flavor
Sweet rice flour is used in pie crusts and as a thickener
Sorghum (milo)
Tropical cereal grass native to Africa
Sweet, nutty flavor
Best when used with other neutral gluten-free flours and gums
Small cereal grain native to Africa
Taste similar to hazelnuts
Very high in nutrients
Ability to gel makes it a good thickener
Starchy, sweet flavor
Adds chewy texture to breads
Used in blends to improve color and crispiness of crusts

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