Gluten-free recipe development continues to improve by leaps and bounds, and as experimentation and recipes have become more advanced, two different camps on baking have arisen, one that suffers from dry and crumbly goods, and one that boasts moistness and chewiness. Whether a baked good is premade and sold in a package at a store or bakery, made at home from a mix, or made from scratch using a recipe, it will reside in one of these two camps. If your experiences continue to be disappointing, you simply have not found the right products or recipes yet, gluten-free baked goods don’t have to be sub par.
There are numerous reasons why certain gluten-free baked goods such as bread, cookies, and muffins lack moisture and fall apart at the mere touch of your hands. The answer lies in the question: Where’s the gluten-free glue and what kind of gluten-free glue is it?
When moistened, wheat-gluten takes on a glue-like consistency that binds ingredients together and provides structure for baked goods so they don’t become dry and fall apart. Plus, gluten is essential to create “air pockets” in the baked good that helps produce that “spongy” quality. Remove the gluten, and you remove the glue and structure in a baked good. In gluten-free baking, the challenge is to replace the gluten with gluten-free glue. There are many ways to create gluten-free glue beyond adding xanthan gum. So, what could be the problem? Some possibilities could include:
• Using one gluten-free flour such as white rice flour (low protein) to replace the wheat flour, a practice often found in beginning baking experiments at home. It is rare in store-bought products and recent cookbooks.
• The flour blend utilizes just the white flours and starches that are low in protein and lack stickiness when moistened.
• Liquid, fat, or sweetening ingredients in proportion to the flour blend are not optimal and need reformulating.