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#22

About 8ish years ago I ate gluten free, and also happened to date a pastry chef at the same time. We tried all sorts of flours, but in the end the best mix we had was given to me from my Mother’s partner Brenda, who has also struggled with gluten intolerance. We used the mix in everything (cookies, cakes, pie, etc) and the texture was quite comparable to the real deal. The one place it failed though, was in breads :frowning:

Bread is one of those things that relies entirely on gluten for its texture. Yeast, once activated, eats sugar and releases gas (as previously mentioned). That gas stretches out the dough and gets caught in lots of little pockets (this is the rising stage). The next step is kneading which stretches out the flour and develops the gluten. Think of the gluten as the rebar in the loaf superstructure. The loaf rises again (when you knead the gas that developed is forced out) and then goes into the oven. While in the oven, the gluten cooks and solidifies, forming a structure that is strong enough to support the weight of the ingredients. That gas will escape over time, but the structure that is left behind remains intact.

The problem in gluten free bread is not in the development of this structure but in the maintenance. Without the elasticity and strength of the gluten, the loaf collapses from its own weight, and in doing so forces all of those gasses out. This is why bread that is baked just using rice flour has the consistency of a rubber brick.

So that is why the problem exists, and if you were to use a single flour (like rice) for focaccia you would end up with a very flat and dense loaf.

I had lots of success with the aforementioned flour mix. I can see if Brenda has it recorded anywhere (I don’t think I have it written down, stupidly enough) and would happily share if I can put my hands on it. As I recall it uses a number of different flours: rice flour, brown rice flour, potato starch, a couple of others I can’t recall, and called for Xantham OR Guar gum. I know that one of these was prohibitively expensive while the other was quite cheap. Each batch of flour didn’t require a large quantity of the gum which also helped cost.

All of this being said, there are way more GF products on the market now that simply didn’t exist back when I was eating a GF diet. Yep, that’s just how awesome I am, sensitive before it was even cool. Luckily I have been able to add it back in to my diet and with moderation I am fine. There were a couple of GF flour blends I could buy back then, but they weren’t as good as this fabled recipe that I had. I think there has been way more thought and energy put into this dietary restriction over the past ten years that there may be a blend that does the trick. I would recommend checking out blogs or books though to see what they use for a substitute.

I’m not entirely sure how helpful that was… I’ll let you know if I can find the recipe though!!


#23

My son has a specialist diet, and part of this involves using flour blends - they are not gluten free because he has an intolerance or allergy to gluten, they are only gluten free by chance, so take that into account, but we use the following flour blends (and their ratios, by weight):

Chickpea flour (4)
Sorghum flour (4)
Tapioca starch (1)
This is great for banana bread type cakes/breads

White Rice Flour (7)
Brown Rice Flour (4)
Millet Flour (2)

White Rice Flour (30)
Brown Rice Flour (15)
Bean or Soy Flour (7)
Arrowroot (15)
This one is my best for basic bread

We use Xanthan Gum as my son can’t have guar, so I don’t know how wel lthese would work with other gluten substitutes.

I know this isn’t really helping with the expense thing, and sorry I can’t help more with that :frowning:


#24

[quote=“thechunkmunk, post:22, topic:4475”]
Bread is one of those things that relies entirely on gluten for its texture. … Think of the gluten as the rebar in the loaf superstructure. … While in the oven, the gluten cooks and solidifies, forming a structure that is strong enough to support the weight of the ingredients. That gas will escape over time, but the structure that is left behind remains intact.

The problem in gluten free bread is not in the development of this structure but in the maintenance. Without the elasticity and strength of the gluten, the loaf collapses from its own weight, and in doing so forces all of those gasses out.[/quote]

Not to get into the rabbit hole that is breadmaking ('cause it’s both deeper and weirder than you think), but perhaps I can offer some detail to clarify?

Gluten is stretchy stuff, and its constituent proteins like to form very thin, very strong sheets. Like rubber balloons, and with the force of trapped gases behind them, they can hold a lot of heavy dough. They’re great at capturing bubbles and expanding, which is why bread dough looks smooth and just gets bigger, whereas pancake batter lets bubbles drift to the top and pop. Nothing else does everything gluten does. Other protein/starch/gum combinations trap gases with varying effectiveness, often by being too dense and sticky for air to slip through. No problem for quickbreads (pancakes, muffins, banana bread) or some dense cakes, but it’s just… not bread.

Some of them also taste terrible. Guar gum’s relatively cheap, but can be gross if not processed to remove the beaniness.

When you bake bread, the expanding, heating gases stretch those entrapped bubbles to give lift to your loaf. The hydrated starch, meanwhile, cooks, and will become the structure that supports the loaf once finished. The gluten holds the air to give the first structural scaffold; the baked crust takes over as structure near the end of baking; and those cooked starches, once cooled, do the lion’s share of keeping the bread upright and intact while you slice and eat. Ever try slicing into a loaf directly from the oven? Wiggly and unstable. The gluten’s still there, still stretchy, and is a key factor in the chewiness of real bread.

You get a similar effect when you make a classic, unleavened sponge cake. Egg whites, whipped, provide the air-trapping protein matrix and structure, a pan lends a hand during baking, and the starch in the cake flour provides the structure once cool. (Without a bread-like crust, it needs to cool upside down, lest it collapse under its own weight. Which is fun to try once.) Look for eggs to do some of the work in some GF recipes.

Eggs - and a lot of GF replacers - work by substituting a foam of bubbles for the gluten sheets. They’re inherently weaker, lack the chewiness, and don’t self-repair like gluten. Good fix for some situations, not others.

Another method is to use a tangzhong starter, like you’d use for Japanese milk bread. Cook a portion of the flour in liquid first, and it can lend starch structure early in the process. Same idea is why pate a choux (cream puffs, eclairs) works.

As another analogy, you can look at the difference between egg-supported cakes and vegan equivalents. Like with gluten, there’s nothing that does everything egg like an egg. Vegan baked goods tend to denser, fudgier, sometimes gummier textures. You can get around some of that with careful gluten development in certain cases, but that’s as limiting as using eggs to simulate gluten.

But at some point, as you approach a straight-up egg, the amount of effort necessary to replicate scrambled (or over easy, if you can imagine it) becomes not worth it. It’s more optimization within limited parameters (insert your favorite game analogy here) than true reproduction. Same with gluten.

Re: the book I mentioned above, you can see Aki & Alex’s flour blend recipes on Serious Eats. In some cases, they’re good as a one-to-one replacement, but in other recipes you’ll need to modify your techniques. The more bread-like you get, the less you can rely on wheat-based methods. (I don’t see their recipe for Focaccia de Recco online, but it’s in the book.)


#25

I can relate. My son is intolerant to gluten, soy, dairy, eggs, and nuts, so his diet is pretty strict (our other son is just intolerant to the gluten and nuts). Sadly, there’s also not a lot of variety as he is autistic (so is the other kid) and simply refuses to eat certain things like most fruit and vegetables. We were told that if the eggs are baked it is not as much of a concern, so that helps in the case of breads and such.


#26

A much more accurate description :slight_smile:


#27

I spend waaaaay too much of my time thinking about bread.

So much that one of my daughter’s first imaginative play games was to mimic me baking bread. You know how it’s terrifying and hilarious when your kid uses your idiosyncratic phrases? It was like that, but for my kitchen quirks, played out with the dog’s stuffed chicken toy.


#28

Tell me about it - one of the many, many reasons we’re looking to move to Scotland is that gluten free staples can be gotten on prescription. the Coeliac Foundation in the UK is pretty awesome.


#29

Wow, that is incredible! I had no idea.


#30

That would be amazing here! We spend about $40-50 a week just on bread and cookies for the kids. That’s for two loaves of bread, and maybe five boxes of cookies, which equates to a sandwich for lunch for both of them every day and four cookies a day each. Even if the cookies weren’t counted as staples and not covered, just saving the $10-12 on the bread each week would be helpful.


#31

Yeah, it’s a pretty big factor. We don’t buy bread any more, and I’m reluctant to have any gluten at all in the house because cross-contamination is crazy easy and seriously painful/harmful for the wife.

Added to that, that’s a free prescription service; I’ve pretty much given up trying to afford doctory things in the US these days.


#32

Thats really nice to know!!! I might be into that…:grinning:


#33

Calling all Americans! I’ve been tasked by my son to make meatloaf tonight.

Er… help!

This is my current plan: https://www.goodtoknow.co.uk/recipes/hairy-bikers-meat-loaf-with-gravy


#34

I would cook anything for love, but I won’t cook that.


#35

I am playing bat out of hell! It is for inspiration. Also, its such a good album!


#36

What questions do you have? Meatloaf is fairly straight forward, I believe in you!


#37

It’s really just a case of is there anything to not do - I’m just going to knead beef, pork and sausage meat together with egg, breadcrumbs herbs and spices and bake it - will that go ok?


#38

I’m no chef…but that sounds reasonable to me! I like to lightly sautee onions and mushrooms, and throw them in the meat before kneeding (my dad used to just throw in a packet of Lipton’s Onion Mushroom soup, along with some liquid).

My family likes to baste the meatloaf with ketchup, but that’s not my favorite–I prefer cold ketchup or steak sauce on the side.

I’d also say, make sure the load is not too thick in the middle, to ensure even(ish) cooking.

Gods’speed!


#39

No mushrooms on hand but I’m just frying off some garlic, carrots, onion and celery now.


#40

Mirepoix FTW!


#41

Went OK!

It was a little bit wobbly in the middle, properly cooked through, but I think it could have done with a lot more breadcrumbs to give it some structure.

My son is on a real American Foods kick though (don’t ask - thunderdome topic - we can’t go to disneyland, so this is his way of getting over his disappointment) so what would you recommend I do next?