30.4.15

Going gluten-free

Have you ever tried gluten free desserts? You might have but you've probably wouldn't even have noticed they are gluten free.

Gluten free desserts are made without the introduction of gluten producing ingredients such as wheat, barley and rye. Still not too sure what gluten is? Try mixing wheat flour and water. Eventually you will end up with a sticky dough that stretches when you pull it. That is gluten at work. This protein helps to build the structure for pastries and most importantly it gives bread the characteristic chewy texture.

Throughout the course of my work as a baker, I have come across requests for gluten free pastries. At first, I simply brushed it aside as I thought I would be able to avoid the topic. Imagine you are telling a baker to omit the most vital ingredient in her bread - wheat flour amd replace it with another or a couple more ingredients. It is something I would never have dreamt of doing. However, as I researched deeper into gluten free diet, I realised the gravity of producing pastries for people on gluten free diets.

There are those who are gluten intolerant or even allergic to it. Not forgetting many who chose to avoid gluten for personal health reasons.  You may visit this site for more information on gluten free diet. There are also many sites that discussed the benefits of going on such a diet. Here is one.

Let me speak of my first attempt at making gluten free cookies for a friend. I was thinking, how hard could it be? I could just replace the wheat flour in my recipes with gluten free flour. But alas, all my beautiful cut cookies became a sad blob once the butter started to melt. In several desperate attempts, I spent hours on the internet searching for a solution. It turned up in the form of Xanthum Gum. For those who know me, they will tell you how much I hated adding anything unnecessary to my pastries. However, without a teaspoon of this gum, my cut cookies would not hold their shape at all no matter how much gluten free flour I added to the dough. One good thing about gluten free dough, you could never overwork it!!

I guess that started my journey into the gluten free realm. I shall continue to explore and bake lovely pastries that are gluten free. Another challenge conquered! Do you have a gluten free story to share?

No comments: