Baking takes a lot of skills and stamina to be able to create delicious concoctions and recipes that can make your family proud. Baking cakes and pastries is one enjoyable pastime that can help boost your self-esteem during parties and celebrations. However, new developments have pointed to the harmful effects of ingesting large amounts of certain food types like gluten. It has been shown to have ill-effects on health, which gives rise to ailments like celiac disease. This disease is known to increase the death rates of people with heart condition and cancer.
Studies have shown, by comparing 10,000 people 50 years ago to 10,000 people today, that the prevalence of celiac disease has grown to around 400% between the two time periods. The increase is attributed to bad eating habits and lifestyle. The way of life that people led half a century ago was simpler and a lot less complicated that it is today. Hence, a full-blown killer disease like celiac, was contained within a small sphere of the population back then. However, you can enjoy a gluten-free lifestyle.
A new eating pattern that advocates the use of non-harmful ingredients and food is now emerging. These would include the use of gluten-free ingredients in cooking and baking. Literature online has sprouted on how to go about cooking and baking this type of food. There are basic concepts that one has to know before embarking on this new lifestyle. The list would include the following:
1. On wheat flour – the flour that is commonly used today for baking comes from wheat. This type of flour, along with flour that comes from barley and rye, is off-limits to gluten-free advocates. Ready mix gluten-free flour, made from nuts and legumes can be bought in any grocery outlets and online stores.
2. Gluten on flour – the flour from wheat is not gluten per se. It is composed of two proteins that become gluten once they come in contact with water. Gluten is the gooey paste-like mixture that is elastic and with strong sticky bonds, like those seen in the making of pizza dough.
3. Gluten helps dough rise – gluten is brought about by the addition of liquid into the flour, and the kneading and mixing that goes into the process. These three factors will bring about a consistency that bonds the gluten molecules into long sticky strands. Once yeast is added into the mixture, this mixture expands as gluten molecules traps the gases from the yeast.
4. Recipes would determine the amount of gluten – baking bread would entail a lot of gluten as compared to cakes. The latter does not have as much chewiness as bread, but a fair amount of gluten is retained to hold it together and keep it from crumbling. Pie crust on the other hand, has less gluten than either cakes or bread. It has minimal infusion of liquid with shortening, and requires a fair amount of mixing to combine the ingredients. Hence, gluten levels are kept to a minimum in the baking process.
5. Pans used in baking – since use of non-gluten flour would result to an unstable mix – you should bake bread in Bundt or load pans, and rolls in muffin fans. Using these pans would ensure a food presentation with a semblance of form and shape. Always remember that substituting regular flour with non-gluten flour will cause your mixture to lose its form, hence the recommended use of specific pans for baking.
6. Gum and protein – Putting a small amount of ordinary gum into the mixture can simulate the sticky feel of gluten. Gum infusion should be kept to a minimum, which is around 1/4 teaspoon for every cup of flour. This has been used in a couple of recipes online for non-gluten baking. As a substitute for the protein in gluten, you can also use egg whites or a whole egg into the mixture instead of water.
7. Cross contamination – it is better to have two sets of baking utensils for gluten and non-gluten baking. There must also be separate containers, sifters and pans so as to avoid contamination.
8. Experiment – it is always practical to experiment on your old home cooking recipes by using non-gluten ingredients instead of your regular ingredients. This would assure you that the family would like what you bake, since you will be coming up with their usual favourites regardless of changes in types of ingredients. There are also many gluten-free recipes online and blogs that can help you succeed in this new form of endeavour.