Many consumers are in the habit of carefully checking the ingredients of products and make their purchase on this basis. They often believe that “the shorter the list, the better” and very rightly so! However, gluten-free flour products are undoubtedly an exception to this rule. See below how we try to “reverse engineer” gluten-free bakery products.
What is gluten?
Gluten is the perpetrator behind all the fuss! It’s important that everyone understands at the beginning what it actually is. Gluten is a fraction of plant proteins featuring a complex chemical structure. Due to its structure, it forms a gluten network, which is a kind of the “scaffolding of the bread” . Unfortunately, this same network can trigger adverse immune changes in the body, leading to metabolic dysfunction.
See an article about people for whom a gluten-free diet is indicated: 3 groups of people for whom a gluten-free diet is indicated.
What functions does gluten have in bread?
Gluten, by way of fermentation, promotes the accumulation of carbon dioxide, which is a desirable phenomenon. It makes the bread soft, fluffy, light and well risen. Gluten retains large amounts of water, giving bakery products a pleasantly moist flesh.
Wheat flour as the main ingredient of bread, being the source of gluten, has many baking qualities, including: naturally occurring enzymes whose task is to decompose starch to sugars needed for the propagation and activation of yeast.
Moreover, decomposed starch prevents bread from aging – nobody likes hard bread.
So, flour containing gluten solves many technological problems and is responsible for the quality of bread.
Gluten is the “scaffolding of bread.” It makes the bread soft, fluffy, light and has a pleasantly moist flesh. So is it possible to achieve the same effect without gluten? Is there an ingredient that can replace it?
Hydrocolloid – a gluten substitute!
Hydrocolloids, owing to their technological abilities, successfully replace unsurpassed gluten. They cause that gluten-free products are not inferior in quality and taste to their gluten competitors.
Manufacturers of gluten-free foods use substances with different technological functions, so we let’s have a look at the labels, grouping the ingredients according to their technological function, and thus explaining why they are in this list.
Gluten-free products need a strong scaffolding to create a shapely and soft loaf of bread. For this purpose is added a thickener – hydrocolloid – is added – or a properly composed system of ingredients which assumes the function of a stable structure for the bread. The structure of this compound depends on the entire composition of the product – it is influenced by the types of flours used, i.e. the content of proteins, carbohydrates, fat or fibre in them.
Which ingredients are used to create the hydrocolloids in Incola breads?
- Cellulose – – organic compounds of vegetable origin (hydroxypropyl methylcellulose or carboxymethyl cellulose). Celluloses are able to absorb the air produced by the yeast added to the dough. This contributes to the proper growth of the bread and smoothens its crust, making it regular all over.
Further more, the addition of celluloses legally allows for the demonstration of nutritional claims that read as follows:
“Consumption of Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose with a meal contributes to a reduction in the blood glucose rise after that meal Hydroxypropyl methylcellulose contributes to the maintenance of normal blood cholesterol levels” (COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) No 432/2012 of 16 May 2012).
- Xanthan gum – is a polysaccharide resulting from the fermentation of corn starch by bacteria, Xanthomons campestris. The bacteria in the fermentation process cover themselves with a protective coat, which is the raw material for the production of this compound. Xanthan gum makes the dough sticky, elastic, and participates in the accumulation of carbon dioxide bubbles created by fermentation with baker’s yeast. It favourably influences the elasticity of the product and prevents it from crumbling.
- Starches (corn, potato, tapioca) – when they come into contact with cold and then hot water, they form a starchy glue. Water is absorbed by starchy grains, causing them to swell – another ally and storage of water in the product.
- Vegetable fibre – of various plant origin (apple, potato, psyllium, oat and others) – accumulates and closes water, prevents product crumbling and permanently fills colloid with water, completing its name and function – HYDROCOLLOID).
By using the above components we create a solid foundation for our bread, ensuring its high parameters: volume, shape and elasticity. And most importantly for you, none of these ingredients are harmful to health 🙂