Dave de Basque wrote:I find it really depends.
I have done a lot of gluten-free baking and experimenting, not because I'm a celiac, but because it's fun, and who needs gluten, anyway?
Usually I find that "quick breads" and muffins and cakes etc, the kind that are leavened with baking soda, powder or egg, do just fine without the gums: xanthan, guar or locust. You don't want those things to be too come out tough or sticky anyway, light and fluffy is normally what you're shooting for. If you try the recipe and they come out crumbly and you dont want them to be, some ground up chia seeds (or even whole) are a great choice. Chia takes a while to work its magic, you want to let the dough sit for at least 15 minutes once you mix it. The chia *really* thickens it up and can make it very sticky if you don't get the amount right, so you may need to experiment a lot. Too little does pretty much nothing. It's a Goldilocks thing, you need to get it just right. And adjust the amount of liquid too.
Keep in mind chia isn't bulletproof. Most thickening agents you might want to substitute for gluten, like say agar agar, lose their thickening powers and their effect at very high temperatures, like the ones you bake at. Chia loses its intense stickiness but still has some effect at baking temperatures.
Another hero, that, like chia, is also really good for you, is psyllium husks. This can work for even bread recipes that are leavened with yeast (and I imagine with sourdough too but I haven't tried). Bread baking is kind of the Paris-Dakar of gluten-free baking because it's so demanding on the dough, what with the elastic texture and kind of impermeability of the little air pockets it needs, and at very high temperatures. Honestly, even using psyllium husks just right (and you do have to do it just right with no cutting corners), bread recipes are still helped out by a little bit of xanthan/guar/locust gum and the addition of some kind of starch, but you can get the psyllium option right and forego the other gloop if you work on it. (Btw if you do use the gums, they say it's often more effective if you mix them, e.g. xanthan and guar instead of just xanthan. Not sure if this is true, just passing it on.)(Btbtw I also really try to avoid using the starches that gluten-free recipes almost always call for -- who needs the empty carbs? might as well go back to eating gluten! But I must admit they make it easier to get your bread to rise successfully and come out with a good texture. I'm not bothered by constant experimentation, though, so I enjoy the challenge, YMMD.)
The secret to using psyllium husks is grinding them up really, really, really fine -- yes, finer than you got them from the store. I use a cheap coffee grinder and it takes maybe 5-10 seconds. AND you MUST use BOILING water when you add the wet ingredients, and the rest of the wet ingredients should be as warm or hot as possible. Otherwise the magic does not work.
If you're interested in the psyllium husk thing, here is a recipe for "paleo submarine bread" that started me experimenting, and here is another article about all of these ingredients and how they work together that I found pretty interesting.
Edit: PS - Forgot to mention that psyllium husks soak up liquid like nobody's business!! You will need to adjust the amount of liquid in any recipe you are converting to psyllium-hood. In fact, they're so absorbent and binding that you can even use psyllium husks to make kind of burrito-style tortillas out of your whizzed up garden vegetables if you have a dehydrator and peel-off sheets. Just toss your stuff in the blender, psyllium makes it stick together and removes the wateriness, spread it onto sheets, dehydrate, flip and peel off the sheets, dehydrate more, and presto! It doesn't get any healthier. If you have a solar dehydrator and bike-powered blender, it's great for the planet too!
N Thomas wrote:
Thanks for your detailed response, here is some additional background:
I'm looking to make sandwich bread.
I'm trying to avoid using seeds (i.e. Chia) because I'm a Paleo eater and seeds are considered inflammatory.