Day 25: Why Is Gluten Important In Bread Making?

Gluten. That glorious thing that gives bread its springy texture. It’s the glue that holds your bread, cakes and cookies together. The not-so-secret diva that makes its presence known through the pillowy texture and chewy bite.

Without it, bread just isn’t the same. Yes there are alternatives, but recreating it isn’t an easy or delicious task. You can’t replace gluten without noticing.

Like nearly every food group (sigh) gluten has been demonised over the years for being the cause of several health conditions. That aside, unless you’re actually a celiac (around 1% of the UK population) or have a medical condition diagnosed by an actual Dr then I don’t believe in cutting out food groups.

I would also quote my old friend who is a celiac, but her view on people who just give up gluten ‘just because’ but it’s a little more spicy than I would normally write here haha!

But you get the picture 😉

Gluten Put Simply

As this a back to basics challenge, here’s the high level stuff you need to know. But if you want to know more, let me know and we’ll dig deeper 😀

Found in many grains such as wheat, rye, spelt etc, gluten is a protein and when mixed with water creates gluten bonds. You can tell when the gluten bonds are forming because if you poke your bread dough, it will spring back!

The longer you mix, the more the bonds are formed and worked, and therefore the springier your end result.

When the gluten is formed, it traps the gases and that’s why you get that pillowy texture.

If you don’t knead your bread for long enough, you’ll get a dense loaf.

Moving over to baking, have you ever wondered why we don’t mix cakes and cookies for too long? It’s because we don’t want to gluten overworked!

A Chef’s View On Gluten

There’s a reason why gluten free bread has such a bad reputation and going back to my friend who wondered why anyone would do it to themselves, it’s because you cannot recreate it, it’s expensive and it tastes bad.

Many gluten free products use a variety of ingredients that in my view are probably worse for you than just having gluten if you’re not allergic.

Over the years, I’ve tried recreating a variety of popular recipes with gluten free alternatives and they’re never the same.

Now, what I say to clients and friends is to really think hard about why they’re doing it and if they’ve sought proper medical advice.

As a passionate foodie, I don’t want any food being demonised or unhealthy relationships with foods being created just because some marketing agency has paid a celebrity to say something without scientific grounding.

Coming up – Focaccia!

Tomorrow we’ll be looking at how to make focaccia AND sourdough focaccia.

I’m really excited to be welcoming the Loafhacker on board who’ll be running us through how to make though delicious decorated focaccia recipes!

Let’s Connect!

Along with the daily journal posts here, each Wednesday at 12pm BST I’ll be going live on my instagram @therebalancechef to recap on the week’s progress and show you around my kitchen. Depending on the weather you might even meet my rescue hens!

The main point of this challenge is to have fun with it, learn new skills and refresh old ones.

I want to see your creations so don’t forget to tag me and show off what you’ve been doing!

I’m taking part in the Rebalance May Cookery Challenge! Check it out here