Extra Helpings:Gluten Free Baking? Gotta Get Ingredient "X"
Florence asks: I’m baking gluten-free now and I see a lot of recipes (including yours!) call for something called Xanthan gum. What is it? I'm trying to get away from chemicals in my food!
No one wants more chemicals in their food, so I totally hear you. Xanthan gum is a completely natural carbohydrate... it's not a chemical! It's made by fermenting corn sugar with a tiny bacterial microorganism called (are you ready?) Xanthomonas campestris.
You need Xanthan gum when you bake gluten-free because it adds volume and viscosity… in other words, it makes your dough sticky. Big food companies have been using it for years as an emulsifier and thickener.
I’m sure you’ve thought, "I'll just leave it out!" Well, if you are going to start baking gluten-free, and you want great results… find it and use it.
Actually, it is a lot easier to find in the supermarket these days than it was even a year ago. Bob’s Red Mill has it in half-pound bags… more than enough for a month’s worth of baking because a little bit goes a long way!
You can usually find it on the ever-expanding gluten-free aisle or with the speciality flours. One thing to keep in mind… Xanthan gum can be made from fermenting wheat and soy(as well as corn), so if you’re trying to be Gluten-Free… read the label!