I recently added “Food Manuals” as a feature to the site. Basically, I take a topic in food cooking/baking and I break it down using science in a way that is utilizable for the home cook. The results are pretty cool. Everything you need to know in one place without having to pay for books, articles, videos, or anything else for that matter. Check out this excerpt from my “Gluten-free Manual.”
Now you might be wondering, “How can I replicate that elasticity if I cannot use gluten?” Well unfortunately, it isn’t possible. We have to utilize the next best thing which is thickness or viscosity. The idea is relatively simple. If we can create a texture similar to that of gluten based products, then perhaps we can get a similar texture as the final product. Xanthan gum is a very popular ingredient to use for gluten-free cooking because it drastically increases thickness or viscosity by its ability of shear thinning (guar gum also increases viscosity). I won’t go into detail on what shear thinning entails, but the important thing to remember is that xanthan gum does it well. All you need is a little bit of xanthan gum and poof! Instant thickness. It is also nontoxic and safe to eat, so don’t let the name scare you. It’s not necessary and most gluten-free flour blends include it, so you don’t have to buy it if you don’t think it is necessary. I didn’t.
The premise of increasing viscosity works well, however, it is rare to see a gluten-free product with as good of a rise as a product with gluten because you are relying on the carbon dioxide to create enough pressure to push against something with no elasticity. If one were to bake a gluten-free cake or muffin on a relatively high temperature (about 375F) then it is possible to create a huge stream of carbon dioxide. This higher temperature allows carbon dioxide to form relatively all at once, which allows the bread proteins to set (coagulate) around the gases quickly. This idea is predicated on the fact that baking soda’s reaction in baking is not based on acid-base reactions, but instead on thermal decomposition. (Contrary to popular belief, in baking, baking soda actually creates a rise because the sodium bicarbonate begins to break down at around 120F into carbon dioxide. You don’t have to believe me if you don’t want to, but it’s just some food for thought.)
I tested this high heat method on muffins using heats that were 300F, 350F, and 400F. The muffins at 300F had flat tops. If you make muffins that commonly have flat tops, then you should consider raising the temperature. Muffins baked on 400F had a very nice rise. Unfortunately, it may have risen too much which contributed to cracking. In addition, it is possible to not finish cooking the muffin interior before the outside is well past done on this temperature. 350F created a very stable rise. Click here to keep reading.
All-purpose flour- 2 cups
Baking powder- 2 tsp
Baking soda- 1/2 tsp
Salt- ½ tsp
Sugar- ½ cup
Unsalted butter- 8 tbs melted
Whole milk- 3/4 cup
Vanilla extract- ½ tsp
½ cup of chocolate chips
½ cup of almonds
- Mix the dry ingredients
- Whisk the wet ingredients: Beat the eggs together. Then beat in melted butter. Finally mix in milk, sugar, and vanilla.
- Add chocolate chips and almonds directly into dry ingredients.
- Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients.
- Allow the batter to rest for 15 minutes. In the meantime, preheat the oven to 375F.
- Spoon batter into prepared muffin tins .The batter should cover most of the tin.
- Bake for 12-15 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean.