In light of current research on gluten and its effects on the body (outside of the coeliac aversion to gluten), we have put together some information on gluten-reduced baking techniques.

Firstly, what is gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, triticale (cross between wheat and rye), kamut and spelt (ancient forms of wheat). Oats are usually put in this category because they may contain cross contamination with wheat. The gluten protein is responsible for the glue-like elasticity that is present in batters and doughs.

Why are people choosing to avoid gluten?

People suffering from wheat allergies, coeliac disease, gluten intolerance / sensitivity are affected by the protein in a way that stimulates an allergic response, causing uncomfortable symptoms and reduced optimal health.

Wheat allergy – is one of the rarer common food allergies, whose symptoms include exercise / aspirin induced anaphylaxis as well as skin rashes.

Coeliac disease – is a genetic autoimmune disease that creates inflammation throughout the body, and progressively destroys the nutrient-absorbing villi in your small intestine. Gluten exacerbates this response in coeliac patients. This chronic digestive disorder leads to the malabsorption of minerals and nutrients. Coeliac disease has wide-ranging effects across all organs and joints.

Gluten intolerance/ sensitivity – is reactivity to consuming gluten. Although it poses less severe symptoms when compared to coeliac disease; these symptoms include bloating, abdominal discomfort or pain, diarrhoea, muscular disturbances and bone or joint pain.

“Gluten sensitivity” represents a completely different condition from coeliac disease, and most of the people who suffer from gluten sensitivity will never develop coeliac. Research into gluten sensitivity is evolving rapidly and the differences between these two conditions stems from differing immune system responses.

It has been noted that gluten is not only responsible for allergic reactions, but has been known to “provoke” a number of diseases (according to a review paper in The New England Journal of Medicine), such as osteoporosis, irritable bowel disease, inflammatory bowel disease, anaemia, cancer, fatigue, canker sores, rheumatoid arthritis, lupus, multiple sclerosis, and almost all other autoimmune diseases. Gluten has also been linked to many psychiatric and neurological diseases, including anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, dementia, migraines, epilepsy, and neuropathy (nerve damage).  It has also been linked to autism.

Gluten free baking techniques

Gluten free grains include rice, maize/corn (polenta /maizina), quinoa, millet, buckwheat, oats, and sorghum. These grains can be made into flour and are useful to replace gluten flour in baking. Many people who struggle to process wheat find that spelt is acceptable. Also, there is trend toward using almond meal/ nut flours and coconut flours as well as bean/ legume flours in baking (as grain alternatives).

Gluten free Grain flours Other Gluten free Flours Gluten free Starches
Corn flour Coconut flour Tapioca/ cassava flour
Rice flour Almond/ Hazelnut flour Potato starch (not flour!)
Millet flour Chickpea flour Arrowroot flour
Sorghum flour Buckwheat flour Corn starch
Oat flour Bean (garbanzo/ flava) flour

Often the final baked product (when using gluten free flour) may have a denser texture due to the reduced presence of elastic proteins that stretch to allow aeration of the baked goods.  The texture may be gummier and the mixture may require more cooking time/ added moisture and fibre. Gluten free baking seems to be about trial and error – whether the chosen flour is right for your recipe – one will have to find out?

If baking with gluten free flours (rather than altering a current recipe), look for gluten-free recipe alternatives (at least these recipes have been tried and tested)! There are also recipes for Gluten-Free Flour blends that can be found online, this blend can be used to substitute gluten flour in a favourite recipe. Alternatively look out for gluten free pancake or muffin mixes, and then use these as a flour substitute, since they have already been blended to give a good baked texture.

Once your gluten-free goodies are baked, try our range of Non-Wheat/ Non-Gluten cake decorations (Ready to Roll Fondant, Cake Confetti, and Cake Crystals, Stationery for Cakes, Heavenly Hearts, Chocolate Popping Candy, Chocolate Hearts and Buttons, Shimmer, Writing icing, Soft centred pearls, Soft silver “bling” balls).