Gluten is the protein enzyme in wheat that helps bread to have its elastic texture and helps to hold the starch of the bread or cake together.
Gluten is found in: Wheat, oats, rye, barley & spelt.
Why is gluten intolerance so common: It is believed that 1-100 people have difficulty with gluten in their diet. Gluten itself can cause damage to the lining of the intestines and therefore create problems for absorption of iron and other nutrients. Coeliac’s in particular have a great problem with gluten, causing a autoimmune response in the body, which can lead to bloating; loss of weight; gain of weight; diarrhoea; tiredness just to name a few. For Coeliac people there is no cure and it seems to be inherited through the family. Gluten free diet is the only way forward Coeliac can gain the right nutrition needed in their diet.
Most people are slightly intolerant to wheat-based products, which also may present as bloating as above. Often these people find they are less tired and have more energy, if they avoid wheat.
There are a number of gluten free products on the market now days. Most are made of tapioca, potato flour, corn starch and rice flour. Some of their flours are ground from whole grains or seeds and others are refined. Potato, arrowroot and tapioca in particular is just pure starch.
Having taken a recent course of gluten free baking, I have now discovered that other seeds are used in gluten free cooking. Sorghum and Teff are flours used in Africa as a stable diet and these are ground into flour and usually made into a kind of heavy porridge. I have found using Sorghum, mixed with potato, tapioca, rice flour, gram flour and rice flour, brings a good nutritional value and makes a good loaf.
The dough for gluten free breads is usually like a batter. Xhanthum gum or arrow-root is used to help the binding of the flours to make a good wholesome and enjoyable loaf.
In the past when people were experiencing allergies to gluten, the pharmaceutical companies worked to extract the gluten from the wheat, and some of those flours are still used in products today.
Combining some of these flours, increases the nutrient content and make the bread rich in all the essential nutrients, like protein, carbohydrates and minerals like zinc, iron, magnesium and B6.
Flours normally used: Buckwheat, potato flour, rice flour, millet flour, sorghum flour, teff flour (which are grasses, but hardy enough to withstand dryer or arid weather and harsh conditions). Some of these are flours made from starch type root vegetables like potato, teff, sorghum are grasses which are stables for the majority of the world populations in particular countries like Africa, South Asia and Central America.
Buckwheat: isn’t a wheat at all, it is a seed. It is grown in colder dryer areas of the world, like Poland and Russia.
Millet: is a grain, found in drier more harsh conditions, so will tolerate drought. It is packed with fibre and good nutritional source of iron, calcium and B vitamins, much more nutritious than rice, or wheat. Grown mainly in Asia.
I believe that even though you may have wheat or gluten intolerance, that everyone needs access to good nutritious and healthy and healthful foods, including breads and cakes. I hope that my experimentation with gluten free flours and the breads and cakes I produce help bring some joy to everyone.
I The mix varies with my bread, as I like to experiment. But it is basic, buckwheat, rice, millet, potato, gram, maize, oat (gf), coconut flour and linseed. Sometimes I include sweet potato flour and banana flour.