Before sharing more details about Gluten, I would like to share with you a small incident which happened with me 4 years back, while I was newly married and introduced to most of the members in his family, little secret was shared about each one of them, that moment I got to know that one of his first cousin is allergic to wheat, he cannot eat wheat or any of it’s by products. I was totally surprise because I never heard of any such allergy before, I had nothing but sympathy in heart for him over the years while I decided to pursue my hobby of cooking more seriously and started reading more about food components this term “Gluten” came across many times but either I simply bypassed it or found comfort in replicating some “Gluten – Free” recipe.
Until lately when I was going through my curriculum of Distance Learning Culinary Course from a renowned foreign university, I found there is a whole lesson dedicated to Wheat and Gluten, now I could sense that it’s high time I need to know more about this component. The word Gluten comes from Latin word “glue” which means binding agent, and actually this is the role of gluten. Gluten is the magical protein component of wheat, responsible for elasticity, texture and structure in any wheat product. Wheat is the only grain to produce indispensable amount of gluten, though barley and rye also has some amount of gluten present but not as much as Wheat.
Gluten is formed by two proteins – Gliadin and Glutenin (all the names sound like some family names instead of scientific terms) both these proteins are present in wheat flour and insoluble in water. But interesting fact is dry flour does not develop gluten on it’s own, it requires water to activate gluten in the flour. Initially in the wet flour glutenin and gliadin are scattered but with thorough kneading these proteins are elongated and gluten strands stretch and develop further, so next time when you knead dough for bread just keep in mind more you kneed more gluten strands will be strong, bread will have great structure, texture and softness. If the gluten is not developed properly with kneading, dough will be weak and while baking bread will not rise properly.
Gluten is also responsible for trapping gases in the dough, so when well kneaded bread is put to bake, you can see how ell it’s rising inside the oven, that is because gluten traps all the gases formed from yeast, baking powder or soda, so it is gluten working behind the scenes like balloon. This is how you get those much-appreciated beautiful air pockets in your bread. Lately, if you would have noticed there is a whole range of mock meats/vegetarian meats available in gourmet restaurants, Gluten is the only component giving those mock meats real meat like structure, so if you are Gluten allergic those mock meats are a big no – no for you.
These days many Gluten Free Flours are available in market – Buckwheat Flour, Amaranth Flour, Almond Flour, Teff Flour, which can be very innovatively for baking and cooking. So next time when somebody talk about Gluten allergy you could suggest much more to them rather than only sympathizing or while you knead dough for bread, recall in mind how those little protein strands of gluten coming together with your kneading.
Here are my few Gluten Free Dessert Recipes—>
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