10 Strange-Sounding Ingredients in Gluten-free Baking
It doesn’t matter that gluten is the magical molecule that gives conventional bread and baked goods their prized lift, texture and structure if it doesn’t love you back!
When we bake without it so you can experience the joy of the real thing, gluten-free, we have to find other ways to make the magic happen! Recreating everything that’s great about gluten without it—and without egg, dairy, and other allergens we leave out—means finding ingredients that may be a little less familiar in the average kitchen.
And because there’s no one-to-one substitute for gluten, it takes a team of strange-sounding gluten-free ingredients to create great-tasting gluten-free bread and baked goods with the texture and substance you crave.
Here’s a quick cheat sheet to 10 strange-sounding gluten-free ingredients you’ll find in Little Northern Bakehouse gluten-free breads, buns, bagels, and pizza crusts. (And many other gluten-free products, too!)
But first, a little food science
Wheat is more than a one-hit wonder in what it brings to the conventional bread party. Conventional bread’s taste and texture comes from the combination of starch, fibre, and protein (including gluten) that wheat delivers.
To recreate the joy of the real thing without gluten, our bakers aren’t just finding a replacement for one magical molecule. They’re crafting a just-right balance of starch, fibre, and protein to create the taste and texture that makes our gluten-free bread and baked goods as delicious as any conventional option.
Gluten-free Flour Blend. Or: Why do we use starches?
With its sidekick fibre, starch is half of the dynamic complex carbohydrate duo that brings substance and fluffiness to our favourite carbs—from breads and pasta to rice and potatoes.
Starch gives bread its crumb and crust texture. Wheat flour can be the only source of starch in conventional bread. But while starch can be found in the flours of gluten-free grains and cereals, and easily extracted from starchy vegetables like corn, legumes, and root vegetables, we haven’t found one that makes bread as beautifully alone as they can in combination.
Where some starches bring fluffiness, others bring substance. Our bakers use a blend of gluten-free starches to build a great-tasting, perfectly textured gluten-free base for our breads. Balancing the best properties of each starch in the blend means you won’t miss out on anything!
Modified Tapioca Starch
In addition to gluten-free starches like brown rice flour, potato starch, and corn starch, our gluten-free flour bread includes modified tapioca starch. Naturally derived from cassava root*, modified tapioca starch is just like any other plant-based starch. The word “modified” simply means there’s an extra step—like roasting or boiling, pressure-treating, or using enzymes or food-grade acids—to bring out its best starchy properties. Like all our ingredients, our modified tapioca starch is Non-GMO Project Verified so you can be sure the word “modified” in this ingredient’s name has nothing to do with genetics. Modified tapioca starch complements the other flours and starches we use to give our gluten-free bread substance.
*Fun fact: all cassava must be cooked before it becomes tapioca—it’s toxic raw!
Fibre provides the structure that makes serious gluten-free sandwich stacking possible. Just as we’ve found it takes a blend of gluten-free flours and starches to create a delicious-tasting gluten-free bread experience, we use a blend of fibre sources to bring strength and structure to every slice.
Your gluten-free sandwich dreams won’t crumble under the weight of all your favourite toppings if this mighty plant-based ingredient has anything to say about it. This soluble fibre acts a little like egg, adding tenderness and structure while helping to keep our gluten-free bread moist.
Legumes are one of those vegetables that’s good inside and out. We use fibre from the husk of Canadian yellow peas in our blend to add extra nutritional fibre to so you can feel good about each slice.
Like its partners pea fibre and psyllium husk, modified cellulose is a non-GMO source of plant-based fibre that contributes to the structure a gluten-free slice needs to stand strong for the sake of a great sandwich.
Our gluten-free breads and buns are not quite in bran muffin territory. But a little bit of rice bran goes a long way to round out our blend of fibre sources making a humble contribution to your daily fibre goals.
Gluten isn’t the only protein in wheat. Other proteins contribute to the strength and texture of conventional bread, too. To create a true joy of the real thing experience, we add just enough protein to our gluten-free breads to achieve the perfect texture for toast and sandwiches alike.
Plant-based protein doesn’t just help build strong muscles—it helps make strong bread, too! And a little bit of Canadian yellow pea protein is one way we can make our gluten-free breads strong enough to meet your boldest meal expectations.
Okay. Maybe that’s not a technical term, but in the world of gluten-free bread, something has to stand in for gluten. And these ingredients are up to the challenge!
Probably the least secret ingredient in gluten-free baking, you’ll find xanthan gum in many gluten-free flours and baked goods for good reason! This nifty ingredient helps achieve the hard-to-replicate stretch and chew beloved in conventional breads. Gluten-free. Vegan, non-GMO, and plant-based, xanthan gum is created by the fermentation of simple sugars.
Just like our protein ingredients, we prefer to have more than one option when it comes to creating stretch in our gluten-free products. Cellulose gum is another way to give our doughs a bread-like chew without gluten.
In bread, as in life, there are often many paths to reach the same destination. When it comes to choosing ingredients to help our breads stay fresh all the way from our bakery to your breakfast table, we prefer natural options instead of pesky chemical preservatives.
Cultured Cane Sugar
Cultured cane sugar is a natural ingredient to help extend the shelf-life of our baked goods. Like salt, a tiny bit goes a long way to helping our delicious gluten-free bread go the distance and taste great all the way.
Now that you know a little more about the strange-sounding gluten-free ingredients in our products, get to know our breads, buns, and bagels better. Check out our gluten-free products page to explore all the Little Northern Bakehouse products you’ll love!