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Xanthan Gum: You'r Opinion - Is It Needed


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#1 nuttmegs17

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 07:07 PM

Hi!

I recently discovered I need to eliminate gluten and like many on here, used to pride myself on my baking skills. I am trying to look at the bright side and think that I can make this fun...hopefully I will eventually figure out how to convert my favorite recipe.

I'm researching on here as much as I can before buying things as I understand they are all a bit pricey!

A blog I read: Gluten Free Girl, mentioned she no longer uses xanthan gum and her recipes are just as good without it. It seems like most other recipes call for this ingredient however. Have any of you tried to not use it to see what happens? If its not really needed, it would be great to not have to buy such an expensive ingredient!

Also - have you tried her recipes? Are they as good as they seem?

Thank you!!
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#2 Takala

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Posted 21 April 2011 - 11:24 PM

I don't use much of it, but most of my bread needs (I'm relatively low carb) can be met by making a pancake, a flatbread, a small skillet bread or a microwave bread in a small bowl, using almond flour mixes. Almond, amaranth combos done with egg this way don't need it. Buckwheat/potato/garbanzo pancakes don't need it, either, and don't even have to have the egg.

I read her blog because she is such a good writer and describes the technique processes so well. The one time I tried one of her much earlier bread recipes, I thought "eh," after finally getting thru it. It was dry, and I thought it needed more fat. Bread is tricky. What works for one person may not work for the other. The other thing is, she frequently uses a few ingredients that I don't, and I have to substitute, and I'm working on one of her recipes now, seeing if I can convert this to what is on my okay list. For example, I really don't like the taste of flax unless it is in very small quantities. Yet flax is one of these other ingredients that makes a great xanthan, or egg substitute, when used with hot water. I have chia seeds, but I don't want to try them until I have a day that if they don't agree with me, it's not a disaster.

Somebody else, Rice Guy, had great good luck with using a little bit of psylium fiber in a gluten free bread, only he used sweet potato flour. I tried a bit in another bread recipe, and I don't like the taste of it either, and it was dry, dry, dry. And then it sat in my stomach like a rock. Next time if I do that, I will follow his recipe exactly, but I'm not sure if I want another after -sensation like that. He said you had to use that particular flour combo, and he was right.

For some recipes, such as cookies or cake, results may be different.
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#3 sa1937

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 04:50 AM

A blog I read: Gluten Free Girl, mentioned she no longer uses xanthan gum and her recipes are just as good without it. It seems like most other recipes call for this ingredient however. Have any of you tried to not use it to see what happens? If its not really needed, it would be great to not have to buy such an expensive ingredient!

Also - have you tried her recipes? Are they as good as they seem?

Thank you!!

I do use xanthan gum so haven't tried baking without it unless the recipe is naturally flourless. While it's expensive, it's used in small amounts and lasts a long while. Some people use guar gum instead...don't know how the price of that compares with xanthan gum.

I haven't tried any of the Gluten Free Girl's recipes. Can she make bread without xanthan gum? I don't know how we would attempt to achieve elasticity in bread without it or guar gum.
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#4 lizard00

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 06:29 AM

You definitely have to play around with the flour combo if you don't want to use it. Guar seems less expensive, though I haven't done an oz to oz comparison. Once, I forgot to put xanthan in my bread and the dough came to be more of a cookie dough than a bread dough. I also bake with almond flour and it is not needed in almond flour. I actually put it in once to see if it made a difference, and it didn't.

I think when you are going for texture to texture of gluten-free vs. gluten baked goods-- cakes, cookies, brownies, etc. I am not sure you can get away with having the dessert you want without it. Without it, stuff just falls apart. And when you want a good pound cake, you don't want it to crumble. (I've done that, too! :lol: )
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#5 nuttmegs17

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 03:03 PM

Oh this is interesting...thanks! Yes, she origionally wrote her recipes with the gum but then realized she was reacting badly to it and now says all her recipes react the same way without it.
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#6 Melstar23

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 11:20 PM

I make lots of gluten free baked goods and I always use xanthan gum when it is in the recipe. It gives the batter/dough a sticky texture. It surprises me that many say it is too expensive to buy, I agree that it is expensive to buy by weight, you only need very small amounts for it to work. If it doesn't bother you, I would still use it.
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#7 ruubato skies

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 04:05 PM

I almost always use xanthan gum. I've found it really useful in other (not naturally glutenous) dishes like sauces and some soups. You really only need a little at a time, and it's taken me about 6 months of moderately-heavy cooking to go through one of the smaller sized Bob's Red Mill bags.

However, I have experienced intermittent results when using pre-made gluten free baking mixes. A lot of the time I just whip out the old betty crocker book and have at, using my own flour mixes, but in either case, I almost always have to add more xanthan gum than is recommended. I am at a pretty high altitude (7000 ft,) and I was wondering if anyone else has had this experience.
My recipe or theirs, I almost always need more xanthan gum. Anyone else high altitude notice this too? (I made brownies from a mix recently, forgot to add extra, and they completely fell apart.)
I'm pretty good at estimating it, so it usually turns out alright. But it would be good to know that this is what's going on for sure.
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