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  • Hallie Davis
    Hallie Davis

    USDA Researches Use of Sorghum as a Gluten-Free Alternative Grain


    Celiac.com 10/16/2008 - Having gone gluten-free I, like many of you,have been struggling with gluten-free baking challenges. I began withpancakes. My first pancakes, made with a popular mix, were not thelight, fluffy things that I remembered. My son compared them to hockeypucks. They got eaten, but were not a favorite. The next time I tried apopular author's gluten-free pancake recipe. These were a hit, and didnot have the sourness of the popular mix (which were bean-based)! Theauthor's recipe was also based on sorghum flour, so I have becomeconvinced that sorghum holds the greatest potential for gluten-freebaking. I also tried the author's recipe for bread, which is based onher same sorghum flour mix as her pancakes. The bread, however, was adisaster, and it collapsed as soon as it was taken from the pan. Ithink possibly that the problem was that by the time you take hersorghum flour mix, and add the additional potato starch called for inmaking the bread mix, you end up with a mix that is overwhelminglystarch rather than flour. There is actually very little sorghum flourin it by that point. I repeated these problems when trying to use yetanother popular sorghum-based gluten-free bread mix.

    Meanwhile,in my search for a good sorghum bread recipe I kept coming across ablurb by the Agricultural Research Service to the effect that they haddiscovered that sour dough fermentation improved the quality of sorghumbread. Well, I have never been fond of the sourness of sourdough bread,but I was interested to know that the ARS was trying to find goodrecipes for sorghum bread. Apparently they are convinced, as I am, thatit holds the highest promise for good gluten-free bread.

    Well,heck, the Agricultural Research Service was my old stomping ground! Fora couple summers during college I worked at the ARS in Beltsville,Maryland, and at least one of them was spent in the Human NuitritionResearch Division. I worked as a biochemical technician. While I wasworking with test tubes and distillation apparatus, the wonderfularomas from the nearby test kitchens would waft by me and I would envythe taste testers. I decided to contact those sorghum researchers whohave been involved in the search for a good gluten-free bread recipe. Iemailed them requesting to know if they had developed any goodnon-sourdough recipes, and I received the following replies (the replyfrom Tilman Schober was particularly valuable):



    Dear Hallie Davis,

    Thereare a couple of things which could help you to get the desiredgluten-free sorghum bread. Sourdough is not imperative, it justadditionally helps to stabilize the bread structure. But we know thatmany people object to the flavor. So, besides sourdough, the followingthings may help:

    1. 1) Add the hydrocolloid HPMC (hydroxypropyl methylcellulose).It tremendously helps to get a good crumb. It is a food additive, andsome people object to it because they regard it as not natural.However, it is available in a food grade version designed for humanconsumption, and we simply know nothing that works better. Xanthan gum,probably the second best hydrocolloid, is much inferior in gluten-freebread making. There are various slightly different versions of HPMCcommercially available. As US government employees, we cannot endorse aspecific product. However, I would like to let you know that we hadgood success with Methocel K4M, food grade, which is available fromretailers like Ener-G Foods.
    2. The larger your bread pan the more likely the bread willcollapse. Try to use small pans, and just bake more loaves. This alsohelps to keep them fresh (just freeze the loaves which you do not eatfresh immediately after cooling). A good pan size might be e.g. 6inches by 2-3 inches and 2-3 inches high.
    3. Mix sorghum flour with starch. A recipe that has worked for usis described in the attached article (wHPMC, p. 5138). It is as follows: 105g water, 70 g sorghum flour, 30 g potato starch, 1.75 g salt, 1 gsugar, 2 g dry yeast, and 2 g HPMC. Highest accuracy in weighing theseingredients is not required, but I would prepare a larger amount ofdough (e.g. all ingredients multiplied by 10), so that it is easier toweigh. Mix all dry ingredients first in a large bowl (make sure thatthe HPMC is well mixed with the rest, it tends to form lumps withwater). Then add the water, mix (electric mixer) until a smooth batterresults, and pour (or spoon) the batter in the greased bread pans. Letthe dough rise for about 30-45 min (depends on temperature, observe howit increases in volume) and bake at 355 oF for about 30 min (depends onpan size, you will need to find out for your pan size and oven type).

    Another source for sorghum recipes you can find here:

    They sell a celiac disease with recipes (it is copyrighted, so I cannot send it to you).

    If you have success, we would love to hear about it. If you need further assistance, please let us know.

    Kind regards

    Tilman




    Tilmanthen wrote again, enclosing a copy of the referenced article, andasking that I cite it. The article was published in the "Journal ofAgricultural and Food Chemistry", 2007, 55, 5137-5146, and is entitled,"Gluten-Free Sorghum Bread Improved by Sourdough Fermentation:Biochemical, Rheological, and Microstructural Background." The Authorswere Tilman J. Schober, Scott R. Bean, and Daniel L. Boyle. They areworking in the Manhattan, Kansas Grain Marketing and ProductionResearch Center of the Agricultural Research Center.

    The otherperson who responded to my inquiry was Scott R. Bean. He sent me anearlier but related article, entitled, "Use of Sorghum Flour in BakeryProducts." This article was published in the "AIB InternationalTechnical Bulletin" in Volume XXVIII, issue 3, May/June 2006. Theauthors here were:

    • T.J. Schober and S.R. Bean, USDA-ARS, GMPRC, Manhattan, KS 66502
    • E.K. Arendt, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
    • C. Fenster, Savory Palate Inc., Centennial, CO 80122
    This article had the formulas for two sorghum flour blends:Sorghum-Corn Flour Blend and Sorghum-Bean Flour Blend. Furtherreferences for the mixes and also a brownie recipe is given as:
    • Fenster, C. 2004. Wheat-Free Recipes & Menus: Delicious, Healthful Eating for People with Food Sensitivities. New York: Avery (Penguin Group).
    Arecipe for Sorghum Waffles was also given with a citation, "Recipe byAmy Perry and Meredith Wiking, used with permission fromwww.twinvalleymills.com." So, the ARS, like me, is using recipesby popular authors and Twin Valley Mills as a starting point, and areexperimenting from there.

    I don't know about you, but I, forone, intend to get the Methocel K4M, food grade, and try using itinstead of guar gum or xanthan gum! I also plan to try the 70-30sorghum mix described today by Dr. Schober. I am TIRED of gummy bread,and collapses!


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    Great article. Does anyone have a sorghum based (or gluten free) bread recipe that contains no corn and no tapioca? I am sensitive to both materials as well!

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    I suggested to Dr. Schober that the above recipe was not 'kitchen friendly' since few persons have a kitchen scale that measures in grams. He was kind enough to make the conversions to volume, revising the recipe as follows:

     

    ******************************

     

    Dept. of Agriculture Sorghum Bread: (multiplied by 10)

     

    1050 g (4+3/4 cup) water,

    700 g (6+1/2 cup) sorghum flour,

    300 g (2 cup) potato starch,

    17.5 g (2+1/2 to 3 teaspoon) salt,

    10 g (2 teaspoon) sugar,

    20 g (5 teaspoon) dry yeast, and

    20 g (4 Tablespoons) HPMC.

     

    (We use Methocel K4M, food grade, from Dow)

     

    Mix all dry ingredients first in a large bowl (make sure that the HPMC is well mixed with the rest, it tends to form lumps with water) to make your bread mix.

     

    I would recommend using very small bread pans. I bought mine in the local grocery shop, dimensions should be around 6 x 3 x 2 inches (2 inches is the height). Thus, the above quantity should yield more than 2 loaves. (Could you maybe tell the people to simply make several small loaves at once, or upscale/downscale the recipe? It is required to fill the pans only 2/3 of their height.

     

     

    Mix (electric mixer) until a smooth batter results, and pour (or spoon) the batter in the greased bread pans (use small pans, otherwise the bread will collapse; e.g. 6 x 3 x 2 inches (2 inches is the height). Let the dough rise for about 30-45 min (depends on temperature, observe how it increases in volume) and bake at 355 degrees F. for about 30 min (depends on pan size, you will need to find out for your pan size and oven type).

     

    I have optimized the water content in several studies. Less water makes the bread dry and low in volume (the dough is so firm that it cannot rise – the situation is completely different from normal wheat bread, in which less water is required). HPMC contributes to water binding. The actual amount of water may vary depending on the flour properties, but should always be around 1:1 (by weight, not by volume).

     

    ******************

     

    I have tried this recipe exactly as written above. I did find that the Methocel, instead of gums and egg whites, allowed it to have an improved crumb. However, I think that more potato starch, and slightly increased water might allow it to rise more, and might improve the taste and make the crust less cement-like. Using the Methocel has, I believe, opened a new door for experimentation, and I welcome all of you to start experimenting with sorghum flour-potato starch recipes, substituting Methocel for eggs and gums. I know we are all looking for a recipe that will rise well enough to give a loaf large enough to be sliced for sandwich bread. Happy experimenting!

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    I purchased it direct from Dow, but generally they only sell to companies. I had to buy 10 pounds, which is much more than I need. I'm tempted to package it into smaller portions for sale to people who are having trouble getting it.

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  • About Me

    I am a retired Doctor of Optometry after practicing for 20 years. I have monoclonal gammopathy (paraproteinemia), limited systemic scleroderma, Hashimoto's thyroiditis, obstructive sleep apnea, beginning neuropathy, and have just been found to have the celiac HLA type: DQ8.

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