“Traditionally, gluten-free flours require some kind of binder to emulsify the dough and mimic the web-like, airy structure usually supplied by gluten,” but the trade-off can be an “unpleasantly slimy or rubbery” bakery item if too much xanthan gum, guar gum or other binder is used, explained Steven Rice, president and founder of Authentic Foods.
Unwilling to run this risk with his new flour blend, Rice used his background in biochemistry and extensive bakery experience to study the fiber components of gluten-free grasses, grains and even trees and create a “good tasting four combination that supplied its own natural structure,” Rice said.
Rice added he “could hardly believe it” when the first time he used the blend of rice, cornstarch, tapioca, millet and other ingredients that the yeasted-dough actually rose and tasted like “real bread.”
“No other gluten-free flour blend on the market performs like this one in terms of structure, flavor and sound nutrition,” said Rice, who noted that unlike other gluten-free blends that typically produce heavy batters, his blend “makes a dough that can be kneaded and shaped into yeasted loaves and rolls of all kinds and even braided for challah.”
The dough also forms “an airy interior and delivers finished products that have the taste and texture of their wheat counterparts,” he said. “And good bread is the one food that the gluten-intolerant miss most of all.”
Creating a nutritious and functional blend
While the gluten-free baking mix category is crowded, Rice says there is “always room for new, top-quality, gluten-free flours, mixes, baked goods and pastas that are both healthful and taste great.”
He explained that unlike many big-brand gluten free mixes and foods that sacrifice nutrition for taste, his new blend has both.
“Many companies that sell mass produced gluten-free bakery items and snacks use synthetic agents to stabilize their products, plus high amounts of assorted sweeteners and high fructose corn syrup to help mask the off-flavors created by certain gluten-free flours and additives,” he said.
His blend, on the other hand, is “an excellent source of fiber,” with 5 grams per quarter cup, “but you’d never know that by tasting it,” he said. His blend also includes only 2 grams of sugar per serving and no artificial sweeteners or high-fructose corn syrup.
“Aside from being free of several of the most common allergens and having a nutritional profile and flavor far superior to most gluten-free blends, our new bread flour blend includes a special variety of California-grown rice that is virtually arsenic free,” making it one of the cleanest and most healthful gluten-free flours available, he said.
He added that having an arsenic-free grain is important to the gluten-free consumer because rice is used extensively in the category and is prone to pulling arsenic from the soil to taint the food.
Convenience is essential category driver
While many consumers can create their own gluten-free baking blends, doing so requires buying extensive, space-consuming ingredients, takes time and can create inconsistent results, which is why pre-made mixes, such as Steve’s Flour Blend, appeal to consumers, Rice said.
To fill this need, the flour blend joins a line-up of other healthful, gluten-free blends, including a new cake flour blend that is corn-free and can be used in a one-to-one substitution for wheat flour, cakes, muffins and cookies.
Rice also is exploring creating other product specific flour blends, including one for gluten-free pizza crusts, bagels and pretzels; and a blend for traditional French pastries, such as croissants and puff pastry.
“We endeavor to provide a gluten-free solution for everyone from the advanced cook creating custom blends to those who simply want to make something quick and easy using a reliable mix,” he said.