Wheat is the single most important component of most bread, and replacing it presents a real challenge to the baker.

Gluten is formed from gliadin and glutenin during hydration and mixing, and is a major functional component. Replicating the effect of gluten is a key hurdle to overcome when making gluten-free bread with the same texture and taste as a conventional loaf.

Hydrocolloids, often referred to as gums, are used to replace gluten. HPMC (hydroxypropylmethylcellulose), guar gum and xanthan gum are commonly found on ingredients lists. Gums help to stabilise the bubbles formed in dough and batter, and give dough its viscoelastic properties — similar to the effect of gluten.

While hydrocolloids help replicate the functionality of gluten, other ingredients, such as starches and proteins, are required to replace the bulk of the wheat flour and provide additional functionality and nutrition.

Mike Adams, bakery science manager, Campden BRI

Campden BRI provides technical support to the food, drinks and allied industries worldwide. Its activities are built on a programme of industrial relevant research and innovation steered by industry. See campdenbri.co.uk or telephone 01386 842000