Didn’t think I could find an ‘X’ item, did ya? :)
Xanthan gum is an ingredient I am just learning, but as I branch out into the gluten free world I’m learning what an important option it is for gluten free baked products. While gluten free baking is of course possible without it, there are many recipes that benefit from its addition.
So if you’re like me, you see xanthan gum in recipes occasionally and think it must be some weird processed ingredient, and why would you want it in your pantry anyway? If you see it in a long list of ingredients on a packaged food product, you might want to be wary, simply because the long list of ingredients and the packaged food probably means there are lots of other chemical ingredients in there you may want to shy away from. However, on its own, it is a natural forming fermented sugar product that can serve a lot of useful purposes in your kitchen. It comes from corn sugar (usually, sometimes a different base is used like soy or wheat, so check if you have any allergies) being fermented by the Xanthomonas campestris bacteria. It forms a slimy gel that is dried and then ground up into powder.
When rehydrated in bread, pastries, even ice cream (!), xanthan gum can fill a number of different roles. It is an emulsifier, a thickener, and provides volume by helping starches combine to trap air, mimicking the function of gluten in traditional baked goods. For breads and pizza doughs, you want to use 1 teaspoon for each cup of gluten free flour used, and for most other baked goods (cakes, muffins, cookies, etc), 1/2 teaspoon for each cup of flour. Add it last to any recipe, and don’t mix more than 5 or 6 times after that, or your results may end up thick and gummy.
Xanthan gum is a natural carbohydrate, providing 7 grams per Tablespoon. However, all of the carbs are fiber, so while that is great for you (all that fiber and zero net carbs!), some people may have trouble if you aren’t used to enough fiber in your system, so be gentle with yourself.
I’ve only used xanthan gum once so far – please let me know what recipes I should try to give it more of a shot! I would love to expand my gluten free repertoire. :)
An assortment of recipes I found while researching that I want to try… all I can is WHOA.
1. Beer Bread