Gluten-Free Binders

Gluten-free Binders

There are plenty of gluten-free recipes where you won't need a binder, e.g. pancakes and fruit crumbles, or vegetable bhajis where a batter made from gram flour binds the vegetables together. But where you need something to help your doughs and batters hold together, creating a similar result to using wheat flour, there are several that we've tried with our gluten-free flours, and with a bit of tweaking here and there, and even a little blending of 2 or more binders together, you can get some very good results.

Eggs have been used to set and bind since baking began, and they can be beaten whole until fluffy and added to recipes or separated and the white whipped until soft and peaky and then folded into the recipe.

Xanthum and Guar Gum

These are emulsifiers that form a filmy gel with the addition of liquid and bind your ingredients together.
Xanthum Gum is a culture, sometimes grown on wheat or maize, then dried and processed into a powder. Added to your recipes in very small quantities, it will help bind and also create elasticity.
Guar Gum is produced from a plant and is also processed into a powder. It performs in a similar way to Xanthum Gum but is marginally less elastic.
Some people are sensitive to one or both of these gums, even in tiny quantities, but there are more options to choose from.

This is the seed of the flax plant, it can be the whole seed - brown or gold - and you can also buy it ready milled. Milled linseed has a limited shelf life due to its high oil content, so needs to be kept in the fridge. Soaking the whole seeds in water for at least 15 minutes (overnight if you prefer) before use in a recipe produces a sticky gel that helps to hold ingredients together. You can mill your linseeds at home if you have a small spice grinder with blades.

Chia Seeds
More expensive than linseeds, these come from a plant related to the mint family and are considered very nutritious. They also create a gel when soaked in water and can be used as a binder in gluten-free scones, loaves, puddings and smoothies. They can also be milled into a flour, and you can do this at home the same as for linseeds.

The ground powder is produced from a plant that grown in India and is very useful in gluten-free baking. We use it in some of our GF bread recipes, where it created a relatively dense structure that slices well.

Powdered pectin is available to buy in small sachets, and although we haven't developed any recipes with it yet, it can be used to make gluten-free bread as well as in jams and jellies.

Powdered egg white
Widely available to buy in small sachets, we've tried it in our version of a fruity tea bread where it creates a great fluffy texture - you don't need very much of it, if you overdo the amount the batter will escape enthusiastically from the tin!