Todays Topic–Xanthum Gum
Let’s be honest… Who really knows what this stuff is and what its primary purpose is?
Do you have visions of actual gum when the words Xantham Gum come to your mind? Like chewing gum!!!
Can I be 100% transparent with you here? I’m pretty sure this was not a section covered in culinary school or if it was, I paid little to no attention regarding this in my baking course. I’m a baker and should know these things, right?
I know, I know, you are probably already concerned! LOL!
O.K. I feel better getting that off my mind!
Lets start again… from the beginning…
Like how do you even pronounce this word?
Where do you buy it and what purpose does it have?
Well, for starters, no shaming here if you are just as clueless as I was about Xantham Gum. There is sooooooo much information on the internet, much of it conflicting, about Xantham Gum, and it could be really confusing for the average consumer, (thats you and I).
So, in order to lessen the confusion and for the sake of a much shorter post, I’m going to focus on its usefulness in baked goods, specifically when baking Gluten Free items.
In short, it is actually a fermented bacteria (the good kind) that acts as an “all natural” emulsifier. I found this article on Bobs Red Mill, http://www.bobsredmill.com/shop and it seems to be really informative so instead of trying to re-explain it, I’m sharing it:
Xanthan Gum is a plant-based thickening and stabilizing agent. It is named for the bacteria, Xanthomonas campestris, which plays a crucial role in this description. Technically speaking, xanthan gum is a polysaccharide, which is just a fancy way to say “a string of multiple sugars.” To create xanthan gum, the Xanthomonas campestris bacterium is allowed to ferment on a sugar. The result is a gel that is then dried and milled to create the powder substance.
Xanthan gum has a number of powerful properties. First, it works as an emulsifier, encouraging liquids that normally don’t like one another to mix together. Second, it works as thickener, increasing the viscosity of liquids and batters. Third, it can create a creamy texture.
In the world of gluten-free baking, xanthan gum plays the crucial role of imitating gluten. In baking, gluten is what makes dough “doughy.” It gives the dough elasticity, as well as viscosity. Those properties help to hold a cookie together while it bakes on a sheet in the oven, and they enable cakes and breads to hold onto the gas bubbles that form inside them – this allows them to rise and take shape. Xanthan gum helps replicate these properties in recipes that do not contain gluten.
But guess what???
I’m going to save you a little money, because I discovered printable coupons through Bobs Red Mill that are redeemable at retail stores. You should check it out!
I recently made some gluten free biscuits, One batch using Xantham Gum and the other batch I didn’t use it. I was making these for a Strawberry Shortcake Dessert and they needed to be Gluten Free. Unfortunately, I failed to take a picture of the batch without the Xantham Gum but I can tell you there was a distinct difference in how they baked. The taste was the same in both batches but the batch with the Xantham Gum was fluffier and didn’t spread out as much as the batch without. After all, if its purpose is to act as a “binder” and hold everything together, I would say the Xantham Gum did a fine job. Here is are the biscuits with Xantham Gum.
So, all in all, I hope this gives you a bit more knowledge about Xantham Gum. Before reading this article you might have eliminated a recipe that called for Xantham Gum, like I often would, because you had no idea what this stuff even was. But now you know!!! You’re Welcome, again!!! LOL
There are certainly alternatives to Xantham Gum, and just like in the case of the biscuits, the flavor was not compromised but the consistency and rising was somewhat altered. I hope you found this to be helpful! Go print out your coupon to save on any Bobs Red Mill products and happy baking with Xantham Gum (or not).
Enjoy your day, Jeanette