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Xanthan Gum and Gluten-Free Baking

Why Don’t I Use Xanthan Gum in My Gluten-Free Baking?

In general, my baking and cooking philosophy is “simple is best”. This applies to all of the recipes I create and use — ingredients that are as fresh and whole food friendly as possible. To that end, I prefer not to use any xanthan gum in any of my baking recipes (it’s also why I tend to stay away from store-bought gluten-free all-purpose flour mixes).

What is Xanthan Gum?

Xanthan gum is a food additive that is used as a thickener and stabilizer in many products from mayonnaise to ice cream. Xanthan gum is produced when sucrose, lactose, or glucose gets fermented by bacteria, making a gummy substance. This mixture gets dehydrated and ground into the powder you’ll see called for in many gluten-free recipes. It is made from corn.

Why NOT Xanthan Gum?

The short answer is that I try not to use too many — or any — processed food products in my baking and cooking. Xanthan gum, and its cousin guar gum, do not agree with everyone even in small amounts. And in general, going back to that “simple is best” mindset, in my opinion the more additives the less good-for-you something becomes.

Gluten-free baking without xanthan gum is not only totally possible, it’s more than easy to be successful every time. If you take the right combination of starchy flours and whole grain flours, or use the right number of eggs, or add a bit of flax or psyllium husk, your gluten-free efforts will turn out beautifully without any extra processed ingredients. All the recipes on Cucina Nicolina are xanthan gum-free.

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