Vital wheat gluten flour is commonly used to create chewy, elastic textures in yeast bread recipes and a vegetarian meat substitute called seitan.
But what if you’re following a gluten-free diet, have a wheat allergy, or simply don’t have vital wheat gluten flour on hand? Fear not!
You have a few options:
- Xanthan gum
- Guar gum
- Bread flour
Before we explore the substitutes, let’s briefly understand what exactly vital wheat gluten flour is…
What is vital wheat gluten flour?
Vital wheat gluten flour isn’t the same as other types of wheat flours. It’s a concentrated wheat protein that’s used to increase the protein content of flour, making it useful in bread and other recipes for improved elasticity and structure of the dough.
However, for those with gluten sensitivities or allergies, vital wheat gluten flour is a no-go.
So here’s what you should do instead:
The best substitutes for vital wheat gluten flour
Xanthan gum is a natural, gluten-free, plant-based thickening agent that can mimic some of the properties of gluten in recipes.
Xanthan gum will not provide the same protein structure as vital wheat gluten flour, but it can help improve the texture and structure of your baked goods due to its binding properties.
Here’s how to use it:
- Begin by adding between 1/4 to 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum per cup of gluten-free flour in your recipe. You may need to adjust this amount based on your specific recipe and desired texture.
- Mix the xanthan gum thoroughly with your dry ingredients before incorporating any liquids. This helps prevent clumping and ensures even distribution.
- Allow your dough or batter to rest for a few minutes after adding xanthan gum. This will give it time to hydrate and work its magic.
- Xanthan gum absorbs moisture, so you may need to adjust the amount of liquid in your recipe slightly. If your batter or dough appears too dry, add a little more liquid (e.g., water or milk) until you achieve the desired consistency.
Note: Some gluten-free recipes may require additional binders or leavening agents like baking powder or eggs to help compensate for the lack of gluten.
Like xanthan gum, guar gum is a natural plant-based thickening agent derived from guar beans and is often used in gluten-free baking to mimic the elasticity and binding properties of gluten.
When using guar gum in gluten-free recipes, it’s best to use it in combination with other gluten-free flours like rice flour, almond flour, or coconut flour, or use a gluten-free flour blend.
Here’s how to use it:
- Start by using about 1 teaspoon of guar gum per cup of flour in your recipe. It’s important not to overuse guar gum, as it can lead to a gummy or slimy texture.
- Mix it thoroughly with the dry ingredients before adding any liquids. This helps distribute it evenly and prevents clumping.
- Since guar gum is a strong thickener, you may need to adjust the liquid content in your recipe. Start with the recommended amount of liquid and add more if the batter or dough appears too dry. Conversely, if it seems too wet or sticky, add more flour.
Finally, you can use bread flour to increase the gluten content in your recipes if you don’t have vital wheat gluten on hand.
Vital wheat gluten is essentially pure gluten extracted from wheat, whereas bread flour contains both gluten and starch.
Here’s how to use it:
- Replace the vital wheat gluten flour with bread flour in a 1:1 ratio. For example, if your recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of vital wheat gluten flour, use 1 tablespoon of bread flour instead.
- Bread flour contains less gluten than vital wheat gluten flour, so you may need to adjust the liquid content in your recipe slightly. If your dough seems too dry, gradually add a little more water until it reaches the desired consistency. Conversely, if the dough is too sticky, sprinkle in a bit more bread flour.
- Bread flour requires a bit more kneading than dough made with vital wheat gluten flour. Be prepared to knead your dough for an extra 2-3 minutes to develop the gluten structure fully.
- Allow the dough to rest for a few extra minutes (about 10-15 minutes) after kneading to help the gluten relax, making it easier to work with.
- Bake as usual!
Best vital wheat gluten flour substitutes
So, to bring it all together a little – xanthan gum and guar gum are good substitutes that can help improve the structure and binding of gluten-free baked goods. They work best in recipes that do not rely heavily on gluten for structure, such as muffins, pancakes, cookies, and some cakes. So if you’re looking for gluten-free replacements, xanthan gum and guar gum are your best bets.
For traditional bread or pizza dough recipes that require gluten, bread flour can boost the gluten content, giving them that chewy and elastic texture that vital wheat gluten flour typically provides.
A good substitute for vital wheat gluten, commonly used to improve the elasticity and rise of bread dough, is to use a combination of high-protein flour (such as bread flour) and/or a small amount of xanthan gum or guar gum to achieve similar results in gluten-free baking.
The best substitute for gluten flour, often used to mimic its binding properties in gluten-free baking, is a blend of various gluten-free flours such as rice flour, tapioca flour, and potato starch, combined with xanthan gum or guar gum for elasticity and structure. If you want just one flour to replace gluten flour with – you can use almond flour.
No, tapioca flour cannot be directly substituted for vital wheat gluten in recipes, as they have different properties and functions in baking. Vital wheat gluten is a protein that provides elasticity and structure to dough, while tapioca flour is a starch that adds tenderness and doesn’t have the same gluten-developing capabilities.
Coconut flour doesn’t contain the protein needed to replace vital wheat gluten effectively. It absorbs a lot of moisture and has a unique flavor, so it’s best suited for specific recipes like gluten-free baked goods or dishes where a coconut flavor complements the dish.