By Narashans Alok Sagar1,2* and Nitu Rani1

The baking industry has undergone a significant change to cope with gluten-free diets because of the increased prevalence of celiac disorder and gluten intolerance as well as the overall trend towards healthier eating. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, and barley that gives baked products elasticity and structure. The challenge of modern baking is finding usable substitutes that closely resemble these attributes, while meeting dietary requirements. There are several gluten-free substitutes, such as rice, sorghum, tapioca, buckwheat, chickpea, almond, and quinoa flours used in baking for their unique benefits, applications, and features.

1. Rice flour

It is the most popular gluten-free flour, which is produced by finely milling either brown or white rice. It has a delicate texture and neutral flavour, suitable to be used in a variety of baked items, including cakes, biscuits, and muffins. It is frequently combined with other gluten-free flours to enhance texture and flavour.

Benefits

  • As a neutral taste, it does not alter the flavour of finished products.
  • It is a versatile substitute for a large range of bakery items.
  • Easy to digest and gentle on the stomach.

2. Sorghum flour

Made from whole grains, sorghum flour is also known as ‘Jowar’ in the local language. It has a mild to slightly sweet flavour. It is a well-suited flour for the preparation of cakes, cookies, and bread in combination with other gluten-free flours.

Benefits

  • Sorghum is high in antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals that support overall health.
  • It is an environmentally friendly and less water-intensive crop.
  • Safe for people suffering from gluten intolerance or celiac disorder.

3. Tapioca Flour

The cassava root is the source of tapioca flour, sometimes referred to as tapioca starch. It is a white fine powder with a neutral taste. It has several applications in pastries, pizza crusts, and gluten-free bread because of its thickening and texture-enhancing properties.

Benefits

  • It has elasticity and hence provides chewiness.
  • Its versatility makes it suitable for both sweet and savoury preparations.
  • It does not impact the flavour of baked products.

4. Buckwheat Flour

Buckwheat is a naturally gluten-free crop and not related to wheat. Rich in protein and fibre, its flour exhibits a strong earthy taste. It is frequently utilized with other gluten-free flours to offset its strong flavour when making bread, pancakes, and waffles.

Benefits

  • It is rich in protein, fibres, and essential minerals
  • It adds a distinct flavour to bakery products.
  • Good alternative for gluten-sensitive consumers.

5.Chickpea Flour

Chickpea flour is also referred to as ‘Besan’ prepared from gram. It tastes nutty and contains a lot of fibre and protein. Both sweet and savoury bakery items, such as cookies, pizza crusts, and flatbreads, are made from chickpea flour.

Benefits

  • It’s flavourful and imparts a nutty flavour.
  • Provides nutritive value to the products.
  • Versatile application in both sweet and savoury preparations.

6. Quinoa Flour

Quinoa flour has a high protein percentage and a nutty taste. It is processed from whole quinoa seeds. It is frequently used to prepare muffins, bread, and pancakes alone or in combination with other gluten-free flours.

Benefits

  • It is nutritionally rich in protein, fiber, and minerals
  • Provides a nutty flavour to the products.
  • Safe for gluten tolerant

Market

In 2023, the Indian bakery market was valued at 12.6 billion US$. Data suggest the market will expand to 29.4 billion US$ at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.6% from 2024 to 2032. Moreover, the Indian gluten-free bakery market is projected to rise from 55.0347 million US$ in 2023 to 108.89 million US$ by 2032. Retail, e-commerce sectors, culinary trends, RTE meals, and shifting lifestyles are the factors behind the expansion of the Indian bakery market. In order to satisfy changing customer demand, the bakery industries need to establish R&D units for launching healthier products.

Challenges

The challenges associated with gluten-free alternatives are the texture and structure of finished products, nutritional balance, and flavour adjustments.

Gluten-rich flours provide elasticity to the baked products, which keeps them intact structurally, while gluten-free substitutes usually require binding agents, such as guar gum, xanthan gum, and psyllium husk for the same properties. Certain gluten-free flours have a peculiar taste, therefore, they might not work well in all baked products. Hence, combining different flours in an optimum proportion can make the products more palatable taste by balancing flavours. Moreover, gluten-free flours offer several nutritional advantages in terms of protein, fiber, and minerals. However, mixing multiple flours can be the best option to achieve the nutritional balance.

Conclusion

In a nutshell, the emergence of gluten-free diets has sparked creativity in the food industry (baking sector), resulting in the development and application of a variety of gluten-free products. As each gluten-free flour possesses distinct qualities and advantages, it may be used for the development of different types of bakery items. The bakery industry may produce tasty, wholesome, gluten-free goods that satisfy various dietary requirements by learning the properties and uses of these alternatives. The baking sector will probably witness even more inventive ways to employ gluten-free products as customer demand for gluten-free choices grows. 

1Department of Biotechnology, University Institute of Biotechnology, Chandigarh University, Mohali, Punjab, India – 140413

1University Centre for Research and Development, Chandigarh University, Mohali, Punjab, India – 140413

* Corresponding author: narashans.alok@gmail.com; +91-8221833995