We asked our technical consultant, teacher and refined pastry chef Giuseppe Marrone to share opinions and advice on using integrative or alternative ingredients to wheat flour. Zanolli Discovery accompanies you in exploring.
In the pastry world, what is the use of what for convenience we could define as, ‘alternative’ flours?
Giuseppe Marrone: Flours from legumes (lupin beans, lentils, peas) or cereals (millet, teff, rice), are integrated into doughs in various ways, not only to create mixtures without gluten, but also to get flavours and textures especially in classic mixes. Buckwheat flour for example gives the dough a pleasant texture; millet, teff, or lupin flours can be used for a particular short crust pastry, or also in cake mixes. Even ground dried fruit is often used, not only for the taste. Powdered almonds for example help to humidify the product and keep it soft.
These ingredients impact the colour or taste more? What about health?
GM: Pastry chefs who love to experiment use these ingredients especially to customise their doughs with taste nuances and textural details. Some, such as maize, even have a certain chromatic impact. Note that we are talking of small percentages; the impact on health is not so disruptive. There are, however, flours that have, for example, a high protein content to be considered in the creation balance.
The presence of these ingredients affect the cooking?
GM: That depends. The mixing stage is essential, as are the resting phases and maturation, they start the various interaction and transformation processes of the elements. It is important, for example, that the crust is left for the right time to rest in the fridge to soften. The resting is essential for the raw materials, and in industrial processes this is not always taken into account. The oven, being an instrument, guarantees the result if the professional has respected the processes and knows the basics of cooking. The responsibility is 50-50!
Does the discussion change for creations without gluten?
GM: The discussion changes because it is necessary to mix only the ingredients without gluten and to compensate for the absence of gluten mesh. The more versatile flours in this sense are from rice and maize. From rice is more neutral. The coveted cornmeal – coarse – can give a pleasant graininess to the texture. Fine or superfine corn flour is used for softer pastries. In addition to this, the maize also influences the colour of the product. In gluten-free doughs often structuring substances and gelling agents make up for the lack of gluten by acting as cohesion between the elements. These certainly include rice and corn starch. Even potato starch is a good thickener, much used for cream cakes. Thanks to its high solubility index it also helps to maintain the correct humidity in pastries. Preparations without gluten can also have leavening agents in them.
For creations without gluten, there are things you can do in the baking?
GM: When you must cook gluten-free dough, its best to add at least 10% more power and temperature, compared to a classical baking. This is because in these preparations the heat is distributed in a different way. Furthermore the product often takes longer to take get its colour.