The Fresh Loaf

A Community of Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts.

Using gums

jclcf's picture

Using gums

I'd like to know if there are any improvements in usual bread making (not gluten free) when using ingredients like guar gum or xanthan gum as emulsifiers or texture softners, as these products are being used as substitute for butter or eggs in "healthy" cooking because of their property of making things smoothier.


Thanks !

pmccool's picture

Since they are gums, they won't serve as emulsifiers.  They also won't, in and of themselves, soften the bread.  If anything, they are likely to give the bread a rubbery texture.

It's probably best if you decide what you want to accomplish, since "healthy" has different connotations for different people.  If you want to lower fat content, then substituting something for the butter and eggs would make sense.  In that case, you would be better to use something like purees as a source of additional moisture and nutritional content.  Applesauce might be one possibilitly, as could be pumpkin or squash puree.

Just some thoughts.


Janetcook's picture

They are also making money for someone *^)  I know xanthium gum is expensive - not sure about guar gum…

Like Paul stated - not sure why you want to substitute.  I know you can buy dough conditioner to accomplish the same thing.  When I first started baking, and before I found this site, I bought some along with vital wheat gluten to add to my doughs.  I quickly found out these ingredients were not necessary when a dough is allowed to ferment overnight which softens it up as well as improves flavor.  

While I certainly am not a flour, water and salt  purist when baking breads, I do not like to rely on 'fancy' commercial products to produce tasty bread.  I have learned to rely on technique instead and most of what I know about that has been learned here.   :*)


Wild-Yeast's picture

Xanthan Gum is best reserved for making mayonnaise - especially when it fails to emulsify. A pinch goes a long way. Discovered in Anthony Bourdain's book, "Kitchen Confidential" when he was attending cooking school...,


nicodvb's picture

that gums can give a softer crumb to bread, on the contrary. Paul is perfectly right, in my opinion.

Those gums are used to gove cohesion to gluten-free doughs, otherwise they won't keep together, but they act like glue.

Peter Plantec's picture
Peter Plantec

Sorry Nico, but you're wrong on this one.  Clearly you going on gut and not actual experience.  That is not helpful.

Peter Plantec's picture
Peter Plantec

It's a little frustrating when people who haven't experimented with gums in bread dough have solid opinions on what they do and how they act.   Most I've read here are pretty wrong.  Used properly, Guar Gum can indeed help to soften bread.  It retains moisture and improves crumb.   I haven't tried Xanthan Gum but I've read that it too can help soften crust.  I agree that there are better alternatives in my experience.  I have experience with Professional Dough Enhancer from M&M Foods and it is amazing in softening bread and keeping it nice for a week with out mold or drying out. I get it at Amazon.

alcophile's picture

How much of the improver do you use?

Have you ever used the similar King Arthur Baking Cake Enhancer?

Doc.Dough's picture

I have cooked with many different hydrocolloids and tend to not use them in "real" bread. For gluten-free bread where there is no gluten to trap and contain the CO2, that job is left to a starch foam which is what is going on in breads with a substantial fraction of rye.  Once the viscosity is high enough, the bouyancy of the bubbles in the bread is offset by the drag in the low Reynold's Number dough so that they don't rise to the top or elongate during proofing. And you can design mixes of hydrocolloids to enhance the effect by choosing combinations that not only increase viscosity but also form a weak gel (e.g., Xanthan Gum and Locust Bean Gum in a 50/50 mix).  I also find that Xanthan gum is tasteless and guar gum is not so if you only have guar available, do a taste test to see if the other ingredients will hide the guar.

seasidejess's picture

I haven't played around with gums but I have been experimenting with using a scald/yudane. It definitely makes the bread softer and makes it keep longer. And there's the tangzhong/roux method as well. The disadvantage of the scald for me is that having the scalded flour in the mix reduces the dough elasticity and extensibility.

That could be fine for a bread made with hard wheat but in my 100% whole grain spelt bread,  which already has delicate gluten, it seems to make the gluten sponge leaky and impede the rise a bit.

If you're experimenting with gums, pysillium husk powder gets frequently recommended as a dough improver for softness, and I also saw an enthusiastic recc for glucomannan.

It would be neat if you did a test bake with some different additives,  and documented it.