The Fresh Loaf

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Making gluten-free bagels with wheat flour

pmccool's picture

Making gluten-free bagels with wheat flour

So I get this note from the culinary center where I teach periodically saying that an individual had called in because they were struggling to make gluten-free bagels with wheat flour.  The caller wanted to know if there was a class available that might help them.

You'll want to let that sink in a bit before posting a reply.  I certainly did.  Here's a person that needs education, not vilification. 

My response touched on the presence of gluten in all wheat flours, the need for high-gluten flour for bagels, and the improbability of achieving a satisfactory "bagel" with a gluten-free dough. 

I closed my response by suggesting that they provide the individual with my email address so that they could contact me for further discussion. We'll see where that might take us, if they respond. 

However, now I'm thinking about the concept of a gluten-free bagel.  None of the GF binders that I am acquainted with will produce the chew of a real bagel.  Hmm...


Danni3ll3's picture

because the title sure had me going: "Huhhhhh..." 

As to making gluten free bagels, that might be a feat if you achieve it. Even our local gluten free bakery doesn't offer gluten free bagels. 

pmccool's picture

I hope the individual contacts me so that I can get a better understanding of their situation.


clazar123's picture

When I started experimenting with GF, some of my failures were rather thick and chewy. Maybe I could have used an appropriarely shaped cookie cutter to make a GF bagel!  :)

pmccool's picture

Maybe they weren't failures, just bagels masquerading as loaves.


Lazy Loafer's picture
Lazy Loafer

I think the Bread in 5 Minutes a Day folks have a bagel recipe in their Gluten Free book. Let me go check... yup, they do, but it's basically their lean dough shaped like a bagel and baked, not even boiled first. Seems to be a GF roll with a hole in the middle.

It would require some research, but a long-fermented sourdough bagel dough with a mixture of flours (as mine is) would likely have very low gluten. Not suitable for true celiacs but very digestible for most people.

pmccool's picture

there are people who do follow the overnight shaped proof and the poaching before baking steps of a traditional bagel, using GF flours.  Maybe I'll have to give the more promising variations a trial, if only to satisfy my curiosity.  The common thread seemed to be that the GF bagel recipes utilize xanthan gum, almost to the exclusion of guar gum or psyllium.  Whether because it's the only binder to offer some similitude in the finished product to a real bagel, or if the creators are most comfortable with that binder, I don't know.


suave's picture

I can not help but wonder if this case reflects true level of understanding of gluten issue in general population.

pmccool's picture

It would appear to indicate one individual's lack of understanding about various flours, if the message was relayed accurately.


HealthFanatic's picture

I've heard & read about Wheat from Europe that is very digestible by most Gluten sensitive souls; the main problem is ALL commercial wheat in this country is treated with Roundup to make more money; the Euopean Einkorn variety is reportedly MUCH tastier and healthier.  Try it.

Norcalbaker's picture

Since gluten antigen disorders predate modern farming practices, modern wheat cultivars, and modern bread making methods by thousands of years, it's medically and scientifically unsound to promote the notion that gluten antigen disorders are caused by modern methods, thus treatable with a return to ancient grains and baking methods. 

Celiac disease and gluten intolerance date to the Neolithic period.
In the case of celiac disease, it was first recorded and described in 250 A.D. by  the Greek physician, Aretaeus of Cappadocia. Cappadocia called it "koiliakos"; koilia being the Greek word for abdomen.

The translation stated in part: “If the stomach be irretentive of the food and if it pass through undigested and crude, and nothing ascends into the body, we call such persons coeliacs”.

So not only does gluten antigen disorders date to the ice age, but were obviously prevalent enough that a physician from antiquity was moved to study the condition and record his findings. Gluten disorders are neither new nor rare.

The history of gluten disorders aside, encouraging people with gluten disorders to eat gluten is reckless and irresponsible. The fact is, medical researchers long ago determine a strong association between T cell non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in the intestines and celiacs disease. Other cancers of the stomach, esophagus, and larynx are also associated with celiac disease.

Researchers do not yet know all the long term health effects of continued exposure to gluten in people with gluten sensitivity. But some researchers (e,g., Vanderbilt University and Mayo) have identified possible links between celiac disease and gluten sensitivity to neurological disorders, like seizures, memory loss, autoimmune encephalitis, and schizophrenia. Some people with gluten sensitivity develop an autoimmune neurological condition called Gluten Ataxia. Gluten Ataxia is irreversible brain damage to the cerebellum caused in part by long term gluten exposure. While patients with gluten ataxia improve on a gluten free diet, nothing reverses the brain damage.

AnnPatAlexa's picture

This was an interesting thread. I'm very tempted to go to the Polish Food market and get a few bags of the Polish Flour that they import and play around with it. I'd probably have to make a new SourDough Starter to make it an fair test. Very interesting thank you. 

glutenfreebreadrecipe's picture

Yeah unless they create a lab and chemically alter the flour to remove the gluten from wheat flour, this will never happen. It would make an interesting biology lab though.


Joseph "I was looking for the flour and she said this flower?"

pmccool's picture

My first thought was along the lines of "How will that be any different than baking with other GF flours?" 

It would be interesting to play with flour from the current strains of wheat that the researchers have produced, as well as with their future products.  And it appears that they have more research pending.

Thanks for the tip, Rube.