Gluten... a protein
Gluten means glue in Latin. It is a protein that appears in wheat, rye, barley and oats. The gluten makes food stretchy and elastic, so is ideal for making breads and cakes. The gluten allows the breads to rise and hold it's shape. Wheat gluten is more stretchy than other rye, barley and oats which is why it is the most commonly used and why rye bread for example is much more dense.
Gluten in breads
When a dough is allowed to rise due to the fermentation process involving yeast and sugar, bubbles occur... these are held within the dough due to the elasticity of the gluten, therefore the dough rises and holds its shape during baking.
Gluten Free Baking
This can be challenging because gluten does its job so well. A blend of flours is usually the key and there are many ready mixed bread flours, if you are tempted to start gluten free baking. Read our - Useful tips for making better bread! to help you find the a great gluten free bread.