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A common gripe among those who live with gluten sensitivities is that of gluten-free bread. The texture, taste, and nutritional content are often vastly different compared to regular wheat containing breads, making it unappealing but necessary for those limited to gluten-free products. Supermarkets are slowly getting better at stocking more varieties of gluten-free bread, however is there is still room for improvement.

Previously we reported on research into the use of Caricain, the same active enzyme contained within GluteGuard, to produce a gluten-free bread more characteristic of regular wheat bread. Since then, separate work has been carried out to see if improvements to gluten-free bread can be achieved using a somewhat unorthodox but innovative method.

Researchers identified cricket powder (CP) – yes that’s right, ground up edible insects – as a rich source of protein, fiber and minerals, which are things that most GF breads often lack. Another benefit is that it is naturally free from gluten, and as such they decided to test it as a substitution for corn starch, a common additive in GF baking which lacks much of the above nutrients. For the experiment, batches of regular corn starch GF bread, and batches containing increasing amounts of cricket-powder (2%, 6%, 10%) were baked. Scientific tests were then undertaken to assess and compare dough and bread samples of each kind for textural characteristics.

Results of this preliminary research were interesting. It was found that the addition of CP to the dough resulted in a much less crumbly, and softer consistency – compared to regular GF breads that are often crumbly and harder. It is thought that because of the high protein content in cricket powder, water and fats were better emulsified to create a more cohesive dough.

Before you get too excited at the prospect of incorporating powdered creepy crawlies into your diet, researchers noted that more work needs to be done to fully understand the potential of this idea. While there are positive signs to indicate that it could be nutritionally beneficial, the full extent of the benefits is not yet known. Additionally, there was no assessment of taste within this particular experiment, so we do not know whether cricket powder has any influence on the taste quality of baked goods.

So for the time being, your best option is to stick to your regular gluten-free loaf, and read up on some suggestions as to how you can still eat gluten-free bread whilst keeping on top of any nutritional differences.

References:

P.L. Kowalczewski, K. Walkowiak, L. Masewicz, O.Bartczak, J. Lewandowicz, P. Kubiak, H.M. Baranowska 2019, ‘Gluten-Free Bread with Cricket Powder – Mechanical Properties and Molecular Water Dynamics in Dough and Ready Product’, Foods, 8(240), pp. 1 – 9.

Author:       Cassandra, Glutagen.