Oat flour to improve gluten-free baking.

Brought to you by Soulanges Mills.

When finding flour for gluten-free baked goods, it mostly means losing some of the key baking properties of wheat flour. However, some wheat alternatives can actually improve aspects of the final product. Like a specific variety of oat flour that can increase nutrition and shelf life — a big issue in gluten-free baking.

What is the issue with with gluten-free flours?

In the baking process, water, enzymes, mechanical energy, gas production and heat transform the flour into bread. Characterized by a spongy and porous structure, bread texture, size and cell distribution depend on the properties of the gelatinized starch network and the quality of gluten which is essential for bread making. This is why gluten-free flours bake so differently.

What about oat flour?

Since oatmeal flour does not contain gluten, dough prepared with plain oat flour has poor gas retention characteristics, which brings a lot of constraints to the breadmaking process. Oat flour is known to have exceptional nutritional qualities, mainly due to β-glucan. This a soluble fiber recognized for its health benefits (lowering of blood cholesterol and risk reduction of cardiovascular diseases).

However, because of its high capacity for water binding, the β-glucan in oat flour makes the dough sticky and affects the gelatinization of starch. Attributed to the endogenous β-glucanase, the degradation of these β-glucan enzymes during fermentation contributes to the release of water absorbed during the kneading which makes working with oatmeal dough very tedious for baker. That’s why most commercial oatmeal bread contains only 5-15%.

Faced with these constraints, our R & D team at Soulanges Mills was able to select oat varieties rich in β-glucan and protein, but low in lipids in order to create a flour much more efficient in breadmaking. In parallel, we worked on the optimal conditions of heat treatment to correct the defects of plain oat flour.

The result of this project?

The marketing of oatmeal with better starch degradation and a higher water retention capacity than wheat flour! In concrete terms, our flour recipe increases the shelf life of finished products (slower staling) and increases the percentage of oatmeal up to 40-50% in breads. They develop a sweet nutty flavor, a distinctive characteristic of oat.

In addition, the use of a greater proportion of oat flour improves the nutritional qualities of the products because the β-glucans of the flour proposed by Soulanges Mills are not degraded by β-glucanases. These intact soluble fibers retain their benefits for consumers’ health. Simply the best of both worlds!

Learn more about our Oat Flour solutions and how to bake with them here