Thursday, 26 July 2012

Flax seed in Gluten free baking

Whole flax seeds

Previously, I only knew flax seed as a powerhouse of nutrients, great for a gazillion things, from fighting heart disease to cancer to diabetes, naming just a few - flagship of natural foods, so to speak. It was when I started exploring gluten free baking that I came across it as an essential player in replacing eggs and acting as a binder to keep cakes from crumbling. In fact, dare I go so far as to claim that it is a blessing to gluten free bakers? It certainly is for me!

Ground flax - Flaxmeal

Flax seed is a plant-based source of omega-3. Ground flax seed (aka flax meal) acts a binder in baking and is a natural egg substitute. It is commonly referred to as flax egg and gives a slightly nutty flavor to baked goods. Mixing 1 tablespoon flax meal in 3 tablespoons hot water will give the equivalent of 1 egg.

Flax egg

There are 2 common types - golden and brown flax seed. There does not appear to be much difference between the 2, nutrition wise. It's more in the appearance. Both work the same way but it may be better to use the golden flax seed in light cakes like a gluten free vegan vanilla sponge. Then when the cake is cut, it won't have a speckled appearance.....hopefully. I buy whole flax seed and grind it in the spice-ginder attachment of my food processor. Works out more economical than buying pre-ground flax meal and as has the added advantage of being fresher as I grind only what I need, when I need it.    

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