Gluten-free Clean Label Bakery Products

Originally Published: February 6, 2018
Last Updated: August 23, 2021
Gluten-free breads can be formulated with non-chemical ingredients to meet consumer demand for two of the biggest trends-clean label and gluten-free.

Gluten-free Clean Label Bakery Products
Stevan Angalet, Ph.D., President, Angalet Group International

Can clean label baked goods rise even further by combining two of the hottest trends going? Stevan Angalet, Principal Consultant at Angalet Group International, detailed how to adjust gluten-free formulas to also deliver clean label claims.

Despite perennial proclamations of the gluten-free category’s imminent demise, it just keeps going and going. In 2014, the market research company Mintel projected the gluten-free market to grow from $10.5 billion in 2013 to $15 billion in 2016. Data from Food Specialty Magazine pegged the bakery product share of this market at 29.3% worldwide, said Angalet.

According to data pulled from a 2016 Natural Marketing Institute survey, the leading reasons cited by consumers for purchasing gluten-free product had nothing whatsoever to do with gluten-sensitivity: The top reason cited was “to eat healthier and/or improve overall health” (51%). Other reasons included “wanting to look or feel better” (38%), or simply because they tried and liked the product (24%). Celiac disease was cited by only 6% of respondents.

A 2016 Packaged Facts report noted that many of the consumer expectations of gluten-free foods and clean labels overlap. For example, both groups sought fewer and simpler ingredients; “free from” formulations; minimal processing with organic, sustainable product methods; and transparency in business practices.

Angalet surveyed retail, gluten-free Ready-to-Eat (RTE) and Readyto-Cook (RTC) products and measured them against clean label expectations, as defined by the website:[Editor’s note: this is one of several clean label guide websites that offers clean label certification services. Not all sites use the same criteria].

“A major distinction between RTE and RTC is that RTE products, such as breads, cakes, pancakes and cookies, are almost totally within the control of the manufacturer, whereas RTC products must be robust to a considerable range of consumer-controlled variables during final preparation,” said Angalet.

Leavening ingredients pose the biggest challenge to clean label baked products. Yeast poses no issue, but chemical leavenings, such as baking powder, do.

Gluten-free bread formulation requires that one be able to replace gluten with a viscoelastic dough that entraps gas and rises. One must accommodate a batter; a mixing step; the addition of batter to fill pans; a fermentation or leavening period; a baking step to develop flavor and set the structure; followed by de-panning.

In the first example provided, the 17 ingredients listed for a gluten-free white sandwich bread included modified food starch and sodium alginate. “According to the GoCleanLabel website, any modified alginates are a ‘no-no,’” said Angalet. Neither can one use modified food starch,” he continued. However, the website does not distinguish between starches that have been chemically modified vs. those physically modified (as by heat, shear and/or moisture, for example).

Leavening ingredients pose the biggest challenge to clean label baked products. Yeast poses no issue, but chemical leavenings do (i.e., baking powder). If baking powder is to be replaced, Angalet suggested a number of possible solutions:
• Creaming fat and sugars under chilled conditions, to increase air incorporation into a dough or batter. Butter, especially, will incorporate more air into a product as the water in the emulsion turns to steam cooling and packaging.
• Whipping air into dry ingredients, especially sweeteners, to aid incorporation into fat and water
• Increasing levels of free water for conversion to steam during baking
• Using carbonated water as a gas source
• Creating egg and fat emulsions
• Dropping mix temperatures and extending whipping time to increase air incorporation

Said Angalet, “Whatever the proposed approach to leavening, the most important variable is the level of free water in the formulation.” Even if alkaline sodium bicarbonate is acceptable, baking powder acidulants can be problematic. Angalet suggested experimenting with various natural acidulants: Cream of tartar (potassium bitartrate) is a byproduct of wine making, so it might be acceptable. Sodium aluminum pyrophosphate most definitely is not.

Angalet proceeded to forensically review a variety of additional RTE and RTC bread, leavened cake, cookie (biscuit) and pancake clean label formulation options.

“Clean Label for Gluten-free Bakery Products,” Stevan Angalet, Ph.D., Principal, Angalet Group International,

This presentation was given at the 2017 Clean Label Conference. To download presentations from this event, go to

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