Bakers Journal

Trick of the Trade: Jan/Feb 2011

January 28, 2011

More and more people are allergic or intolerant to several basic
ingredients in bakery products. The demand is growing to make products
that are free from gluten, lactose, eggs, soya, sulphites and nuts.

Use these tips and tricks of the trade to satisfy the consumer demand for baked goods that are free from allergens and other products of intolerance

The only way we can guarantee our products don’t contain nuts is to avoid processing any products that have nuts and to eliminate the presence of all nuts to prevent cross-contamination.


More and more people are allergic or intolerant to several basic ingredients in bakery products. The demand is growing to make products that are free from gluten, lactose, eggs, soya, sulphites and nuts.

Consumers are looking for products without added sugar, fat or salt to fulfil specific diet requirements as well. For example, products without sugar are ideal for a diabetic diet and sugar is not an allergen, although icing sugar contains five per cent starch. The new nutritional claims, such as those of reduced sodium, are popular for a healthy diet but salt is not an allergen either.

No one can guarantee a gluten-free product unless it is made in a space dedicated to making only products without gluten. Gluten-free means without wheat because the major source of gluten comes from wheat byproducts. The wheat flour is volatile and it is impossible to guarantee a gluten-free product that is processed in a standard bakery.

The following cereals should be avoided in gluten-free products:

  • oats
  • all varieties of wheat, including hard, soft, durum and bulghur
  • spelt
  • kamut
  • barley, including malt flour or malt syrup
  • rye
  • triticale
  • modified starches, if the source is not identified, as it may be wheat starch
  • chemical yeast (baking powder with yeast starch)

Whether these cereals are transformed as flour, cracked, or in the form of bran, flakes, semolina or starch, they should be left out of gluten-free products.

There are a number of cereals that are gluten-free, provided they aren’t processed in the same mill that grinds gluten-containing cereals. The following can be used in gluten-free products:

  • amaranth
  • chia
  • corn flour or starch
  • millet, including sorghum and teff
  • white, red or black varieties of quinoa
  • white or brown rice
  • buckwheat
  • tapioca, which is taken from cassava roots
  • pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, poppy, caraway and flax grains
  • or seeds
  • potato starch or flour

It is important always to insist upon technical data guaranteeing the source without gluten. Be careful not to mistake organic products for non-allergen ones.

For products with starch, such as gluten-free bread, the use of gums such as xanthan or guar, becomes necessary in obtaining the binder that is normally supplied by the gluten. Without gum you will not obtain any product that holds together and the gases released by the yeast will escape, causing a lack of volume.

For those without lactose, all sources of milk or whey, casein whey, or all byproducts containing milk, such as cream, butter or cheeses, must be avoided.
For those without eggs, especially avoid whole eggs and egg whites (albumen). The binding that eggs bring to cakes can be replaced by chia cereal.

For those without soya, avoid soy flour, soy milk and soy lecithin ; however, soy oil is allowed unless otherwise advised. Soy milk is a source of replacement for cow’s milk ; however, you have to be certain that there is no intolerance to the latter or both. Tofu is also from soya source.

For those without sulphites, metabisulphites and sulphites must be avoided; be careful of apples because sulphites are often added to prevent darkening.

For those without nuts, avoid adding peanuts or nuts in shells such as almonds and cashews from Brazil, hazelnut and filbert from Macadamia, and pistachio, pecan and pine from Grenoble. Sesame seeds are also an allergen but can be eaten in gluten-free products. The only way we can guarantee that our products do not contain nuts is to avoid processing any products containing nuts and to eliminate the presence of all nuts, to prevent cross-contamination. This could also mean banning the consumption of peanut butter on the premises.

Always be sure you verify the contents of your raw material. The secret to controlling allergens is to constantly keep the labelling of your products up to date.

The use of the “without gluten” or “gluten-free” logo is a registered trademark under licence by the Canadian Association of Celiac Disease, and only the inscribed users may display this symbol.

There are other allergens, such as seafood (shellfish) but they are rarely used in bakery products. Be sure to do your research before creating products without allergens. / BJ

Mario Fortin is an international bakery consultant and owner of FORMA-LAB, a consulting service to bakers and suppliers. If you have a technical problem, send your questions to

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