Gluten-Free Baking with Zein

Recently with Schaer’s news about being the runner up for a European Inventor’s Award the protein zein found in corn gluten has created some gluten-free interest. Back in 2007 Sanford Weiss and  Andrew Wolf applied for a patient for an edible drinking straw coated with a zein solution. Over the years zein has been used as a vegetable protein coating on bakery products, candy, even nuts and fruits as well as a pharmaceutical coating. Some of the interest in this protein comes from landfill concerns, and can be used in plastic bottle caps and glue. With economies of scale due to processing corn for ethanol zein can be a cost-effective alternative for numerous applications.

The amount of water in your recipe has been critical when baking gluten-free products.  The gluten in wheat flour is able to hold the gas during the fermentation process, a feature that can be duplicated by adding the zein protein according to Karen Schmidt at Kansas State University. This may be interesting especially if you’re running a commercial bakery and looking for another solution.

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