The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Can't get gluten - could quinoa help?

dri's picture

Can't get gluten - could quinoa help?

Hi there, hope you can help me. I am living in the Andes of Ecuador, so I am doubly challenged where bread-making is concerned. I have to deal with very high altitude, AND a total inavailability of bread flour/gluten. On the latter, I am wondering if quinoa flour (which is a cheap staple here) could be a possible solution. I know nothing about it, I'm afraid, but having read that gluten is a wheat protein, and having read that quinoa is very high in protein, could adding quinoa flour help to achieve the stretchy, spongy texture that I so love?

Thanks so much!

Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

and that makes it better than wheat in the protein department but you might be able to use it with egg whites to get some kind of gas trapping set up going.  Quinoa is also fermentable and can be made into a sourdough starter although it will not rise or act like a stretchy wheat bread starter but it will kick out gas!  Since quinoa is healthier than wheat anyway, try to find out how the locals use the quinoa flour.  Maybe with taro?

I bet it would make some great pie crust type pastries with meat or vegetable fillings!

Allegra Oxborough's picture
Allegra Oxborough

Hi Mini Oven,

I'm currently working on getting a quinoa flour starter going. I used an organic red cabbage leave to attract yeast, and it's starting to become active.

Do you know if it will develop the same yeasty smell that my wheat starter has? Do you have any tips or recipes to share regarding quinoa sourdough?




Mini Oven's picture
Mini Oven

My Quinoa starter still remained true to itself in aroma  and did not have the same aroma as a wheat starter.  


Allegra Oxborough's picture
Allegra Oxborough

Thanks! That's what I'd hoped to hear :)

Chuck's picture

Can you get any wheat flour? (I'm unclear whether or not I accurately understand your query. So I'll take a guess. Just ignore this if I guessed wrongly.)

The ultra-high-gluten of north american "bread" flour is (usually) enough of a convenience that some recipes make it appear to be a requirement. That just plain isn't true. The extra gluten will let you get away with being quite sloppy about your procedures. But the fact is you can make a perfectly good loaf of bread with 9.5% gluten flour; "bread" flour -typically with something like 12.7% gluten- isn't really necessary (in fact for experienced bakers it's frequently downright detrimental:-).

A convenient and fairly good approximation for commercial north american wheat flours is "protein" is roughly the same as "gluten" (or said a different way that most of the "protein" is "gluten"). But this is only an approximation, seems to owe a lot to genetic breeding of particular strains, and often doesn't hold at all. Quinoa is a good example of something where the convenient approximation isn't at all true: high-protein yet gluten-free.


Kitchen Barbarian's picture
Kitchen Barbarian

You can make your own gluten from regular or whole wheat flour (whole wheat is likely to yield more):