Category Archives: Basic Baking Ingredients

What is Gluten Anyway?

I had a good laugh watching this clip from Jimmy Kimmel. Although avoiding gluten can be live-changing for some people, the wheat protein is overwhelmingly painted as a nutritional bad-guy.

To prove that people are buying into the hype, the show asked people if they followed a gluten-free diet and then what it was. Their answers were quite funny, and none of them defined gluten as the protein in wheat that gives bread its stretch and seitan its texture.

It comes along with the usual crass of late-night television which is too bad: It has the potential for a great anticipatory set. 🙂

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Offbeat Basic Ingredients Lab: Make Seitan to Demonstrate Stretchy Gluten

We are working through the basic baking ingredients and today we spent time talking about wheat flour.  Wheat is so crucial to baking because of the stretchy structure of gluten and the thickening power of starch.

To demonstrate the stretchy structure of gluten we made seitan.  None of my students had ever heard of it.  It is a vegetarian meat substitute of gluten simmered in a flavored broth.  The resulting product can be flavored to mimic many meat dishes.

I followed this recipe from the Post Punk Kitchen to make a basic setian recipe using vital wheat gluten. While the seitan simmered my students conducted the Great Balls of Gluten experiment.

Each kitchen gets 1 C of flour and mixes in enough water to make a dough.  After kneading the dough for several minutes the starch is rinsed away. The size of the resulting ball of gluten will tell the students what type of flour was used.

L to R: Cake, pastry, all purpose, bread

I panfried the setian to give it a crispy surface.  I used flour and broth to make a brown gravy which demonstrated starch’s thickening abilities.

The seitan cutlets look just like pork chops!

The students were really cautious to try it, but said it “wasn’t bad.”  A few kids even said it was “kinda good.” To be sure, the students will not soon forget gluten’s springy, spongy texture.

I hope what you've read is useful! I post here biweekly with resources for Family and Consumer Sciences and Home Economics teachers and share my classroom happenings much more frequently on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Sign up to receive an email when new content is added to my blog. Thanks for visiting!

Demonstrate Basic Baking Ingredients with a Simple Pancake Lab

This simple pancake lab was a nice transition between our Basic Baking Ingredients and Quick Breads unit.
Each of four kitchen groups were given the same pancake recipe but omitted a different ingredient.
Eggs, 

 leavening agent,

 liquid,

 and flour.

Then I demonstrated basic quick bread method to make a standard batch of pancakes.  The students compared each of the “pancake” batches to evaluate the importance of each ingredient.

You can download the recipe and reflection sheet here.  I used the reflection as the assessment for the Basic Baking Ingredients unit. It makes a great foundation for the next unit when my students will create their own muffin recipe.

I hope what you've read is useful! I post here biweekly with resources for Family and Consumer Sciences and Home Economics teachers and share my classroom happenings much more frequently on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. Sign up to receive an email when new content is added to my blog. Thanks for visiting!