Once an industrial food additive in bottled salad dressings and other processed food, xanthan gum is now sold on grocery store shelves. Gluten-free bakers use the ingredient in batters and doughs to bind ingredients and as a thickener; xanthan gum is partly responsible for the structure and texture of gluten-free cakes. You can also use it to stabilize egg whites or thicken cocktails or sauces. Dissolving the gum before adding it helps avoid lumps or stickiness in the batter.
Measure the amount of xanthan gum you plan to use. If you are making a gluten-free dish, use the recommended amount and no more. You need only a small amount of gum to get the appropriate effect. If you use too much, you can end up with a tough or sticky baked good or a salad dressing that is too firm. If you are modifying a traditional dish to make it gluten-free, use no more than 1/2 teaspoon per cup of flour for a cake or quick bread and no more than 3/4 teaspoon per cup of flour for a yeast bread.
Add the xanthan gum to half the liquid, such as water or milk, that you would normally use. Combine the two ingredients in a mixing bowl. The gum dissolves in any type of liquid, whether acidic or basic, hot or cold.
Beat the xanthan gum and liquid with a whisk until the gum completely dissolves. As you whisk, the liquid will become thicker. If it becomes too thick, add more liquid to thin it. You can also combine the xanthan gum and liquid in a blender. Using a blender, the gum should dissolve in about 15 seconds.
- Although often used in foods designed for people with food allergies or intolerence, xanthan gum can be an allergen. The gum is produced by fermenting sugar with Xanthomonas campestris. It can be grown on soy, corn or wheat sources and might not be suitable for diners allergic to any of those foods.