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If you add a percentage of rice flour or cornstarch to any sort of breading or pancake, you get a much crispier crust than one made with 100% wheat flour. The Vietnamese banh xeo, which is like a crepe made with just rice flour and coconut milk, no egg, comes out extremely crispy, for example. What is the physical reason that these pure starches cook up crispy?

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My guess would be a lack of gluten in those flours. Gluten makes dough sticky and dense, so adding flours with little to no gluten might make it less sticky and thus crispier.

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I think that is right, but I'm hoping for a deeper structural answer about why pure starch is crispy and gluten is not as crispy, when fully cooked. –  Michael at Herbivoracious Sep 16 '10 at 15:17

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