I want to understand which flours can and can't be used with yeast to get a rise for baking bread. From what I understand, yeast consumes sugar and produces carbon dioxide, which gets trapped inside the dough and causes it to expand during proving.

Does gluten have any special properties for trapping carbon dioxide that make it uniquely capable of trapping CO2 or can I perform this process with a variety of flours?

Flours I'm interested in are soy flour, defatted peanut flour, brown rice flour, dark rye flour, chickpea flour, sorghum flour, oat flour, and several varieties of corn flour.

1 Answer 1


Yes, rising is very dependent on gluten. In almost all cases, you won't get any rising without a gluten-rich flour. Even if you use wheat flour, but one that has the wrong proportion of gluten, you will get a disappointing rise. If you were to try making a bread recipe calling for AP flour (8-10% gluten) with bagel flour (14-15% gluten) or a recipe for bread flour (12ish percent gluten) with pastry flour (6% gluten), one prominent problem will be very little rising.

I said "in almost all cases" and not "in all", because some clever people have found limited ways to get rising without gluten. The limitations of such baking are:

  • you can't achieve most traditional bread textures with this kind of baking. You only get bread that resembles the cottony, light bread with soft crust that is the prototypical bread in an American supermarket.
  • you can't use any gluten-free flour. What you need is a flour that is almost pure starch. Rice flour can be used to make a gluten free bread recipe, defatted peanut flour won't work well.
  • You have to use something to replace the gluten, typically a combination of thickeners like guar gum.
  • It is a very finicky process. Making up your own recipes by experimentation will have an immense failure rate. Instead, you should follow existing recipes to the letter, and live with the fact that you will need quite some exercise to learn to execute them well, if the recipe was any good to start with.

So, if you manage your expectations and invest some time in choosing and learning a good recipe, you can get risen gluten-free bread of a certain type. In that sense, yeast bread doesn't strictly "require" gluten to rise, but for most practical purposes, the answer is quite close to "yes it does".

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    Is the phrase that you were looking for "Chorleywood bread process"? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chorleywood_bread_process
    – abligh
    Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 16:02
  • I don't think this completely addresses the main question, which was about whether the gluten is necessary for the bread to rise, and not about whether the texture will be the same. Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 17:11
  • @MichaelSeifert Hm OK, I now see that when I wrote my answer, I didn't make some important connections explicit. I rewrote it, so I hope I have better expressed why the discussion about texture is important to understand whether one should considre the answer to be a "yes" or a "no".
    – rumtscho
    Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 20:42
  • @abligh frankly, I don't know. I have eaten this style of bread, and I have heard of Chorleywood, but I don't know if Chorleywood produces this style of bread.
    – rumtscho
    Commented Jan 18, 2020 at 20:44
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    @rumtscho is this something you know for sure or just suspect? as far as i know from my limited research on this topic and my own experience with rye bread making, the pentosans (natural ingredient of rye) prevent the gluten molecules from linking to each other and are instead the main thing that holds the rye dough together. so, i'm not sure how much the gluten does contribute to the texture here.
    – Gretel_f
    Commented Jan 20, 2020 at 14:29

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