Xanthan Gum – crumbs, that sounds scary Reply

I love to cook but I am not much of a baker. I don’t really like to eat cakes, so have never had much of a motivation to bake. I know that sounds a bit unusual in this age of cupcake mania, but they do nothing for me.

However, I know children love to bake and when you have an intolerant child it becomes a necessity. So every so often, I steel myself and get out the aprons. The next thing I do, is try and find the simplest recipes. A lot of the ones I have come across have had some very scary sounding ingredients, e.g. arrowroot, cream of tartar and xanthan gum. I am not sure if it is the unappealing names of the ingredients or the fact that they make it sound like a big and scary science experiment – but I have never used them. I always chicken out and use my mother in law’s rock cake recipe or have a crack at modifying a basic brownie or fairy cake recipe. No scary ingredients required – or are they?

The kids always love the cakes and they do taste and look fine, but they are always insanely crumbly. In fact, I should say dusty. Crumbs makes you think of sweet little morsels that are big enough to see and pick up from your lap or table. What comes away from my cakes tends to be an explosion of powder fine dust that not even my ‘Dustbuster’ can suck up and ‘hold on to’.

So is there a cure? I don’t know. I really am asking. I gave it some thought today on my regular slow trawl around the supermarket, desperately seeking something new to try on Zac. Then I saw those scary ingredients again, nestled amongst the specialist flour and realised they must be there for a reason. I had a quick look at the tube of Xanthan Gum and it says it improves crumb quality or something. Decided to have a think about it. Had to run. Nearly time to pick the kids up.

They are always so hungry when they come out of school, so I always have a few snacks to hand – grapes, rice cakes, ‘chocolate’ etc. But today, we had to go straight to the clinic for Sophia’s eye check up. We are always kept waiting ages, so I decided they would need a more substantial snack. So packed a couple of the latest batch of ‘Grandma Cakes’. Also, I feel less self-conscious if they are seen tucking into an obviously home-made cake with some lovely fat juicy raisins.

As usual, they wanted to eat as soon as they got in the car and that is when I started thinking about the crumbs again. They were just everywhere. It doesn’t help matters when Zac deliberately picks out the raisins, to eat first. But Sophia is quite a careful eater and even she looked like someone had dumped the contents of a Dyson in her lap.

So this evening, I decided to look it up. Here is the link to the information I found.


Now I know why they call it ‘gum’. I guess there is a clue in the name, this stuff makes it sticky. So I suppose I should give it a go. If it works, I will be altering the recipes I posted the other day – and I promise to post some ‘before and after’ photos of the kids eating them, just to prove it!


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