Not just for roasting on an open fire...

So, OK, I know researchers aren’t hard at work developing gluten-free flour solely for the joy of it. There’s money involved too (about $2.6 billion worth).

But I still get a kick out of the lengths scientists are going to in order to feed me delicious things. Well, not just me. You too.

Today’s study focuses on chestnut flour, which is of course made from naturally gluten-free chestnuts. Researchers in Spain have busted out the heavy machinery in order to figure out exactly how to tweak chestnut flour into a gluten-free baking substitute.

Their answer? Guar gum.

The lengths the scientists went to to figure this out? Well, they worked with Arabic gum, carboxymethyl cellulose and tragacanth gum in addition to the guar. They used different concentrations of gum to chestnut flour and used a schmancy machine to study the blends’ rheology (for our purposes, loosely synonymous with viscosity/elasticity).

The abstract, published in the International Journal of Food Science and Technology, has all sorts of decidedly un-delicious terms like creep-recovery, loss moduli, and temperature sweep. All you need to know is that guar gum at a concentration of 1% gave the best results.

Nutritionally, chestnut flour has some notable advantages over many other oft-used gluten-free flours. Tamara Dueker Freuman did a fantastic job of explaining chestnut flour’s nutritional profile; in short, it’s much more starchy and contains much less fat than other nut flours – while also being much more glycemic-index friendly than wheat-replacers like potato and rice.

My love of chestnuts as a gluten-free delicacy is well-documented; the chestnut-flour cake I ate at the annual chestnut festival of some anonymous town outside of Perugia remains one of my favorite vacation memories (for sure the plastic tumbler of cheap, fizzy Lambrusco didn’t hurt either).

If you need more incentive to try out chestnut flour, check out this gluten-free chocolate chunk muffin recipe or the gluten-free crepes, cakes and more from Dowd and Rogers.

Have you ever baked with chestnut flour? What did you make?