Last Updated on July 14, 2021
Today we’re going to be looking at unleavened bread. What is it? What’s it made from? And most importantly, is unleavened bread gluten-free? As a gluten-intolerant individual, you may hear the word “bread” and run as fast as you can. Bread notoriously contains wheat and is probably the food you’ll have been warned away from the most. However, let’s take a look unleavened bread and discover whether it’s suitable for us.
What Is It?
Unleavened bread describes a number of breads that you prepare without a raising agent, such as yeast or baking powder. However, you’ll probably be more familiar with these breads with their more commonly known name – flatbreads. Leaven is what is used in bread to make it rise, which is why unleavened bread is flat.
Read more about: Is Malt Flavor Gluten Free?
There are four types of raising agents when cooking. These are:
- “Air – egg whites, beating creaming, rubbing in
- Steam – profiteroles, choux pastry, Yorkshire pudding
- Carbon dioxide – yeast fermentation, baking powder, self-raising flour
- Chemicals – bicarbonate of soda, baking powder“
Food Science – The Nutritional Program Blog
This means that all of the breads we’ll be looking at today will contain none of the above in their recipes.
There are a wide range of flatbreads available. Some of these include:
- Matzo (Jewish flatbread)
- Lavash (Armenian flatbread)
- Tortilla (Mexican flatbread)
- Roti (Indian flatbread)
- Kitcha (Ethiopian flatbread)
- Bannock (British Isles flatbread)
- Arepa (South American flatbread)
- Rieska (Finnish flatbread)
- Bataw (Egyptian flatbread)
The ones we’ll be taking a look at in further detail a bit later in this article are matzo, tortilla, and roti.
Other than the raising agent, the ingredients in unleavened and leavened bread are almost identical. It’s important to remember that although many flatbreads are unleavened, this doesn’t apply to all of them. For example, pita and pizza dough both contain raising agents which makes them leavened bread. They are usually hard and crisp but that isn’t always the case.
Unleavened bread plays a large part in religion; especially in the Jewish holiday, Passover. For example, leavened products are forbidden during Passover. This is to commemorate their freedom from Egyptian slavery.
What Are The Ingredients?
Depending on the type of flatbread you’re making, a whole range of ingredients can be used. Usually, the base ingredients are flour, water, salt, and occasionally oil. Yes, it really is that simple! Flour is yet another warning word for gluten-intolerant individuals. Although there is a wide selection of flour available, the most readily available choice is wheat flour or all-purpose flour.
Is Unleavened Bread Gluten-Free?
As mentioned earlier, wheat and all-purpose flour are the most frequently used flours when preparing flatbread – neither of which are gluten-free. As a result of this, traditional flatbreads are largely unsuitable for celiacs. It’s a shame as many recipes are easily adaptable for our lifestyle. But wheat and all-purpose flour are widely available and inexpensive in comparison to other flours.
Can We Make Gluten-Free Flatbread?
The answer is yes! Like most foods nowadays, with a simple change of an ingredient or two, flatbread can be suitable for us. Rice flour, gluten-free all-purpose flour, and corn masa are great substitutes. Whether you prefer shop-bought or homemade, let’s take a look at the options available.
Shop-Bought Unleavened Bread
Tortilla is probably the most widely known unleavened bread. It’s mostly served with meats and stews. Mission has an incredible selection of gluten-free flatbread available. Ranging from Gluten Free Tortilla Wraps to cauliflower wraps, to almond flour wraps – there’s something for everyone. And all of these products are certified gluten-free. There are also some great recipes available on there which are definitely worth checking out.
If you prefer a tortilla chip to a tortilla wrap, look no further. The Better Chip has a variety of flavors; ranging from kale, beet, jalapeno, and sweet potato plantain.
Matzo is part of Jewish cuisine and is an integral part of Passover. Lakewood Matzoh offers a great gluten-free oat alternative. It contains just two ingredients – certified gluten-free oat flour and water! If like me, you have a separate oat allergy, Yehuda Matzos offer gluten-free matzo-style squares made from tapioca and potato starch.
Chapati is a form of roti and originated in India and is one of their staple foods. It’s often served with curries or stews. They’re light, fluffy, and simply delicious. Haldiram Bread offers a frozen gluten-free chapati made from rice flour, rather than the traditional wheat flour it’s usually made with.
Prefer Homemade Gluten-free Unleavened Bread?
Let’s now take a look at some gluten-free unleavened bread recipes. As there are so few ingredients in unleavened breads, it may be easier to try making this yourself at home. As you only really need gluten-free flour, salt, water, and oil – you’ll probably already have these items in your pantry.
I’ve found a great unleavened flatbread recipe in the form of homemade tortillas. This is also a vegan and dairy-free recipe and can be adapted to fit into any diet. These can be made in just five minutes, so make sure to give this recipe a go.
The Future Of Flatbread
To conclude, gluten-free flatbread is easy to make and relatively easy to buy. As ever though, in the gluten-free world, it’s far more difficult for us to find tasty foods – especially when it comes to any type of bread. However, we are certainly moving forward in the world of gluten-free bread options. And I hope this article has opened your eyes to the world of unleavened bread.
What’s your favorite type of unleavened bread? Mine is definitely the humble tortilla. It just makes any meal more enjoyable! If you have any recommendations for gluten-free flatbread, please let us know. And if you’ve been able to perfect a gluten-free unleavened bread recipe, leave it in the comments below for others to enjoy.
Hi, my name’s Zoë. I’m 28 years old and live in London, UK. I work full time as a freelance writer and critic for West End theatre. Writing has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. I spend most of my free time at the theatre, or at conventions. I’m married to the love of my life, and live in a small apartment with my fur baby, Lillie. I run two of my own blogs: No Safer Place and Stage to Page: both of which have won awards. I also have a YouTube channel where I talk about all things stagey.