Expandex®, a gluten-free modified* tapioca starch made by Corn Products (though not a corn based product) is promoted as enabling gluten-free bakers to create a gluten-like baked good, similar to using gluten flours. It is promoted as improving the rise, taste, texture, appearance and extends shelf life. In addition, Expandex creates a more moist and better crumb texture to baked goods and improves the crispy texture of deep-fried goods, along with bringing out more of the flavors of other ingredients.
UPDATE: I have used Expandex now. See the Expandex Gluten Free Recipes category.
I have not used it myself yet (see update below), but just ordered some and will keep you posted on how well it works. I have only read positive reviews about recipes using Expandex. Does it work? I can’t wait to give it a try, though I have concerns about how it is produced.
UPDATE: I have tried Expandex. In most cases it improves the baked product, however, in gluten free breads I have been able to achieve the same texture without the use of Expandex. However, with use in dough it creates the perfect dough.
My main question is how is it processed? Modified food starches are processed either by the use of enzymes or chemicals. Since Expandex is a proprietary product, meaning they keep it a secret so that others do not duplicate their idea, we do not have the answer to this question.
UPDATE: Expandex now links to the various processes allowed for manufacturing modified starches by the FDA. They also state it is non-GMO. What I take from this, is that though it is non-GMO, it may contain all sorts of chemicals, as may other modified starches.
Is Expandex Safe?
Corn Products International states that Expandex is corn-free, made in a separate facility in order to prevent cross-contamination from allergens such as corn, etc. It is also free from artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives, non-GMO, and does not contain aspartame. What we do not know is if it is chemical free or not.
If you are already eating many pre-prepared gluten-free foods you are probably already consuming modified food starches. My plan is to use it only for special occasions when we have guests that do not eat gluten-free, and when I cannot achieve close to desire results in a gluten free baked good. If you bake with most Nestle’s chocolate morsels you are already getting chemical. UPDATE: Nestle’s now has natural dark chocolate morsels.
This is definitely an improvement on corn based modified food starch, as corn is something I am trying to eliminate from my diet, or at least consume in moderation. Corn is often GMO (genetically modified organism), also known as GE (genetically engineered).
How to Use Expandex
Where to Buy
Expandex is running on short supply these days, but it is available through Rheinlander Bakery; however, they currently do not test the product for gluten cross-contamination. It arrives at their facility as a safe gluten free product. They then package it in smaller amounts in a closed room in the back of their facility. The main facility processed gluten products.
*Modified tapioca starch is not the same as tapioca starch, tapioca flour, or tapioca powder. One would have to modify it, as described above.