Gluten is a protein that is found in many grains like wheat, and barley. We eat products every day that contain gluten, bread, cereal, cake, pastry, cookies, pizza and pasta. But, what does gluten do?
When water and yeast are mixed with flour, the yeast starts to react. This reaction gives off carbon dioxide (CO2). When the carbon dioxide is released into the dough, the dough rises. If things go right, the dough rises and sticks together, making a great loaf of bread or cake or other baked product. Gluten is the glue that makes the dough stick together and gives the dough the elasticity needed, so it can stretch when it rises.
If you are baking with rice flour, or other flours that have no gluten, the results are different. When the yeast starts to react the CO2 goes into the dough. But since the rice flour has no gluten the dough doesn’t stick together, and the CO2 escapes. If the CO2 is not trapped in the dough, the dough doesn’t rise. The resulting baked product is hard and flat, and it crumbles when you eat it.