Objective: To attempt to make donuts without xanthan gum. It’s part of my attempt to understand gluten free baking chemistry, using Ratio and other handy cookbooks.
Hypothesis: It should work, since the hot oil should help gelatinize the starch and help hold it together.
Method: Use a gluten-free recipe without the xanthan gum. (Okay, I didn’t plan this very well and cobbled something together from two recipes….)
Results: As soon as the batter hit the oil, it split into many tiny droplets that looked a lot like rice crispies (or, more specifically, Spaetzle).
Conclusion: No. No, you cannot omit the xanthan gum. It needs it to hold the batter together long enough to cook.
I attempted adding xanthan gum to to batter at this point, and it did hold together while it cooked, but the failed batter had used up much of the oil and there wasn’t enough to cook the dough. (And the xanthan gum wasn’t mixed in all that well.)