Gluten Free flour blends are readily available now and are great to have in your cupboard ready for use whenever you feel the baking need. They also already contain a fixed amount of the raising agents and xantham gum which makes all the difference so we don’t have crumbly cakes! However when it comes to gluten free flour there are a lot out there which are naturally free of the dreaded gluten and they are becoming more readily available in different stores.
I’ve found it interesting experimenting with different ones, some have worked well for certain bakes and not so good in others. When I went to Bread Ahead last month to learn about gluten free bread making it was an eye opener learning about the different flours and how they work when there is no gluten present. As coeliac bakers we all know the importance of adding our xantham gum however you also need to think about adding the protein which is missing from not having the gluten. For instance, in bread making it gives the dough its strength and elasticity, adding chia seeds or linseeds can do this job instead. Another good tip I’ve learnt is to indeed use the ready made gluten free flour blend but use less, adding it to your alternative flour. So in the healthy loaf recipe I would use only 50g of the ready made plain flour and 125g of my natural gluten free alternative. The reason being that this allows you to add some flavour and personality depending on the recipe, it can even add a bit of a nutritional boost.
Below is a great list of naturally gluten free flour’s that I got from Bread Ahead. It lets you know a bit more about them, their taste and what they’re best for. Use your instinct and have fun experimenting with your gluten free flour, I like to use coconut flour for my brownies and grind oats into flour for my banana pancakes.
Remember to always read the labels though as even though they are naturally GF they may have been stored in mills beside gluten containing flour and we don’t want to be contaminated!
Naturally Gluten Free Flour List
Some people describe the taste as nutty, others describe it as bland or tasteless. It adds a great texture to baked goods, along with valuable protein.
White Rice Flour/Brown Rice Flour
These are interchangeable in recipes. The brown rice flour is whole grain and is therefore better for you. If you are concerned about the food budget, buy white rice flour. It is cheaper to buy white rice flour at ethnic grocery stores than your health food store. Rice Flour is great for making a roux and as part of a gluten-free all-purpose baking mix.
Sweet Rice Flour
A good addition to any baking mix and wonderful in pizza and breads.
A great binder in baked goods when used in combination with other flours. It is also a great thickener for sauces. The great thing about tapioca flour is that it will thicken at a low temperature.
Not to be confused with potato flour, potato starch is a wonderful thickener and can tolerate higher temperatures than corn-starch. It adds moisture to baked goods. A lot of mainstream flourless chocolate cakes recipes contain potato starch.
This is generally considered the most neutral tasting thickener, but it is definitely the priciest! Use arrowroot for acidic sauces.
This whole grain flour has a mild, nutty, and almost sweet flavour. It imparts a moistness in gluten-free baking and is also very high in protein, minerals and vitamins.
A staple in Eastern Europe buckwheat is related to rhubarb. It imparts a strong flavour to baked goods and is most often used in crepes and blinis
Gives baked goods a nuttier taste. Quinoa flour is very healthy as it contains a complete protein. Quinoa flour also lends more moisture to gluten-free baked goods.
This flour adds moisture to baked goods.
Almond Meal/Ground Almonds
This meal/flour adds moisture and protein to baked goods. You can use it in all baked goods including cakes, biscuits, breads and pie crusts.
Hazelnut Meal/Ground Hazelnuts
This meal/flour also adds protein and moisture to baked goods.
Chickpea Flour/Gram Flour Chickpea flour is remarkably versatile and has a subtle flavor, which makes it great for cooking savory dishes as well as for baking sweet desserts.
To make your own: Lightly roast dried garbanzo beans, then grind them in a blender until mixture has the consistency of flour. Substitutes: lightly roast dried yellow split peas, then grind them in a blender until mixture has the consistency of flour OR all-purpose flour (different flavour and consistency)
To make your own: Mix cornmeal in a blender until it has the consistency of flour. Substitutes: cornmeal (more coarsely ground; consider cooking with liquids in recipe first to soften) OR other non wheat flour
Cornmeal comes in different colours: white, yellow, and blue. Yellow cornmeal has more beta carotene than the others, while blue cornmeal has more protein and turns baked goods purple. Larger supermarkets also carry stone-ground cornmeal = water-ground cornmeal, which is more tasty and nutritious than regular cornmeal, but doesn’t keep as long.
Substitutes: polenta OR corn flour (gives baked goods a lighter texture) OR (if using cornmeal for breading) crush corn chips in a blender until they have the consistency of cornmeal.
To make your own: Blend oatmeal in blender until it has the consistency of flour (Use 1 1/4 cups rolled oats to make one cup oat flour.
Note: oats must be certified “gluten free”. Many coeliacs cannot tolerate oats.