Today I bring you a perfect little resource guide to gluten-free flours! There are just so many gluten-free flours, meals, and starches out there, that a newbie may feel a bit overwhelmed when it comes time to get cooking or baking. Some flours just work better for certain types of recipes than others and many need to be combined with others as they do not contain the same properties as your standard gluten varieties. Once you start experimenting and finding witch combos and flavors you love best, you'll become a pro at whipping up the perfect gluten-free pancakes or muffins!
So to start, let's talk about the actual whole grain flours. These include:
Brown Rice Flour
Oat Flour* (see below for how-to)
Sweet Rice Flour
White Rice Flour
The top 5 easiest flours to work with are brown rice, white or sweet rice, sorghum, oat, and buckwheat. When starting out on your gluten-free flour journey, get used to these guys first. These can be called "base flours" and can be used in large proportions. They all have either a neutral taste or a bit more earthy like buckwheat (my favorite flour). The other whole grain flours are great as well in all baking. Quinoa flour has a very distinct taste and corn meal can give a nice texture to anything. The number one rule is to play around with combinations of these flours to find what you like best flavor wise for a great go-to mix to always have on hand.
Next are nut and seed flours or meals:
Hemp Seed Flour
Well there is so much to say about these flours and meals. First of all, you can make pretty much any nut or seed into a flour or meal. They also all have unique qualities. Take coconut flour for instance. This feisty flour needs a lot of moisture and binding to be successful in a recipe. Meaning you should either use only 1 or two tablespoons for every half cup of flour, or majorly play around with liquid ratios and binding ingredients. Nut and seed meals are great powerhouses for adding nutrients and texture big time. They are easier to work with when adding to a recipe, but usually require more liquid as well. When you keep them as more of a meal, they are great for breading! (Note: I like to store these flours in the fridge to keep from going rancid).
Next we also have bean and legume flours:
Black Bean Flour
Fava Bean Flour
Green (or Yellow) Pea Flour
Soy Flour ( <-- I'm allergic)
Bean and legume flours are a great way to amp up the protein in baked goods. They make great flatbreads, pancakes, and even things like vegan omelets and scrambles. However, these flours are heavier and dense. They work best when combined with other whole grain flours. (Note: I like to store these flours in the fridge to keep from going rancid).
There are also numerous starches to name:
Starches are tasteless and used to lighten up and give texture to gluten-free baked goods. (They are also great to use as thickeners for sauces). The only time I really use starch is if I am baking breads or something that needs to be light but moist. Each starch has different characteristics though. Potato starch won't brown as well as say tapioca. So it's best to play around and even combine starches together to get best results.
Last but certainly not least, we have some amazing vegetable and fruit flours now on the market:
Sweet Potato Flour
Add these types of flours in small amounts to baked goods. If a recipe calls for a cup of all-purpose, start by replacing only ¼ cup of a vegetable or fruit flour. You may need to add extra liquid when working with these. I know for banana flour, I always have to add a lot more liquid than if I was using only a whole grain flour.
Some other baking things to note:
All Purpose Flour: My favorite all-purpose pre-made flour is Bob's Red Mill. It's simple, easy to use, and has never failed me.
A great formula for making an all-purpose gluten-free flour mix is: 3 cups of whole grain + 2 cups starch + 1 cup of other flour(s) + 1 tablespoon of baking powder.
Baking Powder: Essential for leavening, it is just a combo of baking soda and starch. Use it when making your own mixes.
Baking Soda: This will help things to rise as it is an acid and causes the "bubble" effect in baked goods. (Too much can cause things to be bitter and "fall".)
Guar Gum: See Xantham Gum.
Protein Powders (Plant-Based): These can be used in place of small about of flour. Say you need ½ of flour, you can safety replace 2 tablespoons with protein powder.
Xantham Gum: Gums give a chewiness and elasticity to baked goods, however, for the most part they are not needed.
Now, a note on oats. If you buy pre-ground oat flour, make sure it is made from certified gluten-free oats. But I think the easiest and most cost effective way to obtain some great oat flour is to just make it yourself! When I stock up on oats, I order bulk Gluten-Free Rolled Oats from Gluten-Free Harvest or get the big bags at Trader Joe's. Then, as needed, I grind these oats into flour and keep the flour in a glass jar for use. All you do it...
Homemade Oat Flour
Ingredients: (makes about 3 cups of flour)
+ 4 Cups Gluten-Free Rolled Oats
+ A Food Processor of High-Powered Blender
+ Pour the oats into your appliance of choice. Pulse and blend until you get a fine flour. Store in an airtight container in a dark, cool, dry place. Done!
I know, you're crazy impressed by that one 😉 But it's so easy, cheap, and you know you are getting safe oat flour and just the amounts you need! Of course you can make all you own flours. You can buy a grain mill or even some great blenders are specially designed to mill grains. This can be helpful if you do a lot of baking or if you don't want to always be buying tons of different flours, when sometimes you only need a bit.
Here are my trusted and favorite gluten-free flour brands you can order online or in the store:
Protein Plus (Peanut Flour)
So tell me:
+ What is your favorite gluten-free flour? BUCKWHEAT!
+ What gluten-free flour(s) would you like to try?
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