Understanding Gluten Free Flours
Hey guys… so, I’ve decided to share the bits and pieces of what I know about substituting ingredients. This is part of the Substitution Series: Part 1 is Understanding Gluten Free Flours, Part 2 is How to Substitute Eggs, Part 3 is How to Substitute Sugar, Part 4 is How to Substitute Fats/ Oils, Part 5 is How to Substitute Dairy and Part 6 is Substituting the Top 10 Allergens in Baking. Be so very happy, my vegan baker friends! :) So, not alot of recipes this week, but LOTS of great info to help you out. For more great articles on GF baking, visit the Resources section. Fill your boots, homies. :)
Understanding Gluten Free Flours
NOTE about BUYING: To buy these flours, I often list BobsRedMill because they deliver to Canada (woot!) they ship in smaller amounts and are waaay cheaper this way. However, I also frequently list Purest Natural Products (www.PurestNaturalProducts.com) . They are a local Gluten Free company (fromPerth! people! support our local guys!), AND they are in process to start certifying Nut Free as well. Contact them directly about bulk flour shipping, as its not listed on their site. They deliver in 5 and 10 kg bags, which is terrific, because ordering in bulk anywhere else you can only get 25 kg bags (50 pounds). Anyway. Give them a shot. I believe in these guys. !
NOTE about SAFETY: If you are celiac, do not, do NOT buy these flours in bulk bins. There is a significant risk for cross contamination. Do yourself a favour and buy a few larger bags directly from the certified companies above and put them in the freezer. Its cheaper that way anyhow.
NOTE about a GIFT: Oh. And if you happen to have the time to weigh these flours, I would love you to pieces and send you cookies in the mail, or deliver if you live in the city. I mean it.
LEARNING ABOUT GF FLOURS
Gluten Free baking is a unique beast. Instead of one cup of gluten-filled flour, you end up with a combination of heavy, medium, and light flours, plus starches and binding agents. The common gluten free flours I use are listed below. You can substitute most flours within the same category unless otherwise noted in a recipe. The important thing is to substitute by weight, rather than measuring cup, to come as closely as possible to getting similar results. This will help you cut down on expense- find a favourite flour in each category, and stick with it.
Give structure and binding, have lower rising capacity.
Gives structure to a baked good that helps hold it up. It is naturally slightly sweet, and high in protein. Almond flour has some natural binding tendencies. You can make your own from grinding blanched almonds in a spice mill or coffee grinder. Has natural oils that make baked goods soft and moist. Buy: JKgourmet.ca (Available also at Rainbow Foods)
Absorbs liquid quickly in a recipe, gives structure to baked goods. Good for when your recipe is a bit too wet and you need a spoonful to soak up the extra moisture. It bakes to a very slightly grainy consistency, but in combination with other flours works very well. It’s lighter than almond flour, so it is good for lighter baked goods like muffins or cakes. Always use it in combination with other flours as it slurps up all the moisture. If you use it alone, you need to use alot of eggs to keep the recipe from getting too dry. Has a fragrant sweet scent. Buy: TropicalTraditionsCanada.com
Chickpea Flour (Gram/ Garbanzo Flour):
Absorbs liquid quickly, and is also high in protein. Has natural binding properties and gives structure to baked goods. In small amounts it can be subbed for almond or coconut flour, but you may need more sweetener to mask the slightly bean-like taste if you use more than 1/4 cup or so. Good for thickening gravy, binding pancakes, etc… Buy: your local health food store.
Another high protein flour, Quinoa can also be partially subbed for coconut or almond. It has a fairly strong flavour, and may be best combined with other heavy flours to even it out. To eliminate the strong flavour you can roast it in the oven spread on a cookie sheet at 250 degrees for 30 min, it will reduce the saponin in the flour. I personally don’t use it too often but its good if you have a nut intolerance. Buy: Bobsredmill.com
A lighter textured flour, Teff is darker in colour and has a pronounced flavour. It has natural binding tendencies, and can be used in small amounts to replace one of the heavier flours. It can be used in exchange for Buckweat flour as it is similarly sticky. Buy: Bobsredmill.com
Results in a denser product, has natural binding tendencies. Has a lighter more neutral flavour than Teff or Quinoa. Great in cookies, pancakes, crepes and crackers. or Bobsredmill.com
Lighten heavy flours, even out stronger tastes, soften the crumb and texture.
Amaranth is a lighter coloured and very lightly flavoured flour. Because it has higher properties of starch, it is ‘sticky’, meaning it is more naturally binding. Buy: Bobsredmill.com
Millet makes dough/batter a yellowy golden colour. Its sturdier than sorghum but has a milder taste. I like using it in combination with white rice flour and potato starch for a nice all-purpose blend Buy: Bobsredmill.com
Sorghum (Jowar) Flour
This is the lightest of the medium flours, and has a very soft, light crumb. It has a slightly more pronounced flavour than Millet, but yields softer breads. It has a great naturally binding capacity and can be used in just about any recipe. Dark sorghum flour has more of a pronounced flavour than white sorghum flour. Buy: Bobsredmill.com. (Available also at your local indian grocer)
Brown Rice Flour
Brown rice flour is an all purpose medium flour. It does not provide as soft a crumb as sorghum but is more neutral in flavour. It is a stiffer flour than white rice, and sometimes has a slightly grainy mouth feel depending on flour combination. Works well in combination with a light flour and a starch. Buy: Bobsredmill.com
Needed for binding, adding lightness, and sometimes crispiness. Neutralize the taste of stronger flours.
White Rice Flour:
An all purpose light flour, works well with light cakes and baked goods. It can sometimes have a grainy mouth feel, best used in combination with other flours. Usually really cheap GF products are only made of this, and it has a crumply unappealing result. Get it ground as finely as you can, cheapest at your local Chinese grocer. You can get it at any health food or grocery store.
Great for the grain free crowd, chestnut flour is high in natural starches and is a light flour, so it works wonderfully in combination with almond flour and /or coconut flour . It gives lift to other grain-free flours. Buy: Nuts.com
Sweet Rice Flour:
Use no more than ¼ cup per recipe, this flour retains moisture in a batter, making it wetter. It’s great in combination with coconut flour to balance out moisture. It can also be used in combination with starch to thicken gravies without any pronounced taste. Buy: Bobsredmill.com.
Tapioca Flour (starch)
One of the heavier starches, it works well to bind recipes together, and add crispness to cookies, etc… If you use too much, it can make a recipe a bit dense, or gluey- best to combine it with either arrrowroot or potato starch for optimal lightness in your baked good. Baked goods made with this starch freeze well (unlike cornstarch). Buy: Bobsredmill.com.
A great, very light all purpose starch, however one of the more expensive ones. You can use it instead of combining tapioca and potato. Also freezes well, and like other starches, works to bind recipes together and add crispness to cookies, etc… Buy: Bobsredmill.com.
Excellent for adding lightness and lift to a recipe and binding it together. Best used in combination with another starch or another light flour – too much potato starch makes a recipe taste “potatoey”- , really, like potatoes. Buy: Bobsredmill.com.