Gluten Free Tip – Baking with GF Flour

Back in the day, it was difficult to fathom being able to eat your favorite brownies, cookies or cakes without them tasting “weird” when you substituted a gluten free flour. There are so many kinds of different gluten free flours that it can be overwhelming and incredibly expensive to figure out the best combination for your baked goods.

First, gluten free flours lack gluten. That gluten acts as a binder. It’s what makes your wheat bread squishy and you could roll it into a ball. It’s what makes the bread dough malleable so you can roll it and twist it into shapes. Gluten free flours use binders such as xanthun gum or guar gum. They look like a white powder substance and are considerable “gluey” as soon as you get them wet. Usually it’s about 1/4 tsp of xanthun gum to every 1 cup of gf flour.

Second, gluten free flours have a variety of chemical properties and when mixed with each other, yield very different results. I have learned that I don’t like any of my baked goods made with a bean flour. They taste “funny” and tend to be very firm, whereas almond flour provides a great flavor and texture without introducing the “heaviness” of a bean flour. Many people are allergic to any of the nut flours, but have no fear. The most common gluten free flours are not all nut-based:

  • White rice flour – long shelf life, subtle flavor
  • Sweet white rice flour
  • Brown rice flour – nutty flavor and has more oil in it so it’s perishable – store in fridge/freezer
  • Potato starch
  • Tapioca starch – adds body and texture

Gluten free grains and starches common to gluten free cooking:

  • Almond meal (and other nuts flours) – great for cakes, store in fridge/freezer
  • Amaranth
  • Arrowroot – thickening agent for glazes or in place of cornstarch 
  • Bean flours/Legumes – store in fridge or freezer
  • Buckwheat
  • Corn – cornmeal is usually used for polenta and cornbread, store in fridge after opening so it doesn’t mold
  • Flax
  • Millet
  • Potato flour or starch (don’t mix these up…the flour is much heavier than potato starch)
  • Quinoa (pronounced “keen-wah”) – super grain with high protein, makes a great pasta
  • Rice (white rice, sweet white rice, brown rice, Indian rice grass)
  • Sorghum – used a lot for gluten free beers
  • Soy – heavy soy flavor and can be very rancid and needs to be stored in fridge/freezer
  • Tapioca starch/flour (same thing)
  • Teff – usually used in savory recipes

Common binders:

  • Xanthun gum
  • Guar gum
  • Gelatin powder

So, that’s a lot of info for a newbie and it’s only the tip of the iceberg.

My favorite blends:

  • King Arthur General Purpose Gluten Free Flour
  • Authentic Foods Multi Grain Gluten Free Flour
  • Bette Hagman Featherlit Gluten Free Flour
  • Pamela’s Pancake and Baking Mix

Happy baking!!

Post a Comment