A visit to any well-stocked health food store reveals a wide variety of gluten-free flours. While gluten-free flours can make bread, quick bread, cookies and cakes, a single gluten-free flour can’t do the job of wheat flour.
You can purchase all-purpose gluten-free flour blends, but you may want to experiment with different combinations of individual flours to incorporate more high-fiber whole grains into your diet or find the flavors and textures you prefer.
While learning to bake with gluten-free ingredients requires some time and trial and error, mastering these skills can allow you to enjoy old favorites, find new recipes you enjoy and save money on pricey purchased gluten-free treats.
What Are Gluten-Free Flour Blends All About?
All-purpose gluten-free flour blends combine grains and starches to mimic all-purpose wheat flour. Typical blends include white rice flour, tapioca starch and potato starch. These flours have a mild flavor that works well in both sweet and savory recipes. Some gluten-free flour blends include garbanzo bean flour and work best in savory dishes, rather than sweet ones. Experiment with different brands to find your favorite all-purpose gluten-free flour or make your own flour mixtures with individual grains and starches.
Gluten-free whole grain flours offer a healthier alternative to white rice flour and white rice flour blends. Incorporate brown rice, sorghum, millet, teff, buckwheat and quinoa flours into your baking recipes to increase the protein, fiber and nutrients so essential in a gluten-free diet into bread, pancakes and other foods. Brown rice and sorghum flours are mildly flavored, while millet and quinoa flours add a nutty flavor to recipes.
Flours made from beans and nuts are quite nutritious and may add moistness to gluten-free breads. Try bean flours, including garbanzo and fava bean flour in flat breads or pizza crust. Nut flours, including almond flour and hazelnut flour work especially well for cookies and moist baked treats. The flavors mesh well with sweeter ingredients, including good quality antioxidant-rich dark chocolate, honey and agave nectar.
Why You Should Add Starch to Your Gluten-Free Recipes
Starches lack significant nutritional value, but provide essential structure to gluten-free baked goods. Starches include corn starch, arrowroot starch, potato starch, sweet rice flour and tapioca starch. Many recipes call for a combination of potato starch or corn starch, tapioca starch and sweet rice flour for the best results in baked goods.
Shop for gluten-free flours at the health food store, Asian groceries or even your local grocery store. Many gluten-free flours, particularly whole grain flours, have a relatively short shelf life. Buy these in smaller quantities and use them quickly or store them in airtight packages in the refrigerator or freezer. Understanding gluten-free flours and learning to incorporate these new flavors and textures into your cooking and baking can add variety to your diet, whether you’re perfecting a sandwich bread or baking a cake to celebrate a special occasion.
What brands of gluten-free flours do you enjoy most? Would love to hear from you guys in the comments below!