What is gluten free flour?

Welcome to the exiting world of gluten free flour!

If you have recently been diagnosed with celiac disease, or gluten intolerance, then you might have only used wheat flour in the past.

However there are many other gluten free grains that can be ground or milled into flour. There are also some surprising ingredients that you may not have ever considered using in your baked goods.

In the photo, two of the tubs contain grain based flours (rice and buckwheat) and the other two started life as beans!

As you learn more about gluten free baking you will also find yourself using flours made from nuts and seeds.

Commercial mixes

Because these ingredients are missing a certain protein, called gluten, they are used in a different way to wheat flour.

Often you will find that you need to mix a number together to get the best results. Learning which ones to mix can take time, and can differ depending on what you want to bake, so you might like to start with a commercial mix.

Some manufacturers to look out for in the USA include Authentic Foods and Bob's Red Mill. In the UK, most supermarkets now stock Doves Farm.

There are normally some basic recipes printed on the packs, and to a certain extent you can use your own favorite recipes by substituting the flour in the recipe for the same amount of gluten free mix.

Mixing gluten free flour yourself

Eventually, you will probably find yourself wanting to use a different mix for breads, than you use for cakes, cookies or pie crusts. This is when it becomes easier to stock the individual flours and grind them yourself in a grain mill.

This is where my handy flour substitutes table comes in useful.

When you are mixing your own flours you may find it difficult to measure small amounts in cups. So my advice is to get yourself a pair of digital kitchen scales.

Gluten free flour can be sorted into categories, where each has a certain part to play in giving you the best results.

If you find that you don't have a particular one to hand when a recipe calls for it, you can safely use a different one from the same category, as below.

  • Group A - Cornflour, potato starch, tapioca or arrowroot. These provide smoothness to your mix.
  • Group B - Brown rice, cornmeal, quinoa, gram, teff, millet, amaranth or millet. These all provide protein to your mix.
  • Group C - potato starch and quinoa. Add moisture to baked goods.

In addition to the flours in the mix, some form of extender is required to replace the gluten. This is needed to help hold the baked goods together and give it some stretch. You can choose from:

  • Xanthum gum
  • or guar gum

Remember, these flours may not produce exactly the same flavor and texture that you have been used to with wheat flour, but that doesn't mean you will not enjoy them!

- - Gluten free flour


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