I am excited to share my guide to Gluten-free Flours and Starches. From grains and starches to beans and seeds, there is a wide variety of gluten-free flours available to us to make baking easy and delicious. Seeing all of the options in one long list, is actually quite exciting and inspiring to know the many options.
Although it can all seem a bit daunting and overwhelming at first, baking gluten-free is far easier than you would think. Once you get to know what flours and starches are available, how they work together in recipes and as you learn which you like the most, you will slowly start building a pantry full of options to make just about anything you desire. Baking does require some experimenting, some mathematics and ratios, and yes, even some failures along the way. But, once you get the hang of it and have it down to a science it will be second nature to you. As someone with a gluten intolerance, it is hard to feel like we are living without when I take a look at the long list of flours available to us.
This list is meant to act as a guide to some of the many amazing and nutritious, naturally gluten-free flours and starches that exist. This isn’t necessarily a complete list as there are so many of them always popping up on the market, but these are the ones I know of, most of which I have experimented with myself.
It is best to remember that baking gluten-free almost always requires a mix of flours and starches, as opposed to just one. That is probably one of the biggest mistakes people make when they try baking gluten-free for the first time. A recipe calls for 1 cup gluten-free flour and they grab 1 cup of whatever flour they have or can find easily, for example just rice flour or just soy flour. The results are usually disastrous and many people are left defeated. There are plenty of great all-purpose gluten-free flour blends on the market that you may like just fine and if you are new to gluten-free baking, this is probably the perfect place to start. But, once you have experimented a bit and get a little more comfortable, I highly recommend trying out making your own gluten-free flour blends. As you get to experimenting with recipes and baking you will be able to make your own combinations of flours and starches outside of this ratio, but this is a really great place to start.
A Guide to Gluten-Free Flour and Starches
I find when you get the proper ratio and combination of flours and starches, there is no real need for xanthan or guar gum, which I prefer to not use if I don’t need to. Many people have issues digesting the gums, and I try to avoid them when I can now that I know they aren’t necessary. I have also learned that some of the best baked goods, especially breads, are made by adding in psyllium husk, ground chia and/or ground flax seeds. These replace some of the binding and elasticity properties of regular gluten flour, to keep it from crumbling, which is the reason many bakers use the gums in gluten-free baking.
NOTE: If you are looking to convert a regular gluten-containing recipe to gluten-free by using your custom made gluten-free all-purpose flour mix in a regular recipe, a good rule of thumb is to sub 140 grams of your gluten-free mix for every 1 cup of regular gluten all-purpose flour.
When you look at this long list of flours and starches available to us, it hardly feels like we are like we are missing out at all, right?
Brown Rice Flour
Oat Flour (make certain it is certified gluten-free)
Sweet Potato Flour
Sweet Brown Rice
White Rice Flour
*This technically belongs under seeds, but it works really well as a grain flour, in small quantities in AP blends
White Rice Flour
NUTS AND SEEDS
*Coconut Flour will suck a lot of the moisture out of most recipes, so use it sparingly or add additional eggs or other liquid to counteract.
BEANS AND LEGUMES
Fava Bean Flour
Garbanzo (chickpea) Bean Flour
Kinako (roasted soy bean) Flour
Pea Flour and Green Pea Flour
You can usually classify nut, seed and bean flours as a whole grain, for ratio sake, even though they are technically not in the grain category. However, they can sometimes react a bit differently depending on the recipe, so it may take some experimenting with those. I should also note that you won’t want to use just a bean flour alone or in large quantities in most recipes, as they tend to have a bit of an aftertaste that could overpower the final dish.
The beauty of this list is that you can select your favorite flours and starches, based on what is available to you and what you prefer, that could be used in a variety of recipes. When making my own whole-grain all-purpose flour for baking, I personally use a ratio of 70% grain flours to 30% starches (based on Shauna Ahern’s recommendation from all of her many years of experimenting and baking). For a regular all-purpose blend, you’ll want 40% whole grain flours to 60% starches. Everyone has different ratios they prefer, but these have both proven to always be effective for me and many other gluten-free bakers. Here is a great example of a whole-grain blend I have made in the past: 200 grams sorghum flour, 200 grams teff flour, 200 grams millet flour, 100 grams buckwheat flour, plus 150 grams each of tapioca and arrowroot starches. This particular mix results in a beautiful brown whole grain blend that I love for pizza crusts and rustic pie crusts. If you are looking for something more traditional and white, use the 40/60 ratio, and for your grains try a blend of sorghum, millet, rice or soy. I usually make my all-purpose flour blends in batches of 1000 grams, since that makes weighing and ratios the easiest.
Have you played with making your own gluten-free flour blends and with gluten-free baking? What are your favorite gluten-free flours?