Baking with Gluten-Free Flours

Baking with Gluten-Free Flours

When baking with gluten-free flours and starches, a number of options exist. Some recipes do fine with only one gluten-free flour or starch, but most require a mixture. Many people accustomed to gluten-free baking keep all-purpose, gluten-free flour stocked in their pantry for easier baking. You can create your own mixture or purchase a pre-mixed, all-purpose, gluten-free flour.

Store-Bought All-Purpose, Gluten-Free Flour Blends

Although creating your own gluten-free flour mixture can be fun, and you can better control the outcome of your finished product (sometimes after some trial and error), all-purpose, gluten-free flour blends are great for busy parents and caregivers and those who are not up for the challenge of creating their own blends. Below are some of the most popular commercial all-purpose, gluten-free flour blends that are easy to substitute in recipes and taste great.

 

Making your Own All-Purpose, Gluten-Free Flour Mix

Most gluten-free baking requires a mixture of at least two flours, and flours and starches are components of most quality gluten-free baking mixtures. To help you better understand the options, below are three different categories of gluten-free flours based on density:

  • Light flours: These include all of the starches and are important for a good blend of gluten-free flour for baking. Light flours include arrowroot powder, corn starch, tapioca starch and potato starch.
  • Medium flours: These are a bit lighter and more stable than starches. They do well alone in a recipe when paired with any starch. Medium flours include fava bean, quinoa, sorghum, white rice, millet, garbanzo bean and oat flours.
  • Heavy flours: These are the most nutritious and dense flours, which usually are never used alone in gluten-free baking. They almost always need to be combined with another medium flour. Heavy flours include amaranth, brown rice, almond, coconut, teff, buckwheat and corn flours.

 

Before diving into the how-to, it is important to note that although a flour alternative may be gluten free in and of itself, some are not processed in facilities that take steps to ensure there is no cross-contamination. If you purchase individual flours and starches to make your own gluten-free flour mixture, be certain to check ingredients carefully to prevent accidental exposure to gluten.

To make your own gluten-free blend, use a ratio of 2:1 whole-grain, gluten-free flour per starch. For every cup of medium or heavy flour of your choice from the list above, add ½ cup of a starch. This blend is a good substitute for most recipes that require regular flour, and the substitution ratio is seamless.

If you want to start with a more detailed recipe for a gluten-free flour blend, try this combination:

  • 2 cups sorghum flour
  • 2 cups brown rice flour
  • 1 cup potato starch
  • 1 cup arrowroot powder

 

Swapping Flours

You do not have to do any special mathematical equations in order to swap the above blends or pre-mixed all-purpose, gluten-free flours for regular all-purpose flour in recipes. You can substitute these flours interchangeably with a 1:1 ratio, meaning if a recipe calls for 1 cup of regular flour, simply add 1 cup of gluten-free mix in place of it.

Add Gums

Some bakers recommend adding your own xanthan gum or guar gum to mimic gluten in their recipes, while others nix the ingredient altogether, suggesting gums add a strange aftertaste that they find a way to do without. If you choose to use it, add 1 teaspoon of xanthan or guar gum for every 1 – 1 ½ cups flour mixture.

If you do not have guar gum, you can add ½ teaspoon of arrowroot powder in place of it for every cup of flour in any recipe. If a recipe calls for a partial cup, round up.

Eggs are Helpful

Eggs make a world of difference in gluten-free baked goods if you can tolerate them. Eggs are used to make gluten-free breads and cake recipes turn out lighter and fluffier. When it comes to gluten-free baking with eggs, it is recommended that you separate the eggs and beat the whites until they form soft peaks, folding them into the batter afterward.

Proteins

Gluten is a protein. You may want to add some protein to a baked recipe if you are substituting gluten-free flour for regular flour. Consider replacing ½ cup of water in a recipe with one egg or liquid egg whites for a better finished product.

Remember that gluten-free baked goods are delicious, but they will not taste the same as their gluten-filled counterparts, nor will the textures be the same. Try not to have any expectations when baking gluten-free foods and have fun!


One thought on “Baking with Gluten-Free Flours

  1. Potato starch can be used instead of cornstarch to bind soups and sauces and stews. It”s available in the same sort of packets/boxes as cornstarch. You need a similar amount, it starts binding at a slightly lower temperature but tolerates higher temperatures than corn starch, and it binds clear instead of milky. So for a clear soup or (fruit/vegetable) sauce it”s much preferred to corn starch. You need to dissolve it in a bit of cold water or milk before pouring it into the hot liquid you want to bind, just like you do with the corn starch.

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