Gluten Free or Low Gluten Flours
When baking gluten free there is not usually a single substitution for wheat flour. Gluten is responsible for wheat flour’s binding, stretching and rising abilities. Usually a combination of different gluten free flours is used to recreate the flavour and balance of a recipe and you will need to experiment.
Gluten free all-purpose flours and bread flours are starting to become available at health food stores and good grocery stores.
Almond Flour: also known as almond meal. This flour has a nutty flavour and gives a moist texture to baked goods. Almond flour contains healthy fats, vitamin E, protein and is low in carbohydrates and sugar. It also contains calcium, iron and fibre.
Amaranth Flour: amaranth has quite an earthy taste so you may prefer to use it in savoury dishes such as pizza dough. Use in a combination of flours such as oat, barley or rice and limit the amaranth to no more than 1/3 of the total flour.
Brown Rice Flour: brown rice flour contains protein, fibre and iron. It can be used in baked goods as well as a sauce thickener. It does not behave exactly like wheat flour so you may need to experiment with your recipe. It also has a nutty flavour. Try 7/8 cup to each 1 cup of wheat flour in your recipe and double up the baking powder.
Buckwheat Flour: buckwheat has a strong flavour, contains protein, fibre and B vitamins and combines well with other gluten free flours. Use up to 1 cup per recipe for breads but use less for more delicate items like cookies.
Chia Flour: ground chia seeds are a source of omega-3 healthy fatty acids and fibre. You can grind your chia seeds in a coffee or spice grinder. This flour works better in cakes and brownies. Chia seed is also an excellent binder and thickener.
Chickpea Flour: this flour is made from ground up raw chickpeas and is also known as besan, gram flour and garbanzo flour. It has a high protein content and also contains fibre and iron. Try 7/8 cup to each 1 cup of wheat flour in your recipe and double up the baking powder.
Corn Flour: corn flour is milled from corn kernels. It is high in fibre, B vitamins and iron. It can be blended with other gluten free flours such as rice, buckwheat or amaranth. Best used for more hearty items like tortillas, waffles, breads and cornbread.
Corn Starch: this is a white powder with no flavour that is used to lighten baked goods. It has very little nutritional value.
Cornmeal: this is not milled as finely as corn flour and provides texture to foods as well as a nutty taste. It comes in yellow and white varieties and different grade grinds. It is high in fibre, B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus and iron. You can blend cornmeal with corn flour or other gluten free flour but it should be no more than 25% of a blend unless it is a cornbread recipe in which case more can be used.
Millet Flour: this is a light coloured, drier flour and should be mixed with other flours rather than used on its own. ¾ cup of millet flour is equivalent to 1 cup of wheat flour. Millet flour has a short shelf life so only buy small quantities at a time.
Oat Flour: oat flour is high in protein and fibre and adds a pleasing taste and texture to cookies, breads and other baked goods. You can make your own by grinding oats in a coffee grinder. If you are gluten intolerant ensure your oat flour in marked 100% gluten free as farming practices mean this crop can be contaminated with wheat.
Potato Flour: potato flour is ground from dehydrated potatoes and is high in fibre and protein. It is used as a substitute for xanthan gum or guar gum in gluten free baking and it is best used for homemade pasta, breads and pizza crust. A little goes a long way and too much can make your finished product gummy. Do not confuse potato flour with potato starch.
Potato Starch: potato starch is made from the starch of dehydrated potatoes and is usually used as a one for one substitution for cornstarch in recipes. Gluten free recipes often ask for ½ cup potato starch as part of a flour blend. This flour tends to clump so stir well before measuring.
Quinoa Flour: quinoa flour is a nutritional powerhouse – quinoa is a complete protein (contains all 8 essential amino acids) and also contains zinc, iron, calcium, B vitamins, potassium and magnesium. You can use quinoa flour on its own, or it blends well with other flours. It does not behave like wheat flour and you may need to experiment with your recipe by adjusting liquids, cooking time and temperature.
Sorghum Flour: this is a millet like cereal and it contains iron, potassium, phosphorus, fibre and protein. Replace 15-20% of your flour with sorghum flour in bread, cake and cookie recipes.
Tapioca Flour: also known as tapioca starch. It is a gluten free flour and can be used for baking as well as a thickening agent in sauces and desserts.
Teff Flour: this is a great flour that works in many types of baked good but does have a stronger, nutty flavour and a darker colour. Teff is a very tiny grain and you may not be able to grind it finely enough yourself so it is best to buy the flour ready ground. Combine with other flours at no more than 25% of the blend. It can used for cookies, cakes, bread and waffles.
Xanthan Gum: this is used mostly as a binder in gluten free baking and is key to successful gluten free baking as it provides the binding needed to give the product elasticity and keeps it from crumbling. A very little goes a long way. Add ½ tsp per cup of flour blend for cakes, cookies and muffins. Use 1 tsp per cup of flour for yeast bread, pizza dough and other recipes that use yeast.
Making Your Own Blends
Combine all ingredients thoroughly and store in a covered container in the refrigerator. If you purchase ready made commercial blends check the ingredients as they may already have salt and xanthan gum added so you will not need to add more.
All Purpose Blend
- ½ cup rice flour
- ¼ cup tapioca flour
- ¼ cup cornstarch or potato starch
High Fibre Flour Blend
Works for breads and cookies that contain chocolate, spices, raisins or other fruit but not suited to delicate items like sugar cookies or cupcakes.
- 1 cup brown rice flour
- ½ cup teff flour (light)
- ½ cup millet flour
- 2/3 cup tapioca flour
- 1/3 cup cornstarch or potato starch
High Protein Flour Blend
- 1¼ cups chickpea flour
- 1 cup cornstarch or potato starch
- 1 cup tapioca flour
- 1 cup brown rice flour
Self Rising Flour Blend
Use for muffins, scones, cakes, cupcakes.
- 1¼ cups white sorghum flour
- 1¼ cups white rice flour
- ½ cup tapioca flour
- 2 tsp xanthan gum or guar gum
- 4 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp salt