Grains used in traditional baking such as wheat, rye, and barley are made up of two basic components: protein and starch. Gluten is the protein in wheat which strengthens and binds dough in recipes. Starch is a thickening agent. In order to replace wheat flour with gluten-free flour, you need to combine gluten-free flour with gluten-free starch, and sometimes add a binding agent. It’s not a one-to-one ratio. The amount used depends on the gluten-free flour and gluten-free starch you use.
Gluten protein is what traditional recipes rely on to thicken dough and batters, and trap air bubbles to make your baked goods light and fluffy. Guar gum and xanthan gum are binding agents that are often used in gluten-free recipes to achieve similar results.
Pre-mixed all-purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blends
I have tested all the recipes in my cookbook with several blends including GF Jules, Bob’s Redmill, Better Batter, and Cup for Cup. All blends work well with my recipes and tend to lend similar results. If you use a pre-made blend that already has xanthan gum mixed in, make sure to omit it or adjust any recipes that call for xanthan gum as a separate ingredient.
Mix your own all-purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blends
The two nutritious blends below work well with most baked goods and are the foundation for each recipe I make. The smell, flavor, and texture are almost identical to wheat flour. You will notice there is no xanthan gum or guar gum in the blends. Not all recipes require these.
Xanthan gum and guar gum help with moisture retention and hold baked goods together. In a good portion of the recipes I make, the combination and ratio of ingredients are strong enough to hold the baked goods together. There are a few recipes, however, that are fragile or still call for xanthan gum to aid with moisture retention.
All-purpose gluten-free flour blend – Yields 4 cups
2 cups white rice flour
1 cups tapioca flour
1 cups potato starch
Directions: Mix all the ingredients in a large zipper storage bag or a bowl. Store flour blend in an airtight container. Shake the container before using in case any flours have settled.
**Below are some gluten-free flours you will find. This list is not comprehensive and does not contain all gluten-free flours.
Amaranth flour is made from the seed of the Amaranth plant, which is a leafy vegetable. Amaranth seeds are very high in protein, which makes it a nutritious flour for baking.
Storage: You can store Amaranth flour in a sealed container in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Brown Rice Flour
Brown rice flour is heavier than its relative, white rice flour. It is milled from unpolished brown rice, so it has a higher nutritional value and higher fiber than white rice flour. Rice flours tend to be grainy compared to other flours.
Storage: Buying brown rice flour in bulk is not recommended, as it is better used when fresh. You can store brown rice flour in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 4-5 months and up to a year in the freezer.
Despite its name, buckwheat flour is not a form of wheat; buckwheat is actually related to rhubarb. The small seeds of the plant are ground to make flour. It is not generally used on its own in a recipe, as its strong nutty taste can leave the finished product overpowering, and a little bitter.
Storage: You can store buckwheat flour in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 2-3 months and up to 6 months in the freezer.
Made from ground chia seeds. Highly nutritious, chia seeds have been labelled a “superfood” containing Omega 3, fiber, calcium, and protein, all packed into tiny seeds.
Tip: If chia flour isn’t readily available then put chia seeds in a food processor and make some at home. If used in baking, liquid levels and baking time may need to be increased slightly.
Storage: You can store chia seeds or chia seed flour in a sealed container in a dark cool place for several months.
Chickpea Flour (also known as gram or garbanzo flour)
This is ground from chick peas and has a slightly nutty taste. It is not generally used on its own. Chickpea flour is high in protein and is especially good for gluten-free baking. It can also be used to thicken soups, sauces, or gravies.
Storage: You can store chickpea flour in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 2-3 months and up to 6 months in the freezer.
Corn flour is milled from corn into a fine, white powder, and is used for thickening recipes and sauces. It has a bland taste, and therefore is used in conjunction with other ingredients that will impart flavor to the recipe.
Tips: Be careful in the grocery store. Some types of corn flour are milled from wheat but are labeled wheaten corn flour. Always look to make sure it was not processed in a facility that processes wheat.
Storage: You can store corn flour in a sealed container in cool, dark place for up to one year and longer in the freezer.
Cornmeal is ground from corn. It is heavier than corn flour, and not generally interchangeable in recipes.
Storage: You can store cornmeal in a sealed container in cool, dark place for up to one year and longer in the freezer.
Made from ground hemp seeds, it has a mild, nutty flavor.
Storage: Hemp flour can go rancid easily. It is recommended to store hemp flour in a sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer.
Comes from the grass family and is used as a cereal in many African and Asian countries. It can be used to thicken soups and make flat breads and griddle cakes. Because it lacks any form of gluten it’s not suited to many types of baking.
Storage: Millet flour can become rancid quite rapidly if it is not properly stored. It is usually best to grind millet as needed to ensure the best flavor. You can store millet flour in a sealed container in the refrigerator for 2 months and in the freezer for up to 6 months.
Ground from oats, it works wonders in gluten-free baking because it contains starches that help your recipes bind together. You need to take special care to ensure that it is sourced from a non-wheat contaminating facility.
Tips: Oat flour absorbs liquids more than many flours, so you may need to increase the liquid content of any recipe it is added to. Readily substitutes into many cake and cookie recipes.
Storage: Oat flour goes rancid very quickly; either buy small amounts and use quickly, or store it in a sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer.
This flour should not be confused with potato starch flour. Potato flour has a strong potato flavor and is a heavy flour so a little goes a long way. Bulk buying is not recommended unless you are using it on a regular basis for a variety of recipes as it does not have a very long shelf life.
Quinoa Flour (pronounced ‘keen wa’)
Quinoa is related to the plant family of spinach and beets. It has been used for over 5,000 years as a cereal, and the Incas called it the mother seed. Quinoa provides a good source of vegetable protein and it is the seeds of the quinoa plant that are ground to make flour.
Storage: Quinoa flour can be stored in a sealed container for up to 6 months in the refrigerator or freezer.
Sorghum flour is ground from sorghum grain, which is similar to millet. The flour is used to make porridge or flat unleavened breads. It is an important staple in Africa and India.
Storage: This flour stores well under normal temperatures. Store in a sealed container in a cool, dark place up to 2 months and up to 4 months in the freezer.
Tapioca flour is made from the root of the cassava plant; once ground, it takes the form of light, soft, fine white flour. Tapioca flour adds chewiness to baking and is a good thickener. Tapioca flour is an excellent addition to any gluten-free kitchen.
Storage: Tapioca flour is a fairly resilient flour. Store at room temperature in a sealed container.
Teff comes from the grass family and is a tiny cereal grain native to northern Africa. It is ground into flour and used to prepare injera, which is a spongy, slightly sour flat bread. It is now finding a niche in the health food market because it is very nutritious.
Tips: Adding too much Teff flour to baked goods can make them gritty and dry. When baking gluten-free, use Teff flour as part of a gluten-free baking mix.
Storage: Teff flour can be stored in a sealed container for up to 4 months in the refrigerator or freezer.
White Rice Flour
White rice flour is milled from polished white rice, so it is very bland in taste, and not particularly nutritious. White rice flour is ideal for recipes that require a light texture.
Tips: Do not replace wheat flour with white rice flour one to one.
Storage: Store in a sealed container in the refrigerator or freezer for up to 2 years.
Most types of flour keep well in a sealed container in a cool, dry, and dark location. The original paper packaging used for many types of flour is fine for long term storage as long as the package has not been opened. Once open, the shelf life decreases. Many types of flour are now marketed in resealable plastic bags that increase shelf life.
The refrigerator is a very good storage area for flour, but the use of a sealed container is even more important to prevent the flour from absorbing moisture, as well as odors and flavors from other foods stored in the refrigerator. The freezer compartment can be used for long-term storage, but when using a sealed container or a freezer bag, make sure it is full or remove as much air as possible.