RylieCakes Know It All Guide To GF Flours
As if going gluten free wasn’t already frustrating enough, enter in gluten free baking.
What on earth do you replace all-purpose white or wheat flour with?! And in what ratios? How do you know what flours to use for breads and which ones to use for cookies? I could come up with a million more questions so I am sure you can too!
So let’s talk it out and break the code, shall we?
Gluten free flours each have their own taste, their own texture, and of course, their very own nutrient compositions. This is why replacing AP flour with say, just almond flour, is not a great idea. The protein contents will differ tremendously as well as the fiber and moisture contents. These differences in composition make ALL THE DIFFERENCE when baking GF.
However, first things first, don’t think celiacs are the only ones who deal with protein and fiber compositions. Did you know that most bakeries and pastry chefs use a variety of flours including pastry flour, cake flour, and AP flour to name just a few? Each one has a different protein percentage ranging from 7% up to 11% and thus, is designed to do different things. I am just pointing this out to showcase that baking is a science whether you’re gluten free or not! Baking GF just takes a little extra effort 😉
GF flours can be separated into several groups: neutral-flavored flours, high-fiber flours, high-protein flours, starches, gums, and finishers. Here are some examples of each:
Neutral-flavored Flours: sweet rice flour, brown rice flour, white rice flour corn flour, and sorghum flour.
- Things to note here: Though all rice flours are considered neutral-flavored flours, they all have different uses in GF baking. Additionally, make sure you are using corn flour and not cornmeal; these vary widely in taste and texture.
High-fiber Flours: oat flour, chickpea flour, corn flour, quinoa flour, teff flour, buckwheat flour, sorghum flour, and amaranth flour.
- Things to note here: Many of these flours work better in savory applications or in smaller quantities if applying to sweet batters and dough. Chickpea flour, for example, lends a strong bean flavor to its products as well as a gritty texture. When using outside the realm of savory recipes, use bean flours sparingly.
High-protein Flours: sorghum flour, oat flour, quinoa flour, teff flour, millet flour, chickpea flour, buckwheat flour, and amaranth flour.
- Things to note here: I listed these flours in the order I would choose to use them. As I mentioned before though, every recipe is different! Depending on what you are making will determine which flour you should use. When baking, remember more protein means to stronger flours, which are great for chewy, crusty breads, or products they are meant to rise with yeast. Less protein means softer flours, which are great for lighter, chemically leavened baked goods like cakes and cookies.
Starches: tapioca flour, potato starch, cornstarch, and arrowroot powder.
- Things to note here: Starches are typically used for thickening. They are great for savory applications such as rouxs or coating for fried items but they can also be very useful in baking when you want a nice crust or crispy edges on a cookie. Note that tapioca starch and tapioca flour are one in the same. Potato starch and potato flour are two totally different things.
Gums: xanthan gum, guar gum, psyllium husk, gelatin powder, and agar powder.
- Things to note here: Gums work as binders in GF baking and help to replace the gluten network that is lost when going GF. However, I’ve found that most recipes overstate the amount of gum actually needed to do the job. Try reducing the amount of required gum by ¼ or ½ tsp and notice the difference in taste and texture of your baked goods.
Finishers: almond flour, coconut flour, quick cooking oats, oat bran, ground flax seed, and ground chia seed.
- Things to note here: Finishers are my favorite category as I believe all great baked goods need at lease one of the above. They add texture and moisture to baked goods, which ultimately makes them delicious! However, finishers need to be paired with high-protien and high-fiber flours in order to create the stability needed when baking.
When creating a GF flour mix from scratch, be sure to keep all of these different categories in mind. Using one flour from each and playing around with different quantities will give you the texture, taste, and mouth feel you are looking for. Just remember to be patient, GF baking is a skill and a game of trial and error at its finest.
And if you don’t even want to bother with buying a bunch of different types of flours and trying to mix and match them to perfection, YOU DON’T HAVE TO! I’ve already done all the hard work for you!
Make your life easy and check out RylieCakes magnificent GF flour mixes here 🙂
Lick the Bowl, It’s Gluten Free!