How to Bake with Gluten-Free Flour
Learn the different kinds of gluten-free flour you can use (and make at home!) to bake muffins, brownies, and bread that fit your gluten-free diet.
Try this recipe: Grain Free Banana Bread made with almond flour.
Gluten, a protein found in wheat flour, is what gives structure to baked goods. It gives breads, muffins, and cakes their soft spongy texture. To replace gluten, you'll need to use other thickeners like xanthan gum or guar gum in your baking.
For each cup of gluten-free flour mix, add at least 1 teaspoon of gluten substitute.
Xanthum Gum This comes from the dried cell coat of a microorganism called Zanthomonas campestris. You can purchase it in health food stores and some supermarkets.
Guar Gum This powder comes from the seed of the plant Cyamopsis tetragonolobus. It is an excellent gluten substitute and it is available in health food stores and some supermarkets.
Pre-Gel Starch This gluten substitute helps keep baked goods from being too crumbly. This, too, can be purchased at most health food stores.
Start with recipes that use relatively small amounts of wheat flour like brownies or pancakes. Gluten-free versions taste almost the same as their wheat-based cousins.
These two gluten-free flour mixtures can be substituted for wheat flour cup-for-cup:
Gluten-Free Flour Mix I
- 1/4 cup soy flour
- 1/4 cup tapioca flour
- 1/2 cup brown rice flour
Gluten-Free Flour Mix II
- 6 cups white rice flour
- 2 cups potato starch
- 1 cup tapioca flour
These mixes can be doubled or tripled. You can also purchase gluten-free baking mixes at health food stores and some supermarkets.
A Guide to Gluten-Free Flours
This moist flour results in dense and chewy baked good. It's often mixed with wheat flour to produce a lighter texture.These Easy Almond Thin Cookies are 5-star favorites.
Buckwheat is not wheat, but is actually a protein-rich seed from a plant similar to rhubarb. After the seed is ground, it becomes a silky flour with a purple-gray color. It can be a little tricky to work with on its own, so is often mixed with other whole-grain flours and ingredients to make baked goods. When used in smaller amounts, or in combination with other flours, it makes baked goods moist and tender. Try Best Buckwheat Pancakes made with buckwheat flour.
With a subtle flavor and aroma of coconut, this popular gluten-free flour is high in fiber and low in calories. It's often mixed with regular wheat flour, but be sure to fluff it with a fork before you measure it. Here's more info about baking with coconut flour, plus great recipes.
Potato Starch Flour
This is a gluten-free thickening agent that is perfect for cream-based soups and sauces. Mix it a little with water first, then substitute potato starch flour for flour in your recipe, but use half the amount called for. It can be purchased in a health food store. These Delicious Gluten-Free Pancakes include potato starch.
This is a light, white, very smooth flour that comes from the cassava root. It gives baked goods a nice chewy texture. Try it in white bread or French bread recipes. It is also easily combined with cornstarch and soy flour. This Gluten-Free Yellow Cake has tapioca flour in the mix.
This nutty-tasting flour has a high protein and fat content. It's best when used in combination with other flours and for baking brownies, or any baked goods with nuts or fruit, which will mask any "beany" flavor. You can bake Perfect Gluten-Free Peanut Butter Cookies with tapioca flour.
A refined starch that comes from corn, it's mostly used as a thickening agent for puddings, fruit sauces, and Asian cooking. It is also used in combination with other flours for baking.
This flour is milled from corn and can be blended with cornmeal to make cornbread or muffins. It is excellent for waffles or pancakes. This Irish Shortbread (Wheat Free Edition) combines corn and rye flour.
Cornmeal can be ground from either yellow or white corn. This is often combined with flours for baking. It imparts a strong corn flavor that is delicious in pancakes, waffles, or muffins. Try these Delicious Gluten-Free Blueberry Corn Muffins.
White Rice Flour
This is an excellent basic flour for gluten-free baking. It is milled from polished white rice. Because it has such a bland flavor, it is perfect for baking, as it doesn't impart any flavors. It works well with other flours. White rice flour is available in most health food stores, and also in Asian markets. Look for types called fine-textured white rice flour. This Gluten Free Zucchini Bread is made with rice flour.
Brown Rice Flour
Made from unpolished brown rice, brown rice flour retains the nutritional value of the rice bran. Use it in breads, muffins, and cookies. You'll find brown rice flour in Alison's Gluten-Free Bread.
Kamut and Spelt Flours
These are ancient forms of wheat. While they aren't appropriate for gluten-free diets, they can be often be tolerated by people with gluten sensitivities. Try these Spelt Biscuits.
More: Here's how to know which gluten-free flour is best for your recipe.
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