Have you ever said, “Help! I just found out I am gluten-free and I don’t know where to start!” One of the most daunting aspects of turning gluten-free is learning to bake with flours that contain no gluten. As many of you know, I have been gluten-free all my life. I experimented with gluten-free flours early on (back in the eighties) but the only ones on the market at the time were rice and soy. Baked goods came out hard, dense, and crumbly. Thanks to the use of potato and tapioca starches, as well as other gluten-free flours, now my baked goods rival those baked with gluten! What gluten-free flours are best to use? How should I store them? Should I use a mix or make my own? I’ll try to answer a few of those questions in this post.
Should you purchase a gluten-free mix or make your own?
There are many great gluten-free baking mixes on the market today. If you bake a little, or just want the ease of baking with a tried & true mix, then yes, purchase a mix. It may cost you a little more than making it on your own, but may be worth the “no hassle” benefit. Here are a few good mixes to try:
What are good gluten-free flours to have on hand?
Brown/Rice flour: (This flour is used as a main base to most recipes)
I use both of these flours, but my favorite is the ultra-fine brown rice because it is less gritty.
Sorghum: Sorghum flour adds wonderful flavor to gluten-free baking, and is a powerhouse of nutrition.
It is high in protein, iron, and dietary fiber.
Tapioca Flour/Starch: derived from the cassava plant, this slightly sweet starch works well in a blend of flours, but not on its own.
Potato Starch: The starch is extracted from potatoes, and like tapioca starch must be used with a combination of other gf flours.
Masa Harina (corn flour): “masa” is the spanish word for dough. The corn is soaked, dried, then ground.
Almond Flour: Raw blanched almonds that have been ground into a fine flour. May be used on its own or mixed with other gf flours.
Coconut Flour: high in fiber and protein, this flour makes a great substitute for gluten flour. May be used as a stand alone gf flour. Coconut flour will have a tendency to suck the moisture out of your baked goods, so be careful! I like to add other flours to the mix and not use it solely on its own.
Garbanzo/Chick-pea flour: Ground from the garbanzo bean. Definitely not my favorite due to the strong “bean” flavor, but it does work well for bread baking.
Here are a few other gluten-free flours you may want to consider having on hand:
buckwheat flour, millet flour, oat flour (gf certified), quinoa flour, sweet potato flour, and teff flour.
And here are a few more starches:
arrowroot flour, cornstarch and sweet rice flour
How do you store gluten-free flours?
Most gluten-free flours may be stored 1-2 months in your pantry, 4-6 months in your refrigerator, and up to one year in your freezer for maintaining freshness. All nut flours such as almond and coconut should be refrigerated or frozen. They have the quickest shelf life due to their oils.
What is a good everyday gluten-free mix recipe to have on hand?
3 cups Ultra-fine brown rice flour
3 cups tapioca starch
2 cups sorghum
1 cup Masa Harina corn flour