Gluten-free Flours: Part 1

Kay's Naturals mission is to encourage healthy lifestyles. We specialize in gluten-free (GF) snacks and cereals because their is a real need for healthy GF food that is nutrient and protein rich while also being affordable and convenient. There are other times however, when many of us on GF diet want to put time in the kitchen to make home baked goods. How can you make a delicious cookie without wheat flour? Having done a bit of research on GF flours, we found that it can be difficult to find a comprehensive article online that discusses the full variety of GF flours available. We have created a two-part article to answer some common questions about GF baking. The first discusses common GF baking techniques and requirements. The second provides a list of the GF flours and some of their benefits. These articles are to help you make delicious GF baked goods possible for yourself and those you love.

The first thing every novice GF baker needs to know is the role of gluten. Wheat flour includes gluten, the protein that makes dough gooey and stretchable. Therefore, when baking GF, another ingredient needs to be included to prevent baked good from crumbling and falling apart. There are two common agents that are used to replace gluten: xanthan gum and guar gum. They are plant-derived powders that become gummy when water is added. Kneading the dough activates their binding properties. Xanthan gum is the most versatile and common binding agent. Simply use 1 tsp per cup of dry ingredients. Xanthan gum can be found at your local health food store or through Bobsredmill.com. Please note that too much of either will prevent your baked goods from becoming crispy. There are many alternative binding agents available. To learn more about them, read this article.

Having a pre-mixed GF flour blend to use in a variety of baked goods, including bread, pizza dough, and pancakes, will make the baking quicker and easier. A flour, such as brown rice or sorghum, mixed with a starchy flour such as cornstarch, will increase the protein in your baked goods. According to this article on WebMD, "The protein in flour lends structure and stability, while the starchy flours add lightness and airiness. When you first start baking GF it may be easier to stick with a simple multi-purpose flour blend before experimenting further. GF flour mixes that include xanthan gum or another binding agent are available. One example of a mix that includes xanthan gum is Jules Gluten Free All Purpose Flour. It is is $19.95 for 5 pounds and can be ordered online.

Two final notes to help make your GF baking a success. It is always best to store flours in airtight containers in a dark cool place to avoid having them turning rancid. Storing gluten-free flours in a freezer will help increase the flours shelf life. Finally, if you are not able to make the most perfect pie crust or cookie the first time; do not give up! This is a skill you will enjoy for the rest of your life. Continue your search for wonderful GF recipes and continue experimenting with baking GF. For times when you want to enjoy the crunch of a pretzel by simply opening a bag, Kay's Naturals has got your covered! Order them online here.

Gluten-Free Flour Blend Recipe (from WebMD):

  • 1.5 cups sorghum or brown rice flour   
  • 1.5 potato starch or cornstarch           
  • 1 cup tapioca flour      

Whisk together thoroughly and store in a dark, dry place.
When substituting this blend for wheat flour in recipes, use the same measurements at wheat flour.

Gluten Free Girl has another gluten-free flour mix recipe that is also easy to make. Her recipe can be found here.

Resources
How to make gluten-free flour mixes, www.glutenfreegirl.com
How to Substitute Eggs and Binding Agents, www.myrealfoodlife.com

Wheat free and gluten free flours, www.wheat-free.org

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