Saturday, July 28, 2012

Gluten-Free Flour Mix

(My attempt to show off my gluten-free flour while hiding my kitchen that is torn down to the studs)

Going gluten-free was not going to prevent me from partaking in the joy of baking.  I have always loved baking, from the time I was little waiting for Christmas cookies to cool or helping my mom make chocolate-chip cookies and getting to lick the spoon, before we learned about Salmonella.  I knew I wanted to continue baking and enjoying all of the treats that I grew up with.  But, I had to first get over one big hurdle: finding the right flour.

As I quickly learned, it was not going to be as easy as substituting a gluten-free flour for the wheat-flour.  Rice flour does not work for baking on its own and the premixed gluten-free all-purpose flours never tasted quite right to my finicky taste buds.  Undeterred, I knew I could find the right combination.

After some extensive reading from various gluten-free cookbooks and blogs, I learned that creating a gluten-free flour requires a delicate mix of ingredients.   I also learned that different mixes are needed for different types of baking. For instance, you will use a different mix of flours for cookies, than you will for cakes and brownies, and those will look different from pastry mixes.  But, with a little time, you can create flours to bake all of the treats just as well, or even better, than those you remember before you went gluten free.

Most people divide gluten-free flour in to three different categories: heavy, medium, and light.  Heavy flours include your grain and grain-like flours like buckwheat, millet, quinoa, corn, nut, and bean flours.  These flours make your produce heavier and denser.

Medium flours are your most common type of flours.  Examples of these types of flours are brown rice flour or sorghum flour.  These will usually make up a large part of your flour mix.

Light flours are most commonly gluten-free starches, like tapioca starch (also known as tapioca flour), potato starch (NOT the same as potato flour), and corn starch.  Make sure they are labeled gluten-free because some brands of these starches contain gluten.

If you are looking for more in-depth information about gluten-free flours, visit the gluten free goddess or the gluten free mommy. They have great information about all types of gluten-free flour; these women are AMAZING!

For my basic gluten-free, all-purpose flour mix that I use for cookies, pancakes, waffles, and roux, I follow a basic 2:2:1 rule.  2 parts light flour or starch, 2 parts medium flour, and 1 part heavy grain flour.  I have personally not tried all possible combinations but I have tried quite a few and the consistency of the baked product was similar for each.  The flours that you choose depend on the taste you like and your tolerance of other grains.

My go to mix is 2 parts tapioca starch, 2 parts brown rice flour, and 1 part almond flour.  Some people like to substitute a bean flour or quinoa flour for the almond flour because of the health benefits.  But I have trouble tolerating quinoa and bean flours so I stick to almond flour.  Other people like sorghum flour over brown rice flour for taste purposes.  But I really don't notice the difference and brown rice is easier to find.  So which ever you prefer works fine.

This is only my basic flour mix.  When I bake cakes, pies, pastries, or breads I use other flour mixes.  And I'll share those when I have a stove to bake with....hubby.....when's that happening??? Just teasing.:)

What about you?  Any flour mixes that anyone else likes to use?

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