March 27, 2009

 

Gluten-Free Flour Mixes

If you’re new to the gluten-free diet and are trying your hand at gluten-free baking, you might be a bit overwhelmed because there are so many gluten free flours. Unfortunately, you can’t just buy a type of flour and substitute it for wheat flour. Gluten-free flours usually have to be combined to work well in baked goods.

Once you’ve figure that out, there’s a new problem. There are so many gluten-free flour mixes! There are recipes in cookbooks and on web sites for flour mixes, and there are packaged mixes at the health food store. Which one should you use?

To answer that question, you have to ask yourself a few other questions.
There are so many flour mixes out there because people have different answers to those questions. If there was one perfect gluten-free flour mix, we would all be using it! Once you have answered those questions, look for flour mixes that meet your requirements for the first four questions. Try them out to see how they match with your answers to the last two questions, and you will find what works for you.
Here are my personal answers to the above questions:
When I was first diagnosed with celiac disease, there was not the wealth of information and recipes available that there is now. My greatest help came from cookbooks by Bette Hagman that I found at the library. Bette Hagman was a pioneer in the field of gluten-free baking and cooking. In some ways, we all owe her our gratitude for blazing the trail. One of her many accomplishments was to develop a gluten-free flour mix that works well in many recipes. I don’t use it as much as I used to, but I still keep the mix on hand and find that it works particularly well in dessert recipes.

Bette Hagman’s basic gluten-free flour mix (she did develop other mixes):
The second cookbook author who has greatly influenced me is Carol Fenster. You can check her out at Savory Palate. She also has several flour mixes, but my favorite is her sorghum flour blend.
You can see that Carol’s mix has more starch than Bette’s which makes it lighter. It does not contain rice, which is a benefit for those who can’t have it or don’t like the texture of rice flour. I also keep this flour mix on hand. Sometimes I will use a combination of the two mixes.

I know there are plenty of other good, nutritional gluten-free flours such as amaranth, millet, and quinoa. Some I have tried, some I haven’t. I occasionally try different things, but I run out of room to store so many flours, and what I have works.

You will find that most of my recipes on this site do not call for a flour mix, but have individual flour amounts listed. I do that so that if you want to duplicate what I have done, you can do so without having to make up a flour mix first. It is also because I am often tweaking a recipe a little. However, you can substitute whatever flour mix you like using for the total amount of flour I have listed, and you should still get good results. Just remember that if your flour mix has xanthan gum in it, omit that from the recipe or adjust it.

The one exception to substituting any flour mix would be when making a loaf of bread. If you’ve tried it, you know that baking gluten-free bread is tricky. Therefore, I recommend following anyone’s bread recipe closely the first time, unless you just like to experiment.
If you have questions about gluten-free flours or mixes, please leave a comment or send me an email.

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Comments:
Hello, I found your blog via the UBP and I'm so glad I did. Your blog is such a good resource. My goddaughter was just put on a gluten-free diet and her mom (my BF) is having quite a hard time finding things she'll eat. I'm so sorry that you have these health issues, but it seems as though you have taken charge of the situation. Good luck on your continued journey and I plan on coming by your blog again.
 
Linda, this is a very logical way to break down the GF flour mix issue. I agree with you completely that bean flours have too intense a smell and flavor for most applications, and I have also omitted it from my flour mixes.

As for protein, this is where amaranth comes in for my mix. It adds a lot of flavor as well as protein, and you don't have to add a lot to reap its benefits.

I'm curious about this Bette Hagman flour mix you mention. I have seen it elsewhere, and I've tried it but with poor results. I found that it made the dough much too wet, and the product much too dense. What type of recipes has it worked in for you? I probably only tried it for scones and muffins.

I love your posts on GF flours - very informative! Thanks again.
 
Gina, I have used Bette's mix in cakes, cookies, muffins, and other things with good results. It will be a bit heavier because of the amount of rice flour, but how finely the flour is ground will have an effect on the outcome. As I mentioned, I sometimes use both Bette's and Carol's mixes to get a good balance.
 
That is a great idea. My sister-in-law can't have gluten. I'll have to share this with her.
 
Jules Shepard's gluten free flour blend can be substituted in any recipe. If you buy it before May 31, she will donate $5 to the center for celiac research for every bag purchased. It contains Expandex, which increases the shelf life of baked goods.

http://www.examiner.com/x-5121-DC-Gluten-Free-Examiner~y2009m3d22-Jules-Shepard-Gluten-free-all-purpose-flour-mixes-and-two-books
 

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