Bachelor of Science (with Honours)
Advanced Diplomas in each of Naturopathy, Nutrition, and Herbal Medicine.
Lisa is the author of The Little Book of Allergy-Friendly series and the Producer and Presenter of the web-series The Alternative Chef Kitchen.
There’s no such thing as a standard gluten-free flour
While I enjoy cooking and creating alternatives to all the foods I used to be able to eat, I don’t think of myself as a baker and most of the time there is some level of detail I’m happy to leave to the other experts to figure out (like blending fine and heavy flours to create your own perfect homemade gluten-free flour blend).
Having said that, because of the sheer number of options nowadays, picking a commercial option of the shelf might not be so simple either, because there is no such thing as a standard gluten-free flour.
If you take a close look at the ingredients list of the commercial options on the shelf next time you’re at the supermarket you’ll find they each contain a range of different ingredients, the most common being the following:
- Maize starch
- Potato flour
- Tapioca flour
- Bean flour
- Soy flour
- Rice flour
Some commercial blends also contain
- Rising agents (e.g. in Self-raising flour blends)
- And ingredients such as guar gum or xantham gum)
The variety is great because it means there are now combinations for people who have a diet that is gluten and something else free.
The down-side is that sometimes recipes turn out different depending on the flour alternative you have used. So here are our tips for choosing a commercial flour blend:
- Make sure the ingredients are right for your diet, e.g. if you can’t tolerate soy, then make sure you pick a blend which is soy free. If you can’t tolerate rice, pick a blend which is rice free etc.
- Check your recipe and make sure you’re getting the right kind of flour (e.g. self-raising or plain). If you can’t find a self-raising blend that suits your diet, but you do have a plain flour blend, then sometimes adding gluten-free baking powder (usually 1 teaspoon per cup) to a suitable plain flour might work.
- If you’re making something like bread, biscuits, pastry or scones which requires the dough to be a little stretchy, then check that your commercial blend contains an ingredient such as xantham gum or guar gum (and the one which is suitable for your diet if it does). If not, you might need to add some to the flour blend before making the recipe.
- Lastly, consider the taste of the flour blend. Flour blends with bean flours are going to have quite a distinct taste compared to flours that are made with rice and maize flours (which will be sweeter to taste).
Do they all give the same result?
In my experience, different commercial gluten-free flour blends can give quite a different result in certain recipes, For example, one commercial brand that uses chickpea and white bean flour, gives a lovely result when making our Gluten, dairy, soy and egg-free pastry but it looks and tastes completely different to another commercial brand which avoids the bean flours and uses maize, potato and rice flours.
One of the reasons for this is the difference in nutritional content of the flours which make up the mix (for example the bean based flours are higher in protein than the grain based flours). Ultimately, the blend you use will depend on your own specific dietary needs and your taste buds will adapt.
In our book The Little Book of Allergy-Friendly Homemade Basics we’ve got a collection of pastry alternatives, including the two recipes for the pastry pictured above. To buy the E-Book click HERE
Until next time …… Lisa.
For Lisa’s previous blog click HERE
For all the books from The Alternative Chef Kitchen click HERE