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Gluten-Free Flours: A Guest Post

Photo source: Kevin Lallier



Today’s post is written by Linda, The Gluten-Free Homemaker. Gluten-free diets are becoming more and more common, and so gluten-free flours certainly have a place in many pantries. Since I’m not an expert, I jumped at the chance for Linda to address this topic. As it turns out, we can all benefit from the grains she discusses, regardless of our dietary circumstances. Watch for these items to go on sale and then take them for a test-drive. You may discover a new taste sensation.

Before being diagnosed with celiac disease my experience with flour included white flour and whole wheat flour.  Then I learned I had to be on a gluten-free diet for the rest of my life.  That meant I could no longer eat wheat, rye, barley, and most oats.  And so, I entered the challenging world of gluten-free baking.  I found that there are many other grains that can be used in baking, and I was limiting myself to only one!

The first thing you learn when you start to bake gluten free is that you can’t just substitute one flour for wheat flour.  You have to use a combination, and most of the time that combination includes at least one starch.  For example, using all rice flour could produce a very heavy product, but adding starches helps to lighten it.  Tapioca, potato, and corn starch are the ones most commonly used.

Photo source: Bookminx

Below is a comparison chart of nutrition facts for different grains.  All the grains listed except for wheat are gluten free (yes, buckwheat is gluten free).  The amounts given are for ¼ cup dry grain.

Grain
Calories
Fat(g)
Sodium(mg)
Carbs(g)
Fiber(g)
Protein(g)
Amaranth
182
3.25
10.25
32.25
4.5
7
Buckwheat
146
1.5
.5
30.5
4.25
5.75
Corn
152
2
14.5
30.75
3
4
Millet
189
2
2.5
36.5
4.25
5.5
Oats
152
2.75
.75
25.75
4.25
6.5
Quinoa
159
2.5
9
29.25
2.5
5.5
Brown rice
171
1.25
3.25
35.75
1.5
3.75
Sorghum
163
1.5
3
33.75
3
5.5
Teff
160
1
10
33
6
6
Wheat (not GF!)
158
1
1
32.75
5.75
7.5
The above list of gluten-free grains is not exhaustive, but it gives you an idea of how different it is from thinking about using only white flour or whole wheat flour.  Besides being combined with starch, whole grain flours sometimes work better in combination with each other.  There are many different flour mixes available to buy and probably even more flour mix recipes.  As you can imagine, it can be a challenge to store so many flours and mixes.  I use labeled containers and limit which flours and mixes I use.
One way I save money on gluten-free flour is to mill my own. Many people are familiar with milling wheat, but there are other whole grains that can also be milled. I mill different types of rice, sorghum, and millet. I buy the starches and make my own flour mixes or simply combine the flours as I’m making a recipe.
The important thing to remember about gluten-free flours is that they don’t contain gluten.  That means they will act differently in recipes.  When making wheat bread, the dough is kneaded to work the gluten.  Gluten-free dough does not require kneading.  In fact, it requires more liquid and is often closer to a batter than a dough. Gluten acts as a binder and most gluten-free recipes include alternative binders such as xanthan gum, guar gum, unflavored gelatin, and more eggs.
Baking with gluten-free flours is challenging, but it is also rewarding.  I have come to enjoy the opportunities to experiment.  I love serving delicious gluten-free food to my gluten eating family and friends, and I never apologize for that fact that it is gluten free.

— Linda writes about her culinary adventures at The Gluten-Free Homemaker.

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