When baking gluten free the first hurdle to jump over is understanding all the different flours that can be used. There are many great resources online that give information about all the different kinds of flour you can use to bake gluten free. For most people buying a packaged mix is an easy way to go. All purpose flour mixes are great in a pinch! I make all my own flour mixes but I still keep Gluten Free Mama’s Almond Blend on hand because that has always been my favorite prepackaged gluten free mix. I recommend her blend for people that can not access all the gluten free flours I use in baking. You can buy from her website or find her products on Amazon.
For the best results making your own blends is great! Different flour combinations work in different recipes. For instance, a cake blend needs to be lighter and higher in starches than a bread blend. Bread blends need more protein and hardier flours in order to hold their shapes better.
I like using sorghum flour in most of my blends. Sorghum flour is light and smooth. Many rice fours can be grainy and lead to that strange texture that many gluten free baked goods are known for.
Lets dive into the flours I use regularly and what you will need when you make my flour blends. Gluten free flours tend to fall into three categories: light starchy flours, medium flours and heavy protein packed flours. Blends mix two or three of the types of flours together in different combinations to create the perfect texture.
Sorghum Flour is an ancient cereal grain. I love it because it is a whole grain. Whole grains are healthier and digest slower making them lower on the glycemic index. This is important because gluten free baking tends to use a lot of white rice flours and starches and although they are necessary to use its unhealthy to eat to much. Sorghum is grown and eaten all over the world, but is less common in the United States. It is a non GMO grain high in nutrients and protein. I find it the perfect base for much of my baking.
Rice Flours are a staple in gluten free baking. But not all rice flours are good use. Rice flours can be ground from white or brown rice. Both can be grainy and dry. Sweet rice flour is light and starchy. It is great used as a thickener and in sweet baked goods. I also use it to dust my surfaces when rolling out dough. Brown and white rice flours are best when ground super fine. Superfine flours can be harder to find but make a huge difference in the texture of your baked goods!
Tapioca Starch/Flour is a staple in gluten free baking. I use it in my cookie mix because it adds a crispness and lightness to them. Tapioca starch is ground from the cassava root. The flour and starch are the same thing and can be used interchangeably . There is no significant nutritional value.
Potato Starch is my go to starch in my mixes. it is made from the starch of the potato only. It helps with the moisture content in baked goods. Unlike tapioca, potato starch and potato flour are not the same. Read the label carefully when buying to make sure you have the starch and not the flour.
Potato Flour is basically just dried ground potatoes. It uses the whole potato instead of just the starch. Potato flour is a great thickener and when used in small quantities adds a ton of moisture to baked goods.
Arrowroot Starch is a great starch to use as a healthier replacement for corn starch. It is great for thickening gravy and sauces. I use this starch when someone is allergic to potatoes or corn. It is easy to digest and is less processed that corn starch.
Corn Starch is a staple in most kitchens. It is used to thicken gravy and sauces. It is of course made from corn. It is important to look for non GMO corn starch.
Oat Flour is made from ground oats. I grind my own in my blender from whole gluten free oats. Oats are gluten free by nature but it is important to look for gluten free on the label. Oats processed in a factory with wheat flour get contaminated and make many people have gluten reactions.
Buckwheat Flour is a wonderful whole grain flour. Despite its name buckwheat is not wheat and is naturally gluten free. It adds a nice colors and flavor to baked goods. It is also wonderful in pancakes. Buckwheat holds moisture well and will really help keep your backed goods moist and soft.
Almond Flour is a high protein flour that really helps gluten free flour mixes hold up better. Not all almond flours are create equal. I like to use blanched almond meal. It is important hat it is ground fine to keep a good texture to your baked goods. I buy mine from Honeyville and have been very happy with its performance. Almond meal/flour is the go to flour when eating Paleo/
Coconut Flour is another staple in Paleo baking. it absorbed a lot of liquid and should be used in small quantities in baked goods. It does tend to flavor your foods so it is good if you like coconut flavor.
There are other gluten free flours out there but these are my go to flours and starches. I use them in different combinations depending on what I am baking. When you are buying your flours make sure they say gluten free on the label and when ever possible make sure they are processed in a dedicated gluten free factory. You can find a link to my Amazon store with ingredients I use on my resource page.