Before you bake your first gluten free recipe, you need to undertake a gluten free flour comparison, since the foundation of any baking recipe is flour — in our case, gluten free flour. How do you know what gluten free flour or blend combination is best for which recipe? Should you blend your own or buy a pre-mixed gluten free flour blend? Read on for how to make a smart gluten free flour comparison.
When we used to bake with gluten flours (aka wheat flour), it didn’t matter which brand you bought off the grocery store shelf, they were all pretty much the same. Gold Metal brand or store brand — your recipe would turn out the same. With gluten free baking, you have to throw that notion out the kitchen window. No two gluten free flours or gluten free flour blends are at all the same, and you can’t simply take one gluten free flour (like rice flour) and use it in place of gluten (aka wheat) flour; it just won’t work.
With that in mind, understand that you’re going to need a BLEND of gluten free flours and most likely also some kind of binder to mimic the gluten that we’re missing. That binder will hold the baked goods together, and without it, most recipes will crumble to sad bits. Most bakers recommend using either xanthan gum, guar gum or psyllium husk, in varying and very small amounts (more on gums in this article here).
Remember when I told you that no two gluten free flour blends are the same? That fact is in part due to the fact that there are well over 20 gluten free flours which are fairly commonly available — I actually lost count at 23. Gluten free flours include everything from ubiquitous rice flours to nut flours like almond, peanut and even acorn, to seed flours like millet and quinoa to insect flours like cricket (yes, I said cricket). It seems that with a certain amount of ingenuity, you could make flour out of nearly anything!
And not only are there so many different gluten free flours out there, but there are so many different combinations and proportions possible, that there’s no way that two blends could be similar, even when the ingredients may look the same. With that in mind, when I field reader questions about recipes, I always ask what flour blend they’re using first. Results will vary incredibly, based upon blends. Don’t think the problem lies with you if your gluten free pie crust falls apart — it’s probably because of the gluten free flour blend you’re using.
When I finally created (after two years of work!) a truly All Purposegluten-free flour that I could use just like I had my all purpose wheat flour before, I was back baking delicious foods again, for everyone! I was so excited to share delicious treats with friends and family — and to lick the bowl — that I ultimately started sharing my “Jules Flour” with tens of thousands of others living gluten-free because it was too good to keep just for myself! I’m proud to also share that it has now won #1 certified Gluten Free Flour 3 years in a row in the consumer choice Gluten Free Awards (2015, 2016, 2017).
When you want to convert a favorite family recipe calling for wheat flour, or a gluten free recipe calling for several different kinds of flour, all you need to do is to use mygfJules™ All Purpose Gluten Free Flour. Simply total up the amount of flour called for in the recipe and use that amount of my gfJules Flour instead. Easy, right?
Gluten free flours range from mild to flavorful, fine to gritty. Know which are best for general baking.
Things to look for in a great Gluten Free Flour blend:
When reading ingredient labels, put the bag down if the first ingredient is rice flour — white or brown. That means that the blend is predominantly rice flour and it’s likely to be gritty and also to cause recipes to be dry or crumbly.
If the blend does not already include a gum or psyllium husk, then you’re most likely going to have to add it yourself, which is a bummer because a quality, gluten free gum can be expensive! It’s also important to only use the exact right amount of gums in any given recipe, since using too much of these gums in your baking will make your baked goods rubbery – read more about how to use these gums in your baking in my article on gluten free baking with gums
Do yourself a favor and don’t use any bean flours! They smell funny, they leave an odd aftertaste, and using them in your recipes means you’ll often need to add more sugar to mask those unpleasant characteristics! Choose clean flours that don’t have any taste and the flavors of your recipes will shine through.
Steer clear of gluten free flours that have a funky aftertaste. Some other whole grain flours like amaranth, quinoa, sorghum, millet and others have distinct flavors which may or may not appeal to you. They will taste different than the all purpose wheat flour you are used to, though. Decide whether you like the taste and performance of these flours through experimentation, if you’re the kind of baker who likes to try new things. If not, know that these flours will taste different, which may not be what you had in mind.
Blends that contain a lot of rice flour tend to be gritty. To combat that, make sure blends you buy or make have enough starches in it (corn starch, potato starch, tapioca starch, arrowroot powder …) to keep the end product light, instead of dense, heavy and gritty.
Many gluten free flour blends contain dairy or other food allergens which may not work for your family. Review ingredient labels closely, and know that there are alternatives if the blend you’re considering won’t work for you.
All kinds of recipes for all purpose flours are easy to find, although not all of them are good. It can also be quite burdensome to mix up a recipe for gluten free flour that is specific to each recipe — many recipe authors specify different individual gluten free flours for each recipe. Several pre-mixed blends are available as well (mygfJules Flouris the one I recommend for my recipes on this site). If you try one that doesn’t work for you, try another — they are all created differently! Don’t get discouraged or feel too overwhelmed to bake now that you’ve gone gluten free. It can be quite easy and delicious when you have the right ingredients to take the guess-work out of it for you!
If you have other food allergies or sensitivities which precludes you from using a pre-made all purpose flour like my gfJules Flour, a good starting place to make your own homemade blend for cookies, cakes and quick breads is to use this ratio of whole grains to starches plus gum (keep in mind that the blend performs better when you use a mix of starches and whole grains, rather than just two flours in total – experiment and keep good notes!):
2 1/2 cups gluten free starch (choose at least one: cornstarch, potato starch, tapioca starch, arrowroot, sweet rice …)
1 1/2 cups gluten free whole grain flour (choose at least one: sorghum, millet, brown rice, buckwheat, white rice, sweet potato, almond, amaranth, teff, quinoa, coconut, oat …)
4 teaspoons xanthan (some are made with corn) OR guar gum
For yeast breads and pizza dough, you’ll want to change the ratio given above to equal parts starch and whole grain plus 1 teaspoon gum per cup of flour blend.
If you prefer to purchase a pre-made blend which suits your food allergies, I totally understand (it’s very handy!). You may have to tweak some recipes, as all blends are different — some require more liquid than others, for example — but the corn-free blend I recommend is Better Batter Flour.
Voted #1 certified Gluten Free All Purpose Flour 3 years in a row in the nationwide Gluten Free Awards.
At the end of the day, don’t be daunted by all these recipes and ratios, though. I don’t make a new blend for every recipe anymore. What I use EVERY day in ALL recipes is my gfJules™ Gluten Free All Purpose Flour. It takes the guess-work out of all of it; I know I can rely on it to work and it has been formulated with particular ingredients to keep baked goods fresher longer, and provide soft stretch to pastry crusts and doughs.