Some of us are choosing to cook and bake gluten-free recipes these days, whether that’s because of health reasons or just preference. And thanks to experimental bakers of years past, GF staple ingredients and recipes are widely used. Meaning you can have your cake… you get the idea.
When it comes to baking, flour really is an essential. And there are many gluten-free flours available to try, made from ground-up or milled gluten-free foods.
Each gluten-free flour has individual properties that lends itself better to certain types of food, and you may find it takes a while to master using each one. For example, if you want to give your pancakes a nutty flavour, buckwheat will deliver that.
Many cooks also advise using a combination of different GF flours in one recipe. Doing this can help achieve the perfect structure and texture in your bake – both of which gluten is typically responsible for.
It’s worth keeping in mind these three things when using these GF flour alternatives:
- Generally speaking, cakes made with GF flours will need to be baked for longer, due to the recipe requiring more liquid (more on that below). Usually five or 10 minutes longer will do the trick.
- Talking about liquid, you will use more liquid in a GF recipe. This is because GF flours are heavier, and absorb more liquid than wheat flours.
- It’s also worth being a bit more liberal on the (gluten-free) baking powder when baking, too. This will ensure a decent rise and fluffiness.
Here are a few of the most popular gluten-free flours, and some tips on how to use them.
An absolute cupboard staple, gluten-free plain flour is milled from naturally gluten-free rice, tapioca, maize and buckwheat. Use the same amount as you would do with regular flour, but it’s definitely worth adding a little extra liquid in most recipes that call for gluten-free plain flour.
This flour is milled using naturally gluten-free rice, potato, tapioca, maize and buckwheat flours, with raising agents. As with normal self-raising flour, use it for cakes and other bakes that require a good rise.
You’d usually need a blend of at least three flours to achieve the characteristics of a good loaf of bread. But instead, you can use gluten-free bread flour, which is made up of rice, tapioca and potato, which are all naturally gluten-free.
Milled from whole buckwheat, the mild sweetness of this flour is perfect for baking with. Buckwheat is naturally gluten-free – and unlike its name will have you believe, it doesn’t contain any wheat. It slightly earthy flavour makes it perfect for using to make pancakes and pasta.
Fibre and vitamin C-rich Teff flour comes from the African grain teff, and is best known for its use in the Ethiopian flatbread, injera. It has a mild taste and fine texture, and its versatility lends itself well to all sorts of sweet and savoury treats, especially pie crust, pancakes, scones, and shortbread.
Brown rice flour has a subtle earthy flavour, while white rice flour is almost flavourless. Both come in very handy when making cakes and bread, as well as batter, and can be used to thicken sauces.
Cassava flour is a good substitute for wheat flour in baking. It can be used in many recipes, including bread, muffins, cookies and cakes, as well as pasta, sauces and flatbreads. But bear in mind that it absorbs more liquid than wheat flour, so you may need to use less than you would normal wheat flour.
This high-fibre flour is ideal for hand-baking and using in bread machines, but is very absorbent, so use it sparingly. It’s also great to use in cakes and pancakes, without giving them an overpowering coconut flavour.
Quinoa is a high-protein, wholegrain flour use in baking, cooking or for thickening sauces. It has a mild nutty flavour that lends itself especially well to cake and bread recipes. It’s the perfect flour to add to a recipe that needs the sticky, binding properties of gluten.
Another cupboard staple, cornflour is great for thickening sauces and desserts, and it can add lightness to baked bread, muffins, pancakes and waffles. This ultra-fine flour is good for giving structure to baked food, and is extremely versatile.
Also commonly known as gram flour, chickpea flour is traditionally used in Indian cooking. It’s packed with fibre, and has an earthy flavour. Use it to coat vegetables for pakoras, or to make flatbreads