Flour Mix (Gluten-Free!)

Here are three flour-replacer recipes: One for general purpose, one for people who you know like garbanzo flour, and one that is extra-simple. After the recipes is a discussion of the ingredients, and information about where to find them.

Valerie’s basic gluten-free flour mix:

Valerie's Basic Gluten-Free Flour Mix
 
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Valerie's everyday gluten-free flour replacer mix.
Author:
Recipe type: Valerie's everyday flour mix
Serves: 1 cup
Ingredients
To replace 1 cup of flour:
  • 1/3 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/3 cup teff flour
  • 1/3 cup tapioca starch OR potato starch OR cornstarch
  • 2-3 teaspoons ground flaxseeds OR 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients.

 

Valerie’s family gluten-free flour mix:

Valerie's Family Gluten-Free Flour Mix - only for people who like chickpea flour
 
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Valerie's family gluten-free flour mix -- ONLY suitable for people who like garbanzo flour!
Author:
Recipe type: Valerie's family gluten-free flour mix
Serves: 1 cup
Ingredients
To replace 1 cup of flour:
  • 1/4 cup garbanzo bean flour / chickpea flour
  • 1/4 cup quinoa flour
  • 1/4 cup teff flour
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch OR potato starch OR cornstarch
  • 2-3 teaspoons ground flaxseeds OR 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients.

 

And, finally, Valerie’s simple gluten-free flour mix:

Valerie's Simple Gluten-Free Flour Mix
 
Prep time
Total time
 
Valerie's simple gluten-free flour mix
Author:
Recipe type: Valerie's simple gluten-free flour mix
Serves: 1 cup
Ingredients
To replace 1 cup flour:
  • 2/3 cup brown rice flour
  • 1/3 cup tapioca starch OR potato starch OR cornstarch
  • 2-3 teaspoons ground flaxseeds OR 1/2 teaspoon xanthan gum or guar gum
Instructions
  1. Mix all ingredients.

 

In more detail:

To make a good gluten-free replacer for flour, you need three things:

1) What I think of as a “structural” flour.
2) A starchy flour.
3) Something to stick it together.

“Structural” flour can be any of these: brown rice flour, quinoa flour, teff flour, garbanzo/chickpea flour, garfava flour, or almond flour.

Starchy flour can be any of: potato starch, tapioca starch, cornstarch.

To stick it together, you can use: xanthan gum, guar gum, or ground flaxseeds.

To replace 1 cup of flour with gluten-free flour, use 3/4 cup structural flour, 1/4 cup starchy flour, and either 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan/guar gum or 2 teaspoons of flaxmeal.

The flours in more detail:

Structural Flours:

Brown rice flour works well in recipes. I’ve been trying to cut down on rice in my diet since Consumer Reports found that there is a lot of arsenic (a carcinogen) in rice. But I do still use some brown rice flour — it works great in a lot of recipes. I like the brand Arrowhead Mills.

Quinoa flour adds protein and a magical moist fluffiness to baked goods. I’ve occasionally had gluten-eaters tell me that they like baked goods with quinoa flour better than the same thing made with real flour. I’ve sometimes found that Bob’s Red Mill brand has a bitter taste, so my family buys Ancient Harvest brand, which I have never found to taste bitter – just fluffy and floury.

Teff flour is high in iron, adds a “wheaty” taste to baked goods, and turns them dark brown. It is traditionally used in the Ethiopian flatbread called injera. Gluten-free baked goods sometimes stay pale white even after they are cooked through, so adding some teff flour into the mix makes them look a gorgeous golden color, plus it adds nutrients. Don’t make more than about 1/4 of your flour mix from teff, though, because that turns baked goods a chocolate brown — and then people are disappointed when they don’t taste like chocolate. I wish I could find a source of organic gluten-free teff flour, but so far I haven’t, so my family buys Bob’s Red Mill Teff Flour.

Garbanzo/chickpea flour is complicated. To some people it tastes like band-aids (yuck!), while other people are genetically wired not to taste it at all. Because of this, I would be tempted to avoid using it. But nobody in my family can taste the bad taste — it tastes fine to us. And garbanzo flour is full of nutrients, and doughs, batters, and flours made with garbanzo flour are very well-behaved and easy to work with. So I use garbanzo flour as part of the mix when I am baking for my own family, but not when I’m baking for non-family members. Like teff flour, I have not found a source of gluten-free organic garbanzo bean flour. So my family buys Bob’s Red Mill Garbanzo Flour.

Garfava flour is made from a mix of garbanzo beans and fava beans. It has the same advantages and disadvantages of garbanzo flour, but also some people have an enzyme deficiency that can make fava beans fatal to them. Because of this, I never use fava bean flour in any recipe that anybody outside my family is going to eat. In my opinion, it is just too risky.

Almond flour/almond meal is made from finely ground almonds. It is unique among gluten-free flours because you can replace wheat flour with almond flour one-for-one in many recipes, with no gums or mixing with other flours. Plus, since it is made from almonds, it is full of protein and nutrients. You can also grind your own fairly easily by grinding almonds in a blender or food processor. Just be sure to stop grinding before it turns into almond butter.

Starchy Flours:

Potato starch works really well in recipes, to replace 1/4 to 1/3 of the flour. It is a great thickener for puddings and gravies, and just all-around well-behaved. However, non-organically-grown potatoes are high in pesticide residues, and I have not been able to find a gluten-free organic brand of potato starch, so I have been avoiding using it in my recipes. Tapioca starch works just as well in flour mixes, and organic tapioca starch is easy to find. But sometimes I do use potato starch anyway. When I do, I buy Bob’s Red Mill potato starch.

Tapioca starch /tapioca flour works fine in recipes too, to replace 1/4 to 1/3 of the flour. My family usually buys a brand called Let’s Do Organic.

Cornstarch works fine too, the same as the other starchy flours. I have a child who recently outgrew a corn allergy, so I am out of the habit of using cornstarch in recipes. But if you are not sensitive to it, it should work fine. I recommend buying organic, because non-organic corn is genetically modified to be resistant to herbicides that growers then apply in huge amounts, so you get lots of herbicide residue in non-organic corn.

Binders:
Flour contains gluten, which binds baked goods together. Gluten-free flour of course does not contain any gluten. This means that gluten-free baked goods need something to bind the finished food together. Otherwise it will fall apart into crumbs. I have done this!!

For most baked goods such as cake, muffins, or banana bread, for a binder you can add 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum or guar gum per cup of flour, or 2-3 teaspoons of ground flaxseeds. Cookies only need half as much binder. Foods that have a lot of eggs, such as crepes, don’t need any binder at all, because eggs are a good binder.

Xanthan gum is an excellent binder for baked goods. It is grown on corn, so it may be a problem for people who have a corn allergy. Use 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum per cup of flour. Xanthan gum is expensive, but since you use only tiny amounts in recipes, a container of xanthan gum lasts for a long time. My family buys Bob’s Red Mill Xanthan Gum. I have found that xanthan gum not only binds baked goods together, but also binds them to the baking pan! So make sure you are thorough about greasing the pan and flouring it — with a gluten-free flour such as brown rice flour, of course — to prevent sticking.

Guar gum is very similar to xanthan gum, but it is made from ground up guar seeds, whatever those are. There is no corn involved in making guar gum, so it is a better choice than xanthan gum for people with corn sensitivities. Note that guar gum binds baked goods together as they cool down, so if you try to slice a food that contains guar gum while it is hot and fresh from the oven, it is likely to fall apart into a pile of crumbs. Let it cool first, and then it should slice nicely. Guar gum, like xanthan gum, tends to stick baked goods to the pan, so greasing and flouring — with a gluten-free flour — are important to prevent sticking. My shopping pick is NOW Foods Guar Gum.

Ground Flaxseeds are my favorite binder. Compared to xanthan or guar gum, they seem more like a real food and less like a weird chemical. They have some nutritional value. Plus they don’t bind baked goods to the pan the way xanthan and guar gums do. Use 2 to 3 teaspoons of ground flaxseeds per cup of flour. I rarely measure ground flaxseeds when I bake — adding a little too much just adds some extra nutrients to the finished baked goods. I found a huge bag of Flax USA Ground Flax Seeds at Costco. You can also find them on Amazon.


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