I’ve been thinking about writing this series for a while now because of the onslaught of e-mails from readers wondering what flours to stock their pantries with. Most recently, though, a reader sent me an e-mail expressing her disappointment in my Orange Quinoa Muffins. The recipe worked but she was caught off guard by the quinoa flour, feeling that the flavor was a bit strong.
I love quinoa flour not only because of it’s nutty flavor but for the nutrition it adds to my baked goods. Obviously everyone doesn’t feel the same way. I decided to stop thinking about the series and just write.
This will be a multi-part series. Today, I’m talking about flour density, or how heavy the flours are. Next Friday I’ll talk about mixing flours and share recipes that give examples of each. Next we’ll talk about flavors and which flours mix well. The final post will be a gluten-free flour round-up of recipes from my favorite bloggers.
Choosing the Right Flour for the Job
Understanding the different properties of each flour will help you pick the right product for the job. I divide them into three ‘denseness’ categories: light, medium, and heavy. Remember that I’m talking about the lightness or heaviness of the flour, not the flavor.
- Lightweight gluten free flours, or the least dense, are your starchiest flours and are generally neutral in taste. Arrowroot, cornstarch, potato starch, sweet rice flour, tapioca flour, and white rice flour fall in this category. When I first saw cornstarch, arrowroot, and potato starch talked about as flours, I was totally confused. They’re technically not flours at all but used as such to enhance the quality of gluten free baked goods.
- Mediumweight gluten free flours are, on average, more nutritious than lightweight flours. These flours have a little more body and bulk, including amaranth, coconut, garbanzo bean, millet, quinoa, sorghum, superfine brown rice, and teff.
- Heavyweight flours are going to produce a much denser final product. These flours would also be more nutritious than starchier flours. Nut flours are obviously higher in fat but are packed with omega-3 fatty acids and other good-for-you nutrients. Almond flour, regular brown rice, buckwheat, stone ground cornmeal, and any other nut meal (walnut, pecan, chestnut, etc.) would be considered heavyweight flours.
Note: Each gluten-free food manufacturer produces a slightly different product. Try different brands and decide which you like best.
What’s your experience with gluten free flours? What do you like? What do you dislike? Questions? Leave it all in the comments and we can talk about it.
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I am still shocked, but my baking class only has 2 more spaces left. If you’re in the DFW area, I’d love for you to attend! Get all the info here.