Last Friday there was a lively discussion about gluten free flour density – if you missed Part 1 of this series on gluten free flour density you can find it here.
More on Flour Density
I classified flours into three categories – lightweight, mediumweight, and heavyweight. My good friend Linda from Kitchen Therapy made a great point, one that I didn’t include – lightweight gluten free flours are probably not flours at all.
They’re some form of starch. Cornstarch, arrowroot starch, potato starch, tapioca starch. This confused me when I first started baking gluten free – putting cornstarch in my cupcakes was a little weird.
My earlier baking projects were starch heavy. I could get wheat-like results that way. I didn’t know much about the nutritional side of gluten free flours and only wanted an edible result.
Baking with Lightweight Gluten Free Flours
Here’s where I stand on this today:
I like using less lightweight, starchy flours and more nutrition dense flours in my baking. I feel better about what I’m putting in my body. That being said, I don’t think starchy flours are bad. They help improve texture. For me, the important part is being aware of what I’m eating and practicing moderation.
Obviously, the less non-nutritious foods I put in my body the better. Nutrient dense quinoa and millet are much healthier choices than cornstarch. Hands down.
But let’s look at this from an analytical standpoint:
Let’s say a muffin recipe calls for 2 cups of quinoa flour and 1/2 cup of tapioca starch. The yield is 12 muffins.
There are roughly 24 teaspoons in 1/2 cup. Each muffin would have about 2 teaspoons of starch in it. Not a huge deal. (Please note: This is based on a liquid measure so it’s close but not exact.)
Why We Mix Gluten Free Flours (or starches…)
Mixing flours generally gives a better result. It’s not necessary with all flours, but it helps most.
When you combine a lightweight flour and a heavyweight flour, the final product is lighter. This is why you often see a starchy flour mixed with a medium or heavyweight flour.
Which Combination Will Work Best?
To answer this question, you have to know a couple of things. First, know what you’re trying to create. If you want to make a traditional white cake for a birthday party, choose flours that are light in color and texture. A mix heavier in starch will probably work best.
Maybe you want to make a nutritious breakfast muffin that will satisfy your appetite while not making you crash later from too many carbs. For this I’d go with a mix that is mostly garbanzo bean or quinoa flour mixed with sorghum and a little arrowroot or tapioca starch to improve the texture.
When testing a new recipe, I generally start with 4 parts medium or heavyweight flour to 1 part lightweight flour. I also like to mix medium and heavyweight flours in a recipe. Over time, I’ve learned to let gluten free flours be what they are. The creative freedom that has come from this has been incredible.
The second thing to know is what flours work well together and which ones don’t. More about this next week.
To help make this a little more concrete, here are some recipes that feature different flour mixes.
Please note that these are not perfect examples, instead they’re here to illustrate the different ways these flours can be used.
- Lightweight Gluten Free Flour Recipes
Chive & Parsley Cream Biscuits
Lynn’s Gluten Free Bread Machine Bread
- Mediumweight Gluten Free Flour Recipes
Carrot Date Spice Muffins
Sour Milk Sorghum Pancakes from Linda at Kitchen Therapy
- Heavier Gluten Free Flour Recipes
Cranberry Walnut Bread with Buckwheat Flour
Buckwheat Pumpkin Muffins
What’s your experience with mixing gluten free flours?