When I first tried to bake gluten free over a decade ago, it was a dismal failure. I was using a cookbook that only called for brown rice flour with the occasional potato starch added in. The recipes were terrible. So I gave up.
Ten years later and with a far more developed internet, gluten free recipes abound. I started trying other people’s recipes, and I was rapidly able to figure out what worked and what didn’t. I tend to go for the “simpler is better” approach to life, but when it comes to flours and gluten free baking, more is better. The texture and taste of gluten free baked goods are greatly improved by having a mixture of different flours.
I have two basic flour blends that I use a lot. The first blend is almond meal, sorghum flour, organic brown rice flour, and organic tapioca starch, all in equal proportions to each other. The second is sorghum flour, organic millet flour, organic brown rice flour, and organic tapioca starch, again in equal proportions. I add ½ teaspoon of xanthan gum to each cup of gluten free flour that I use. Because I bake so often and in such quantities, I have canisters with these flour mixtures on my counter so that all I have to do is scoop out as much as I need. It saves time for me. When you read a recipe that calls for ¾ cup of four different flours, I’m actually just scooping three cups out of my canister.
In my pantry at this time, these are the gluten free flours and other mainstays that I use:
- By Bob’s Red Mill: Almond meal, organic coconut flour, sorghum flour, gluten free rolled oats, xanthan gum (all purchased at Whole Foods)
- By Arrowhead Mills: Organic yellow corn meal, organic brown rice flour, organic white rice flour, gluten free steel cut oats (all purchased at Whole Foods) and organic millet flour (purchased from Amazon)
- By Let’s Do Organic: Organic tapioca starch and organic cornstarch (both purchased from Amazon)
I grind my own flax meal using a coffee bean grinder (never used on coffee) and organic flax seeds. I started doing this an eternity ago and just haven’t stopped. I was also grinding my own organic millet flour until I found it at Amazon. I eventually want to be able to grind all my own flours, but I’m not there yet. It consumes time and energy that I just don’t have right now.
When I am baking with gluten, I often use organic whole spelt flour. I preferred the taste of it to whole wheat when I was still eating gluten and found it often baked better. At other times, I will use organic whole wheat pastry flour or organic all purpose wheat flour. All of these come from the bulk bins at Whole Foods.
As far as sweeteners go, I will often use organic Sucanat (purchased at Whole Foods in bulk or in packages) which adds a rich flavor that helps compensate for the blander taste of gluten free flours when compared to wheat or spelt. I also use Wholesome Sweeteners organic evaporated cane juice (aka sugar) which we buy in a huge size bag from Costco (as if Costco would sell anything besides huge size). I use the Wholesome Sweeteners brand of organic powdered sugar because the 365 brand clumps too badly, and I’ve had to resort to running it through the Cuisinart which is effort I’d rather not expend. For brown sugar, I use the 365 brand organic light brown sugar.
The canisters pictured above are on my kitchen counter. The are available at The Container Store. They are only aluminum and glass so that I didn’t have to worry about outgassing vinyl or rubber, plus I liked how snugly they line up on the kitchen counter. However, the lids can be a real pain to get threaded correctly at times. My kitchen counter doesn’t normally look that great: There’s usually a stack of recipes, a bunch of supplements, bulk items that haven’t been transferred into storage containers, and my purse all piled in front of the canisters. However, I like how much nicer it looks when I clean it up for photos!
Thank you for mentioning where you get all the different types of flour. This blog is fantastic, both the writing and photography. You are really talented!
Thanks so much! Whole Foods hides the flours in two places at both stores: The baking aisle and the gluten free aisle. They seemingly randomly move them between the two, so it’s always a treasure hunt to find them. You can get almost all of the flours in a conventional variety at Whole Foods.
Do you think it’s safe to get flour and other things from bulk bins, or do you stick to packaged ingredients in order to avoid cross-contamination?
I was at Sprouts the other day and they had all their packaged gluten-free flours, mixes, etc., next to wheat flours. I thought that was weird; I’m new at this but it wasn’t what I expected.
Does Central Market have much to choose from? I haven’t made it down there yet.