So, you've promised yourself you're not eating sweets for two months. Or maybe you're committing to that gluten-free life. Or you just want to try out cooking (and baking) with healthier, more nutrient-dense foods. Get your cookie, gluten-free, and healthy-cooking fix by stocking up on these six gluten-free baking flours instead of all-purpose. There are so many better-for-you flours out there (we're talking flours made from nuts, whole grains, coconuts, etc.) that you can easily find in your grocery store and have fun experimenting with.
Because we bet you're wondering: There (unfortunately) are not exact measurements for swapping these flours for all-purpose flour in recipes. Some may be 1:1, but we can't make that general promise only for you to totally eff up the outcome. What we can promise you is an eye-opening look into a world of flours that you've maybe never used. Once you got these guys in the pantry, search Pinterest for specific recipes and you'll be golden.
Almond flour is considered the king of gluten-free flours. Besides giving your product a nutty, balanced flavor, the finely ground nut offers added moisture and tenderness to the recipes that use it. As with any nut, almond flour has a higher fat content than other flours plus adds in extra fiber and protein to your diet. It’s a good choice for use in baked goods with a light crumb texture: pancakes, muffins, cakes, etc.
If you're adventurous and want to try it in bread, tread lightly and only use 25 percent of almond flour in the whole percentage of your flour blend (a.k.a. the other 75 percent will be all-purpose). You can also use almond flour as a replacement for bread crumbs or to thicken sauces and soups.
It's a common belief that almond flour can be used as a 1:1 ratio with other gluten-containing flours. But, as a passionate baker myself, I'm telling you: Don't do that. Although almond flour can definitely be the sole flour in your product for some baked goods, do not use it as an exact replacement in your favorite recipe. Almond flour usually leaves a product a bit denser and sometimes calls for the necessary addition of an extra egg.
What can't oats do?! They make a breakfast overnight in the fridge, they make the creamiest dairy-free milk, and now we're telling you to use the grain in baking. The best part? You can make it at home by simply blending rolled oats until a fine flour forms. Oat flour is my favorite choice when I'm looking to add a crumbly and chewy texture to baked goods that I dream about (no? just me?).
Like almond flour, oat flour should primarily be used for lighter-textured baked goods such as muffins, cakes, cookies, crepes, pancakes, and other quick breads. Oats are the best flour to make a crumbly topping your vegan, no-bake desserts too. Important to note: Oats in their purest form are gluten-free, but some are processed in a facility with wheat so cross-contamination might be a concern. To play it safe, look for "gluten-free" on the packaging.
Do not be fooled by the word “wheat” in this wheat-less grain. Buckwheat, and therefore, buckwheat flour, is gluten-free by nature. Buckwheat flour adds a rich, nutty taste to products, and you'll find it most commonly used in Japan to make soba noodles, galettes in France, blinis (pancakes) in Eastern Europe, and chapati in various regions of India. This flour also makes a great addition to yeast breads as well, but only when brown rice flour is thrown in the mix too.
Brown Rice Flour
The most versatile flour of the bunch, brown rice flour is definitely a smart one to have on hand. Standing alone in a recipe, brown rice flour can make things gummy, chewy, and bland. But, when added to other gluten-free flours (like buckwheat), brown rice flour adds elasticity and structure and lets the other flours’ flavor notes shine. How nice, right? It's another one that helps to give a crumbly texture to the final product.
Brown rice flour is almost always necessary for yeast bread and can be used in all baking recipes, especially with pie dough. It's also perfect for gluten-free cooking tasks, like thickening sauces, adding protein to vegan soups, crafting healthy noodles, and “breading” meats and vegetables.
Coconut flour is a fine flour, but it can be ultra-absorbent when used alone, usually not leaving much of a crumb texture and rather a dense one at best. Like brown rice flour, coconut flour does wonders when mixed with other gluten-free flours. Just check out these coconut flour recipes for proof. Coconut flour is great for cookies, muffins, granolas, brownies, and quick breads. When using coconut flour, only use it for up to 25 to 40 percent of your flour mix and add in an extra egg for additional binding properties.
Sorghum flour is a mild, sweet flour that adds a soft bite to baked goods. It should be used in recipes that do not require a lot of flour; think brownies, peanut butter cookies, and soufflés. When standing alone as the sole flour, it is recommended that sorghum flour is mixed with starches, such as tapioca or potato, for better binding. When mixing sorghum with other flours, use it as 1/3 of your flour mix.
The Baker's Bottom Line
There’s a ton of better-for-you baking flours out there. Some are more nutritious, some are even better tasting, and all of the good ones are gluten-free. Yeah, it takes a little testing and getting used to, but didn’t you swear you’d be a better you in 2019?