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Oct/Nov 2012 Issue
Mix it Up: Gluten-Free Flour
The beauty of gluten-free baking is that it opens the door to a variety of highly nutritious and flavorful flours, like these.
Amaranth flour is made from an herb that’s grown for its edible leaves and seeds. High in protein, calcium and iron, this pale-beige flour has a strong, nutty/hay aroma and taste that pairs best with similarly assertive flavors, like chili powder, cumin and dark sweeteners like molasses.
Garbanzo bean flour is made from dried, ground chickpeas. This butter-yellow flour delivers earthy flavor to crackers and other baked goods and adds elasticity to dough, making it easier to roll out. (Too much can cause dough to be sticky.) The flavor is pronounced, so it’s best in small amounts in gluten-free blends. Store in a tightly sealed bag in the freezer or refrigerator.
Millet flour is milled from one of the staple cereal crops of central Asian and Africa that most associate with birdseed. Golden in color with a sweet, nutty aroma, millet flour is ideal for gluten-free baking because it adds a mellow, buttery flavor and good structure, thanks to its relatively high protein content. Due to its moderate fat content, it’s best to store millet flour in the freezer to prevent it from becoming rancid.
Quinoa flour is ground from quinoa seeds, an Andean grass. High in protein and lysine, quinoa flour has a grayish-beige color with a strong, grassy aroma. The flour has a love-it-or-hate it flavor and is at its best when blended with milder flours, like white sorghum, millet and rice.
Sorghum flour is milled from the seeds of a grass similar to millet. The soft, light-beige flour is commonly sold as “sweet” or “white” sorghum flour, although it does not taste particularly sweet. Sorghum is often paired with tapioca starch/flour to make finely textured, slightly crumbly baked goods with a mild flavor and no aftertaste. Extend its shelf life past a few months by storing sorghum flour in the freezer.
Sweet rice flour is milled from short-grain rice that has a high starch content and neutral flavor. It’s preferable to brown rice flour in the rice cracker recipe because it has a finer texture. Store it in a completely airtight container as it tends to clump in humid climes.
Teff flour is made from tiny seeds of a grass native to Africa. Most folks are familiar with this flour as the primary ingredient in injera, the spongy bread served in Ethiopian restaurants. Teff’s malty aroma and nutty flavor (think buckwheat but lighter) coupled with its ability to lend crispness and a light crumb to baked goods make it a good addition to gluten-free cracker recipes.