Posted in Recipes

Flour Power

Everyone and their dog who does gluten free baking has their own flour mixes. If a dog is talented enough to bake, I would like to meet that canine. I bet he has a time keeping hair out of his food.

Well, I really wish that this food blog was different. I really wish that I could just follow someone else’s flour mixes and be okay with them. But for many reasons I can’t. The most obvious is simply because the ingredients.

The first factor is if I can eat it or not. How I desperately would love to use oat flour again but even the Bob’s Red Mill ‘Gluten Free’ makes me ill. There is one other brand of oats I hope to try at some point down the line but I’m not hopeful that it will turn out well for me. We bought a bag of gluten free buckwheat groats (again, Bob’s Red Mill) with high hopes that we could have a higher nutrition flour as well as making homemade soba noodles. Yet it was another fail. I only munched on five groats to see what it tastes like, and a few hour later I was feeling rather ill. I can test it again to double check that it wasn’t due to something else but since I never recall eating buckwheat before I’m not sure. I’m frustrated over this one because the buckwheat was pretty tasty. Sorghum flour is also an exceedingly common gluten free flour, yet both my mom and older sister cannot tolerate it in the least. I really do not know if it affects me or not but I stay away from it so I can make things that can be shared with my family. The only exception to this is Pamela’s Artisan Flour Blend that I keep on hand to use for roux, gravy, white sauce, or vegan cheese sauce. This is the only commercial blend I buy. I know I should create my own replacement for it in case it eventually turns into something I can’t eat but right now there are more crucial recipes for me to figure out.

What I currently keep stalked in our large freezer is Tapioca StarchBrown Rice Flour (cannot tolerate this brand any longer), Super-Fine Almond FlourFlax Seed Meal (all of them Bob’s Red Mill), Coconut Flour & Teff Flour (both Anthony’s), Psyllium Husk Powder (NOW Foods), whole Flax Seed & Chia Seed (grocery store bulk.) This is what we use the most right now.

We also have White Rice Flour, Potato Starch, Soy Flour (all of them Bob’s Red Mill.) The rice flour I just replace with brown rice flour for the marginal nutritional improvement, the potato starch is the highest carb starch out of the options so I avoid it at all costs, and the soy flour is a total fail. It is so disgusting & bitter that it’s inedible.

I was working on compiling a Flour Protein Comparison List to analyze all sorts of flours to see if it was possible to ‘build a better flour’ mix based on the most important nutrients I’m trying to juggle right now. The common factor in the list entries is the weight, making it easy to get an accurate comparison. For my husband and I, the carbs vs. fiber is the biggest since he’s diabetic and my grandfather and great aunt had diabetes, and my dad is/was pre-diabetic. Sure you can get gluten free baked goods that have the look and texture of their traditional wheat counterparts, but what’s the point if it totally bombs nutritionally? When I could still eat wheat, whole wheat flour and oat flour where what I used the most because it was the nutritionally best option I knew of that still allowed us to have familiar foods.

I want a mix that was nutritionally better than whole wheat flour in every way possible, included binders that did the best job in replacing the gluten of wheat flour, while functioning pretty closely to wheat flour in recipes. Is that a pretty tall order? Yes, yes it is. But that has never stopped me before.

The only limitation I really see is is the foods I can eat. There are some really amazing looking gluten free recipes for baked goods that look identical to the wheat versions. But when they contain gelatin, milk powder, and ingredients that can only be produced in a lab, all that information and work the recipe creator has done is all but useless to me. Plus I want BASIC ingredients. Using as few of them as needed to make it work correctly. Each and every ingredient that needs to be tracked down and purchased runs up the overall cost.

Growing up we had very little, and often it came from the food bank. I feel like some horrid spoiled brat buying things like almond flour. It still feels like rich people food to me and I fight with that guilt everyday. “There are children starving in Africa!” so why do I have to buy these exotic ingredients? At least twice a day I have to stop and talk myself through this and say “Okay, if this is too much why not go back to wheat flour? It would simplify your life again and you can stop all this craziness.” And I seriously consider it. The only thing that stops me is the simple reminder of the all-consuming pain it leaves me in for days. Eating like this is not about privilege, it’s about survival. I have to eat if I want to live into my 90s like my grandfather.

If the big corporate food companies actually made food that was safe for me to eat I’d buy it! I don’t like having to spend most of my time and energy thinking, researching, and trying to figure out food. This blog is out of necessity, not because it is my favorite hobby in the entire world. I just need to eat and feel a bit more normal like everyone else.

I have been doing my best these last few months trying to scour the internet on any available option in gluten-free flours and binders out there. I bought a bag of Glucomannan Konjac Powder that has been sitting on the shelf waiting to test and see if it is safe for me. To say the least, I’m intrigued with what possibilities it may offer. But I can’t give my hopes up until it passes my body’s intolerance testing. Before I had to invoke a full on gluten ban in our house, we ate vegan meat replacements many times a week that contained no small amount of vital wheat gluten. In a recipe post some years ago I read someone asking the author if there was a replacement for gluten and the automatic answer was always no. It just wasn’t feasible. A pipe dream or just flat out crazy. Vital wheat gluten was ‘irreplaceable.’ Just like we were told that vegan whipped egg whites replacement was impossible. But now we have many recipes using aquafaba (garbanzo/chickpea bean water) to make things like vegan meringue cookies. It just makes me wonder, what really are the possibilities? Cooking is a science and one of the things I love about it. The kitchen is everyone’s mad scientist lab.

But also when I talk about flour, baked goods is only half of the equation. I’m really curious to see what can be done with Quinoa FlourMillet FlourRed/Brown Lentil Flour, or even Green Split Pea Flour. Could Sunflour Seed Flour be used to coat tofu with some herbs before it is baked to make a tasty crust? Sweet Rice Flour/Mochiko is used in dango and mochi. Just a few weeks ago I started hearing about Bean Flours like Garbanzo or Pinto but what about Black Beans or Blackeyed Peas? I made some really tasty gravy some time back with the cooking water from black beans. Still cannot fathom why I didn’t write it down. Cooked Azuki Beans and White/Great Northern Beans are sweetened and used in Japanese anko (bean paste) and used in sweets. Even Navy, Great Northern, Pink or Pinto Beans are used in baked beans, so why not other sweetened foods? I’m also tempted to see what Mung Bean Flour would taste like. Even if it is a total fail it would be fun to try. Kidney Bean Flour could be done as well but it would have to be cooked and dehydrated before adding it to a recipe so it doesn’t make everyone really sick.

I know that there are more starches/binders out there that should be safe for me like Arrowroot Powder, Cassava Flour and Guar Gum and most likely more, but I think I have enough to try and sort out right now. I have Agar Agar and Carrageenan in the cupboard too intending to use them for vegan cheeses that I have been procrastinating in making even though they are yummy.

Whew.

With all of that out of the way, here are the recipes you were looking for! (Sorry, gluten free flours is a complex subject.)

A few brief notes about using these flours:

*Measure flours by weight! The cup measurement given in recipe and on nutritional data is just to give a visual estimate, and making it easier to use these mixes on your own custom recipes. Using cup measurements is completely inaccurate for recipes and will guarantee that they fail or have widely differing results.

*I am American and have lived my entire life in the US, and no these measurements will not be converted into ounces. I use grams because it is MUCH more accurate. I have a digital Kitchen Aid scale that easily measures in grams but displays in kilograms which is helpful but still a pain in the rear. This kitchen scale looks like what I want to replace what I have because having it automatically reading in grams is far less confusing for my dyslexic self than trying to convert it from kilograms. I know it’s just moving a decimal point but it adds an unnecessary step. (*Not a sponsored link or anything, just thought it would be helpful.)

*Learning to weigh flours makes it loads easier to get consistent results as well as it is just easier than cup measurements. I worked in a bagel shop where we made everything from scratch. All the ingredients were weighed and it severely cut back on the margin of error. Plus you don’t have to spend time finding all the right size measuring cups.

I expect that the variety of flour mixes here will expand over time but since I’m relatively new to gluten free flours and baking, the selection is a bit limited until my overall variety of recipes increases within the bigger picture of my diet.

AP Almond Four

PIC COMING SOON
(if you are in need of seeing a slightly yellow pile of flour…)

This so far is my favorite mix and generally what I grab when just any flour will do. It is intended to be a less starch/carb filled all-purpose type flour mix that can be used in a wide range of recipes.

Ingredients:
132 g. (1 c.) Brown Rice Flour     (Bob’s Red Mill)
136 g. (1 c.) Tapioca Flour     (Bob’s Red Mill)
273 g (2 c.) Almond Flour, super fine*     (Bob’s Red Mill)
4 tsp. (11 g.) Psyllium Husk Powder     (Now Foods)

Directions:
1. Weigh ingredients into mixing bowl, gently whisking until thoroughly combined.

2. Store in an air tight container in the freezer to maintain freshness.

Notes:

*I have read that sunflower seed flour can be used as a 1:1 replacement for almond flour. I have not tested it but if you have a nut allergy it could be worth it to test a small batch. I would like to test this with sunflower seed flour at some point but have no solid plans right now of when that would be.

I think almond flour I great, but if your recipe seems more oily than it seems like it should, the almond flour could be to blame. For every 30 g. AP Almond Flour subtract up to 1.5 tsp. Oil or fat from from recipe you are attempting to adapt. This is based on comparing the fat content of the almonds against the fat content of liquid oil. By removing the added oil in the recipe, it is trying to balance the flour and fats to be more in proportion to all-purpose white (wheat) flour since wheat does not have all the additional fat that nuts have.

Since this mix has nut flour in it, I think about it being used following “gluten free bread rules” meaning that it needs additional water and to be blended in a stand mixer for a more batter type dough. Trying to use this to make a kneadable dough, it will be very, very dense.

Nutritional Information:

AP Almond Flour

 

The above calculation is (obviously) based on almond flour. I do not currently know what it would be if the almonds were swapped with soaked/dehydrated sunflower seed flour.

Brown Rice AP Four

PIC COMING SOON
(if you wish see a white pile of flour…)

I’ll be the first to admit that this is not the most remarkable flour blend out there, but it does have its place. This was designed to be used as a simple and direct wheat AP flour replacement when a ‘dry’ flour is needed. Specifically for GF white flour tortillas. I don’t use it much but I find it useful to keep handy.

Ingredients:
132 g. (1 c.) Brown Rice Flour     (Bob’s Red Mill)
136 g. (1 c.) Tapioca Flour     (Bob’s Red Mill)
2 tsp. (5 g.) Psyllium Husk Powder     (Now Foods)

Directions:
1. Weigh ingredients into mixing bowl, gently whisking until thoroughly combined.

2. Store in an air tight container in the freezer to maintain freshness.

Notes:

This was the first flour mix I made at home that felt like it was worth trying to use. It is what makes GF flour tortillas near identical to their wheat counterparts. The tortillas do come out a bit dry, but I blame my lack of experience in making tortillas either from not enough liquid, rolling too thin, cooking them too long, or all of the above. I had the same problems when I was using wheat flour.

One of the reasons I don’t use this flour a lot is because the high starch content causes my knees to painfully swell as if I had eaten a large amount of sugar or a sweet potato. Strangely enough I eat red potatoes everyday and they never seem to bother my knees and rely on them for my potassium. As an occasional treat and when I’m desperately missing tortillas, this flour is not hard to work into a balanced meal plan with no painful side affects.

Nutritional Information:

Brown Rice AP Flour

 

**The PDA% is based on my diet, weight, height, & current allotted calorie consumption. However, the calories and all of the other nutrients (measured in g., mg., etc.) are accurate to the recipe, so just ignore the PDA column.

This Nutritional data only applies to the brands I use and is only as accurate as the manufacturer’s labels provide the information. It currently is not a requirement in the USA to always list potassium amounts for foods, despite it being a nutrient that is essential to monitor along with sodium consumption. I’ve been trying to track my potassium levels for many years now and it is rare for potassium to be listed in nutritional information, even on foods that are a good source for it.

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