What You Need To Know About Gluten-Free Flour
Today’s blog post is brought to you by our incredible baking friend, Mary Taylor.
The Standard American Diet is filled with pesticides, processed items, and a multitude of other issues, so How do we work around having some of our family favorites without compromising our immune system?
One of the most common questions I get from clients is pertaining to allergen-friendly baking. In a world where allergens are becoming more and more common due to leaky gut and autoimmune issues, people are wanting alternatives that will still work and taste like the ‘real’ thing. The good news is that it is possible to have this, and we can enjoy the things we grew up on with just a slight twist, making them a little healthier for us too!
Understanding some important pieces will help make transitioning into healthier baking easier. One of these pieces is flour. Not all flour is equal, as each act in a different manner, and sometimes using a blend of flours is required.
Rice Flour: This is probably one of my favorite flours to use in blended mixes because it helps with density. You will find brown and white rice flours in the store along with people who do a blend of these flours. I prefer white rice because I find it a little bit finer than brown, however from a gluten-free blend mixture, you won’t be able to tell the difference. In most cases, this can be swapped 1:1 for whole wheat flours, but keep in mind some recipes are not so easily interchangeable and a blend is necessary
Sorghum Flour: Has the closest text and taste to traditional wheat flour and is one of the main reasons in blends you almost always see Rice and Sorghum both listed. You can Swap it 1 for 1 with any glutenous flour, but like Rice, may depend on the recipe
Coconut Flour: Extremely absorbent. ¼ cup of Coconut Flour for every 1 cup of regular flour and then also double your liquids. This also can be a very crumbly flour to work with if you are not using it in a blend.
Almond Flour: (and other nut flours): This is a high-fat flour and can burn easily. One of the main staples used in baking for a paleo/grain-free diet. Lower the temperature you are cooking with in order to prevent burning.
Cassava Flour: Grain-free flour. The closest thing to regular flour in grain-free baking. You must use eggs with Cassava unless it is in a blend, otherwise, you have a high chance of the product coming out with a very gummy texture.
Tapioca Flour/Starch: This is an alternative to cornstarch and can be used as a 1:1 ratio, when in a gluten-free flour blend, it works best with a potato/tapioca mixture. It can also be used as thickeners for soups and other forms of cooking
Potato Flour/Starch: Also an alternative to cornstarch as a 1:1 ratio, when in a gluten-free flour blend, it works best with a potato/tapioca mixture. It can also be used as thickeners for soups and other forms of cooking
Arrowroot Powder: Also an alternative to cornstarch as a 1:1 ratio, It can replace Tapioca or Potato Starch as a 1:1 ratio in any of the gluten-free flour blends. It also can be used as thickeners for soups and other forms of cooking
Guar Gum vs Xanthan Gum: Gums sometimes are necessary evils in gluten-free baking. Because we are trying to mimic the elasticity that gluten has in baking, we have to rely on gums to do this for us. Guar gum and Xanthan Gum are two gums that are used. Xanthan gum is more common in premade gluten-free flour blends, however, you can replace it as a 1:1 ratio if making your own at home with Guar Gum. Xanthan is also a much finer flour whereas Guar Gum is closer to cornstarch texture.
Chia Seed/Flax Seed Meal: This can be used if you are eliminating eggs. Chia and Flax will gel up to 6x their size when introduced to liquid in a matter of minutes. To replace an egg with Chia or Flax use 1 tablespoon of dry chia (or flax) seeds and add 2.5 tablespoons of water. Stir and set aside until it has a thicker consistency. Please keep in mind that because some recipes rely on the liquid of the egg as well, I find sometimes I have to add more liquid to my recipe.
How to make Cake Flour:
Cake flour is used because of its low protein content and it is also lighter and softer. Regular cake flour’s purpose is to produce less gluten, so it is light, soft, and tender. In Gluten-Free baking though, there is no gluten, so the change of flours changes the density of the cake just as high protein content also changes a cake in regular baking. The good thing is, making cake flour is SUPER simple and it is great for vanilla style cakes. In chocolate cakes, the cocoa powder helps keep the cake fluffy so you do not need to make cake flour. For every cup of flour you have, you will remove 2 tablespoons of that flour and replace it with arrowroot powder (you can also use tapioca starch or potato starch). Be sure to sift your flour several times to make sure the starch has distributed evenly.
Lastly, it wouldn’t be worth reading all this without getting something tried and tested in return, right? Here is my Chocolate Cake Recipe. This is a moist chocolate cake that even gluten lovers die for!
Mary’s Chocolate Cake
Makes 2, 8-inch cakes
- 1 ¾ cup gluten-free flour blend (Two of my favorite store-bought brands are: King Arthurs Gluten-Free Flour or Bob’s Red Mill 1:1 Baking Flour)
- 1 ¾ cup sugar (organic coconut sugar is a great alternative but if using cane be sure it’s organic)
- ¾ cup cocoa powder (any organic brand will do)
- 2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp baking powder (if avoiding cornstarch you can make your own!)
- 1 tsp sea salt
- ½ cup oil (coconut oil melted or olive oil both work great)
- 2 eggs (or ⅓ cup pumpkin puree for egg allergies)
- 1 cup almond milk
- 1 capful of apple cider vinegar
- 1 ½ tsp vanilla extract
- 1 cup water (room temp)
- Preheat oven to 350
- In a measuring cup add almond milk and apple cider vinegar, set aside for 10 minutes to create ‘buttermilk’
- Place all dry ingredients in a bowl and combine. Set aside
- Whisk all wet ingredients together including the buttermilk.
(If you are using pumpkin instead of eggs, add an additional ¼ cup of water. )
- Combine the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients until just combined.
- You should have a batter with the consistency of a regular cake batter. If it is too thick add additional water. If you feel it’s too loose, it’s okay it will cook-off in the oven!
- Pour into lined cake pans (or cupcake liners) and cook until done
For cupcakes: 15-20 minutes
For cakes: 25-35 minutes
Please note: All ovens vary and it is suggested to check on the product sooner than later
About the Author: Mary Taylor was diagnosed with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) in 2005 and Hashimoto’s in 2016. She learned very quickly that certain foods simply did not work well for her and yet she still craved foods that reminded her of being home for the Holiday’s. This set her off into the kitchen to start experimenting, making raw desserts made with nuts which led her into learning how to make cakes and pastries that could fool even her most die-hard gluten and dairy eating friends. Every item offered is 100% Gluten and Dairy free with a focus on organic products and adaptable for many of the top allergens. Through her knowledge in Holistic Nutrition she not only developed many healthier recipes, but she was also able to reverse her PCOS. Mary can be found on Instagram (@marebearsbakery)