I’ve been experimenting with wheat flour alternatives lately and after doing some research I’d like to share a few non-wheat flours for beginners. If you have been eating gluten for a while, you probably know there are many more alternative flours than I list here, but I wanted to put something together for people who want a few flour alternatives to begin experimenting with.
This non-exhaustive would also be great to share with someone who has a friend who can’t eat wheat and you want to make something special for them.
If you missed my gluten free rice flour waffles post, you’ll want to check that out. It’s a good place to start for those of you who don’t have a lot of experience with gluten free flours. The recipe is so good, you may put it into your regular rotation even if you don’t have a real reason to eat gluten free.
Alternative flours and starches are different from wheat flour, and from each other, in their characteristics and in the way you use them. You want to become familiar with the different characteristics and choose the flour or starch that has the best qualities for whatever recipe you are making.
To be on the safe side, always start with a recipe from a trusted source and follow it exactly before you start experimenting on your own.
Wheat Flour Alternatives
• Soy flour is generally milled from whole soybeans into one of three types of flour— full-fat, low fat
, or defatted. Full-fat soybean flour is the type usually available in stores for use in home baking. Soy flour is light yellow in color and has a strong nutty flavor. Because of its strong flavor, soy flour is best mixed with other nonwheat flours. Recipes that have nuts, spices, or chocolate help cover up the strong soy flavor.
• Rice flour is milled from broken kernels of white or brown rice. It has a bland flavor with a slightly grainy texture. Since rice flour doesn’t really have a flavor of its own, it can be used in a variety of baked products, like these waffles.
• Corn flour is milled from white or yellow corn by the same process as cornmeal, but it is ground much finer. You can get corn at the health food store or order it online.
• Rye flour has a dark color, distinctive flavor, and a slight amount of gluten. Be sure to buy only 100 percent rye flour and not a rye-wheat combination flour. Most commercially baked rye breads contain wheat flour. Learn to bake your own bread at home so you can know exactly what goes into it.
• Oat flour has a mild flavor. You can buy it ready to use, or you can make your own by grinding dry-rolled oats in a blender or food processor. One and one-half cups of regular or quick- cooking rolled oats makes 1 cup of oat flour.
• Cornstarch is a fine, white starch made from corn. Cornstarch is used to thicken gravies, sauces, and desserts. Depending on the recipe, you may have to mix the cornstarch with a little water before adding it to a sauce to make sure it doesn’t clump up.
• Arrowroot starch is a snow-white starch made from arrowroot, a root of a West Indian plant. Arrowroot starch thickens at a lower temperature than wheat flour or cornstarch, so it’s great for making temperature sensitive sauces, egg sauces or other sauces that should not be boiled. Since arrowroot has no color or flavor, it’s a good choice for thickening clear glazes and fruit sauces. If you use arrowroot in a recipe that calls for cornstarch, you’ll need a little less arrowroot than cornstarch.
• Potato starch is a bland, white starch made from raw potatoes. It may be used in sauces or baked products. Potato starch works best in baked products that have eggs. The eggs will provide structure that you won’t get from potato starch alone.
• Quick-cooking tapioca is a granular product derived from the roots of the cassava plant. It can be used to thicken puddings.
If you have tried baking with alternative flours before or want to see more gluten free recipes on the site, let me know.