Tuesday, 2 September 2014

New and Improved Flour Blend!

I have been experimenting with a few different blends of flours and balances of flour to starches and thought I would share my knowledge and discoveries with you all.

As a rule, I tend to avoid using rice flour for gluten free bread baking as I have found its quite stiff, heavy and doesn't rise well. But after seeing some recipes using glutinous rice flour and the wonderful light results it was providing I had to give it a try. It has the same characteristics of what starch flours provide in gluten free baking but its not a starch. Don't be put off by the 'glutinous' word, its still gluten free. Glutinous or sweet rice flour is milled from a special variety of rice, often known as "sticky rice," that is very starchy and has exceptional binding qualities. It is an excellent ingredient for gluten free baking. Glutinous rice is relatively healthy, having an extremely low fat content, but it doesn't offer the nutritive value of brown or wild rice. Still it does contain more vitamins and minerals than starch flours. So I have added it to my flour blend.

I usually use a 60% wholegrain flour 40% starch blend. But once again after seeing better results with a 50-50% blend I have switched to this ratio. I wanted to keep the nutritional value in my gluten free flour blend on the higher side which is why I stuck with the 60-40% ratio. A lot of store bought  gluten free premix blends and store bought gluten free baking products are mostly starches with no nutritional value at all. A 50-50% balance still provides beneficial nutrition factors and also better results in your baking.

The blend of flours and starches I have been recently using is equal parts of the following:
  • millet flour
  • sorghum flour
  • buckwheat flour
  • glutinous rice flour
  • tapioca flour
  • potato starch

To make your own gluten free flour blend, into a large bowl sift in equal measurements of the above flours. Then using a large whisk, thoroughly mix together all the flours. Store in an air tight container.

Now I just want to recap a few differences with some flours and starches that catch people out.

Tapioca Flour and Starch

Tapioca flour and tapioca starch are the same thing and can be used interchangeably in your recipes. Tapioca flour and starch are made from the cassava root. They provide lightness and elasticity to the texture of foods and can also be used to thicken sauces.

Potato Flour and Starch

Potato flour and potato starch are two completely different products. The starch is made from raw potato and is fine and light. The flour is made from cooked potato and is much heavier than starch. The two cannot be used interchangeably in recipes.

Corn Flour and Starch

Corn flour and corn starch are also very different. Corn flour is yellow and slightly sweet, while corn starch is white and bland tasting. Corn starch is a popular thickener for sauces. In some countries the names are used interchangeably so what is corn starch is labelled corn flour. Also watch out for corn flour/starch made from wheaten. This is not gluten free and made from wheat.

So don't be afraid to experiment with what ever flours and starches you can get your hands on. Just remember that measuring by weight is going to be more accurate than measuring by volume thus satisfying results.