Say “flour” and most people would automatically think of the white wheat flour that their mums and nanas baked those delicious, aromatic bread and cakes with. And up until recently, the question would have been, “Why wouldn’t you use wheat flour when baking?” But with new knowledge about food allergies and sensitivities, there is now a bigger focus on health, and it is due to this word – gluten.
Gluten is a protein present in wheat, rye, barley, oats and other related grains. It’s derived from a Latin word meaning “glue” – a clue as to why wheat flour has been the choice for many bakers. Gluten brings baked goods to life – providing the elasticity needed to help bread dough rise and keep cakes in shape.
Unfortunately, gluten also poses health problems for people who are gluten-intolerant, especially those diagnosed with coeliac disease.
Thankfully, there are now gluten-free flour alternatives made from ancient crops that offer amazing nutrition, versatility, and unique flavours. With a bit of practice, these “new” flours can reignite your enthusiasm for baking and delicious baked goods need no longer be off anyone’s agenda. Let’s take a look at some of them.
This smooth, ivory-coloured flour pairs well with bold flavours such as molasses, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, and allspice. It’s best combined with high-protein flours at no more than 10 percent of the flour mixture. It also helps to keep baked goods moist.
The strong, nutty taste of this flour goes well with assertive flavours such as fig, persimmon and dark chocolate. It’s generally not used on its own – buckwheat flour is best combined with high-protein flours. Perfect for making blinis, crepes and pancakes.
This light, golden yellow, fine-textured flour has a slightly buttery, sweet taste – meaning you can often cut out sugar. It contains a fair amount of starch, so can create light baked goods. Excellent for flat breads, pizza and other recipes containing yeast.
Slightly coarser than traditional flours, quinoa flour has a robust nutty flavour with an earthiness that pairs well with fruit and nuts. It retains the high-quality protein inherent in the mother grain. Successful baking with quinoa flour is possible when used with, for instance, a buckwheat-tapioca flour combination.
Rice flour is available in white and brown varieties. Both are neutral-flavoured with a slightly gritty texture. Brown rice flour is made from whole grain, while white rice flour is from hulled grain. A rice-tapioca flour combination can easily stand in for regular flour in gluten-based baking recipes.
When it comes to home-baking, the quality of ingredients used speaks for the quality of the final product. By choosing a reputable and certified organic brand, you can be sure of getting the best quality and good nutrition.
For some great gluten-free recipes, click here.