Hey hey holiday bakers! We’re back with part deux of gluten-free baking, 101. For the many who have made the transition to a gluten-free life style and seen positive results, this baby is for you. For some people gluten can be a culprit behind major digestive distress, headaches, puffiness, skin flare-ups, joint point, fatigue…sexy things, basically. At Prescribe Nutrition you know we’re never ones to promote refined flours (gluten-free or not) and sugar, but look, sometimes (and by sometimes I mean the holidays) baked goods must be had. It’s just the law of the land. So we’re showing you how to take those old favorite recipes and transform them to gluten-free. For anyone who just grabbed a copy of our eCookbook, the Prescribe Nutrition Thanksgiving, you got yourself a little cheat sheet in there
Last week we went over the importance of baking by weight. If you haven’t read up on that bad boy, it’s important. Today we’re going to discuss what flours to use. Like we mentioned last tiem, all flours have different weights, and if you’re swapping out regular all-purpose flour you want to go by weight, not measurement. You’d be surprised how much 1 cup of flour can vary depending on air, measuring tools and so on.
Okay so we’ve got the weight thing figured out…but what about the actual mix? What should you use? Well, you can pretty easily just buy a gluten-free blend. This is definitely the easiest route, and sometimes the best way to go for first time gluten-free bakers. Some of the most popular ones are Bob’s Red Mill, King Arthur, Cup4Cup and Pamela’s. Everybody has a different preference, and frankly I’ve had good and bad luck with all of them, it truly depends on what you’re making. They all have a relatively high proportion of starch to whole grain flour, typically about 40/60 – so what’s that mean? Well gluten-free starches are going to give bread that ‘levity’ – they are what make baked goods light, airy and you know, yummy. But also? They spike blood sugar -which is not what we love from a health perspective – so ideally it’s always good to have a good level of whole grain flours in comparison. Whole grain flours will provide more protein, which we love! Overall, the whole grain flours provide more nutrient density and will cause less of a spike in your blood sugar. We’re into that.
Here’s a list of gluten-free starches and here’s a list of gluten-free whole grain flours. Now, if you decide to make your own gluten-free blend to bake with, well then your’e in control of the ratio, right? In general you will always need at least 30% starches for a gluten-free mix – and that will work well with thinks like banana bread, whole grain muffins, etc. When it will really serve you to utilize more starch is when you’re trying to get very authentic results with items like sugar cookies, sheet cake and light and airy cupcakes. Again, these will be something you’ll want to consume in moderation. What’s important for you to know? You can make ANY blend from whole grain flours and starches, but you NEED to utilize both, and at 2 + whole grain flours and 1-2 starches will give the best results (for example, you can’t just use brown rice flour in place of gluten-free flour, it must be a blend). Finally, it’s important to use a small amount of a binding agent* such as guar gum, xantham gum – these will help provide that ‘elasticity’ that is in bread and baked goods. Some people prefer to use flax or chia in it’s place, which is cool too. More on that here.
Below are some of my favorite mixes. Remember: I’m doing this by weight (grams or ounces), not by volume, and you should too. I suggest making a big ol’ batch of flour that you keep on hand, that way it’s just as easy for you to decide to bake cookies at 11pm at night as it is for someone cooking with regular flour. Just remember to replace the flour called for in the recipe with the same weight of your gluten-free blend. Let’s do a little recap from last time: Let’s do an example: if your recipe calls for 1 ½ cups of flour, and you’re trying to replace it with a gluten-free blend, you would use this chart to determine that you need to substitute with 187.5 grams or 6 ⅝ ounces of your gluten-free blend. Print it and tape to your cupboard!
These Mixes Make 1000 g Large Containers
Whole Grain Blend
250 g Brown Rice Flour
250 g Sorghum Flour
100 g Sweet Rice Flour
150 G Arrowroot
150 g Potato Starch
xantham gum or guar gum*
* The general rule is to use one teaspoon of binding agent for every cup of gluten-free flour when making bread, and half to three quarters of a teaspoon for other baked goods.
High Protein Blend
250 g Quinoa Flour
250 g Brown Rice Flour
100 g Almond Flour
150 g Arrowroot
150 g Sweet Rice Flour
xantham gum or guar gum*
Some of my favorite sites and further information on this topic:
Gluten-free Girl – how to make gluten-free flour mix
The Roof of Health – gluten-free baking (little shameless self promo)
Have fun you kitchen ninjas!