Wheat flour has gluten and other properties that gives it elasticity; the gluten is responsible for the desirable texture found in bread and other products made with wheat.

Gluten free grains do not have the same properties as wheat and require a different approach when baking. By combining different flours and starches together, you can make a mix that will provide good results, however it is not always a simple one-for-one swap.

Why are flour blends recommended instead of using just one flour? The main reason is that many of the gluten free flours have stronger flavors which can overpower a finished product. Bean flours and quinoa flour have particularly strong, distinct flavors. Blending a variety of flours, helps to balance the flavors.

The addition of starches is required to help lighten gluten free flours which are dense. A whole grain gluten free flour is denser than a refined flour. If you plan to use whole grain flours in baking, you will need to add at least one starch .

One of the first things that came to mind when I started gluten free baking, was that I didn’t like the idea of adding a (non-nutritional) starch to my flour mix. My first question was “do I have to do that?” The answer is yes. You need to include at least one starch to a flour blend to help lighten up the flour mix and improve the texture. Without starch, your product will be too dense and not rise properly.

Commercial gluten free flour or baking mixes typically use 40 or 50% of starch in a flour blend. If you want to make your own whole grain flour blends you may be able to decrease the starch percentage as low as 30%. A ratio of 70% whole grain flour to 30% starch will result in a dense baked product, however you may enjoy the result. If you find the baked product is too dense for your taste, try a 60:40 ratio of whole grain flour to starch.

The basic starches that are added to whole grain flours include cornstarch, tapioca starch, potato starch, or arrowroot.

Earlier in this section we discussed the whole grain flour options. There are also refined gluten free flour options that can be used for certain baked items. Corn flour or cornmeal is used to make tortillas, polenta or cornbread. White rice flour or sweet white rice flour are often the preferred flours used in desserts.

When blending gluten free flours together, a neutral flavored flour works well to balance the strong flavor of a strong whole grain flour. Amaranth, quinoa, buckwheat and bean flours have stronger flavors. Rice flours, millet or sorghum flours are mild in flavor.

When I prepare my own flour mixes, I find using more of the sorghum or the millet and less of the stronger flavored flours works best.

© 2019, Gretchen Scalpi. All rights reserved. You are free to reprint/republish this article as long as the article and byline are kept intact and all links are made live.

Author's Bio: 

This excerpt from "The Quick Start Guide To A Gluten-Free Lifestyle" is provided by the author Gretchen Scalpi, RD, CDE. You can purchase your own copy on Amazon at http://amzn.com/B07DZNSVS4 or for other formats on Smashwords at https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/876652. Gretchen works to promote good nutrition and wellness as an entrepreneur, cookbook author, health and wellness coach, consultant and speaker.  She is a Registered Dietician & Certified Diabetes Educator and a Certified LEAP Therapist (Lifestyle Eating and Performance), specializing in the clinical management of food sensitivities and related conditions.