Gluten Free Diet Tips

Gluten free diet tips on using alternate gluten free flours for your recipes.

Many people, from Bette Hagman (The Gluten Free Gourmet) to Lisa Lewis (Special Diets for Special Children), have offered concerned parents and sufferers, options for replacing wheat flour in favourite family recipes. Each person usually comes to place where they have a GF flour mix which they prefer for taste and rising above others, but even then these blends may vary based upon what exactly you are cooking. For example, rice flour is very good for making shortbread cookies, but does have something of a gritty aftertaste because of the fineness of its grinding. Mixing the rice with millet, quinoa, arrowroot or other components can reduce the grittiness and make for a much more palatable product as well as adding interesting flours.

To replace 1 (one) standard dry cup measure of white wheat flour, try these substitutions:

1/2 cup barley flour (not GF only wheat free)

1 cup corn flour (cornmeal is not corn flour)

3/4 cup cornmeal coarse grind

1 cup cornmeal fine grind

7/8 cup rice flour

1 1/4 cup rye flour (not GF only WF)

1 cup rye meal (not GF only WF)

1 1/3 cup ground rolled oats (not GF only WF)

5/8 cups potato flour

There are even other flours which are currently becoming popular with those who must be GF and these include: sorghum, chana or chickpea, soy, bean and pea flours. As well, some people include arrowroot, corn and tapioca starches in their flour mixes as well, as these products act well as thickeners and in some sense as binders.

The following are a couple of hints for using GF or WF flours:

If you are planning on mixing some of the GF flours together to make your own special flour mix, be sure to mix the flours separately from your other ingredients first. That way you are assured of have the flours completely blended and will avoid pockets of only one kind of flour in your baking.

Sift the flours. As old fashioned as this might sound, the addition of air to GF or WF flours makes for a lighter end product. This is imporant in cakes, cookies and loaves.

If you are using a coarse meal or flour, the addition of baking powder (2 1/2 tsp of baking powder per cup of flour) will help the flour to better leaven and make for a lighter more risen end product like in breads or cakes. Be sure to check the contents of the baking powder though as many brands are not wheat or gluten free.



Be prepared to throw out all ideas of what your cake, bread or cookie batters should look like. GF flours often make for a much thinner or noticeably thicker batter than wheat flour. For example, yeast bread batter made with a GF flour mix looks more like a cake batter than bread dough.

Be prepared to need to add moisture to your baked goods made with GF flours. Because of the finer grind of these flours, the end product, once cooled, is often noticeable dry. If you are making cakes or cookies, you can partly overcome this by icing the product, but breads and loaves should be partly cooled, sliced if possible, and then sealed into freezer containers. Bagels can be removed from the freezer, given a light spritz of water and then microwaved for a few seconds to restore moisture before serving.

Cookies made with GF flours should be slightly underbaked. Because of the fineness of the grind of these flours, most cookies made with this product will become crunchy as they cool and the cookies tend to fall apart in this state. If you don't mind crumble, crunchy cookies, that's fine, but a lower oven temperature and a shortened baking time might make for a softener, less crumbly product. Be sure to seal all cooled cookies into an airtight container as soon as possible. Again, freezing the cookies tends to keep in some of the moisture.

Breads made with GF flours have a tendancy to turn into bricks if one is not careful to add extra leavening (like safe baking powder), lemon juice, and extra binders (egg, gelatin, banana, agar agar, guar or xanthan gum, or slippery elm powder). GF flour loeaves more closely resemble those made with whole wheat flour than the lighter, more higher risen white flour breads North Americans have become used to having. The denseness of the loaf is often dissatisfying to many wheat and gluten allergy sufferers.

Have fun experimenting and remember that even if they don't always look like the desired result, products made from GF flours usually still taste pretty good, and if nothing else, those flopped breads, cakes and cookies, make good crumbs for stuffing and so on.

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