Friday, March 16, 2012

Gluten-Free Flours

One day I was walking aimlessly in my local grocery store, which has a pretty big natural foods section, just looking at all the “healthy” options for food. I approached a section that was a little intimidating, a wall of flours, starches and binders. I had no idea that people used garbanzo beans for flour and guar gum and xanthum gum were things I had only ever seen on the bottom of long ingredient lists on items I had purchased. 

Today, my trips to the healthy foods section are much more purposeful and direct. I walk into my grocery store and head straight to that once daunting wall of flours, starches and binders. I take 30 seconds or so to grab a few bags and squeal in delight when I find the tapioca flour still marked down to half its original cost.
I am now much more comfortable with the options that we have now for gluten-free flours and am slowly, but surely learning what results I yield from various combinations of items. The biggest thing I have learned however, is what textures will ultimately be acceptable to picky kiddo and how to get there with bread, pasta and treats. It’s taken me a few months but I feel pretty confident in myself when I start pulling together my flour blend for baking and cooking that I can actually replicated most of things that I used to make for my kids in our pre-gluten days.

Of course in my journey baking and cooking gluten-free, much like any journey I take, I have done lots and lots of research. I have scoured the mighty internet for suggestions, tips and recipes galore. I have checked out a congressional library’s worth of gluten and casein-free cook books to learn how best to use gluten-free flours in baking and cooking. So to say that I have arrived where I am so far is a result of my genius would be a blatant lie.

So I first came across the flour blend that I like most when I was blog surfing. Someone in the comments section had posted a combination of rice flour, tapioca flour and potato starch and I was intrigued. So I tried to use that combination when I set off baking breads and ultimately stuck to that combination. Then I came across Cooking with Isaiah and author Silvana Nardone also uses this particular combination, which kept my nose stuck deep in her cookbook. So the combination that has come to be my “go to” flour blend is one that was modified from my original bread baking efforts  and Nardone’s recipe.

The one thing that I have realized is that while you can use an all-purpose flour blend for many things, sometimes you really need a more specialized blend or just to use the ingredients separately all together. I find that I use a separate flour blend for quick breads (pancakes, waffles, drop biscuits etc.) and another for yeast breads like our White Sandwich Bread. Then sometimes I just use ingredients separately if I am making something a little different like corn dogs.

So with that said, if I refer to “GF Flour Blend” this recipe is what I am going by:

All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blend

3 C Tapioca Flour
3 C Brown Rice Flour
1 C Potato Starch
2 tsp salt
1 Tbs xanthum gum

Blend all ingredients in a large bowl and mix very well. Transfer to an airtight container to be used within a month. 

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