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Jun 12, 2011 03:50 PM

Gluten-Free Flours -- your personal experience!

Hello Chowhounds,

I come to you in search of more information on gluten-free baking, and more specifically, whatever your personal experience is with regards to different types of gluten-free flours, starches, gums, etc.

I'd love to know more about the attributes of:

sorghum flour
teff flour
quinoa flour
almond meal/flour (w/skin and w/out)
hazelnut flour
coconut flour
garbanzo/fava bean flour
amaranth flour
oat flour
mesquite flour
green pea flour
millet flour
black bean flour
white bean flour
peanut flour
ground flaxseeds
brown rice flour
sweet white rice flour
corn flour (masa harina)
arrowroot starch
tapioca flour/starch
potato flour/starch
corn starch
xanthan gum
guar gum

... and any other flours, starches, or gums I haven't thought of! How do each of these ingredients perform in baking recipes with regards to the density of the finished product, graininess/grittiness, crumb, flavor profile of the grains, etc.? I'm not looking for specific recipes so much as knowledge about the ingredients -- I am a fairly accomplished non-GF baker, and I am comfortable with tweaking recipes as long as I know enough about the products I'm dealing with.

I think this thread could be a fantastic resource for intrepid gluten-free bakers, empowering us to experiment with ingredients and share our successes. Contribute whatever you know, and I will be ever so grateful!

Thanks in advance,

Opera Girl

Attached are pictures of my first two gluten-free baked goods, vegan peanut butter cookies (I used a combo of peanut flour and teff flour) and not-so-vegan banana bread (using Bob's Red Mill All Purpose GF Flour).

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    1. Have you read the guides on Gluten Free Girl and Gluten-Free Goddess? I could go on and on about the various flours but a lot has already been written. I'll tell ya what my learning curve gave me - an appreciation for a ratio of flour to starch and a heavily used scale. 140 grams of GF flour mix to a cup of flour in most recipes works. It really does! It especially helps if you're using a conventional recipe already spelled out by weight. I hardly use any gums anymore. You don't need them for most things if you hit your flour mix ratio right. Some of the flours bind and stick more than the others - you'll see. Teff, amaranth... Some flours really input protein, to make much better bread - white bean flour, for example. Some flours have a strooooong flavor to some of us - for me, I can't get past quinoa flour, even a tablespoon pops out at me. But I can work through a little bean flour in a muffin.

      I really grew to like corn flour -- but it's NOT the same thing as masa harina. Corn flour isn't necessarily from treated (nixtamalized) corn. It is especially nice in pizza crust, for that thin crust crunch.

      Blanched almond flour works best for most stuff. The really good, fine kind that Elana of Elana's Pantry likes, not generic Bob's Red Mill.

      Coconut flour may make you go broke on eggs, but it's fun to play with, and it and the nut flours are grain free, which some of us like.

      You left out chia, which is my favorite binder. It makes fab pizza. I like the current GFG recipe, 500 grams flour blend plus the chia slurry, for pizza crust. I can easily feed it to gluten-eaters! The chia leaves the crunch and chew intact, where the gums just kind of held it together and made it a smidge too dense and gummy.

      I like a 70/30 or 60/40 ratio of my flours to starches, depending on my goals. Something more white-flour based? I'll use more starch. It's not health food, after all. Gotta have that pound cake or sugar cookie refined goodness some times!

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          Awesome, GHG. Working my way through these threads today!

          1. re: operagirl

            once you do, i heartily second Vetter's suggestion that you check out Gluten-Free Girl. Shauna's got a ton of excellent information there, as well as awesome recipes.

            more blogs recommended here:

            and if you're interested in picking up a book or two...

        2. My favorite is Hazelnut flour. Coconut flour is very dry and I don't like using it alone, as the only flour, unless the recipe calls for flaked coconut in with the flour. Xanthan gum kind of freaks me out--I used too much one time and ruined what would have been a tasty lemon poppy seed cake. Turned it too gummy. I find you can do without it entirely without any issues. Flaxseed meal has very little taste so it doesn't add any harsh flavors to a recipe, it's not bad.