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Apr 10, 2012 07:35 PM

Gluten-free adventures with rice flour?

I'm new to gluten-free cooking, and have been experimenting almost entirely with white rice products. I made some egg noodles tonight that were just rice flour, egg/yolk and xanthan. My significant other declared "wow, they actually taste like normal pasta!" Although they didn't taste much different than the Asian rice noodles I use all the time, I was really tickled about their being a nice healthy yellow, and that I could roll them out to the second to thinnest setting. I've also found that rice flour makes great brownies- my family inhaled them at Easter, and my cousin and her husband were happy to be able to eat them during passover. My first attempt at bread wasn't so good, though. I wondered about aerating it using whipped egg whites, but I haven't tried yet. Is anyone else spurning the siren call of the seven-flour blends or the packaged baking mixes and going simple? I'd love to hear about your trials and successes.

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  1. Although I do not have a problem with wheat flour, I got a copy of a quarterly magazine gratis called Delight gluten free at a doctor's office waiting room. There was a stack of the Spring 2012 issue. I took one out of curiosity, and found it quite interesting/. The issue was full of recipes and ads for products of which I was unaware. This post was submitted in case there are people who do not know of this publication.

    1. you can make some decent wet-recipe/quickbread-type baked goods & muffins using a straight 1:1 wheat flour-rice flour substitution.

      making gf bread is the real trick, isn't it? ;-P

      1 Reply
      1. re: soupkitten

        I tried banana muffins, and they were ok, but not quite right. I think that I chose a very banana heavy recipe that was dense to start with didn't help. I look forward to trying again. A real baguette is on the short list of things I think might be truly impossible, and all bread is difficult. My dog wouldn't eat the first attempt!

      2. As I have celiac, I must not have gluten. I use 18 kinds of flour and to be honest, one of my least favourites is white rice flour just because there are so many out there that are better. Having said that, rice flour works well for many things including tempura. When you buy rice flour, see if you can get it at an Asian store - it is much finer in texture and cheaper than regular. It makes a difference in baking.

        My favourite flours are sorghum, amaranth, ivory teff, millet, chestnut, coconut, almond, quinoa and garfava. These flours are also more nutritious which I also like.

        Glad you found a good recipe for pasta. I also make pasta and it is lovely and yellow and delicious, even re-heated the next day.

        Have you checked out Gluten Free Goddess' website? Hers is one of the best there is.

        I make my own bread, baguettes, cinnamon buns, crackers, dumplngs, etc. Haven't done phyllo, croissants or yeast doughnuts yet but want to.

        20 Replies
        1. re: chefathome

          I have definitely been relying on Asian everything, thanks. Do you mind sharing your baguette recipe/technique? Did you experiment with flour blends, and, if so, why did you settle on yours? I'm off to check out Gluten Free Goddess.

          1. re: jvanderh

            I did a lot of experimentation and I have many gluten-free baking books with different ideas. Initially I used mainly brown and white rice flours but got bored and started experimenting. I do not mean to say they do not have their uses - they certainly do. In fact, I still use them in small amounts in baking in combination with others. I have found that other flours give more rise and depth and flavour to baked goods. Plus I teach cooking and baking classes and am a recipe tester. Yes - I spend most of my time in the kitchen, where I love to be. :-)

            I will certainly post the baguette recipe. Do you happen to have a baguette pan?

            1. re: chefathome

              Thank you! I don't have a real one. I've always just used a cookie sheet.

              1. re: jvanderh

                That is totally fine. It helps that you have done that already! Will go through my books to find my favourite. I think it is from the CIA GF book.

                1. re: jvanderh

                  j, i see that chefathome never posted the baguette recipe. i know this doesn't help you now, but i'm *finally* heading back to LA in 5 weeks (hooray!)...once i get everything out of storage & unpack my CIA GF cookbook i'd be happy to post the recipe for you if you still don't have it. just remind me at some point, ok?

                  1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                    Hooray!! Hope that means mom and the rest of the family are doing better. I just quit my job to move to SoCal, so I'm really sharing your joy :-D

                    1. re: jvanderh

                      you're so sweet. and yes, thankfully Mom is doing better and it's time for me to get back to my life :) and i'm so happy for YOU! i backtracked a bit on your profile & saw that you're moving to North County SD. great area - i lived down there for several years, so let me know if i can offer any guidance (and i have a yahoo email account with my Chow name if you ever want to message me directly). you're in for a little culture shock coming from the East Coast, but the sunshine, low humidity, Pacific Ocean and farmers' markets galore help to cushion the landing ;)

                      ok, back on track so we don't get scolded, have you tried millet flour for roux? rice flour (preferably superfine sweet white) was always my default, but i found that it would occasionally impart an off flavor or gummy texture. millet works beautifully, i'm just always hesitant to suggest it unless you already have it on hand, otherwise you'll have to go out and buy yet another higher-priced GF ingredient...unless you own a Vitamix, in which case you can buy some bulk whole millet and grind your own flour!

                      1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                        Thanks!! I haven't actually found a place to live yet, so I'm sending you an email to beg for advice. I'm kind of looking forward to being out of my comfort zone; it's been too long :-D

                        I'm trying to avoid buying flours until the move (and, really, also, until I have some sort of comprehension about what they all do), so I only have rice flour, cornstarch, and sorghum. I haven't made delicately flavored sauces, but rice flour has been good for gravy and mac and cheese.

                        1. re: jvanderh

                          e-mail away - i'm happy to help however i can. and once you're settled after your move you'll have to start experimenting with other GF flours and starches. there's a variety of options!

            2. re: chefathome

              i love sorghum, amaranth, almond, coconut and quinoa as well. sorghum is fab in bread.

              1. re: Emme

                I have an experimental loaf trying to rise that's sorghum, cornstarch, and white rice flour with xanthan. It's not looking good. How do you get it to rise, if you don't use gums?

                1. re: jvanderh

                  you mean in addition to leaveners like yeast and/or baking poweder and/or soda?
                  i find those work just fine. sometimes while it's proofing, i'll walk by and say nice things to it, but usually the leaveners do the heavy lifting ;)

                  i have recently however been playing with mixing methods. i'll start with a paddle attachment, then use the dough hook, then end with the wire whisk (i've also tried, whisk then hook), to incorporate a bit of air at the end.

                  1. re: Emme

                    Right. Do you usually use yeast and baking powder/soda together? Are you using eggs? I'm ending up with something extremely dense, even with the xanthan.

                    1. re: jvanderh

                      on the whole, i use yeast solo when making breads.
                      depends what exactly i'm making but sometime eggs, sometimes not.
                      a little bit of sugar helps feed the yeast.
                      also, a little more liquid is helpful as well.

                      could you post a less-than-successful recipe? maybe we can help doctor it...

                      1. re: Emme

                        I appreciate the offer. Next time I'll measure! In general, do some flours/starches give better lift than others?

                        1. re: jvanderh

                          ha! you sound like me... now when i am developing a recipe, i measure each ingredient as i add it, and mark it on a dry-erase board i have mounted on my fridge... that way i keep track and can modify as i go. if i like it, it gets moved into MacGourmet ;)

                          i like to make sure i use flours with higher protein contents to help facilitate structure. my current blend of choice:
                          400 g sorghum flour
                          400 g millet flour
                          400 g brown rice flour (finely ground)
                          50 g white bean flour
                          50 g quinoa flour
                          50 g amaranth or garbanzo or garfava flour

                          i find the right amount of liquid is key too. i've been using carbonated water to give lift a lot recently. too much liquid and the bread will collapse, not enough and it's dry...

                          yeast works best in acidic environments, so i've taken to adding a sprinkle of citric acid or Vitamin C crystals... in a pinch lemon juice (a squeeze) to help feed.

                          lastly, i've had some good results cooking tapioca starch with some water to make it nice and gluey (or gluteny ;) ) since i don't like to use gums...

                          1. re: Emme

                            Thanks very much for that. I'm trying not to accumulate tons of flours since I'm moving, but I look forward to trying it. I'm very proficient yet (obviously :-D) but I dislike the cost of xanthan gum. How much tapioca to how much water, and how long did you cook it? Do you usually bake in a loaf pan? Is that your all-purpose baking mix, or mainly for bread?

                            I often daydream about how fantastic it would be to have whiteboard paint on the kitchen walls.

                            1. re: jvanderh

                              totally understand... when i move, i initiate a "no more buying, eat what's on the shelves" rule to minimize packing (i don't throw food out unless it's moldy and unsuitable for any creature).

                              that's my high protein bread (gluten-free) flour mix. as of right now. (it changes...) sometime i loaf pan it; if i've got a thicker recipe, i'll baguette or boule it...

                              IIRC (this is where that not always measuring thing is a pain) i've taken about 1:1 or 1:1.5 by volume of tapioca to water... i stir and nuke in the microwave, stirring every 15 seconds until the mixture is clear. i use it sort of like thickening gravy... only about 1-2 tbsp of the thickened slurry to a recipe... good luck with the move.

                              i have white boards on one of my walls... it's VERY helpful.

                              1. re: Emme

                                Erm, NOT very proficient yet. Thanks so much for taking the trouble.

                                1. re: jvanderh

                                  i assumed the slip... and hoping that it was your subconscious knowing you'll get there. "gluten-free proficiency" is an oxy-moron in my house... i feel like i'm always discovering new things that put a hitch in my giddy-up...

            3. White Rice Flour can have a tendency toward grittiness. That said, I have a bunch of recipes I use it in... but that's in conjunction with nonfat milk powder. i avoid using xanthan and guar gums, so the milk powder adds chew and sweetness and some protein.

              i also sometimes use agar agar to create a bit of structure as well.

              i never buy commercial blends of flour mixes, but i do know the strengths and weaknesses of the different GF flours. my freezer door has sorghum, almond, coconut, hazelnut, pumpkin seed, garbanzo, brown rice, white rice, sticky rice, tapioca starch, potato starch, teff... i'm out of amaranth.

              i also love quinoa *flakes.*

              21 Replies
              1. re: Emme

                I am very new (less than 2 months) to the Gluten Free life and as a life long Private Chef, Pastry & Cake Designer being told you can no longer eat or cook the way you have been taught has been a challenge... This feels like having to completely "relearn" in so many ways how to cook all over again. Not always fun but getting there...

                I am doing well on the cooking side (looking forward to making the homemade noodles mentioned above! I so miss egg-pasta) it is the baking which has always come so easily that is just getting to me. I can not stand wasting food - we as Americans waste too much (I know I am not innocent but I try to be aware).

                I have truly only found a few recipes so far that came out well. The others either have strange out comes. Here are a few if anyone can give some help if it was the mixes, flours, or flavorings.

                I have made:
                Blueberry muffins (fine white rice flour, baking powder, eggs) tasted great & texture was great but didn't get as good of a rise as I would have normally gotten.

                Tested Better Crockers chocolate cake mix (for my mom) turned out dense, a little grainy, and had an odd fake chocolate taste.

                Made a blend of bean flour, brown rice, & potato starch for frying & making roux for gravy turned out well but still had a little off after taste.

                I have been collecting my flours, new cookbooks, & research... this is like going back to school all over again but the crash course!

                Oh jvanderh I know what you mean about xanthan being expensive - all of this seems to be. Since so many recipes called for it I broke down bought it & split it with my mother... Now that I have had a little time to shop if you look on line and have someone you can split it with you can find it on ebay for less than at the Grocery. I have been trying to buy what I can in larger bulk weights and splitting them.

                1. re: Setheridge

                  Sounds like a big adjustment!! A roux is one of the things that's gone well for me with plain rice flour. It seems grainy at first, but it browns like flour and it dissolves perfectly.

                  1. re: Setheridge

                    xanthan & guar gums are sold as supplements, so think outside the box on those - buying them from places like Vitamin Shoppe or from specialty websites like Netrition and Lucky Vitamin can save you money.

                    as for your blueberry muffins, there are some tweaks you can make next time to improve the rise:
                    - add a tiny bit of xanthan gum
                    - separate the eggs and mix the yolks in with the other ingredients, beat the whites to stiff peaks, and fold them in at the end
                    - set a pan filled with water in the bottom of the oven before you preheat it.

                    hang in there - i know it's a difficult adjustment, but it sounds like you're well on your way!

                    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                      Thanks for the additional ideas for where to look... They hide these baking ingredients like they are gold (and charge that much) Sad that it is this hard to be able to cook...

                      I feel a little silly not thinking about separating my eggs - I do this for my wedding cakes... I am so busy trying to figure out how to exchange the flours and how they will react & taste that I am not thinking about normal baking...

                      I will try the eggs first since the texture was great then then try the xanthan gum...

                      1. re: Setheridge

                        I'd be interested to know how it goes :-)

                        1. re: jvanderh

                          I will be making some tomorrow and will let you guys know how the adjustments turn out. I have to say even if they do not ever get a great rise it is the closest to a "normal" texture & flavor that I have had since having to change my diet! The fresh picked spring blueberries don't hurt either ;-) !

                          1. re: Setheridge

                            Cool! A rough recipe would be lovely, if you're so inclined. Weight or volume, I'm not picky :-D.

                            1. re: jvanderh

                              Sorry I didn't post this yesterday... I can be a little picky about my recipes since most I have in my head and recipes are guide lines - yikes and rarely do I use exact measurements - So I wanted to get this down and what I do step by step for anyone who is new to baking (I do cooking demos and normally I am talking and showing not typing). So anyway after actually writing one of my recipes with the white rice, using the suggestion above and going back to my baking basics and separating the eggs - no xanthan gum needed for the extra leavening . I only used it in the topping which was a new addition. Then testing the recipe last night - These turned out amazing!

                              The muffin is light, fluffy, with the right amount of chew. Not too sweet but a little tang from the sour cream and slightly tart from the blueberries. The topping adds that extra something special! Buttery like a great toffee with a hint of cinnamon. The entire house smelled like a bakery!

                              When cooking for myself I do have a tendency to be heavy handed on the fruit but I am not too worried if berries sink a little (I picked these a few weeks ago so they are whole, fresh and huge) a little extra moisture is a plus when using rice flour, as is the sour cream in this recipe. This recipe made with whole fat products to make it more unctuous which I have found is missing in so many of the recipes, in a regular size muffin tin and each muffin runs between 198 - 247 calories with from 8 -10 grams of fat. If you are vegan or unable to tolerate dairy I am sure you know the proper trades.

                              I hope you all enjoy my first attempt at converting one of my favorites into something that will make you forget that part of "CAN'T HAVE". My husband could not tell the difference and trust me he has helped me developed many of my recipes and we have many time tasted things looked at each other laughed and ordered out!


                              Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins With Almond Crumb Topping
                              Shawna Smith-Etheridge 5-2012
                              Muffin Batter
                              6 Tablespoons Real Butter – Room Temperature
                              2/3 Cup Sugar
                              2 Extra Large Eggs – Separate cold then let come to room temperature
                              1 Teaspoon GF Pure Vanilla
                              1 Cup Sifted GF Extra Fine Sweet White Rice Flour
                              1 Teaspoon GF Baking Powder
                              ¼ Teaspoon Salt
                              ¼ Teaspoon Cream of Tartar
                              ¾ Cup Sour Cream - Full Fat
                              ¾ to 1 Cup Fresh Blueberries - Room Temperature (I prefer more fruit but it can sink - *the rice flour seems to be able to handle the extra moisture from the fresh fruit not sure of frozen)

                              Crumb Topping (This makes a double batch)
                              3 to 4 Tablespoons Real Butter – Room Temperature
                              ¼ Cup Sugar
                              1/3 Cup Packed Brown Sugar
                              1/3 Cup GF Sweet White Rice Flour
                              1 Teaspoon Cinnamon
                              ¼ Teaspoon Salt
                              1/8 Teaspoon Xantan Gum
                              ½ Cup Chopped Almonds or Pecans

                              Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and place rack in center of oven. Have ready lined muffin pan makes 12 large 24 small.

                              Separate the cold eggs, placing the yolks in one bowl and the whites in another bowl. Cover the bowls with plastic wrap and bring the eggs to room temperature (about 30 minutes). Meanwhile sift or whisk the sifted flour with the baking powder and salt. Set aside.

                              In a small bowl mix together dry ingredients for the crumb topping, work in butter a tablespoon at a time until holds together and resembles the sizes of peas – much larger and topping can sink to the bottom of muffins. Place in refrigerator until ready to use.

                              Place sugar and butter in the bowl of your electric mixer, fitted with the paddle attachment (or use a hand mixer). Beat on high speed until fluffy and light colored. Next add in egg yolks one at a time until completely incorporated. Then beat in the vanilla extract. Blend in your sifted flour into your butter mixture, add sour cream mix well. Set aside while you beat the egg whites.

                              In a clean bowl, with the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until foamy. Add the cream of tartar and continue beating until soft peaks form continue beating until the egg whites are shiny and just form stiff peaks. Gently fold blueberries into your batter, then gently fold a little of the beaten egg whites into the batter to lighten it and then add the rest of the white, folding just until incorporated – making sure all are incorporated with out deflating egg whites or popping blueberries. Pour the batter into the muffin cups, top with crumb topping.

                              Bake 15-18 minutes (or until tester comes out clean). Cool on wire rack for 5 minutes before removing from pan. Store in airtight container.

                              Approximate calories and fat grams
                              Muffins only: 198 cal 8g fat
                              Muffins with topping: 248 cal 10g fat (includes good calories and fat from the almonds)
                              Muffins with topping no nuts: 237 cal 9g fat

                              1. re: Setheridge

                                Oh my gosh. You went to so much trouble. I'm so excited about this recipe. I usually sub sour cream for of eggs in muffin recipes; it seems to be moister and I like the tang, but since it makes for a denser muffin, I never thought it would work for gf. I had also been curious about doing the meringue thing with the egg whites. I can't wait to try them. Thank you!!! I think you should re-post it on its own thread on Special Diets and/or in Home Cooking.

                                1. re: jvanderh

                                  Thank you. I am new to this or any blog site... I just kind of stumbled upon it. I will... It really wasn't a problem, my mom wanted it once I told her what I was thinking so this was just a nudge to get it done and force me to bake. I have honestly been avoiding my love out of fear of it turning out badly again... This has really been a blow.... but on the brighter side I really enjoyed playing in the kitchen yesterday and making something that tasted so familiar... I do hope you enjoy it. I have to keep from wanting to grad a nibble when I walk by... Sad very sad... This is why I bake for others haha... Naaa thank goodness for self control after almost 2 months without one decent baked good! That is torture on a pastry chef!

                                  1. re: Setheridge


                                    I can only imagine how tough that is :-(.

                                    Do you have any experience in your life as a pastry chef with cooked flour (water roux/Tangzhong) breads? Emme mentioned above doing a similar thing with tapioca, and then I started reading about it in the context of Asian pastries, and then found this: and this: That blogger cooks mostly with a premade flour blend, but I've been wondering whether it would work as an all rice flour loaf, and whether it's the secret to how rice noodles are made.

                                    1. re: jvanderh

                                      Cream Puff or Pate a Choux or Profiteroles all start with a water/roux but haven't ever made a bread like what these link are showing... Only the crunchy - airy shells to fill with either salad or sin....

                                      Hummm... Not sure how all that would turn out but could be fun trying it... My mom is dying for bread that she can "eat" I do not miss the bread as much. One of these may be a fun project for next week...

                                      1. re: Setheridge

                                        I played around with it a little, using the same 100 g flour to 500 mL water "roux" that they talk about in the wheat version, letting it cool a little, and then adding more flour to a stiff bread dough consistency. It didn't rise, but I had used a questionable, neglected starter and didn't add any gums, and I was intrigued by the difference in the dough- it's more sticky and cohesive, the same way it is when you add xanthan, so I haven't totally given up on the process yet. I'd be very happy to have a per-fessional experiment with it.

                                        1. re: jvanderh

                                          I make no promises... Like I said... I have never in my life made a bread this way... the old fashioned way feed the yeast, mix, knead, rise, knead, rise, bake... I have only make one quick loaf in my bread machine for my mother it was so so... But will take some time out and play with it. Can't hurt.

                                          1. re: Setheridge

                                            I know, it's practically unconscious, right? I've always been a simple, simple, simple flour/water/yeast/salt bread person. Totally uncharted territory :-D.

                                2. re: Setheridge

                                  I just made these. I couldn't get blueberries and only had large eggs, so I subbed strawberries and chocolate chips and added a little extra sour cream, but even so, they were awesome!!

                                  1. re: jvanderh

                                    I am so happy they turned out! I I love them and the texture is what makes me so happy... I am waiting right now for the "Softest Gluten-Free Bread: Japanese Milk Bread" so I will let you know how it turns out... Keep your fingers crossed!

                                    1. re: Setheridge

                                      I'm crossing all my fingers and toes! If it doesn't rise, I'd be interested to see how it does in cast iron starting in a cold oven. I'm wondering whether it would rise as it cooks- it works well for very wet yeast dough.

                                      1. re: Setheridge

                                        I had some success today with cooked rice flour pastry dough. It's definitely not quite there in terms of flavor, but it held together nicely with no gums, the egg yolk gave it a decent color, and it even rose a little, so I think I'll mull over how to improve the flavor and try again. I'd also like to make it thinner. I tried running it through a pasta maker, which didn't really work, but I'm thinking a tortilla press might do the trick. I don't have one, but maybe I can duplicate the smushing action.

                                        1. re: jvanderh

                                          maybe I can duplicate the smushing action
                                          two skillets - preferably well-seasoned or lightly oiled cast-iron - work well for that. you can use regular stainless too, but lay a piece of parchment or plastic wrap over the bottom/base skillet to prevent sticking.

                                          1. re: goodhealthgourmet

                                            Thanks, ghg. I don't have any cast iron, but I'll give it a shot.