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Jan 15, 2013 06:09 AM

Gluten free whole wheat flour alternative-your advice please

Hello! I recently started an anti-allergen elimination diet and gluten is out. I purchased a flour blend but my pancakes and baked goods are turning out a bit gummy and they don't have the depth and earthiness that whole wheat flour used to give me. The blend consists of white rice flour, tapioca, and potato flour.

There are so many alternative flours out there: sorghum, chestnut, millet, almond, coconut, brown rice flour, sweet potato, etc. I hate to purchase bag after bag of flour, only to find that they don't work and I've spent a mint. We have no nut restrictions. Is there a mixture that you would recommend as a whole wheat flour alternative?

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  1. Shoot. I typed up a whole long post with links and lost it. :( Am in a rush but will respond to this a bit better later. I like to include higher protein grians in my blends for health and some oomph. This is good info about flours and starches:
    This is one of my favourites for high protein goods such as breads and pizza...
    Will post more after I return.

    1. Gumminess can result from a number of factors - too much moisture, too much gum, the wrong proportion of starch - and each type of flour absorbs liquid differently, so it's difficult to troubleshoot the issue without seeing the recipe(s) you're using.

      There's no magic blend that will work for all recipes, which is one fo the reasons GF baking is so much more challenging than conventional. A great rule of thumb for GF whole-grain mixes is to find the ratio of whole grain flour to starch that works for you. I tend to prefer a 70/30 mix, but some people like 60/40 or even 50/50. Beyond personal taste, your local climate can also be a factor - humidity levels can affect moisture absorption. Shauna Ahern (aka Gluten-Free Girl) has a great primer on her site:

      I use different blends depending on what I'm making, so unfortunately I don't really have a single go-to mix I can recommend. I've found it's best to play around on your own until you find something that suits your preferences. In the meantime, Living Without magazine has several basic blends you can use as a jumping-off point, and for a more earthy flavor, substitute buckwheat, amaranth or mesquite flour for part of the rice or sorghum...

      1. As the mother of one who lives with severe gluten (and corn!) intolerance, I have tried 'em all.

        Check out Cup4Cup flour (William Sonoma here in Canada, but I understand now at WholeFoods in the US(?)

        Then, supplement with pure oats (obviously GF-Bob's Mill has them) and whip them through your blender so that 1/4 to 1/2 of the flour content of any recipe is ground-oats.

        This works well with pancakes,crisps and brown bettys, bread and muffins and some rustic cakes.

        For a more delicate blend (for short-breads, pastry et al) try a mix of Cup4Cup and almond meal and white rice flour.

        In fact, for very special 'light' baking (i.e. probably the very opposite of what you are asking), I use white rice flour and cornstarch or almond meal alone...great for most Celiacs.

        1. For simplicity's sake - have you tried coconut flour and almond flour (very finely ground - Honeyville or similar, NOT Bob's Red Mill)? I have a cupboard full of the exotic flours, but it took me 2 years to master them, and that's with a lot of research and practice. Nowadays the simplicity of grain free recipes has a lot of appeal to me - and if you're not intending to eat this way forever, maybe you would be happy with some simple grain free baking. You might like the results you can get with a really good recipe for almond flour based goods. Check out Elana's Pantry?

          That said, if you're really missing that lovely gnarly coarse wheat flavor (I grew up with that and I get it) you might like Montina flour. I think that's my favorite GF flour flavor-wise. You could lighten it with a bit of arrowroot/tapioca/sweet rice flour/potato starch.

          1. I think the closest thing to a hearty bread that approximates whole wheat but is GF uses a mix of oat flour and another lighter starch, like corn starch, potato starch, or arrowroot. If you like it heartier still, try adding soy, quinoa, amaranth or fava, garbanzo, or navy bean flour for more protein, montina for more texture, teff, nut flours, etc. You need to buy GF Oats (that is, oats not contaminated with wheat from sharing the same field or processing); then just grind them in your blender or food processor for a minute. Personally, I like a predominantly oat flour based bread, plus some oat groats and chopped nuts (my favorite is walnuts) added for texture.

            One of the best web sites I have found for GF baking is this one, where Vic tells you all about his comparative experiments in substituting flours and which ones he prefers:

            I like to use some applesauce or flaked unsweetened coconut in my breads, to help hold some moisture in the bread for a longer time. Both of these also add some substance as well, but they add a little sweetness that you might find pleasing in your breakfast toast but not in your sandwich bread. It's all according to your taste preferences. A good site to swap ideas with a LOT of folks with celiac (gluten intolerance) but also multiple food allergies, is this one:

            They have lots of stored recipes for all kinds of preferences and can likely give you some good advice.