Thursday, April 9, 2015

Gluten Free Flour Blends

Being Gluten Free & Gluten Free Flour Blends

Being gluten free now is certainly not a blessing but I'm pretty sure that it is easier now to be gluten free than 10, 15 or 20 years ago. There are so many gluten free products out there, though some are not so healthy. Reading labels is so important. As with some gluten products, some gluten free products are full of sugar and fat to make them taste better. Some of the gluten free flours are not nutritious, either. So, why are they used so much commercially, if they aren't so good for you? Some of the gluten free flours, such as rice, are less expensive.

Some gluten free whole grains are very nutritious. The gluten free whole grains have different properties, flavors or tastes . That would be a reason to use the many different gluten free whole grains, such as amaranth, quinoa, teff, sorghum, millet, gluten free oat flour but not limited to these. (There are others).

Using Starches in Gluten Free Flours

Usually, gluten free whole grain flours cannot be used by themselves. They need starches to help make the flour lighter and more fluffy. The starches also help to bind ingredients together. For that reason, we usually use a gluten free flour blend of flours and starches. The blend helps the flours to have a near property of wheat flour. Some different blends will have slight properties of all-purpose wheat flour and some will have slight properties of whole wheat flour. Prepare to accept the fact that no gluten free flour will taste, have the same texture, will behave nor will bind ingredients as well as gluten containing flours. Using a good gluten free blend might come close, though.

Using Hydrocolloids as Binders for Gluten Free Flours

In gluten flours, gluten act as a frame to hold in the leavening gases. It is the gas (carbon dioxide) which gives batters and doughs a light and airy interior. The gases also help to give a nice tender crumb. Gluten free flours, by themselves,  do not have the frame.

Now, a substance, called a hydrocolloid, which acts like gluten must be used. The hydrocolloid helps the gluten free flour act like wheat flour, giving it flexibility and binding properties. The hydrocolloids help hold the gases in the batters or doughs. They do not have to be added to stored gluten free blends because not all recipes need the binding substances. The hydrocloloid can be added while mixing the batter. Some of the binding hypocolloids could be flaxseed meal, chia seed/meal, ground psyllium, xanthan gum  or guar gum. Many people have digestive systems that do not tolerate xanthan gum.

I make a special hypocolloid called seed dust and it works very nicely as a binder for gluten free flour blends.  (It is more nutritious than gums. Gums have almost no nutritional value.) I thank Dr. Jean Layton for teaching me about the seed dust. The seed dust, which contains ground flaxseed, ground chia and ground psyllium, has lots of fiber and is more nutritional than gums. I add the seed dust when making a recipe that needs a hydrocolloid and never add it to the stored gluten free flour blend. The flaxseeds, flaxseed meal, chia seeds or chia meal needs to be stored in the freezer to help increase storage life. I usually make about a cup at a time using a coffee grinder. Most recipes call for 1-2 tablespoons of the seed dust, though, some bakers successfully use only ground psyllium as a binder. I find unflavored gluten free psyllium fiber at drug stores such as CVS, Rite-Aid, and Walgreens.  I have found their gluten free brand of the unflavored gluten free psyllium for a good price. Make sure that it states gluten free so that there is no cross-contamination. And, of course, the gluten free psyllium can be found online.

I decided that the light doughs needed a lighter color of seed dust. I ordered the white chia seeds to make the seed dust. The seed dust made from the white chia is not that much lighter, even when using golden flaxseed. The white chia seed costs several dollars more a pound than the dark. I'm still not sure that the white chia seed is worth the cost.

The seed dust made from white chia seed on the left is only a
slight lighter shade than the seed dust made from dark chia seed on the right.

My Favorite Gluten Free Flour Blends (and a commercial blend that might correlate)

I choose to use several different gluten-free flour blends which I grind and blend myself. I usually don't buy commercial flour blends because most of them use rice flours and the ones I do like the best are expensive. My blends do not have white rice flour, sweet rice flour nor brown rice flour. (Reason #1 and reason #2 can be found at these sites.) It's good to be informed and make the decisions for yourself.


Linda's Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour Blend

1 1/2 (180 g)  cups oat flour
1 cup (123 g) sorghum flour
1 1/2 cups (188 g) cup tapioca flour
1/2 cup (58 g) corn flour (masa harina)

549 / 4.5 ~  122 grams/cup

Whisk together and put in an airtight container.

I use this flour blend when making anything calling for all-purpose flour blend. Rules for using xanthin gum can be found here. If using seed dust, use one rounded tablespoon for each 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum. I generally use about 1/2 tablespoon seed dusr for each cup of flour blend.

Use this flour for cakes, muffins and cookies or any recipe call for a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend..  If you add 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt to the all-purpose flour blend, it can be used as self-rising flour blend. It can be used for any recipe calling for baking powder, including muffins, scones, biscuits, cakes, etc.

Betty Hagan has a blend very similar to Linda's GF All-purpose Flour Blend. A commerical flour blend that is relatively close to this oat/sorghum blend is ( ----blank-----).  Haven't found but one yet without rice flour.

If you are sensitive to oats or oat flour, then make substitutions. Substitute the oat flour for millet or rice flour, if you like to use rice flour. It is best to substitute by weight. When making substitutions, the property of the flour blend will change. Sometimes slight changes in weight might have to be made with substitutions to get the results you want. Sometimes patience is needed to make the changes.

Try the Jule's Gluten Free All Purpose Flour Blend. Jules' commercial gluten free all-purpose flour blend contains modified tapioca starch, potato starch, corn starch, corn flour, white rice flour and xanthan gum. In the April/May 2015  magazine Living Without's Gluten Free & More (p. 61), Jules included this recipe for an all-purpose flour blend. The flour in parentheses is the flour or starch I use when making this blend.  This is a nice versatile recipe for a gluten free blend. There is something there for everyone, unless no grains are wanted. (That --- later). Notice that her recipe has changed in the last few months. Read her story.

Jules' Gluten Free All-Purpose Flour Blend

1 cup cornstarch, tapioca starch or arrowroot powder (cornstarch)
1 cup potato starch, tapioca starch or arrowroot powder (tapioca starch)
1 cup very fine white rice flour, sorghum flour or buckwheat flour (sorghum flour or buckwheat flour)
½ cup corn flour, millet flour, sorghum flour or brown rice flour (millet flour)
½ cup tapioca starch, cornstarch or arrowroot powder  (would substitute for the corn flour)
4 teaspoons xanthan gum or guar gum     (would use seed dust when making product)

Jules' Gluten Free Flour Blend can be bought (with the rice flour) commercially. It is not as nutritious as her blend above because there are no whole grains.

Update: November 2015

I have found that the best combination of Jules's flour blend above is arrowroot, potato starch, sorghum, buckwheat, and tapioca, in that order from above. It makes a wonderful bread or dinner rolls. Once I make it, I keep it in the refrigerator for at least 12 hours to develop flavor.


Linda's High Protein Gluten Free Flour Blend

2 cups (246grams) sorghum flour
3 cups (360 grams) oat flour
1 ½ cups (255 grams) potato starch
½ cup (63 grams) tapioca flour
½ cup (60 grams) amaranth flour
½ cup (60 grams) quinoa flour

High protein flours could include quinoa flour, coconut flour, amaranth flour, teff flour, chia flour, bean flour, pea flour, oat flour, sorghum flour, buckwheat, and nut flours. A high protein gluten free flour blend works best for breads, muffins, pancakes, waffles, and some cookies.  Some of these gliten free flours have a strong taste and need to be used in small amounts. This flour blend might not work best for delicate recipes such as cakes and cupcakes and some sugar cookies.

A commercial high protein gluten free flour blend similar to this high protein blend might be Bob's Red Mill All-Purpose Baking. It contains bean flours ( fava & garbanzo), potato starch, tapioca starch/flour, and white sorghum flour. (Sorghum flour can be white, red, yellow, orange or brown and many colors inbetween). It is difficult to find a high protein, gluten-free, all-purpose flour blend which is white without white and/or brown rice flour.

A grain free high protein gluten free flour blend is possible. It is discussed in a minute.


Whole Grain Gluten Free Flour Blend

My favorite blend is a whole grain blend which I actually use the most. My inspiration for this blend came from Shauna James Ahern's website. She explains her 70%whole grains/30% starches for a gluten free flour blend. There are other sites that like 60%/40% gluten free whole grain flour blends. The 60/40 flour blend can be 60% grains and 40% starches or 60% starches and 40% whole grains. The blend with 60% starches would have a higher glycemic index -- not good for diabetics.

This whole grain flour blend can be used to make pie crust, wraps, breads, cookies, crackers,   I have used this blend to make "graham" crackers. This blend makes a terrific gluten-free "WheatThins" cracker!

Linda's Gluten Free Whole Grain Flour Blend

70% Whole Grain Flours

200 g ( 1 2/3 cup) oat flour
50 g (about 1/2 cup) millet flour
100 g (about 1 cup) quinoa flour
100 g (3/4 c + 3 tb) sorghum flour
50 g bean (about 1/2 c) (fava & northern)
50 g (1/4 c + 2tb) corn flour (masa harina)
50 g (1/4 c + 2tb) amaranth flour
50 g (1/4 c + 2tb) teff flour
50 g (1/4 c + 2tb) buckwheat flour

30% Starches

100g (3/4 c) tapioca flour
100 g (3/4 + 3 tb) corn starch
100 g (3/4 + 2tb) c + potato starch

All the different flours give the blend a distinct purpose and property.  If you don't like using all the different flours, rather than use quinoa and sorghum flour, use just 200 g of one of them.  If you don't want to use corn flour, amaranth flour, teff flour and buckwheat flour, choose 200 g of one of them. I feel that the bean flour is important because it gives the dough elasticity. There are many combinations that can be used in this flour blend that will work. Each combination will give the blend a different taste and properties. (Property is a chemistry word for characteristic -- the teacher still exists).

I do not apologize for giving the ingredients in grams. It is the easiest and more accurate way to measure. I know -- I know --- I fought it for a time, but once I bought that digital scale for the kitchen, I wondered why I waited so long. Of course it probably was easier for me to convert since I had been using a metric scale in the chemistry class for years. We all have a hard time changing our ways. It's part of life's journey.

Maninis Ancient Grains Multi-Purpose Flour Mix is very close to Linda's  70/30 Whole Grain Flour Blend. It contains millet flour, tapioca flour, teff flour, sorghum flour, amaranth flour, corn starch, can sugar, xantha;n gum and sea salt. It is expensive because gluten free whole grains are more expensive -- but, they are better for your body and much more nutritious.


Gluten Free High Fiber, High Protein, Grain Free Flour Blend

1 cup banched almond meal (almond skins removed)
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 cup arrowroot starch or tapioca starch

Many gluten free bloggers give this recipe for a gluten free, grain free flour blend, but very few of them seem to use it. Many won't give out their recipes using this flour blend because they are trying to sell their cookbooks. Some gluten free bakers state that this flour blend can be substituted for flour in any recipe. I don't find that to be true.

This blend is also great used to bread meat. I used it to bread paleo chicken nuggets.

I tried using it in a recipe substituting the above flour blend for muffins using a quinoa flour blend and the amount of liquid didn't work. I needed to add an egg and more liquid. That seems to be the general rule for using coconut and almond flours. I experimented with this recipe for what I call Everything Muffins and it worked with a little tweak of the amount of liquid. There are more suggestions for using this flour blend at the muffin post. The muffins did turn out great -- moist and full of flavor.

Final Statement on Gluten Free Flour Blends

I've always thought that moderation was the key term to use in making choices.  Reading on the net you can see, all the blends have pros and cons for using them. Every blend will have problems in using it. The flour blends with grains, nuts, seeds and beans have the phytate problem, as well as coconut.   The rice flour blends have the arsenic, high glycemic index problems and lower nutritional value. There is a problem with polyunsaturated fatty acids in almond flour.

Some of the flours are cost prohibitive to many people. Milling your own grains can bring the cost down. A mill will eventually pay for itself but this blogger uses other equipment. It doesn't take a great deal of time to mill the grouts, grains or seeds, especially with a home mill. Doing the milling outside creates less clean-up time because many of the mills puff flour in the air. Also, most mills are very loud. There are many different types and brands of home mills; mine is a Blendtec and I like it, though it is one that puffs flour.

Again, moderation in using any gluten free flour blend is important. Any health concern, which I am unable to give advice, should be taken up with medical advicers. Reading and research are important. So make your choices regarding the flour blends which are important in regard to your health, finances and availability.


"All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Mix : Food Network." All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Mix : Food Network. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Apr. 2015. <>.

"5 Uncommon, Gluten-Free Flours That Are High in Protein." One Green Planet. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Apr. 2015. <>.

"Gluten Free Fresh Pasta, Rolls, Flour and Baking Mixes Made from Ancient Grains - Maninis." Maninis RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Apr. 2015. <>.

Gruss, MS Teri. "Using Xanthan Gum and Guar Gum in Gluten-Free Recipes." N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Apr. 2015. <>.

"How Much Arsenic Is in Your Rice - Consumer Reports." How Much Arsenic Is in Your Rice - Consumer Reports. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Apr. 2015. <>.

"How to Make a Gluten-free Whole-grain Flour Mix - Gluten Free Girl and the Chef." Gluten Free Girl and the Chef RSS. N.p., 05 Feb. 2013. Web. 09 Apr. 2015. <>.

"How to Make Your Own Gluten Free Flour in 3 Minutes or Less." Daily Digest RSS. N.p., 17 Apr. 2013. Web. 09 Apr. 2015. <>.

"Pixie Dust Xanthan Gum Replacer." GlutenFree Doctor. N.p., 17 Nov. 2012. Web. 09 Apr. 2015. <>.

"Rice Flour & Blood Sugar." LIVESTRONG.COM. LIVESTRONG.COM, 20 Dec. 2014. Web. 09 Apr. 2015. <>.

Shepard, Jules. "Jules' Homemade Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour Blend." Living Without's Gluten Free & More 18.5 (2015): 61. Web. 1 Apr. 2015. <>.

Disclosure statement: I have not received any kind of compensation for any products mentioned or used in this post.


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