Cheatin' Wheat Gluten Free Baking Blog

Gluten Free Pantry Primer - Flour Part 2

So, getting back to this idea of flours. As I mentioned previously, flours are a powder which is made from grinding up cereal grains, other seeds or roots. You can make flour out of most anything which is why there is such a wide variety of flour options. Ever hear of analysis paralysis? This can happen to anyone when looking at the gluten free flour choices available. It can be tricky to decide which bag to pick up, when to use it and why it might be the best choice. I hope these little snippets of information help a little and as always, I recommend tasting and touching the flour before every putting it in your recipe. If you do not like the little bit licked off your finger, I wouldn't use it.

1. Soy Flour
The soybean is a species of legume native to Southeast Asia. Soy flour is made from hulled, roasted, and ground soybeans. When used in larger quantities, it can result in an earthy and slightly vegetal flavor. Soy flour has higher levels of protein, thiamine, riboflavin, phosphorus, calcium, and iron than traditional wheat flour and many gluten free folks use it as a staple because of its nutritional advantages. It is available in full-fat, low-fat, and de-fatted varieties with the de-fatted flour containing the highest protein content.

2. Amaranth Flour
Amaranth is an ancient plant that originated in the Americas and was widely used by the Aztec and Inca civilizations of the pre-Columbian era. This non-cereal crop also
grows well in Eastern Africa, Central America, India, Nepal and China. Amaranth flour is produced by grinding seeds from the amaranth plant into a fine powder. The resulting flour is buff-colored and is often described as nutty, earthy and grassy. Amaranth flour’s high protein content gets extra kudos for quality because of its rich content of the amino acids lysine and methionine. It is also rich in fatty acids, vitamin E, iron, fiber and other micronutrients, including potassium, phosphorus and, vitamins A and C.

3. Teff
The name means “lost,” perhaps because each individual grain of teff is so darn small. I kid you not, it is the smallest grain in the world. For example, 100 grains of teff equal the size of a single kernel of wheat and it takes 3000 grains to weigh 1 gram. Teff is an ancient North African cereal grass and compared to other grains, the flour has a much larger percentage of bran and germ included (imagine how hard it would be to separate those in a grain so small). This means it's a very good source of dietary fiber, protein, iron, amino acids, vitamin C and calcium. In fact, the calcium content in teff significantly surpasses that of all other grains. Teff flour is uniquely flavored, very dark in color and can bring a slightly gelatinous texture to gluten free baked goods. Teff is most well-known for its use in Injera, a yeast-fermented, Ethiopian flatbread with a unique, slightly spongy texture.

4. Pea Flour
Pea flours, yellow and green, are one of the newer additions to the line-up of gluten free flours. They are similar to the  family of bean flours with their high protein content, but have a different, more chlorophyll aftertaste. They can lend structure to baked goods, but using too much in a recipe may create a starchy taste and green hue. For a twist, use pea flour to thicken your next batch of pea soup.

5. Brown Rice Flour
Brown rice flour is milled from unpolished brown rice. It has a higher nutritional value and fiber content than white rice flour and is high in protein, iron, fiber and vitamin B. Brown rice flour has a slightly nutty taste and a noticeable texture (a bit grainy) as compared to the lighter white rice flour. Since it is a heavy flour, using it on its own will create more dense baked goods.