The most common gluten free flours used in today’s baked goods do not offer much nutritional value. White rice flour, tapioca flour, corn and potato flours and starches are mostly carbohydrates and calories. While these flours perform well as the basis for cakes and cookies consumed occasionally, concern is growing about the lack of healthful benefits contained in the everyday staples such as bread, muffins and pasta.
Now better informed consumers are demanding great tasting bakery items that avoid empty calories from the sugar and fats that are typically added to boost flavor and add texture. The private and commercial bakeries are listening and responding with many new products that contain more fiber and protein. However, better nutrition comes with a higher price because the source ingredients are more expensive.
If you are skilled with baking at home, you are in the driver’s seat to control the nutritional value, taste and cost. As each gluten free flour offers a unique taste and texture, some experimentation is necessary to determine which flours are best for your breads or cakes to yield the result you want.
Gluten free flours
- Commonly used flours for cakes, cookies, muffins, pancakes with minimal nutritional value are
- White rice flour
- Brown rice flour
- Tapioca flour or starch
- Potato starch
- Flours best for breads, rolls, pie crusts with higher nutritional value are
- Bean flours from garbanzo, fava and other beans
- Oats (oats must be certified gluten free as they are typically processed in mills that process wheat and cross contamination is common)
- Nut flours, finely ground. Becoming more common in biscotti and cookies to create a crunchy texture and a brown color when baked.
- Coconut flour
- Cassava flour (Tapioca flour is from Cassava. This is a new flour, not yet available at retail, that promises several benefits over current tapioca flours)
Brands widely available at retail
- Authentic Foods-cake, cookie and bread mixes
- Bob’s Red Mill – a wide range of individual flours and a pre-blended bean based general baking flour, complete mixes for brownies, muffins and pie crust
- Pamela’s- brown rice flour based all purpose baking mix yields great pancakes and scones. Add buckwheat flour and ground flax seed with a touch of buttermilk for great taste and increased nutrition. Also offers mixes for brownies, muffins and breads.
- King Arthur Flour-cookie, cake, muffin, pizza crust and general purpose flour mixes
- Pillsbury and Betty Crocker now offer gluten free rice flour based cake mixes
What are your favorite baking flours? Let me know!