I’ve gotten several questions about flour mixes lately, so I threw together this post that summarizes a lot of information that’s currently spread around my blog in various places. If you have any additional questions, just ask them in the comments and I’ll answer them and somehow incorporate the answers into this post.
If you’d like to learn more about why you have to use so many different flours together, what the flours do, and which gluten free flour mix is best for you, make sure to read my ebook, The Gluten Free Survival Guide. Chapter 7 is devoted to gluten free cooking, and you’ll get all of your questions answered there.
First, here are the recipes for my flour mixes:
Gluten Free Cake Flour Mix
1 part brown rice flour
1 part sorghum flour
1 part tapioca starch
1. Depending on how much flour mix you want to make, choose a measuring cup. If you want 9 cups of mix, use a 1 c. measure. If you just need a tad, you can use a 1/8 tsp. measure =)
2. Whichever measure you choose is now a “part”. Scoop out the appropriate amounts of each flour and pour into a large mixing bowl.
3. Sift/whisk/stir the flours until they are extremely well combined. No streaks of corn starch allowed.
4. Store in an air-tight container in your pantry, refrigerator, or freezer depending on how long you think it will take you to use all of the mix. The colder the storage area, the longer the shelf life of the flours.
For the corn starch: tapioca starch (also called tapioca flour), potato starch, arrowroot flour
For the masa harina: almond flour
My Recipes That Use the Flour Mixes:
How to Use Gluten Free Flour Mix in Your Own Recipes:
1. If you have a gluten free recipe that lists several types of flour, sum the amounts of each flours and substitute an equal amount of flour mix.
2. Check the recipe that you’re altering and make sure the ratio of flour:starch is about the same as in your flour mix. For instance the flour to starch ratio in my mixes is somewhere between 5:4 and 6:3. (The masa harina acts somewhat similarly to a starch – it absorbs a lot of water). If the recipe that you’re converting has a 3:4 flour to starch ratio, then the recipe author has added additional starch to “lighten” the recipe. If you are confident in your math abilities, then you can probably figure out how much additional starch to add. Otherwise, find another recipe for this type of experiment.
3. If you’re converting a recipe that uses regular wheat flour, start with a 1:1 substitution of one of the gluten free all purpose flours and add 1/2 – 1 tsp. xanthan gum. If the recipe is not as tender as you would want, then replace some of the flour with additional corn starch next time. If the baked good is too tender, then replace some of the flour with brown rice flour, soy flour, garfava flour or sorghum flour. It may take some experimentation, but most gluten free baking does.
Frequently Asked Questions:
1. Can I use the all purpose flour mix for everything? (cakes, pie crust, etc…?)
I don’t use it for cakes, and I still haven’t tried to make a gluten free pie crust. However, the mix has worked well in the few batches of cookies that I’ve made. I generally stick to savory baking, and for that it works wonderfully.
2. Do I have to store the flour mix in the refrigerator once I make up a large batch?
It all depends on how much you make and how quickly you will use it. I usually go through a batch within two weeks and I keep my flour in a canister on the counter without any problems. These flours do contain oils that can become rancid, so refrigerator or freezer storage will extend the shelf lif.
3. I’ve read that when using non-wheat flour mixtures you have to increase the leavening agents. Is this correct with your flour mixture?
I usually use the given amounts of leavening agents when I’m converting recipes. If it doesn’t rise enough, then I increase on the next try. I figure that swapping the flours around is enough of an experiment for the first batch.
4. The recipe that I want to convert calls for self-rising flour. Are you flour mixes self-rising?
Self-rising flour is simply flour that has already been mixed with baking powder and salt. You can make your own self-rising flour mix by adding 1.5 tsp of baking powder and 0.5 tsp. salt to 1 c. flour mix.
5. Can I substitute corn flour of corn meal for the masa harina? What is masa harina:
Here’s an excerpt from Wikipedia: To make masa harina, field corn (or maize) is dried and then treated in a solution of lime or ash and water, also called slaked lime. This loosens the hulls from the kernels and softens the corn. In addition, the lime reacts with the corn so that the nutrient niacin can be assimilated by the digestive tract. The soaked maize is then washed, and the wet corn is ground into a dough, called masa. It is this fresh masa, when dried and powdered, that becomes masa harina. (Add water once again to make dough for tortillas or tamales.)
Fresh masa is available in Mexican markets, refrigerated and sold by the kilo. But masa harina is a fine substitute. Availability and your personal taste determine whether you start with fresh or dried masa.
Do not substitute corn meal or regular corn flour, however; they’re produced from different types of corn and are processed differently. They will not produce the same results. Regular wheat flour also cannot be substituted.
6. I can’t find masa harina or corn flour that states that it is gluten free. Am I missing something? Bob’s Red Mill doesn’t offer either of these products as “gluten free”.
I use the Maseca brand. It’s with the Hispanic foods in almost all of the grocery stores in our area. If you can’t find masa harina, try almond flour as a substitute.
7. I made “x” changes to your flour mix recipe and tried to make your “y” recipe and it was a complete flop. What went wrong?
I’m not sure. I’ve never made the recipe with that combination of flours either =)
8. Why do your flour mixes not contain xanthan gum?
Baked goods that are meant to be soft and tender use less xanthan gum than pizza crusts and bread. Pancakes don’t need xanthan gum at all. If I added the xanthan gum (or guar gum) to the flour mix, I wouldn’t be able to use my mix for so many different recipes.