Gluten-Free Flour Blend
I am by no means an expert at blending Gluten Free flours. I almost always use a homemade GF flour blend based on the one at Gluten Free Girl. It requires a scale. Trust me, you want one if you’re going to bake gluten free. Here’s what I like to do:
- Put a big mixing bowl on your scale and zero it out.
- Measure out your whole grains. You want a quantity of 7 (whether you’re using grams or ounces/pounds). I like to measure either 700 grams or 1400 grams of whole grain flours. My favorite whole grain flours for GF baking are sorghum, millet, brown rice, and teff. I sometimes add buckwheat (although I usually keep it for buckwheat-specific recipes, because I really like the flavor) and amaranth, quinoa, or almond. You could add coconut or a bean flour as well. Usually I sort of eyeball proportions. As long as your total amount of whole grains comes to, say, 700 grams, you’re ok.
- Add your starches. I prefer arrowroot starch. Of course it’s the most expensive one of the commercially accessible starches, but I feel like potato starch has a bit of an odd flavor, and tapioca starch promotes a little sliminess. Corn starch will work in a pinch. I actually have all four starches, and have used them from time to time in varying quantities, but my preference is definitely arrowroot.
- Mix thoroughly until you can’t see any variation in the flour. It should look like a single flour throughout. Use this in place of all-purpose flour in any recipe. It’s a little crumblier and may be slightly heavy, but it’s got a lot of nutrition and works well in all GF baking.
- If you’re adapting a recipe that uses cups instead of weights, don’t measure out a cup of this blend. Instead, use 125 grams of this blend for every cup of “regular” flour that’s called for in the original recipe. I’ve made cakes, cookies, and quick breads just making this subsitution alone (no gums or seeds needed). They don’t stay good as long as gluten-filled wheat breads, and they’re definitely more on the crumbly side. But this works. It really does!
Baking Bread Without Gums
One of the worst parts, for me, about going gluten free, was realizing that most gluten free recipes contain additives and chemicals. I didn’t like the idea at all. Of course, after just a short time, I realized that those additives and chemicals (xanthan gum, guar gum, cellulose gum) didn’t like me either.
UPDATED 12/11 – I’ve kept my original post below, in case you’re interested in how to use a flax slurry. But it’s interesting how several people can all come up with the same result independent of one another. Because as I’d been experimenting, apparently several more prominent gluten-free bloggers were doing the same thing. What we found, again, totally independent of one another, is this: You actually don’t even need to make a slurry. Just add in flax meal (or chia, or psyllium husk powder, although it has quite a distinct flavor so use it sparingly!) to your bowl when you’re making bread (or anything else that could benefit from a springy texture). It works fantastically. I will admit that shaping this bread isn’t as easy as shaping wheat bread, and people who can tolerate xanthan gum will probably still want to use it for things like croissants. But since even just a touch of gums makes me really sick now, I am very happy for the alternative! You can even use one of these seeds or meals in place of gums in a recipe, in the same proportion. Just add and go. Isn’t that easy?
And in case you’re curious, here’s my original discussion of baking gum-free:
Luckily I found some resources online to help me make GF bread without gum. Thanks to Gluten Free Girl and Cake and Commerce, I’m using my own gum-replacing blend of flax meal and tapioca starch. I’m tweaking the recipe still, but I’ve had excellent results (soft, springy, and light; not gummy or crumbly loaves!) with the following “recipe.” Remember, this is only for bread. Gluten formation/simulation isn’t necessary for pancakes, waffles, muffins, cake, or cookies.
- Measure 1 tbsp of flax meal for every 250 grams of flour in your recipe (or for every loaf
- Add 1 tsp of tapioca starch (sometimes called tapioca flour) and whisk to combine well.
- Add 1 1/2 tbsp BOILING water, whisking it in. Tapioca starch clumps horribly so the whisking at this point is a necessity.
- Let set for approximately 5 minutes. When you stir it, the mixture will be gummy. This will help give your bread the proper texture! Add it to your bread mixture with the flour (and don’t count the water in your liquid-to-flour ratio).