Ask Essie: Flour Power

Janet asks what gluten free flours we use in the GFCanteen kitchen.

PhotobucketBack in the dark ages when we first began preparing gluten free food, there was but one choice for flour.  It was a gluten free flour blend that was meant to mimic AP flour.  It was pretty horrible.  Not only was it super gritty, but I am pretty sure it was a blend of bean flours that smelled awful.  Not what you want in your favorite chocolate cookie recipe.

But thankfully, things have evolved and we have some fine sources for gluten free flours. Some are available in the grocery store these days, and at least where I live, Whole Foods has an entire section of GF flours offering a variety of brands.

One caution though – if you buy GF flour from the grocery store, be sure to read the package and make sure it is actually labeled gluten free.  Just because it is  corn flour, for example, does not automatically make it GF – and just because it is located in the GF section doesn’t automatically qualify it as GF either.  Just be cautious.

I primarily use  two brands of flours for  baking and I buy them online most of the time.  I use Authentic Foods superfine brown and superfine white rice flours.  No one makes superfine grinds like they do, and when you feel it you will understand what I mean.  No grit at all.

And I use tons of Bob’s Red Mill flours.  The one I reach for the most is gluten free oat flour as well as many of their other whole grains, like teff, millet, sorghum, corn, potato, almond, coconut, a little amaranth as well as their starches: corn, tapioca, potato and arrowroot.

I use buckwheat (which is not wheat) by buying Wolf’s Kasha from the grocery and grinding it myself.  I like that mixed texture in some breads.

On my counter I keep four Zak polycarb containers.  One is loaded with Authentic superfine brown.  Another is filled with Bob’s GF oat, the other contains Authentic superfine white, and the last one is full of Bob’s GF potato starch.  I keep the remainder in Oxyo or Cambro containers in the cupboards.

Tapioca is good for thickening stuff when cornstarch won’t work (berries) and when potato starch would be too, well, potato like.

Teff is excellent in making dark breads seem like rye, or useful in GF oreos or graham crackers, and our English Muffin (still being tested).  It has a nutty flavor.

Amaranth is good for some breads that offer an earthy smell and feel (honestly, it does smell like dirt).

Coconut flour will absorb liquid like a sponge so use it sparingly but it makes for some awesome back notes in some baked goods and pastries.  I like to use it to thicken berry pies because  it is like AP flour but way better tasting as a note in  the overall flavors.

Millet – love this stuff in all my breads and it smells good.

Corn flour can go in anything because it smells really great.

I use almond flour when I want a structured flavor to help a cookie or cake.  Look for it in many of my recipes.  A little goes a long way.

I use brown rice and oat flours most of the time, along with a tiny bit of starch.  Those are my go-to flours for most everything.  When I experiment, I begin with those and then build from there.

You can find Authentic Flours here and Bob’s Red Mill GF goodies here.

And I bet there are tons of other good GF flour mills out there.  Let me know if you have a favorite or have had success with another type of flour.

And, as always, feel free to ask Essie anything in the comments below or send an email to


4 responses to “Ask Essie: Flour Power

  1. So many flours! Thanks for the information on them. How do you decide which one to use for which recipe, or is it simply a matter of trial and error? Does each flour have specific qualities that work better in certain recipes?

    • Yep. Mostly trial and error. And also, yes – most of them have a place where they work best. Almond is great in so many things, but it is especially great in pastry crusts and cookies and quick breads. Millet (for me) is always a bread-like grain. Brown flour/white rice/sweet rice are the neutral flours to use in everything. And lately I’ve been using a lot of oat flour for both flavor and fiber. If I was limited in space I would have brown/white/sweet rice, oat flours and one starch – probably potato or corn.

  2. I moved from the US to Australia they have a really good all purpose flour from white wings which works pretty well.

    Unfortunately, they think all oats have gluten in them and stare at me blankly when I asked for gluten free oats – le sigh!

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