GF Flour, The Weighty Chart & Win a Scale


If you still are on the fence about weighing your GF flours, take a look at Allison’s (Eat Love Drink) post about these AP flours.  Just the difference alone between whole wheat and white flours is astounding and as she says, can certainly explain the trouble with equal interchanging when baking.  Thank you Allison – that was a great post.

From there I began to think more about GF flours.  In the Canteen blog I’ve mentioned that I have over 17 flours and starches hanging around the kitchen.  I often combine many of them (as you know from the recipes) depending upon whether the baked item is more savory, bread-like or sweet.  I like that kind of baking freedom.

I knew from experience that the flours were all different from one another, not just in taste or feel, but in weight.  And the trick to successful baking and reliable results (I am convinced) has more to do with total dry weight and the balance to the fats and liquids (hello, ratio) than anything else.  It is chemistry.

I was one of those kids who skipped out on Chemistry in high school by taking art classes, so it boggles my brain when I think about it that way – and had I known back then what I know now, I would have taken the course with pleasure.

It is not how many cups a recipe calls for that is the answer, but how much weight (flour) it calls for that matters.  Dry weight measuring in baking gives you absolute freedom to tailor a recipe to be able to use any of the flours that make you happy.

In Alice Medrich’s new cookie book, the recipes are all written out using weights as well as cup volumes.  Her Snickerdoodle recipe calls for 13.5 ounces of AP flour or 3 cups.  It is not a GF recipe – I was converting it.  Using 13.5 ounces of  GF flours, I got a volume measure of 3.5 cups.  If I’d relied on just replacing 3 cups of AP flour with 3 cups of GF flour, my cookies would be very goopy and I’d end up tossing the mess.  I really appreciate when bakers, like Alice, publish recipes using weights.

Many of you ask about substituting different GF flours in a recipe for a variety of reasons.  Often the question is asked about how to replace the flour, cup to cup.  And that actually is the wrong question and anyone giving you an answer is just guessing.  You can sub in any flour you like as long as the total dry weight is the same in the end.  You cannot say the same for cup to cup substitutions as you can see from the chart below and the example above.


To get the results for the chart I did a couple of things to keep it pretty controlled (since it is an experiment of sorts).  I used the same volume one-cup measure for everything.  I used the same method for dipping and the same method for spooning for every single starch and flour.  I’ve also identify the source of the flour.  And all of the flours are stored in Cambro containers so there isn’t much variability in that regard.

The chart indicates the results in both grams and ounces for each type of measure (dipped or spooned).  Dipped, of course, is using the cup measure to dig in the container and scoop out the flour.  Spooned is more like gently plopping the flour into the cup measure, spoon by spoon until it is just full – the light touch.

By the time I was done, the kitchen, the dogs (who thought I was baking) and my clothes were covered in flour dust.  Starches and potato flour are like dust storms.   But as you can see, they are not at all created equal.

I heartily recommend that you invest in that scale so you are:

  • accurately measuring in the dry weight
  • don’t waste money on tossing out stuff that didn’t work (flour is expensive)
  • can have the freedom to use whatever flours you want

To that end, the GF Canteen is giving away another scale – this time the Oxo with the pull out display.  In the comments section below mention why you want a scale and which flours you mostly use in GF baking.  A big bonus to the person who dishes about their baking wreck created by using those cup measures.

Once again, try to amuse Cap’t Awesome – it really is easy.  He gets to pick the winner and he won’t review the comments until the end.  You have until May 14, 2011 to add your comment to win the scale.

And while you are at it, stop by the Gluten Free Canteen Facebook page.  You can comment there as well.

ONE VOLUME CUP

DIPPED SPOONED
Almond Flour (Bob’s Red Mill) 114 grams and 4 ounces 93 grams and 3 1/4 ounces
Coconut Flour (Bob’s Red Mill) 135 grams and 4 3/4 ounces 106 grams and 4  1/4 ounces
Corn Starch, GF (Bob’s Red Mill) 139 grams and 4 7/8 ounces 123 grams and 4 1/4 ounces
Millet flour (Bob’s Red Mill) 140 grams and 5 ounces 133 grams and 4 3/4 ounces
Oat flour, GF (Bob’s Red Mill) 120 grams and 4 1/4 ounces 98 grams and 3 1/2 ounces
Peanut Flour (Southern Grace Farms) 132 grams and 4 5/8 ounces 105 grams and 3 3/4 ounces
Potato Flour (Bob’s Red Mill) 199 grams and 7 ounces 176 grams and 6 1/4 ounces
Potato starch (Bob’s Red Mill) 168 grams and 5 7/8 ounces 153 grams and 5 3/8 ounces
Sorghum flour (Bob’s Red Mill) 135 grams and 4 3/4 ounces 115 grams and 4 1/8 ounces
Superfine brown rice flour (Authentic Brand) 143 grams and 5 ounces 125 grams and 4 3/8 ounces
Superfine white rice flour (Authentic Brand) 171 grams and 6 ounces 138 grams and 4 7/8 ounces
Sweet Rice flour (Authentic Brand) 163 grams and 5 3/4 ounces 140 grams and 4 7/8 ounces
Tapioca Starch (Bob’s Red Mill) 136 grams and 4 3/4 ounces 123 grams and 4 1/4 ounces
Teff Flour (Bob’s Red Mill) 167 grams and 6 ounces 150 grams and 5 1/4 ounces
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27 responses to “GF Flour, The Weighty Chart & Win a Scale

  1. I’m not writing to ask for the scale since I got one for my birthday, but to encourage those of you who don’t have one to enter! It is so much easier than filling all those measuring cups and your baked goods will be consistent every time!

  2. Whoa! Glad you liked my post…and even more glad took it a big step further. Great info!

  3. I haven’t had any huge GF baking disasters but that could be due to the fact I’ve been rather chicken about attempting it. Mostly I’ve been using packages. I used to bake a lot.

    • Gluten Free Canteen

      Sounds like you miss it. You’ll get there – if you baked a lot before you’ll get back to it. Really.

  4. I’d love a scale so my gluten free dinner rolls would stop looking like UFO’s.

  5. Anita Johnson

    It’s funny I was just thinking yesterday that weighing would make more sense when converting recipes, regular all purpose white flour is heavier then the GF mixes I’ve been using the last few months. I never had baking failures with wheat flour(well maybe one or 2…) but since I was diagnosed with Celiac disease failures happen more frequently. Too wet is usually the problem. I made biscuits about a month ago that would make good hockey pucks. I’d love a scale to assist when baking.

    • Gluten Free Canteen

      sounds so familiar. been there! got the scale and way fewer baking wrecks (although I still have my share – they are even have their own category in the blog…

  6. I, too, don’t need a scale. I am not a baker, much. But I already have one strike against me – I live (and bake) at high altitude. If I can make gf baking easier by weighing, then that is the way I will go. It will be easier to tweak recipies for altitude if the weights are always the same.

    My big question is: When using a recipe that calls for cups and not weights, how do I convert to weight? Should I spoon into a cup and then weigh that? I ask because there is a gf bread recipe that I think is fantastic. But when I bake it, it turns out only about 1.5 inches high as it deflates. I have tried adjusting but got so frustrated. I think I need to try again, but maybe by weight and really manipulate the yeast and liquid. I am not an adventurous cook! I want to just giterdone so I can eat!

    • Gluten Free Canteen

      Interesting question. GF bread is a challenge at any altitude, let alone way up high (I’m envious!). A couple of things that might help. First, yes, weights is the way to go when converting. Ruhlman’s Ratio is useful for dry measures for breads, but won’t much help for your altitude issue.

      The common range for an AP flour volume cup is about 5-7 oz in weight. The way to try it (tinkering again) is to estimate the weight they might be using based on the amount of volume (cups) required for the recipe. So, for example, – if I was converting a cookie recipe and it called for 3 cups of flour, I would say I probably needed to start with about 15-21 ounces of GF flours (total). From there, I’d adjust after figuring out if the result was too dry or too goopy.

      But then again, you have to adjust for altitude baking.

      The other thing is that bread requires a ton of foaming agents (yeast, proteins, etc) to get it to rise. GF flours are not yeast friendly like regular flour. You’ve probably noticed that there are holes in the dough as it rises – you want as few of those as possible. Try adding dry egg whites, or egg white in the liquids, along with dry milk powder. And lots of starch. Hope that helps.

  7. This is incredibly helpful. Half the time when I sub GF flours I think it’s just the blend I chose, but more often it is probably the measurements. I have been pining for a scale…now is the time!

  8. This is great – thanks for taking the time to do this! I’m passing it on to my readers! 🙂

  9. In the time that my wife has been GF, I’ve attempted to cook many things for her such that they at least resemble the regular gluten flour versions. Cookies, especially, are most difficult. More often than not, I end up with chocolate chip spots among “cookie” that’s as thin as the parchment paper I tried to use to keep it from sticking.

    • Gluten Free Canteen

      Sounds like you had some great baking wrecks (I have an entire section devoted to my own baking wrecks which I manage to make on a regular basis). No worries though – all a part of the process of learning to bake GF. You might find some of the Canteen cookie recipes useful.

      Not sure why the cookies spread so much – too much butter? What was the dough like? I promise to post a good choc chip recipe soon.

  10. I’m trying very hard to be clever.
    But when I succeed may be never!
    My biscuits are crumbly & my breads never rise…
    Maybe a scale could make my baked goods taste better?

    Well– probably good that I’ve never claimed “amusing” as a particular skill of mine. In all seriousness–I am in desperate need of a scale. Since I have to alter every single GF recipe because I have so many restrictions (including no xanthan or guar gum), attempting any gf baking is at best a lesson in persevering after failure. Well, that and a lesson at keeping my cat from tracking flour-y paw prints all over the house!

    • Gluten Free Canteen

      great poem! we don’t tolerate gums either – so I get that. if you get a chance take a look at the biscuit post and this coming Wednesday GF Ratio Rally post (scones). There is a great trick to binding the GF flours without gums. And my dogs track flour all over, too.

      • I love the very concept of the GF Ratio Rally & your biscuits look particularly tasty too. Sadly my list of restrictions includes eggs. And dairy. And everyone’s “egg-less” fav: ener-g egg replacer. And about 87 other things. Alas!

        But I’ll happily add your super-secret to my running list for the day when (hopefully) I can start adding at least a few things back in my diet!

      • Gluten Free Canteen

        I wish I could think of way to do them eggless and dairy free – if anyone knows, leave a comment! Thanks, Amber!

  11. A scale!
    I would LOVE a scale. A real baking scale. I have one now, but it’s not digital. It’s actually one of the sketchiest scales ever. Plus, it only goes up by units of 5. I switched to baking by weights a few months ago when it became popular on the internet. It’s been FANTASTIC in theory, but in reality it requires a lot of math. “If the bowl I use to measure out the flour is aboooout 25 ounces and then I need 176 ounces of brown rice flour, then the needle need to hit 201? Okay good… well the needle is just a tiny bit past the 200 ounces mark… that’s about right, I think! I hope…”
    It’s working for the time being what with my skill level and such, but I’m saving up or holding out for my birthday (or a fabulous give away!) to really get down to business.
    Oh baking wrecks. Like The Gluten Free Life said above, I, too have had my share of big flat cookies. I’ve found that refrigerating the dough for a few hours before baking does absolute wonders (especially since I cook without gums). I think it was Julia Child who once said that anytime something doesn’t come out perfect, she just calls it rustic. My mom told me about that one when I once tried to make oatmeal craisin cookies and they came out flat and I sat down in the kitchen and cried. She just scraped them off the pan and made crumble top with the crumbs. (Full disclosure: it wasn’t absolutely delicious, but it also wasn’t a waste!)

  12. I don’t have any food restrictions, but my boss and one co-worker are both gluten sensitive. I have been playing with recipes and try to suprise them once a month with a GF goodie. I currently have a GF sourdough starter bubbling away and am going to attempt English muffins first (I think will be easier than LOAF bread) and se where I get. A scale would be great! I measure my horses’ feed & supplements, why shouldn’t I measure my other friends????

    • Gluten Free Canteen

      Your boss and coworker are lucky to have you! Btw, if you look in the index there is a GF Eng muffin recipe. Not sourdough tho. Love to know how those come out – they sound yummy!

  13. I have a teeny, tiny scale that I got at Walmart for like $10, which is decidedly not electronic. 🙂 I would love to have one. Recently I have been enamored of my bags of teff, brown rice and potato starch. Though I am a huge fan of coconut and sorghum as well.

    As for disasters, I am thinking of going back and re-doing this recipe now that I know about ratios. I can’t believe how green I was even just 6 months ago. sigh.
    http://bellwookie.blogspot.com/2010/09/sos-kitchen-challenge-apples.html

  14. My mom has always said that weighing makes a difference. Now I believe it!

  15. I would love to win the scale! Mine just died. Ok, actually, it didn’t die. It was killed–it got left on top of the toaster oven and it melted! I absolutely adore your oatmeal cookie recipe and have made it twice. I want to make the English muffins too, but want to wait until I have a scale. 🙂 Thanks for the post above–very helpful.

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