Answers to Questions About/Substitution Ideas For My Gluten-Free Flour Mix

by Jeanne on January 17, 2013

I thought I would create a spot that has all of the answers about my flour mix to help folks.  Also, check this post for more information about how I created my mix, how to make it, and how to store it.

Where can I find the flours (and the xanthan gum) in your mix?  Or, I can’t find one or more the flours in my hometown, where can I find them?

All of the flours are available online in the United States.  I will admit, I’m not clear why people are reluctant to order flours online.  Especially when they are not available in their local stores.  I do it all the time.  You can find them on Amazon, on Bob’s Red Mill, on Authentic Foods, and on a myriad of other sites.   A quick google search will locate them for you.  The one flour that folks seem to have the most trouble finding is sweet rice flour (also known as “glutinous rice flour).  I often find Koda Farms sweet rice flour in the “Ethnic” section of my regular grocery store in a small white box under the name of “Mochiko.”  Take a look there if you can’t find it in the gluten-free flours section.  You can also order it online from Amazon.  I have Amazon Prime which comes with free two day shipping–this makes shopping for baking supplies a breeze!

I recommend that you only use flours that are specifically labeled “gluten-free”.  Even though a flour might be gluten-free itself, the processing or packaging methods might cross-contaminate it and make it not gluten-free.  Therefore, read labels.

If you don’t want to order flours online and your local grocery store doesn’t carry them, then you need to do some research for your particular town.  You need to check your local stores to find out if they carry the flours.  My local grocery store (QFC, a Kroger market) in Seattle carries Bob’s Red Mill flours, so I can get all of the flours there.  In Seattle, I can also find them at Safeway, Whole Foods, Fred Meyer, Metropolitan Market, PCC (our local organic co-op), a few health food stores, and sometimes at Asian markets (although I don’t tend to buy flours at Asian markets because of the issue below).

Asian markets: The challenge with buying flours at Asian markets is that many of the brands aren’t labeled gluten-free.  If this is the case, you need to decide if you are willing to use it even though it might be cross-contaminated with gluten.  You can also contact the company (do a web search for their phone number or email address) and ask them directly: “Is your [x] flour gluten-free?”   This is what I would do–I can’t take the chance that something might be cross-contaminated with gluten.  But, you need to make your own decision–I can’t make that decision for you.

Flours from bulk bins: Buying flours from bulk bins is a dicey proposition due to cross contamination issues.  I personally do not buy flour from bulk bins because usually the bulk section also has wheat and other flours in the same area–and the possibility of cross contamination is high.

Can I grind my own flours?

Sure!  But be aware that unless you have a powerful grain grinder, you may or may not get the grain to the consistency you like.  If you like your flours very fine, then this might not be the answer for you and I would recommend that you stick with a commercial flour.  Again, it’s your call based on your preferences.  I don’t have a grain grinder (or even a blender) so I don’t do this.

I find some of the flours, particularly the brown rice flour, to be a bit gritty.  What can I do to solve this?

I would recommend using a finer grind brown rice flour.  Look for ones that say “extra-fine grind.”  Authentic Foods brown rice flour is extra-fine.  Also, you can experiment and take your brown rice flour and grind it up a bit more in your blender or food processor.

I can’t find or don’t like or am allergic to or don’t want to use [x] flour in your mix.  Can I use more of [y] flour?  

Again, the answer is, sure!  Why not?  My motto is: “try it and see!”  But be aware that I developed my mix with the different flours for a reason.  They aren’t in there willy-nilly.  So if you can’t find sweet rice flour (for example) and want to substitute more tapioca flour or you don’t like white rice flour and want to substitute more brown rice flour–it will change the mix.  It won’t be the mix I developed. You may or may not like it.  But, be aware that by changing things, you change things (if you know what I mean).

How to measure when substituting flours: Whenever you substitute flours, it is important to do so by volume measurement (cups) rather than weight.  I know this goes against everything everyone else is telling you, but trust me.  My experience is that substituting by weight does not work as well as substituting by volume.

What off-the-shelf mix do you recommend?  OR  I want to use a different gluten-free flour mix instead of yours.  Will it work in your recipes?

I get this first question a fair amount and the answer is: I recommend my mix.  I realize that it is not available pre-mixed on the shelf, but it truly is the best in my opinion.  That’s why I use it.  Believe me, if there was a mix that I loved that I wanted to use all the time, I would recommend it.  But, my mix is special.  I don’t get any money from you using my mix–and you make it yourself.  Also, since you make it yourself, it is cheaper for you.  If you really want to use an off-the-shelf mix, check out the following answer.

The answer to the second question is: it depends.

The two mixes I like best are Authentic Foods (gluten-free) MultiBlend (this already has xanthan gum in it) and King Arthur’s Gluten-Free Flour mix (be aware that you need to add 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum per cup of flour for the King Arthur blend).  These two will behave most like my mix.

One thing to be aware of is that some mixes don’t contain a gluten-replacer (like xanthan gum).  If your mix doesn’t, then add 1/4 teaspoon of xanthan gum per cup of flour to the other mix.  Also, other mixes may or may not taste all that great or they may feel gritty.  They may have more whole grains than mine does, which will make them heavy and gritty.  If the mix contains bean flour, the resulting baked item will have a bean taste–which I’m not that keen on.  You need to do your own experimenting and see if you like the results for mixes that aren’t mine or aren’t the 2 I recommend above.

How to measure when substituting flours: Whenever you substitute flours, it is important to do so by volume measurement (cups) rather than weight.  I know this goes against everything everyone else is telling you, but trust me.  My experience is that substituting by weight does not work as well as substituting by volume.

 

I found or I like to use [x] gluten-free flour and wondered if it would work in your mix?

The answer is: it depends.  It won’t probably work like the original flours.  But, it may or may not create a baked item that you like.  Chances are I haven’t tried it–so my answer (as always) is to for you to try it and see what happens.  And then let me know. :)  I love the hear how people’s experiments are going.

 

I can’t/don’t want to eat starch–do you have ideas for starch-free flours?

This is a hard one.  One of the key reasons baked goods perform the way they do is because of starch.  Starch makes up about 80% of all purpose wheat flour and it makes up the same percentage in my gluten-free mix.  If you want to bake without starches, you need to be aware that your baked items will taste and perform quite differently from the way they will when you use my mix.  I don’t really have any ideas on how to go completely starch-free, but I do have suggestions for a “grain-free” alternate mix, below.

 

I don’t want to/can’t eat tapioca flour.  Or, tapioca flour tastes yucky to me.  What should I substitute?

One of the following:
-Potato starch (not potato flour–different thing)
-Arrowroot starch
-Cornstarch

Please substitute by volume, not by weight.  Each of these flours is a different weight per cup.

Please note that some people think they don’t like tapioca flour but it’s not the tapioca flour itself that is the problem–it’s tapioca flour that’s gone bad. Tapioca flour (same as starch) that has gone bad tastes bitter and metallic.  Normal tapioca flour has a very neutral taste.

Do you have a substitute mix that is rice-free?

Not really.  But, if you want to try the following, here is  what I recommend as a rice-free mix:
For the brown rice flour use:   1 1/4 cups sorghum flour
For the white rice flour us:      1 1/4 cups millet flour
For the tapioca flour use:         1 cup potato starch (not potato flour)
For the sweet rice flour use:     1 cup potato flour (not potato starch)

Note that you need to substitute cup for cup, not in weight measurements.  The weights of each flour are different from each other.

You may need to adjust the amount of liquid in your recipes when using this mix because it is heavier.  Experiment and see what works for you.

I am on a no-grain diet–what flours should I use as substitutes for the ones in your mix?

I recommend that you try the following no-grain adaptation of my mix:

1 1/4 cups Amaranth Flour
1 1/4 cups Quinoa Flour
1 cup Tapioca Flour (or potato starch–not potato flour)
1 cup Potato Flour (not potato starch)
2 scant tsp xanthan gum

Important note: The weights needed for each flour will correspond to the weight of that particular flour–not to the weight of the flours in my original mix (I will get the weights up soon).  You need to make the conversion on a cup-by-cup basis, not on a weight basis.  Please note that this is a denser mix than my rice mix so it will create heavier and denser baked goods.  But, try it and see what you think (and let me know about how things are going).  I’m still doing research on this (very slowly) so your feedback is helpful!

This mix will probably require that you increase the amount of liquid in your recipes.  Experiment to see what works the best.

Can I use nut flours in your mix?

This is a difficult one to answer.  Nut flours aren’t really flours.  They are ground up nuts.  So, they behave differently than actual flours.  Also, no matter what, they will provide a gritty texture (which isn’t necessarily bad) to your baking.  My husband, daughter, and I are all allergic to various nuts, so I stay away from these most of the time and I can’t really bake with these exclusively.  I think this particular topic is better addressed by folks who use them more often.  Please see this post for more info.

Can I use coconut flour in your mix or by itself?

I haven’t used coconut flour, so I can’t really answer questions about it.  I have heard the coconut flour absorbs a lot of moisture–so you usually need to add more liquid to recipes.

Can you recommend a substitute for xanthan gum?

I think xanthan gum does the best job.  But, I would recommend that you see this post for more on xanthan gum substitutions If you want to try substitutes for xanthan gum in my recipes–go ahead!  But right now, I can’t really provide much guidance.  I will try to do more research on this issue this year.  Also, be sure to let me know how your experiments are going!

Gluten-free flours and xanthan gum are so expensive!

Yes, it’s true.  Gluten-free flours are more expensive than wheat flour.  There are many reasons for this.  One of the main reasons is that gluten-free flours are still considered “speciality” items and they aren’t currently made in quantities that allow for lower pricing.  Also, in the United States, wheat is a subsidized crop–this means that the government pays the farmers to grow it–which allows the farmers to charge a lower price for their wheat.  Which eventually leads to a lower price for wheat flour on the market. Also, processing gluten-free flours is more expensive because the processors have to get their equipment and buildings certified gluten-free in order to avoid cross contamination–and this is quite expensive for them.

All of this said, my flour mix is much less expensive than you might think.

Below is a breakdown of the ingredients for my flour mix, including the number of batches it makes and the cost. Prices are from the Bob’s Red Mill website as of 1/2013.

*

Price of Ingredients for my Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour Mix
Brand Flour Size Price Batches it Makes
* Bob's Red Mill Brown Rice 24 oz $3.89 4
* Bob's Red Mill White Rice 24 oz $2.89 3
* Bob's Red Mill Tapioca 20 oz $3.59 4
* Bob's Red Mill Sweet Rice 24 oz $3.29 4
* Bob's Red Mill Xanthan Gum 8 oz $12.29 56

*

1 Batch of Jeanne's Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour Mix
Grams Oz Cups Price
* 660 23.25 4.5 $4.77 (w/o tax)

Please note that I pay the same price you pay for flours.  I don’t get any discounts and I haven’t found any magical place that has extremely cheap flours.  I just build the cost of these flours into my grocery budget.

Updated 5/1/14

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