Each week I get several questions about where to find the various flours for my mix or how to use different flours or how to grind their own flours or how to bake without grains, etc. I thought I would create a spot that has all of the answers 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?
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. 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 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!
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).
A note about 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.
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 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).
I found or I like to use [x] gluten-free flour and wondered if it would work in you 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. What should I substitute?
One of the following:
-Potato starch (not potato flour–different thing)
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.
I am on a no-grain diet–what flours should I use as substitutes for the ones in your mix?
This question is one on which I’m just now doing research. So, I don’t have much current experience with no-grain flours ( I used them years ago but stopped for various reasons). Currently (as of 1/2013), I recommend 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). 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!
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. It is one of the foods that I don’t react to all that well, so I don’t use it. I might coconut flakes once in awhile for some sort of special thing (like a coconut cake), but I can’t use it on a regular basis as a flour. Also, it is categorized as a nut, so we need to be careful about it due to our family’s issues with nuts. All I can say is that 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?
Right now, the answer is not really. So far, in my experience, guar gum doesn’t have the elasticity that one needs for the kind of baking I do (classic). And, in my experience, the seeds are too gummy and don’t provide the structure that is needed. And gelatin doesn’t work in the ways you need it to. (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
||Batches it Makes
||Bob's Red Mill
||Bob's Red Mill
||Bob's Red Mill
||Bob's Red Mill
||Bob's Red Mill
1 Batch of Jeanne's Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour Mix
||$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.
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