All gluten free flours lack that wonderful component that makes the ultimate smooth and stretchy dough, and high-rising batters, all with a neutral flavor and no aftertaste – gluten.
Once you start trying out different gluten free flours, you’ll start to notice they each have their own unique taste (like amaranth) and texture (white rice flour can leave a gritty mouthfeel). What one person my like, another may not.
Which is one of the reasons why there are so many different blends on the market. With over 20 different types of gluten free flours and starches available, there are a lot of combinations made by companies trying to create that 'perfect blend'. But the question is perfect for what, and for who?
Why Do You Need a Blend?
In small amounts using a single flour is fine (less than 3/4 cup), but any more than that and you really need to use a blend.
Because gluten free flours are so limiting in their properties, to replicate wheat flours’ glutinous properties, a blend should generally be made up of; 50% grain flour, 25% starch, and 25% protein flour.
Having said that, those ratios can be altered depending on what you’re making. For example, breads require flour mixes with a higher protein content than cakes do. That added protein is what gives the dough structure and strength allowing the air bubbles inside to expand and create a high-rising loaf. If you used a bread flour blend for a cake recipe, the texture of the cake would be heavy and dense – instead of light and fluffy.
As well, xanthan (or guar) gum should be added to the flour blend to help replace those properties of gluten that the gluten free flours cannot (like elasticity). Check out our Flour Conversion Chart for information on how to convert a recipe to gluten free, as well as how much xanthan gum to add.
Which Blend is Best?
Buy a few different pre-mixed blends (look at the ingredient list, and choose ones that are different) then use them to make the same recipe. Like our delicious and easy to make Chocolate Chip Cookies or Snickerdoodles (for the Snickerdoodles, omit the step of rolling them in the cinnamon-sugar mixture, since you don't want the sugars grainy texture to interfere with your taste test). Here’s what to look for:
- Dough consistency – did it mix well and form a nice dough, or was it loose and runny?
- How does it taste – do you like the flavor? Is it neutral tasting, or is there an unpleasant aftertaste?
- Is it too gritty, or just right?
Once you find your favorite note its ingredients, then look for blends that contain that blend of flours. There will be several brands that have the same ingredient list (see the chart below), however the concentrations they used for each type of flour are different which will produce different results in taste and texture.
Pre-mixed flour blends can get expensive, especially if you do a lot of baking, so a cheaper option is to make your own. Here are some of our own Gluten Free Flour Blends you may want to try.
Another thing you need to think about when choosing a flour blend is what you're needing it for. Aside from the flours' taste and texture, they all have different properties that will affect your baking. Which brings us back to those ratios again - a high protein blend, high fiber blend, etc.
Why Don't These Cookies Taste the Same as Last Time?
When a recipe lists a selection of gluten free flours and starches, or it gives a specific flour blend - you need to use exactly what is called for if you want to replicate those results.
As soon as you substitute one flour for another, or use your own flour blend, you will slightly change the baked goods' taste and texture due to each flour's unique properties.
For example, if you made this Pie Crust recipe using a Cup4Cup-style flour blend (which contains milk powder), instead of what is called for, the crust would brown darker and faster. In this case it wouldn't affect the taste, but it will affect the appearance.
So... Yes or No?
Substituting is hard enough in regular recipes, and with gluten free recipes it can seem more like trial and error. Choosing an all-purpose gluten free flour blend all comes down to two things - your own personal taste preferences and what the flour blend is being used for. So no, there is really not one single flour blend for everything, but there are several ones specific to your baking needs like;
Although... having said that, for those who want to have as few flours in their pantry as possible, we have created a single flour blend that has proven great for all your baking needs (except for breads of course!): All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour Blend for Baking.
Pre-Mixed Flour Blends Available
Although more expensive than making your own, here are just a few of the pre-mixed blends that are on the market now. At least one of these products should be available at most large grocery stores now. If not you'll find them at health food/organic foods stores, as well as online.
|Brand||Flour/Starch Blend (in order of concentration)|
|Bob's Red Mill Biscuit & Baking Mix||White Rice Flour, Garbonzo Bean, Cornstarch|
|Cup4Cup Gluten Free Flour||Cornstarch, White Rice Flour, Brown Rice Flour, Milk Powder, Tapioca Starch, Potato Starch|
|King Arthur Flour, Gluten Free Multi-Purpose Flour||White Rice Flour, Tapioca Starch, Potato Starch, Brown Rice Flour|
|Gluten Free Pantry, Glutino All-Purpose||White Rice Flour, Potato Starch, Tapioca Starch, Pea Hull Fiber, Rice Protein|
|Kinnikinnick All Purpose Flour Mix, Gluten Free||White Rice Flour, Potato Starch, Tapioca Starch|
|Pamela's Baking & Pancake Blend||Brown Rice Flour, White Rice Flour, Buttermilk, Almond Meal, Tapioca Starch, Sweet Rice Flour, Potato Starch|
|Robin Hood Nutri Gluten Free||White Rice, Beet Fibre, Potato Starch, Tapioca Starch|
|Bisquick Gluten Free Pancake & Baking Miz||White Rice Flour, Potato Starch|
|Betty Crocker Gluten Free All-Purpose Rice Flour Blend||White Rice Flour, Potato Starch, Tapioca Starch|