Gluten-Free Flour Substitutions For Baking

Going wheat free doesn’t mean you have to give up breads, cookies and pizza.

There are many flours you can use to substitute in recipes that have delicious results.

Here is a general guide to substituting flour in recipes.

There are a variety of different formulas you can try when substituting wheat flour. Experiment to see what works and tastes best for you.

Gluten-free floursOne thing to note, though, is that alternative flours don’t produce the same texture or consistency as regular wheat flour.

With the lack of gluten, you will need to add a starch to your GF flour.

Know let’s see what these Gf flour substitutes are and the starch’s to use.

Gluten-free (GF) non-wheat flours are generally categorized into three different weights, and these include:

  1. Light starch
  2. All-purpose medium
  3. Heavier whole grain

Light Gluten Free Flours

Light, starchy GF flours include:

  1. sweet rice flour
  2. white rice flour

Medium Gluten Free Flours

Medium GF flours are similar to ‘all purpose flour’- these include:

  1. sorghum flour
  2. oat flour, certified gluten-free
  3. brown rice flour, superfine

If you are unable to find sorghum flour, certified gluten-free oat flour will be your is closest option.

Heavier GF Flours

The heavier grains, including psuedo-grains like quinoa, tend to contain more protein.

Which include:

  1. buckwheat
  2. quinoa
  3. millet
  4. cornmeal
  5. nut meal (such as almond and coconut)
  6. bean/legume flours

These heavier GF flours are similar to baking with whole wheat flour. You get a similar denser product, often darker in color, and with less rise.

Starches To Use With GF Flours

Starches in gluten-free bakingGluten is a general name for the proteins found in wheat. It helps baked foods maintain their shape, acting as a glue, holding food ingredients together.

In gluten-free baking, a starch needs to be substituted. These include:

  1. tapioca starch
  2. cornstarch
  3. potato starch
  4. arrowroot starch

Here are some key points to know about starch in general, and specific differences for using each one.

  • Starches need time to hydrate before going in the oven so rest your batter or dough for up to 30 minutes for improved texture of some baked goods.
  • The high starch content of some gluten free flours can result in a gritty texture. Many batters and doughs benefit from more liquid to properly hydrate.
  • More liquid may then require a longer baking time in some recipes.

Starches for the most part are interchangeable.

Cornstarch

  • This powdery white cornstarch is not the same as corn flour. Do not substitute.
  • Not ideal for baking, too much cornstarch results in baked goods with a starchy texture.
  • Stirring too vigorously may cause a mixture to break down and thin out.
  • Cooking over high heat can cause lumping.
  • Best uses for baking: to thicken pie filling and make puddings.

Potato Starch

  • Made from raw potatoes it has no potato taste. Potato starch is not the same as potato flour. Do not substitute.
  • Provides structure, tenderness and binding power in baking.
  • Too much potato starch gives baked goods a crumbly texture.
  • Best uses: muffins, quick breads and a gluten free flour mix.

Tapioca Starch

  • Tapioca starch is all starch but is also called tapioca flour in recipes. It is the same ingredient.
  • Gives chewy texture, elasticity and structure to baked goods.
  • Aids in creating a crisp crust.
  • Can be used as a thickener for pies and sauces.
  • Too much tapioca starch makes baked goods dense.
  • Best uses: cookies, a flour blend and moist breads

Arrowroot Starch

Arrowroot is extremely versatile and can even be used as a substitute for wheat flour.

It works well when mixed with other gluten free flours like almond flour and coconut flour and is perfect for bread or cake recipes.

  • no break down in acidic ingredients
  • creates a clear gel
  • freezes well and thaws properly
  • when using eggs as the primary binder, adding arrowroot powder will significantly help the process
  • lightens the textures in cakes, quick bread, and cookies in gluten-free and grain-free baking

As you can see, different starches will contribute different textures to your baking.

Take Care When Using Coconut Flour

Coconut flour is a unique, non-grain, fiber rich and highly absorbent flour. If you add it to a recipe blend, you may need to add more fat or liquid.

Therefore, you cannot substitute coconut flour on a 1:1 ratio for all-purpose flour, or most other GF flours.

Coconut flour gluten-free baking

Typically you would combine 1/4 cup coconut flour with almond flour, hazelnut flour, cassava flour and a little tapioca starch for the best flavor and baking properties.

Using coconut flour will require one egg extra in the recipe for each 1/4 cup, for both moisture and structure.

First, incorporate the egg yolks into the coconut flour and other dry ingredients.

Whip the egg whites separately, and fold them into the first mixture to make baked goods lighter.

You may also need to increase other liquids in the recipe or make small adjustments to baking times.

A substitute for coconut flour can be flax-meal, cornmeal, and almond meal.

If you want added fiber and texture in your baked goods, add 1/4 cup flax seed meal to your GF flour blend.

Gluten-free Recipes To Try For Yourself

Gluten-Free Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes

Gluten Free Iron Skillet Pecan Coconut Cake

Gluten Free Mexican Chocolate Pumpkin Pie

Gluten Free Blueberry Lemon Bread

Gluten Free Zucchini Cranberry Bread

Gluten Free Zucchini Cranberry BreadXanthan gum is an ingredient used as a substitute for gluten, when using gluten-free flours, either it be wheat flour with the gluten removed or garbanzo bean flour, fava flour, almond or coconut flour just to name a few.

According to the “Gluten Free Bible Cookbook” – xanthan gum is the result of the mixing of corn sugar and a bacteria.

The cookbook goes on to say if your making dessert breads, 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of xanthan gum is used per cup of gluten free flour. Cakes are 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon, and cookies is 1/4 teaspoon.

xlarge_97834 The Gluten Free BibleThe author of the “Gluten Free Bible Cookbook” says, though it isn’t an exact science, the amount of xanthan gum you use will also determine the location or area you live in. 

If you living in a more humid location, you may need more gum to achieve the results you’re looking for. If the location is arid, you may likely require less.

The key to being successful at gluten free baking, is to experiment until you get a recipe that gives you the desired result.

Start with a smaller amount than you think you need, and move your way up based on the results.

Allergies To Corn

A xanthan gum substitute may be necessary for people who have an allergy or intolerance to corn.

These substitutes or replacements include:psyllium fiber, gelatin, chia seeds, flaxseeds agar agar, arrow root, and egg whites.

Gluten Free Zucchini Cranberry Bread

1-1/2 cups Sorghum Flour

1/2 cup Garbanzo Fava Flour

½ cup potato starch

1/2 tsp powdered ginger root

1 tsp sea salt

2 tsp ground cinnamon

2 tsp baking soda

1 tsp Xanthan Gum or any starch, arrow root, corn, or tapioca

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup sugar

4 large eggs

1 cup brown sugar, packed

1/3 cup avocado oil or coconut oil

1 cup Greek yogurt , plain

3 cups zucchini shredded

½ cup pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9 x 4 inch baking pan with butter and sugar, set aside.

mixing in pecans and cranberries to make Gluten Free Zucchini Cranberry BreadCombine flours, xanthan gum (or other start of your choosing), baking soda, cinnamon, salt, and ginger together in a bowl. Set aside.

In a large mixer bowl beat together eggs, sugars, oil, yogurt and vanilla. Add flour mixture slowly until just blended. With a large spatula, stir in zucchini, cranberries, and nuts.

baking pan ready to bake - Gluten Free Zucchini Cranberry BreadPour batter into baking prepared pan ½ inch from top.

Bake 45-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center of cake comes out clean.

Bake cupcakes for 15 to 20 minutes. Cool on wire rack. Remove cake from pan.

Gluten Free Zucchini Cranberry Bread

If you enjoyed this gluten-free dessert, you’ll surely enjoy these desserts:

Gluten Free Tropical Carrot Cake

Gluten Free Carrot Cake with a Cream Cheese Frosting

Gluten-Free Chocolate Peppermint Cupcakes


Read more here about gluten-free cooking and baking: National Gluten Free Baking Week


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