For gluten-free baking, a combination of flour and starches is necessary to get the right texture. If you don’t want to bother making up your own gluten-free flour mix, there are plenty of ready made ones available but they can be quite expensive. Many contain leavening and xanthan gum (an ingredient that keeps gluten-free baked goods from crumbling). I like to be able to control how much xanthan gum and leavening is in whatever I’m baking and there’s no way of knowing when it’s already added in.
Store-Bought Gluten-Free Flour Blends
There are several options for store bought gluten-free flours for baking that can be used in place of wheat flour in most traditional recipes without adjustments. They already include xanthan gum (or other binders) and the right balance of starch to grain.
- Bob’s Red Mill makes 1 to 1 (not certified gluten-free)
- King Arthur has Measure-to-Measure is an excellent option and is widely available. Amazon usually has the best price (link above). Certified gluten-free.
- Thomas Keller developed Cup4Cup which contains milk powder and is certified gluten-free (best price usually at Target); and
- Pamela’s Gluten-Free All Purpose Artisan Blend is an excellent option which is certified gluten-free.
These blends will work in cakes, quick breads and muffins. I find that when using them in cookie recipes the cookies come out more cakey. Adding extra butter and sugar helps this issue. These blends do not work as well in breads and gluten-free pizza dough since they require a higher protein balance (more grain flour).
More Than Rice Flour
Most gluten-free flour mixes are rice-based and people on a gluten-free diet eat a lot of rice! Variety is important, so I like to include other types of flours in my DIY blends, such as whole grain sorghum, millet and oat flours along with a smaller amount of brown rice flour. These different flours add nutrients and better flavor.
DIY Gluten-Free Flour Mixes
Mixing up your own gluten-free flour is extremely simple and less than half the price of store-bought. I know it can be a bit of a hassle to have so many different flours and starches in your kitchen, but between the cost savings and flavor, I think it’s worth it.
My favorite source for gluten-free flours is vitacost.com. They have their own line of certified gluten-free flours at excellent prices. They have super fast shipping too.
All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Mix
- 2 parts grain flours such as brown rice, white rice, sorghum, oat and millet
- 1 part starches such as potato, tapioca, corn and arrowroot starch.
- Note that potato starch and potato flour are different while tapioca flour and tapioca starch are the same thing.
This ratio works well for cakes, cookies, quick breads and muffins.
Gluten-Free Bread Flour Mix
You will see many gluten-free bread recipes that use the store-bought, all-purpose flour mixes. You will still get something that resembles bread, but it will be more cake-like in texture. So if you want something closer to bread, a mix of flours that is a little heavier on the grain flours works best. Remember that many wheat based-bread recipes call for bread flour. So a special mix for gluten-free makes sense, right?
I go with 3-4 tablespoons of potato starch for each cup of grain flour.
Gluten-Free-Pastry Flour Mix
Again, in wheat-based recipes, you’ll often see cake flour specified. So here’s a gluten-free cake/pastry flour mix that works well for pie and tart crusts and cut-out cookies. This mix is a little heavier on the starches, giving the final product a more delicate texture.
The good news here is that you can start with an all-purpose gluten-free flour mix and add some potato, corn or tapioca starch. Add 1/4 cup of starch for each cup of all purpose flour.
Flour Mix Ingredients
- White rice flour is great for thickening sauces and as a component in flour blends to add lightness to baked goods.
- Brown rice flour has more nutrition than white and is pretty versatile. It will work in cakes, breads and cookies.
- Sorghum flour is wonderful in cakes, providing a nice neutral, slightly sweet flavor.
- Teff flour is a super-grain packed with nutrition. It has a slightly nutty flavor and is a great addition to breads. I even use a small amount in some of my cookie and muffin recipes.
- Millet flour is also nutrient-rich and high in fiber. I add small amounts to my cake and cookie blend and more to breads.
- Mesquite Flour (sometimes called mesquite powder) is not very well known but is an amazing flour you need to try!! It has a slightly caramel/cinnamon flavor that is amazing in baked goods including my cinnamon mesquite cookies.
- Potato, Arrowroot and Tapioca Starches help provide lightness and some binding power.
- Xanthan Gum/Guar Gum is necessary for it’s binding power. Without it (or another binder) your baked goods will be crumbly. I use approximately 1/2 tsp per cup of flour. Cookies need less and breads can use a little more.
How to Make up Your Own All Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Mix or Blend
Here’s a simple, basic flour blend that works pretty well in gluten-free cakes, cookies and gluten-free, dairy-free muffins. But feel free to change it up a little as long as you stick close to the grain to starch ratio.
- 1 cup brown rice flour
- 1 cup sweet white sorghum flour
- 2/3 cup potato starch
- 1/3 cup tapioca starch
For even more variety of flours, this is my special flour blend that I love for many of my gluten-free cakes, cookies and gluten-free, dairy-free quick bread recipes:
- 1 c sweet white sorghum flour
- 3/4 c millet flour
- 1/4 c brown rice flour
- 2/3 c potato starch
- 1/3 c tapioca starch
Sift it all together in a large container with a lid. Mix thoroughly by dunking a whisk to the bottom of the container and bringing the flour from the top to the bottom. I do this about 20 times moving around the container.
Then put the lid on and shake, rotate and spin vigorously to be sure it is well combined. Store in the refrigerator or freezer unless you plan to use it within a few months.