All flours are created from simply grinding a seed, a grain, or a nut. The flour retains the flavor of whatever it was made from. The flavor might change slightly but not much. Brown rice flour tastes like brown rice. Quinoa flour tastes like quinoa. Garbanzo bean flour is probably the most different when ground, but it still tastes like garbanzo beans. You get the idea.
Mixing Them Up
Mixing gluten free flours usually helps texture and taste. With so many to choose from, which ones work well together?
I like to think of them in terms of “neutral” and “strong” flavored.
Neutral flours aren’t necessarily flavorless, but in my humble opinion, they tend to mix well with most other flours.
Sorghum and brown rice are my favorite go-to healthier, neutral flavored flours. Think of sorghum as an all-purpose flour. It works well in nearly anything. Brown rice is nutty but it doesn’t fight with other flavors. Millet is nutrition packed and delicious, too. It’s light in texture and flavor but use it with other flours as it can be slightly bitter if used alone.
Teff is a tiny, dark colored grain. Another nutritional powerhouse, I find it to be relatively neutral in taste. Try it with spices, fruits, or chocolate.
Brown rice flour can be gritty – it’s expensive to buy fine brown rice flour, about $10 a bag. Throw it in a clean coffee grinder and you’ll have inexpensive, non-gritty flour.
Of course, most starches are bland and neutral with the exception of potato starch and potato flour which have some potato flavor. Potato flour is quite strong whereas potato starch is much lighter.
People seem to have a love-hate relationship with these mighty flavored flours. You love them or hate them. I’m quite fond of their assertive, grainy flavors. Think quinoa and buckwheat. Garbanzo bean flour has a dominant flavor, too. And then there’s corn meal and masa harina which have flavors all their own.
Alta from Tasty Eats at Home reminded me about coconut flour – which has a light coconut flavor and a definite coconut-like-flake texture. Amaranth has a distinct flavor all it’s own. It’s a favorite of mine now but I wasn’t sure how I felt about it the first few times I used it. I think this is a common experience with new gluten free flours – the tastes are so often new and don’t meet our preconceived notion of what flour should taste like.
Put Them Together
If you’re newer to gluten free baking, start by mixing only neutral flavored flours or mix a neutral flour and a strong flour.
Also, the stronger flavored flours are great for mixing with spices and heavier ingredients. Think cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, anise, chocolate, and nut butters.
For example, my Almond Butter and Jelly cookies use garbanzo bean flour – which is very strong. But when baked with creamy almond butter and brown rice flour it has a perfect, smooth texture and taste. You get the nutrition of the garbanzo bean flour, which is also lower in carbs, without the beany taste.
Tasting your flours before you bake with them will give you a good idea of the flavor and texture they’ll impart to your final product.
Have a favorite flour that I didn’t mention? Tell us about it.
What are your favorite flour flavors? Which ones do you like to mix?
This Week’s Give-Away
You can still enter to win a copy of I Love Desserts – a healthy, allergy friendly dessert cook book by food allergy expert Nicolette Dumke. If you want to purchase the book, Nicolette is offering my readers the book for $19.95 and a free copy of “How to Cope.” The book will be $22.95 when you check out and you’ll get a refund via PayPal once the transaction is complete. If you buy two or more books, you’ll get a 10% discount.