Consistently gluten-free eating is not that easy, especially when it comes to gluten-free baking. The question quickly arises: Which flours are gluten-free and how are gluten-free flours used? After all, it is precisely the gluten that ensures that the bread and cake hold together nicely and also rise lightly.
Bake gluten-free with gluten-free flour
The gluten-free diet is not only healthy. It is also very modern at the moment. But it may also be that it is so popular precisely because many people have found that they are much better off without gluten – a specific grain protein.
In addition to the rather rare celiac disease, gluten can cause many unpleasant health problems, which are summarized under the term gluten intolerance.
However, as we have explained here, gluten-free finished products (bread, baked goods and pasta, sweets, etc.) can also be quite unhealthy. Because they often contain questionable synthetic additives, undefinable fats, lots of eggs (usually in the form of industrially processed liquid or dried eggs), and plenty of dairy products.
It is therefore always good to know how to make gluten-free bread, gluten-free rolls, and gluten-free baked goods yourself from the various gluten-free flours. The very fact that the food industry requires so many additives and ingredients just to fill in the missing gluten shows that baking without gluten is not easy.
There are a lot of gluten-free flours out there. However, if you were to use it instead of conventional wheat flour, the result would at best only look ugly, but at worst it could also be inedible.
That means: When baking gluten-free, you follow special gluten-free recipes that were explicitly designed for gluten-free cuisine. But now it often gets really complicated. Because many of the gluten-free ingredients are not yet known.
Therefore, we present the most important gluten-free flours, their properties, and areas of application below.
Bake our gluten-free cornbread – it’s fluffy on the inside and wonderfully crunchy on the outside.
Gluten-free flours and gluten-free binders
Gluten is contained in many types of grain, especially wheat, but also spelled, unripe spelled, rye, Kamut, emmer, and barley. Gluten can also be found in oats, but in smaller quantities and in a more digestible quality.
All of these grains and their flours are therefore taboo in gluten-free baking and cooking.
However, the following gluten-free flours, which are described in detail below, are permitted:
- rice flour
- millet flour
- teff flour
- quinoa flour
- amaranth flour
- hemp flour
- buckwheat flour
- chestnut flour
- Tigernut Flour
- coconut flour
- almond flour
Corn and potato starch are also often mixed into gluten-free flour mixtures.
Gluten makes dough elastic and holds it together. So gluten prevents the dough from spreading like a flatbread. Gluten-free flours lack all of these properties. So you add ingredients that can replace the gluten properties.
In contrast to the food industry, Elfe Cala – gourmet cook for vegan and vegetarian delicacies – uses healthy special ingredients such as e.g. B. the following binders:
- locust bean gum
- arrowroot powder
- Ground psyllium or psyllium husks
- Fibrex (sugar beet fiber) from the health food store
- guar gum
Sunflower or pea protein gives gluten-free bread more stability. Before we get to the presentation of the gluten-free flours, first a few important tips that you should consider when preparing gluten-free dough:
Tips for handling gluten-free dough
- Compared to dough containing gluten, the gluten-free dough needs more liquid and also more time to absorb liquid. Therefore, when baking, always set aside some flour, which you can add after the swelling process if necessary, should you ever have too much liquid in the dough.
In principle, all gluten-free flours must be used for the production of e.g. B. Baked goods can be mixed with other gluten-free flours. So you never use just a single gluten-free flour such as B. only rice flour or only almond flour to bake bread. Instead, the flours are combined cleverly and in this way can significantly influence the baking properties of the dough and the taste of the result.
- Make sure you don’t knead the dough for too long so that it stays nice and airy and doesn’t harden or even collapse.
- It is best to mix the ingredients with a cooking spoon and shape the bread, roll it with your hands or press the dough loosely into a mold. In Italy, 1 tablespoon of olive oil is added to the dough, which makes it smoother.
- To guarantee moisture in the bread, always put a bowl of water in the oven.
If you only want to reduce the gluten content of bread, but not bake it completely gluten-free, you can also add gluten-free flour only to a certain extent. Elfe Grunwald recommends mixing in the gluten-free flour in amounts of up to 20 to 30 percent of the total amount of flour without having to change anything in the original recipe.
Gluten-free flours – properties and areas of application
Below we present the most important gluten-free flours:
Gluten-Free Rice Flour
One of the best-known gluten-free flours is rice flour. Rice flour consists of ground rice grains. When buying, make sure that it is organic and that the rice flour is made from whole grain rice if possible.
In Asia, rice flour has become an integral part of many dishes. In Japan, it is often used to prepare sweets and in Thailand, it is a popular binding agent for sauces.
But why wander into the distance when the good is so close? Rice flour is also available in European growing areas such as e.g. B. to find Italy. In contrast to the Asians, however, Europeans would like to bake bread – also from rice flour.
The rice flour can be added in amounts of up to 50 percent of the total amount of flour. The rest consists of other gluten-free flour, such as B. millet and buckwheat flour.
Rice flour only absorbs the liquid during baking and thus gives the bread the necessary strength.
Rice flour is suitable for bread, cakes, and pizza dough.
To give you a practical example of the mixing ratios in a recipe with rice flour, here is a sample recipe for gluten-free rolls made from rice, millet, and buckwheat flour:
Gluten-free buns with rice flour (8 buns)
- 260 g rice flour
- 200 g millet flour
- 40 grams of buckwheat flour
- 30 grams of fresh yeast
- 1 tsp natural salt
- 400 to 450 ml cold water
- 1 tbsp olive oil
To make the dough hold together better, Elfe Grunwald recommends adding Fibrex (sugar beet fiber) and ground psyllium. 1 teaspoon for every 400 to 500 g of flour.
Gluten-free millet flour
Of course, millet flour is also a gluten-free flour. As with all gluten-free flours, millet flour can also be mixed with other gluten-free flours such as soy, buckwheat, chestnut, quinoa, or rice flour.
Golden millet and brown millet both contain a lot of silicon (silicic acid), which has a very positive effect on the strength of fingernails, hair growth, and the elasticity and resilience of the skin.
Millet is also a very good source of iron and provides a large portion of calcium and magnesium.
You can use millet flour to make bread or pizza dough. For gluten-free olive bread with millet flour (from the bread maker), you could e.g. B. Use a mixture of 50 g millet flour, 50 g teff flour, 50 g buckwheat flour, 30 g potato starch, and 100 g rice flour.
Add 1 teaspoon of sea salt and a heaped teaspoon of guar gum. Mix the dry mixture with 230 ml water (mixer with dough hook). If desired, you can also add dried herbs such as marjoram or oregano.
Now let the dough rest for at least 1 hour.
Then mix 70 ml of water with 30 ml of olive oil and a packet of cream of tartar. Once the baking powder has dissolved, carefully fold the liquid mixture into the bread dough along with a few pitted black olives. Now put the dough in your bread maker and let it bake for 1 hour.
Gluten-free teff flour
Another gluten-free flour is made from teff – also known as dwarf millet. Teff is the smallest grain in the world in terms of grain size. As one of the most important staple foods in Ethiopia, it also belongs to sweet grasses like millet.
Gluten-free teff flour is also highly recommended for diabetics, as it is said to have a positive effect on blood sugar levels. It is also repeatedly suggested to athletes, as it provides important minerals for muscles and nerves.
Teff flour tastes deliciously sweet and is therefore suitable for cakes, pastries, and rolls.
Gluten-free quinoa flour
Of course, the flour made from pseudocereal quinoa is also gluten-free flour. It is just as rich in protein and vital substances as quinoa itself. Quinoa flour is an ideal flour for gluten-free baked goods. Grown in the high Andean plateaux, the small Inca seed is a goosefoot family, making it part of the same plant family as beetroot and spinach. It tastes nutty with a slightly bitter note.
Quinoa flour not only contains protein, but also provides a lot of iron, magnesium, and B vitamins and is therefore a first-class source of energy.
Bake bread, cakes, pancakes, or pizza with quinoa flour. You can mix the quinoa flour up to 25 percent with other flour.
Gluten-free amaranth flour
Amaranth is not a grain, but the seed of a foxtail plant that was cultivated in Central and South America 3000 years ago. Amaranth flour tastes slightly nutty and slightly earthy, making it best for savory pastries like quiche, pizza, or bread.
If you use amaranth flour, you should make sure to add a little more water or oil to the dough so that it doesn’t become dry.
Amaranth is extraordinarily rich in magnesium, calcium, protein, and iron and is therefore a very good addition to gluten-free flour mixtures.
Here is a suggested recipe:
Salty yeast dough
Recipe for 6 to 8 people
- 150 ml water, cold
- 1 packet of dry yeast (7 g)
- 1 tsp coconut blossom sugar
- 250 g rustic flour mix (e.g. from Hammermühle)
- 100 g amaranth flour
- 20 g brown millet flour
- 4 tablespoons almond flour (de-oiled)
- 3 tablespoons Fibrex (sugar beet fiber) from the health food store
- 1 tbsp psyllium husk, ground
- 1 tsp salt, natural
- ½ tsp xanthan gum
- 250ml of water
- 1 tsp olive oil
Pour the water into a cup and sprinkle yeast powder and coconut blossom sugar over it. Don’t stir! Leave to rise for 15-25 minutes until thick foam forms on the surface.
Mix all other ingredients together, then carefully work in the yeast mixture with your hands until an elastic dough forms. Leave to rest for 30 minutes.
Tip: You can use the dough to make grissini, mini-panini (mini rolls), filled bread pralines, and pizzette (mini-pizzas). This goes well with delicious homemade dips made from dried tomatoes, beans, lentils, olives, pumpkin, sweet potatoes, or peas.
Gluten-free hemp flour
Hemp flour – not to be confused with hemp protein – is a gluten-free flour from the low-carb kitchen. With only 2.3 percent carbohydrates, it provides you with 30 percent vegetable protein, which has a very good amino acid profile, which means that it contains all the essential amino acids in a very good combination. Studies have shown that hemp protein is very similar to human protein and can therefore be easily absorbed and utilized by the body.
With well over 40 percent fiber, hemp flour also has a positive effect on digestion.
The hemp flour tastes tart and nutty and you can use it to bake delicious bread or rolls.
Gluten-free buckwheat flour
Another well-known gluten-free flour is buckwheat flour. This allows you to conjure up delicious, airy, and tender cakes or muffins. But also delicious spaetzle.
As a Black Forest girl and inspired by Grandma’s kitchen, Elfe Grunwald keeps creating new spaetzle creations (see recipe below) that everyone – even the most die-hard Swabian – tastes good at.
Buckwheat has a slightly sweet and nutty taste. It is a knotweed plant that belongs to the sorrel and rhubarb family.
Gluten-free chestnut flour
Chestnut flour is also gluten-free and alkaline flour. Chestnuts are also called chestnuts and provide a wonderful flour with a sweet, aromatic taste.
“A man whose brain is empty from dryness and whose head is weak from it, boil the inner pips of this tree in water and add nothing else to it. And when the water has been poured out, he should often take it on an empty stomach and after eating, and his brain will grow and fill up and his nerves will become strong and so the pain in his head will go away.” (Hildegard von Bingen)
Even if their language sounds a bit strange, this quote from Hildegard von Bingen makes it clear that even then it was known how well chestnuts can strengthen nerves and the brain, which is not least due to their high B vitamin content.
With chestnut flour, you can bake delicious cakes, waffles, or pancakes. A breakfast porridge made from chestnut flour is also very tasty and can be varied in many ways. The basic recipe is that you pour hot water over 2 tablespoons of chestnut flour, let it swell for about 10 minutes, and then fold in fruit, including dried fruit, and 1 tablespoon of nut or almond butter.
But since this is about gluten-free baking with e.g. Chestnut flour works, here is a delicious baking recipe with gluten-free chestnut flour:
Chestnut tiger nut muffins with figs
Makes 8 to 10 muffins.
- 100 g chestnut flour
- 50 g tiger nut flour
- 2 tbsp almond flour de-oiled
- 80 g coconut blossom sugar
- 70 g coconut oil
- 2 tbsp chia gel
- 1 tbsp sunflower protein
- ½ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp ground bourbon vanilla
- 1 pinch of salt
- 1 teaspoon cream of tartar powder
- 100 ml almond milk
- 8 – 10 fresh figs or some raspberries, blueberries, or apricots
Soak 1 tbsp chia seeds in 250 ml water for 15 minutes. This results in more than the 2 tbsp of Chiagel required, so simply keep the rest in the fridge and use them for other dishes, desserts, or shakes.
Preheat the oven to 180 degrees with circulating air, with bottom/top heat to 200 degrees.
Gently mix together all the ingredients except for the figs. Work in circular motions from bottom to top until a smooth dough is formed.
Remove the stalks from the figs and score the other side crosswise with a knife.
Brush the muffin cases with some liquid coconut oil. Pour the batter into the molds and press the figs, cut side up, onto the batter. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes until golden brown.
Take the muffins out of the oven, let them cool down, and enjoy them while they are still warm.
Gluten-free tiger nut flour
A still unknown gluten-free flour is tiger nut flour. Tiger nuts are also called tiger nuts or chufas. They were already known in the ancient cultures of the Egyptians and were used as a healing and restorative substances even then.
They are native to the Mediterranean region and are processed into the popular ice-cold horchata – tiger nut milk – especially in Spain in the summer.
Tigernuts are the small tuberous fruits of grass. So they have absolutely nothing to do with almonds or nuts. Tigernuts are therefore also ideal for nut allergy sufferers and can – also because of their sweet taste – replace hazelnuts in many recipes.
Tigernuts contain a lot of easily digestible roughage (15 – 30 g per 100 g) and therefore have a very positive and healing effect on the digestive tract. The tiger nuts also provide magnesium, zinc, iron, and biotin, thus protecting the skin, strengthening the hair, and strengthening the nerves.
The taste of tiger nut flour is nutty-sweet and tastes fantastically delicious in combination with chestnut or buckwheat flour in cakes, waffles, or muffins.
Gluten-free coconut flour
Of course, coconut flour is also a gluten-free flour. Coconut flour is made from the dried flesh of coconuts. Most of the coconut fat is removed beforehand. Nevertheless, there are two different qualities of coconut flour – one with a fat content of around 16 percent and de-oiled coconut flour with a fat content of around 8 to 9 percent.
De-oiled coconut flour stimulates the metabolism and is very suitable for people with sensitive digestion, especially as it has a very high fiber content of around 40 percent.
Like most gluten-free flours, coconut flour also absorbs a great deal of liquid and is therefore also an excellent binding agent for soups, sauces, and stews.
In gluten-free recipes, coconut flour can replace other gluten-free flours by up to 10 percent and gives them a nutty, aromatic note. In “normal” recipes, you can even replace coconut flour by up to a third with conventional (gluten-containing) flours if the taste suits you.
Gluten-free almond flour
Gluten-free flours also include almond flour and other nut flours. This is not simply ground almonds (or nuts), but the ground pomace (press cake) of the almond oil.
The almond flour is therefore relatively low in fat since it lacks almond oil. At the same time, the protein content increases, so that the almond flour represents a high-quality, purely plant-based protein source.
You can use the almond flour for baking cakes, cookies, waffles, or pancakes or as breadcrumbs and to thicken vegan burgers.
Almond flour is high in fiber, so it absorbs significantly more liquid than other flours. Do not substitute more than 50 percent of the recipe’s original total ingredients for almond flour or increase the amount of liquid.
So baking gluten-free with gluten-free flours is…
…but not as difficult as you might think 🙂 It’s best to stock up on a few different gluten-free flours. In any case, you then stick closely to the recipes so that nothing can go wrong.
Once you have developed a certain routine and gained enough experience with gluten-free baking, you will soon be able to develop gluten-free recipes yourself.
Happy gluten-free baking and bon appétit!