The Theory of Gluten-Free Flour

I was just talking with an avid baker about the problems of baking for people with celiac disease. (Minnesota has a large Nordic population, which gives a higher-than-average concentration of the disorder.) I mentioned that I developed a flour mix that I like and have had good enough results with that I don’t bother with xantham gum or other additives as long as I’m not trying to make yeast breads (which I leave to professionals).

This is an easy mix in the proportions, though it does take a little bit of extra processing. It’s also based on my thinking about what flour does in various recipes, so others may find it useful in trying to create their own flour mixes for various purposes, like cakes. Personally, I’d get rid of the rice flour for cakes and use only the other three, or even just a mix of tapioca and corn/potato flours.

Gluten-Free Flour Mix

1 lb. rice flour/starch, run through a food processor
1 lb. sorghum or oat flour
1 lb. corn or potato starch
1 lb. tapioca flour

Mix thoroughly in a large bowl. I use a whisk but stir slowly so as not to get flour all over my kitchen.

  • The rice flour provides stability in the structure. Running it through the food processor break the grains down further and reduces the graininess in baked goods.
  • The sorghum or oat flour provides a more traditional “wheaty” flavor.
  • The corn or potato starch provides the gelatinizing that wheat startches undergo.
  • The tapioca flour provides a lightness that is frequently missing in non-glutinous breads.

Most importantly, none of these flours taste remotely like beans.


The Theory of Gluten-Free Flour

10 thoughts on “The Theory of Gluten-Free Flour

  1. 1

    Thanks for the explanation of what the flours do. Your mixture is similar to what my bread machine calls for when baking gluten-free bread (though it also calls for Xanthan gum, and of course yeast.) I get a somewhat dense but tasty bread out of it.

    I’ve played around using different flours for non-yeast baking, and the only thing I’ve had seriously bad luck with was oat flour. It made the result soggy.

  2. 2

    I have not tried baking gf breads, but one thing I did do often when I had a bread machine was to add some either cooked whole rice or cooked rolled oats to the bread. This made the loaves a bit more moist (but not soggy) and tasted pretty good. I suspect that it would have a similar effect with gf bread.

  3. Rob

    Oats are very rich in beta-glucans (non-digestable gelling fibre), so use of too high a proportion in a mix will tend to make it soggy and heavy (gunky is the technical term). Similarly, overuse in your diet can make the by product of food digestion, ummmm, gunky and sticky also. Used in a balanced mix though it’s good stuff.

  4. 6

    There really is such a thing as celiac disease, and people with it find gluten indigestible. It truly makes them sick.

    There’s also a lot of unsubstantiated stuff out there about going gluten-free being some sort of super-duper fix-all; a lot of it may be pure bunk.

    I certainly don’t have celiac disease, but I tried going gluten-free to see if it would help allergies and asthma. Nope. It did, oddly enough, appear to reduce neuropathic foot pain. My feet will tell me if I need to eat less gluten, and I do make a lot of gluten-free choices (especially bread, since I’m a sandwich fan). But that’s one person’s anecdote, not any sort of datum.

  5. Rob

    Celiac disease most certainly is real. It can be diagnosed by biopsy. I also worked (on a different project) with a researcher who was developing an immumoassay for the condition. They looked quite promising at the time and that was 15+ years ago.

    Most people with food issues though, as far as I can make out, are intolerant of the food in question, as opposed to allergic. Why wheat would contribute to neuropathic foot pain I have no idea.

  6. 10


    That’s also current practice here. Normal oats are frequently contaminated with wheat, so I shouldn’t be eating them, and even clean oats are to be avoided until my intestines have healed up.

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