Sunday, February 5, 2012

Flours for your cupboard

When I started on gluten-free eating years ago I greatly resisted having a cupboard full of different pots of flour where I once only had one (wheat). But over time I've settled into which  gluten free flours are good to use for what.

I don't know if it's the effect of the recession hitting smaller firms/co-operatives or what, but I've been finding it harder and harder to source speciality flours that are GF:

  • Holland and Barrat's NealsYard flour ranges aren't guaranteed GF and I suspected I might be reacting the the brown rice flour. Although, misleadingly the only allergen info on the packs say possible sesame/nut CC - I emailed them and they said that they cannot guarantee GF as cereals are processed in their factories.
  • Tesco have stopped selling the community foods soya, potato and rice flour.
  • Polenta - it seems impossible to find a brand guaranteed GF!  None of the brands I've found say anything about GF on them and when emailed they can't say they are GF - Merchant gourmet and Natco to name a couple that I can't tolerate.  Very frustrating as it was quite a good substitute for breadcrumbs and good in cakes to make them feel less starchy,

As a result, I've had to simplify my use of GF flours for baking etc

This is now what I keep in my kitchen:
Corn starch - Use in baking to help with the texture of cakes/biscuits.  Can be used as a sauce thickener (I think potato starch is better though). Buy in normal baking section of any supermarket
Potato starch - I use this as a clear sauce/gravy thickener.  Mix 2 tbsp with a little water in a cup and stir into your sauce whilst heating gently. It will soon go clear and thicken. buy in Asian stores.
Ground almonds - I add this to pastry/cracker dough to give it a softer texture.
Soya Flour - I buy in bulk from Sussex wholefoods (Healthy
Doves GF bread flour - from any supermarket. It is a mix of flours and a little xanthum.
Doves GF self-raising flour - from any supermarket. It is a mix of flours, with a little xanthum  and a little baking soda.

Pre-cooked rice powder - this makes baby porridge, just add hot water.  Also good for travelling breakfast.  Add jam or stewed fruit. Buy in baby sachets or in bigger bags in Asian supermarkets.


I make bread/pasta/pastry with 2/3rds generic GF flour and 1/3rd soya flour.

For cakes I use just the generic Self-raising.

Glycemic Index (G.I.) of carbohydrates
Other than cost and lack of variety on the freefrom shelves, another big motivation for baking at home  is that I try to use less refined starch flours than I can find in shop-bought goods.  These flours have a high glycemic index meaning they release energy too quickly and don't fill you up for long (but they do help the final texture of cakes/biscuits).  A GF diet can be very high G.I. (Glycemic Index) so you may find yourself experiencing blood sugar highs and lows because of your choice of carbs.  Try to use more whole grain flours and beany flours and limit your use of refined starch/white flours.