The Simplicity of Flour

Once upon a time, flour was easy for me. I bought it at the grocery store, and the only choice I had to make was unbleached or whole wheat, or maybe if I was feeling really fancy pastry flour. I used it liberally, and didn’t think too much about it, or where it came from.

After I became interested in local eating, my approach to flour changed. I started looking for flour made from grain that was grown here in the Vancouver area. Eventually, I found it. Once I did, flour was once again simple. I just had to make an annual trip to pick up my share, and I was set.

Future bread
My 2010 Flour

Things became increasingly complicated for me, flour-wise, when I decided to go gluten-free. Flour is generally considered to be synonymous with wheat flour. When a recipe calls for two cups of flour, for example, you can pretty much assume they’re not talking about sorghum or quinoa flour.

It’s possible to mix up gluten-free flour blends that approximate wheat flour. With the addition of xantham or guar gum you can more or less substitute them directly for wheat flour, for pretty much anything except bread. Gluten-free bread is a different animal, and you can’t make it the same way you can make wheat bread. But cakes, cookies, pie crust, muffins and a whole lot of other things are, thankfully, much easier.

Jacob spilled flour and rolled in it
Jacob loves flour!

My first gluten-free flour was a pre-mixed all-purpose blend from Bob’s Red Mill. It had a lot of chickpea flour in it, which made it taste sort of like beans. I wasn’t a huge fan. I decided that I could make a blend myself, after finding a recipe online. I stocked up on a bunch of very expensive gluten-free flours, and got creative. I mixed many, many different kinds of flours and starches together to make my all-purpose flour blend. Quinoa flour. Corn flour. Potato starch. Corn starch. Sorghum flour. Buckwheat flour. Brown rice flour. Sweet white rice flour. Tapioca starch. So many kinds. The results were underwhelming.

Finally, it occurred to me that maybe the best thing was to stop trying to be so fancy. So I did. Now I use a light buckwheat flour to make pancakes or waffles, but for everything else I use this basic flour blend:

Amber’s Gluten-Free Flour Blend

1 part millet flour
1 part brown rice flour
1 part potato starch

See? Simple.

Mixing up a flour blend adds an extra step that I didn’t have to deal with when I ate wheat flour. But once it’s mixed up in a big jar in my kitchen, this flour blend makes baking easy again. Flour is, once again, just flour. No overthinking. No fancy-pants, complicated blends. Just flour.

Sometimes, I guess, it’s best not to make things too hard for yourself. I suppose that’s true whether you’re baking or doing most anything else. Don’t you think so?

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    Comments

    1. Oh – this looks interesting. So, do you use this beautifully simple mix for ‘cakes, cookies, pie crusts, muffins’ ? I’ve been curious about trying some gluten-free recipes, but was stumped (and then dazed and confused) about the flour element. A friend made a chocolate cake with chickpea flour, but I thought it tasted like chocolate falafel. Maybe okay, but not what I had hoped for!
      Melissa’s last post … Postcard from VeniceMy Profile

      • Yep, I even use it for pizza dough, although I do work a little magic in that recipe with the addition of egg. If you can track down some guar or xantham gum, too, it can help prevent the crumbliness that happens in some gluten-free cooking. But taste-wise, this is pretty close to wheat flour to my palate.

    2. Thanks for sharing your flour mix! I’m new to the gluten free world and I’ve been experimenting with various flours. Plain brown rice flour seems to be my go-to most of the time. I’ve had some fun with hemp flour, chickpea flour and coconut flour. Some experiments have been good and some have been bad. It’s great to hear what works for other people – I will definitely try out your mix.
      Sheryl @ Little Snowflakes’s last post … Race Recap – The Toronto Yonge Street 10kMy Profile

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