Gluten-Free Flours: Oat Flour

My favourite of all the gluten-free flours finally receives its moment in the sun with its very own chapter in my Gluten-Free Flour Series. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you… Oat Flour.

Image of jumbo rolled oats and gluten-free oat flour on a wooden board

First a caveat on oat flour. Oats themselves are gluten-free but are often processed in mills with other grains so there is a lot of cross-contamination. If you are gluten intolerant or coeliac you must make sure it’s certified gluten-free on the label. It’s also the unfortunate fact that some coeliacs and people with a gluten intolerance just simply can’t tolerate oats at all whether they are processed in a gluten-free environment or not. So always check with whomever you are baking for that oat flour isn’t on their black list.

This Chocolate Raspberry Cake is a foolproof gluten-free buttermilk chocolate cake, sandwiched with a simple fresh raspberry swiss meringue buttercream.

Chocolate Raspberry Cake

The benefits of oat flour

Oat flour carries the same benefits as oats themselves which are delicious and nutritious. They are high in a fibre called beta-glucan which helps lower cholesterol, supports your immune system and contributes to fight hunger pangs. The soluble fibres are also considered to lower blood sugar by reducing glucose absorption meaning oats are especially beneficial for diabetics. Oats are also good for your skin which is why you see oatmeal added to lots of skincare products. They are high in protein compared to other grains and are a good source of magnesium too so assist in energy production.

However, this is all just bonus material as oats also taste terrific which is carried through into your bakes and also add texture from beautifully fluffy bakes to flaky pastry.

Gluten-Free Eccles Cakes

Gluten-Free Eccles Cakes

What is oat flour?

Oat flour is basically very finely ground oats. You can easily grind oats yourself to make oat flour but the finer the grind then the fluffier the cake which is why I buy commercial oat flour. However on the very regular occasions which I run out then there is a negligible difference in the homemade version. It’s also the much cheaper way to go.

Image of jumbo rolled oats and gluten-free oat flour on a wooden board

How do you make oat flour?

Oat flour is simple to make as all you are required to do is bung a heap of jumbo rolled oats destined for your porridge into the food processor and turn it on. Within about 30 seconds you will have a beautiful oat flour. If you need a specific amount for a recipe then the ratio is 1.25:1 jumbo rolled oats to oat flour so to make 100g of oat flour then you will need 125g rolled oats.

Steamed Chocolate Sponge Pudding with Chocolate Custard {gluten-free}

Gluten-Free Steamed Chocolate Pudding with Chocolate Custard

Can you substitute wheat flour with oat flour?

Now, when I say oat flour is my favourite flour that is not because it is the most versatile. Nor does it provide a direct 1:1 substitution with wheat flour as it barely mimics any properties of plain wheat flour.

Plain wheat flour is so ubiquitous because it does so many jobs that you might need two or three alternative flours to complete. A lot of its work lies in holding things together, crisping or fluffing. Wheat flour also has a neutral taste so can sit well in any meal or bake without imparting any distinct flavour.

However, what makes alternative flours so much more interesting and more complicated to understand is their unique profiles. There isn’t a go-to gluten-free flour, each one brings its own characteristics and ‘role’ to your meal or bake.

It is possible though to create bakes using merely oat flour, although the results will not be as robust as using wheat flour. A delicious cake using just oat flour will need a lot of hand holding with its other ingredients, you will probably need more eggs than a regular recipe to help the cake to rise. However, it will produce a delicate elegant result. Using oat flour by itself can also be very successful in cookies and biscuits. However it’s best to not substitute wheat for oat flour in any old recipe but to seek out recipes which are specifically produced with just oat flour in mind.

Image of jumbo rolled oats and gluten-free oat flour on a wooden board

Why use oat flour?

There are many alternative flours out there so why might you choose to use oat flour in your gluten-free cakes and bakes?

The reason would be for the bags of personality that oat flour brings to the table. There is none of this neutrality that wheat flour carries. Instead oats are imbued with a deliciously toasted butterscotch flavour which is almost sweet and pairs so beautifully with so many flavours and gives a lovely background note to your bake. It’s distinctive but doesn’t overpower.

Oat flour is also higher in protein and fibre than many other alternative flours which means it gives a lovely soft texture to your bakes, it fits perfectly in a homemade gluten-free plain flour blend as it works so well with other alternative flours.

Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cake

Gluten-Free Red Velvet Cake

How do you use oat flour in baking?

There are lots of recipes which benefit from the inclusion of oat flour. In particularly cookies, making them beautifully chewy.

Oat flour also works well in crumbles or crisps due to its crumbly chewy nature.

Strawberry Gooseberry Crumble {gluten-free}

Strawberry Gooseberry Crumble

Oat flour can be put to excellent use in a gluten-free all purpose flour mix and I pair it a lot with white rice flour and tapioca flour which can be substituted for wheat flour in most recipes. The rice flour gives the bake a structural integrity but the soluble fibres of the oats gives the bake a softer quality and negates the grittier properties of white rice flour. The tapioca is an excellent binder and mimics some of the gluten properties of wheat.

This gluten-free Golden Beetroot Carrot Cake is the best carrot cake you will ever taste. Full of sweet earthy goodness thanks to using both golden beetroot and carrots; complex with pecans, sultanas and apples; perfectly complimented with a not too sweet cream cheese buttercream and adorned with the delightful crunch of a salted pecan praline and candied beetroot and carrots.

Golden Beetroot Carrot Cake

What flavours pair well with oat flour?

Take your pick, this is such a versatile flavour. Although its nutty toffee-like tones are an especially good match for chocolate, caramel, vanilla, nuts, spices, stone fruits, berries, bananas, apples, squash and coffee.

Where can you buy oat flour?

Oat flour can be picked up at most health food shops and if I run out that’s where I head to. However, like all alternative flours it can be expensive so I find the most economical way is to buy it online. I go through bags of the stuff as it’s the flour I use most regularly so I like to buy in bulk. My favourite brand is Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Whole Grain Oat Flour 400 g (Pack of 4) at a reasonable price. Even better if you go the subscribe and save option.

However you can also easily buy oat flour online at the following stockists:
Shipton Mill
Healthy Supplies

Some of the links above are affiliate links so if you decide to buy your flour using the link then I will get a small commission from Amazon at no cost to you. To learn more about how the data processing works when using these Amazon affiliate links then please visit my privacy policy page.

Next time in Gluten-Free Flours: The Blog Series I will be looking at teff flour.

If you would like to read more from my Gluten-Free Flours series then please go back and read the following posts:

text saying Gluten-Free Flours: how to start gluten-free baking, which flours to use and how to convert wheat recipes: fromthelarder.co.uk

text saying Gluten-Free Flours: Nut Flours: how to grind them and how to use them: fromthelarder.co.uk: on an image of jars of nut flours

Text saying Gluten-Free Flours: Sweet Rice Flour: what it is, how to use it and where to buy it: fromthelarder.co.uk on an image of mochi

Text saying Guide To Gluten-Free Flours: White Rice Flour: what is it and how should we use it: fromthelarder.co.uk: on an image of White rice flour on a wooden board with a vintage sieve

Text saying Guide To Gluten-Free Flours: Tapioca Flour: What is it and how should we use it: fromthelarder.co.uk on an image showing tapioca flour on a board and in a mug

Text saying Guide to Gluten-Free Flours: Buckwheat Flour: What is it and how should we use it. fromthelarder.co.uk
Text saying Guide to Gluten-Free Flours: Oat Flour: What is it and How should we use it. fromthelarder.co.uk. In front of an image of some oats and oat flour

Gluten-Free Flours: Buckwheat Flour

And so we’ve arrived at Chapter 5 of my investigation into gluten-free flours which is all about the incredibly nutritious and popular Buckwheat Flour.

Buckwheat Flour on a wooden board with a spoon

I’ve been featuring buckwheat flour in a few of my recipes lately and with good reason. Buckwheat flour is a tasty and beautifully delicate flour with a robust flavour and makes an excellent alternative to plain wheat flour.

Don’t be alarmed by its puzzling moniker, buckwheat flour is a bit of a misnomer since it has nothing to do with wheat at all so is perfectly safe for those avoiding gluten. Buckwheat is actually a herb, better related to rhubarb and sorrel. It’s what is commonly referred to as a pseudo-grain since it looks and acts like a grain but is actually a seed rich in complex carbohydrates.

Buckwheat flour is made by milling these triangular seeds into powder. The resulting flour can be greyish brown in colour and if it hasn’t been ultra refined can also be speckled with black flecks. It’s a delicate flour but with a dense texture when baked and can be used on its own but if you want to make a swap of wheat flour with buckwheat then you would be best to pair it with other flours which better mimic the gluten effect and can lighten the results.

The below Coffee and Walnut Tres Leches Cake uses 50% buckwheat flour and 50% white rice flour in the flour blend to make the most of the buckwheat flavour but still give a light and airy sponge.

Coffee and Walnut Tres Leches Cake {gluten-free}

What are the benefits of using buckwheat flour?

Buckwheat itself is a very highly regarded ancient grain due to its many nutritional benefits. It is a carbohydrate but contains a high level of protein and fibre which aids digestion. It is also said to contain disease fighting anti-oxidants and can help to lower cholesterol and blood pressure.

The flavour of buckwheat flour is also highly in its favour. Although buckwheat groats can be a bit of a required taste since they are a little bitter, the flour itself has a strong earthy intense profile which sit well in many baked goods and recipes. However, it is best to use in recipes where you are happy to let the flavour of the flour shine through.

Buckwheat is delicious in pastry and acts as a lovely foil to the filling like in this Spring Nettle Leaf and Cheddar Tart.

Nettle Leaf and Cheddar Tart

Can I use buckwheat flour in place of plain wheat flour?

Buckwheat flour doesn’t rise which is why it is so well suited to pancakes, biscuits or in pastry. If you are using it in a cake then the results may be a little heavy or crumbly (not too much of a surprise for a gluten-free flour) but if you use it in combination with the right flour such as sweet rice flour or almond flour then that should improve the texture to make it fluffier.

Since its flavour is so pronounced buckwheat flour is best used in moderation in certain recipes, perhaps in conjunction with other alternative flours. However stick to more neutral tasting lighter flours. Perhaps in a cake no more than 50% buckwheat flour might be used in the total flour percentage.

These Easter Cookies only have a small amount of buckwheat flour but it’s a perfect flour to use as the flavour balances well with the strong add-ons in the cookie such as the marzipan, chocolate and dried fruit.

These gluten-free Easter Cookies are loaded with spices, currants, marzipan and dark chocolate chips.

Can you use buckwheat flour by itself?

You certainly can. Buckwheat flour is one of the better know alternative flours since it has been used in very traditional recipes from all around the world and between the 18th-19th century had high levels of production. If you have come across it before it may have been in buckwheat blinis, which are yeasted pancakes from Russia or the French galette, a savoury pancake from Brittany and Japanese soba noodles.

If you are not making your own blinis, galettes or soba noodles then you must check the packet or ask the chef as due its delicate nature a lot of recipes which were originally made with buckwheat flour alone are now cut with wheat flour to stablilise the recipe as buckwheat flour can be hard to work with. However, if you are experimenting at home then by all means just use buckwheat flour, I have had very successful and delicious results with galettes only using buckwheat flour.

Maple Galettes with Wiltshire Ham and Gruyere

What flavours pair well with buckwheat flour?

Buckwheat flour can be fun to experiment with since it can completely change the profile of a recipe if used. Although you want to use it in recipes with flavours that can stand up to its intense earthy flavour.

Buckwheat flour pairs ideally with toasty flavours such as chocolate, coffee, caramel, nuts and spices. It also goes well with earthy flavours such as mushrooms, parsnips, squash and lighter fruits such as berries which provide a nice contrast.

overhead shot of buckwheat flour in a bag

Where can you buy buckwheat flour?

Buckwheat flour is very easy to get hold of and you can find it sold in most large supermarkets in the UK. However, always check the packet of your buckwheat flour as although the flour itself is gluten-free it is often processed alongside other flours so cross contamination can occur.

At the moment I am loving using Amisa Organic Buckwheat Flour GF. It has a beautiful flavour and soft texture.

The links above are affiliate links which means if you decide you want to click through to buy then Amazon gives me a small commission at no cost to you whatsoever. To learn more about how the data processing works when using these Amazon affiliate links then please visit my privacy policy page.

However you can also easily buy buckwheat flour online at the following stockists:
Shipton Mill
Healthy Supplies

OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES INCLUDE…

text saying Gluten-Free Flours: how to start gluten-free baking, which flours to use and how to convert wheat recipes: fromthelarder.co.uk

text saying Gluten-Free Flours: Nut Flours: how to grind them and how to use them: fromthelarder.co.uk: on an image of jars of nut flours

Text saying Gluten-Free Flours: Sweet Rice Flour: what it is, how to use it and where to buy it: fromthelarder.co.uk on an image of mochi

Text saying Guide To Gluten-Free Flours: White Rice Flour: what is it and how should we use it: fromthelarder.co.uk: on an image of White rice flour on a wooden board with a vintage sieve

Text saying Guide To Gluten-Free Flours: Tapioca Flour: What is it and how should we use it: fromthelarder.co.uk on an image showing tapioca flour on a board and in a mug

Text saying Guide to Gluten-Free Flours: Oat Flour: What is it and How should we use it. fromthelarder.co.uk. In front of an image of some oats and oat flour

Gluten-Free Flours: Tapioca Flour

This is the fourth chapter in our series on gluten-free flours and here I shall be bringing you the delights of the incredibly useful tapioca flour.

Guide To Gluten-Free Flours: Tapioca Flour

Tapioca is a word which drums up all sorts of bad memories of school dinners. Congealed bowls of frogspawn with zero flavour anyone? It’s probable you won’t have had much use for tapioca as an adult, having been thoroughly convinced of its dire status as a youth. However, I very much sing the praises of tapioca, even the tapioca pearls which make up the fearful frogspawn, you may have met them more favourably in Boba Tea or when making a fruit pie or crumble (see this Strawberry Gooseberry Crumble). But for our purposes here I’m going to convince you of another fantastic member of the tapioca family. Tapioca flour.

Strawberry Gooseberry Crumble {gluten-free}

Tapioca Flour is also known as tapioca starch and is a light powdery flour ground from the dried starchy and tuberous root of the cassava plant which is native to South America. Tapioca flour is slightly different to cassava flour itself in that it is extracted from the starch of the cassava root whereas cassava flour is made from the entire root so is less processed. However, tapioca flour is much more accessible in the UK and is the flour I use on a day to day basis and will be focusing on here.

There is no protein in tapioca flour as it is a starch, like potato flour or cornflour. You can get the most out of tapioca flour in your baking by mixing it with whole grain or nut flours. A little goes a long way so it is used judiciously in my baking but its role is by no means insignificant. I have used in within my gluten-free flour blend in this Raspberry Matcha Cake to aid the moistness of the cake and to create a lightness in the sponge.

Raspberry Matcha Cake {gluten-free}

Along with sweet rice flour and oat flour, tapioca flour is the gluten-free flour I use most often. I have an Amazon subscribe and save order set up to deliver me 1kg every month and quite often I exhaust my supply well before my next delivery. I use a little here and a little there in my bakes and when making sauces so although it is a flour you may use often, you rarely need vast quantities of it.

ADVANTAGES OF TAPIOCA FLOUR

The main benefit of tapioca flour is its thickening properties, due to the fact it absorbs and retains a high water content. When we remove gluten from our baking then one of the crucial elements that we lack is the binding properties of the gluten. Tapioca flour (similarly to sweet rice flour) is one of the ways we can mimic this binding and create bounce in our bakes. It saves our cakes from being a dry crumbly disaster.

Like cornflour, another gluten-free starch, tapioca flour is excellent in thickening sauces and gives a lovely velvety texture. Its slightly sweet flavour is a little more pronounced and gives more of a sticky bind than cornflour. In this Piccalilli recipe I use both cornflour and tapioca flour to thicken just to lessen the flavour of the tapioca but I do like the extra stickiness it gives the sauce.

Piccalilli is a must-have addition for any festive table. A beautiful trio of purple cauliflower, romescu and white cauliflower preserved with autumn vegetables in delicious curried spices.

Since tapioca is completely grain-free and made up of nearly all carbohydrates it is a useful flour for those following specialised diets like paleo. I use tapioca flour in this Happiness Bread along with the more dehydrating coconut flour as it’s perfect when I’m trying to cut down on my grains and focus on healthier breakfasts.

Happiness Bread is a soft savoury gluten-free and paleo bread, perfect for kick-starting your day, nay your year.

Tapioca flour, due to its light texture, does promote springiness in your bakes. It also helps the browning of your baked goods and encouraging crusts to crisp, hence it is very useful when making pizza bases or pastry.

One of the most renowned recipes which uniquely relies upon tapioca flour alone is for Brazilian Cheese Bread or Pão de Queijo which is inhumanly addictive. When I was testing the recipe for my next post (spoiler!!) I greedily ate whole batches in one sitting. The bread is crisp and golden on the outside and deliciously chewy on the inside thanks to the tapioca flour and really highlights all the best qualities of the flour.

Brazilian Cheese Rolls {Pão de Queijo}

WHERE TO BUY TAPIOCA FLOUR

Guide To Gluten-Free Flours: Tapioca Flour

It’s not difficult to get hold of tapioca flour in the UK. You can often find 100g pots of Doves Farm Tapioca Flour in the supermarket but it’s quite costly and doesn’t give you very much. You can find more varied brands in health food shops in bags of about 500g. The cost depends entirely on the brand you purchase. My preferred brand is Bob’s Red Mill GF Tapioca Flour 500 g (Pack of 2) as it’s certifiably gluten-free and I order it through Amazon.

However you can also easily buy tapioca flour online at the following stockists:
Shipton Mill
Healthy Supplies
Sous Chef

The links above are affiliate links which means if you decide you want to click through to buy then Amazon gives me a small commission at no cost to you whatsoever. To learn more about how the data processing works when using these Amazon affiliate links then please visit my privacy policy page.

OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES INCLUDE…

text saying Gluten-Free Flours: how to start gluten-free baking, which flours to use and how to convert wheat recipes: fromthelarder.co.uk

text saying Gluten-Free Flours: Nut Flours: how to grind them and how to use them: fromthelarder.co.uk: on an image of jars of nut flours

Text saying Gluten-Free Flours: Sweet Rice Flour: what it is, how to use it and where to buy it: fromthelarder.co.uk on an image of mochi

Text saying Guide To Gluten-Free Flours: White Rice Flour: what is it and how should we use it: fromthelarder.co.uk: on an image of White rice flour on a wooden board with a vintage sieve

 

Text saying Guide to Gluten-Free Flours: Buckwheat Flour: What is it and how should we use it. fromthelarder.co.uk
Text saying Guide to Gluten-Free Flours: Oat Flour: What is it and How should we use it. fromthelarder.co.uk. In front of an image of some oats and oat flour

A Gift Hamper for the Gluten-Free Foodie in Your Life

This post was done in partnership with Virginia Hayward. All thoughts and opinions are my own.

A Gift for the Gluten-Free Foodie in Your Life

Christmas is a bit of a struggle for those of us with gluten intolerances or allergies. Not because it’s difficult to make or find delicious gluten-free food but because suddenly you find yourself in several situations where your food issues just might not be catered for. Not that it isn’t just as bothersome if you are not gluten-free yourself, when you are obliged over the festive period to accommodate for a gluten-free family member or friend. Not everyone has read my post on Sweet Rice Flour to know it’s an excellent substitute for wheat flour in your gravy or has a clue to make any other stuffing for the turkey than Paxo.

A Gift for the Gluten-Free Foodie in Your Life

I have been to a few Christmas parties this year and pastry and wheat flour offerings are manifold. Amongst the mounds of spring rolls, mini quiche, mince pies and sausage rolls you might only be able to scrounge the odd crisp if you’re lucky. Most mass-produced nibbly bits tend to involve some sort of bread or pastry so the gluten-free party-goer often finds it best to eat before the party rather than face the prospect of looking forlornly at the buffet table all night. Who can blame the party-thrower either. It’s not easy to source gluten-free nibbles and you don’t necessarily know if anyone at the party is going to be gluten-free. Plus if you start to worry about the gluten-free guests you just know that you’ll have to sort out the vegans too.

A Gift for the Gluten-Free Foodie in Your Life

Then there’s the receiving of gifts. If you are a little food obsessed then you are also probably poised to receive a lot of food-related presents which to my mind is the best kind of present. However, it’s not always easy for your gift-giver to fully understand the ingredients. That pesky gluten crops up in the most unexpected of places. Take the deliciously expensive banoffee chocolate bar I received last year. Sounds great right? But those little bits of shortbread cookie hidden throughout the bar contained gluten. To an untrained eye the gift was chocolate, it was fancy and looked pretty special, what could go wrong? It was a well-intentioned but misunderstood present, but on the other hand Luke is always more than happy to take these anomalies off my hand so they never go to waste.

With these awkward times in mind Virginia Hayward contacted me to see what I thought of their luxury gluten and wheat free hampers I was intrigued and actually really excited. This would be a gift with no hidden ingredients, where you could literally dive in, food intolerances and all and not have to fake a polite and grateful smile.

A Gift for the Gluten-Free Foodie in Your Life

It took me ages to stand my ground where gluten is concerned. The first wedding invite I responded to marking my ‘special dietary requirements’ made me so self-conscious. I hate being a bother and I don’t like being deemed difficult so I try to play down the fact I am gluten-free and obviously not make a thing of it if someone gets it wrong. Not that you’d guess it from my job as a gluten-free baker and blogger. Yes I sure am trying to hide my intolerance under a bushel.

If I were to receive a food hamper full of treats and yummy gluten-free delicacies then I would be incredibly touched. It’s not always easy for those who don’t suffer to accommodate gluten intolerance but a gift like this suits both the giver and receiver and shows understanding and thoughtfulness. Plus, it’s food and any food I can eat with abandon makes me very happy.

A Gift for the Gluten-Free Foodie in Your Life

All the products in these Virginia Hayward Gluten and Wheat Free Hampers are well sourced and delicious. I should know because for research purposes I opened every packet and sampled each little morsel as I made sure to not leave any stone left unturned in this post. Take it from me the recipient of the hamper will be well catered for, shortbread biscuits, chocolate orange cookies, Yorkshire crisps, crackers, fudge, chocolates and even a bottle of wine mean that all snacking purposes over Christmas are accounted for. Not only that but all these wonderful treats arrive in a beautiful willow basket. With the contents now consumed my basket is waiting patiently in the nursery ready to house the babygrows, blankets, newborn hats and dinky socks which will be coming out of the attic in the new year for our April arrival.

A Gift for the Gluten-Free Foodie in Your Life

It occurred to me as well that if you were to receive this hamper then you are pretty much sorted for the rest of the year’s entertaining so you will really be doing your gluten-free foodie a favour. Nothing could be more easy than to serve up the yummy goodies on a nibbles board for an intimate New Year’s Eve gathering. You pretty much have everything you need from crisps to cookies to olives to wine to chocolate to a bit of cake. And if that intimate New Year’s Eve gathering occurs on December 28th whilst you are watching trashy Christmas movies on the sofa with your husband then no one is judging. And if your husband has snuck off to the pub and you are left babysitting your toddler and unborn child and are also watching trashy Christmas movies then these treats provide great company my fine friend.

A Gift for the Gluten-Free Foodie in Your Life

So, you now have the gift for the gluten-free foodie in your life. All that’s left to do is just run rings around them on Christmas Day. Don’t forget to use sweet rice flour in the gravy, find a decent recipe for Yorkshire pudding, pay through the nose for the gluten-free bread to make the bread sauce and order your Christmas pud from that gluten-free baker who has a stall at the local farmer’s market. You can just forget about buying your canapés from M&S and commit to making your own from scratch so you can be sure there’s no gluten involved. Y’know, easy stuff. Just as well my family loves me.

A Gift for the Gluten-Free Foodie in Your Life

Gluten-Free Flours: White Rice Flour

This series on gluten-free flours is back with the perennial favourite gluten-free flour – white rice flour.

Gluten-Free Flours: White Rice Flour

White Rice Flour is the easiest alternative flour to get hold of (in the UK at least) besides the catch-all gluten-free plain flour. You can find it at most large supermarkets in their gluten-free section.

It is also the flour that if you are a keen cook you might already have stashed away in your larder, irrespective of its gluten-free properties. White rice flour is used in traditional shortbread recipes alongside plain wheat flour to give a bit of crunch to the proceedings, which tells you a little bit about the texture profile of this flour.

Shortbread

DIFFERENT TYPES OF RICE FLOUR

There are three different types of rice flour: white rice flour, brown rice flour and sweet rice flour (often called glutinous rice flour).

White rice flour is milled from grinding raw long or medium rice grains where the bran is removed before grinding. The courseness of the rice flour depends on which brand you buy.

Brown rice flour is often considered the health food option. The bran is not removed before grinding and it is not milled as finely as white rice flour meaning it is slightly heavier with a nuttier taste. Due to its courser nature baked goods using brown rice flour have a more noticeable texture and taste. For certain recipes though I find this an endearing quality. Depending on my mood I often swap out white rice flour for brown flour in recipes like my pumpkin pancakes if I want a bolder earthier flavour.

Sweet Rice Flour is a different beast entirely milled from short grain glutinous rice and as such it has a different texture, flavour and uses. I have written extensively on the personality and uses of sweet rice flour here.

Gluten-free Pumpkin Pancakes, so thick and fluffy and smothered with Almond Maple Syrup

CAN YOU USE WHITE RICE FLOUR INSTEAD OF REGULAR FLOUR?

The short answer is no. There is no direct substitute for regular wheat flour. The qualities that it brings to the table such as its elasticity (caused by the gluten), fluffiness and all purpose use cannot be replicated by white rice flour. White rice flour contains no gluten and as it is a much harder grain than wheat it does not absorb liquid as well. If you solely use white rice flour in your cooking or baking then the results will be gritty, perhaps a little greasy and often with a gummy mouthfeel. That’s not to say we should discount white rice flour, after all there is a reason that it is so popular, you just have to know how and when to use it.

ADVANTAGES OF WHITE RICE FLOUR

White rice flour is made from one of the world’s greatest staple grains which makes it a very economical flour. No-one said that gluten-free baking was cheap but since white rice flour is easily available and plentiful then if you choose this flour for your main ingredient in your flour blend then you certainly won’t be breaking the bank.

Which leads me to one of the best qualities about white rice flour and the reason it is so often used. It has an incredibly subtle taste, so if you want the butter or spices or other flavourings to shine in your bakes then white rice flour is an excellent choice. However, like most gluten-free flours it should not be used by itself and does a much better job if paired with other gluten-free flours to give a more rounded bake.

This gluten-free Golden Beetroot Carrot Cake is the best carrot cake you will ever taste. Full of sweet earthy goodness thanks to using both golden beetroot and carrots; complex with pecans, sultanas and apples; perfectly complimented with a not too sweet cream cheese buttercream and adorned with the delightful crunch of a salted pecan praline and candied beetroot and carrots.

DISADVANTAGES OF WHITE RICE FLOUR

Not only is white rice flour the most widely available alternative flour but it is also the flour which most commercial brands use as their main ingredient in their gluten-free flour blends. In fact our tendency to rely on white rice flour for gluten-free baking is one of the reasons why Alanna Taylor-Tobin in her excellent cookbook called Alternative Baker chooses not to include any recipes with white rice flour as she feels that its tendency to dominate the gluten-free field can lead to a mono diet. As discussed above white rice flour is also a bit of a tricky beast as it can turn bakes dry and crumbly due to the difficulty it has absorbing liquid.

For this reason white rice flour should always be used judiciously as this flour is probably the reason why most people judge gluten-free baking as gritty but with a gummy mouthfeel. It absolutely must be blended with other flours in baked goods to round out the texture and result in bakes that taste authentically good not just ‘good for gluten-free’.

HOW TO USE WHITE RICE FLOUR

The best qualities of white rice flour can be exploited if paired up with softer flours and flours with better binding properties. One of my favourite gluten-free flour combos is white rice flour, oat flour and tapioca flour which ticks all the boxes and generally gives a good solid bake without lending too strong a flavour to the overall bake. This is the mix that I use in this Salted Caramel Chocolate Espresso Cake where the result is light, fluffy and indelibly chocolatey.

This gluten-free Salted Caramel Chocolate Espresso Cake is one of my favourite cakes from the cake stall. A chocolate lover’s sponge sandwiched together with silky salted caramel swiss meringue buttercream and drizzled with thick luscious salted caramel.

It is also recommended to allow your baking to rest a while before placing in the oven. The finely ground rice will soften slightly leading to better absorption of liquids which will help with any potential grittiness.

OTHER USES FOR WHITE RICE FLOUR

The granular texture of white rice flour which might not be so palatable in your baking can be a real boon in your every day cooking. I prefer to use white rice flour as a coating for frying as it adds more crunch than regular wheat flour and is a lot lighter.

One of my favourite dinners which also just happens to use rice flour as it’s main ingredient is Banh Xeo. It’s a delicious Vietnamese savoury pancake made with white rice flour, coconut milk and turmeric and can be stuffed with pork, prawns and beansprouts. These pancakes are so crisp and light which of course is thanks to the white rice flour.

Banh Xeo

WHICH BRAND OF RICE FLOUR SHOULD I BUY?

There are various brands of white rice flour and the texture can be quite different across the board. Make sure you are using a very finely ground rice flour which won’t impede your recipe and will allow for better incorporation with the other ingredients. Courser rice flours will mean the liquid in your recipe is not absorbed as well which can lead to flatter and greasy bakes. I always use Doves Farm Gluten Free Rice Flour 1 kg (Pack of 5) which is ground beautifully. For US based readers then Bob’s Red Mill is also brilliant but more difficult to get hold of for us UK based bakers.

The links above are affiliate links which means if you decide you want to click through to buy then Amazon gives me a small commission at no cost to you whatsoever. To learn more about how the data processing works when using these Amazon affiliate links then please visit my privacy policy page.

OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES INCLUDE…

text saying Gluten-Free Flours: how to start gluten-free baking, which flours to use and how to convert wheat recipes: fromthelarder.co.uk

text saying Gluten-Free Flours: Nut Flours: how to grind them and how to use them: fromthelarder.co.uk: on an image of jars of nut flours

Text saying Gluten-Free Flours: Sweet Rice Flour: what it is, how to use it and where to buy it: fromthelarder.co.uk on an image of mochi

 

Text saying Guide To Gluten-Free Flours: Tapioca Flour: What is it and how should we use it: fromthelarder.co.uk on an image showing tapioca flour on a board and in a mug

Text saying Guide to Gluten-Free Flours: Buckwheat Flour: What is it and how should we use it. fromthelarder.co.uk
Text saying Guide to Gluten-Free Flours: Oat Flour: What is it and How should we use it. fromthelarder.co.uk. In front of an image of some oats and oat flour

Gluten-Free Flours: Sweet Rice Flour

Gluten-Free Flours: Sweet Rice Flour

Welcome to the third instalment of my series on Gluten-Free Flours. This one is all about Sweet Rice Flour which also goes by its alternative name ‘glutinous rice flour’. It contains no gluten but its nickname gives you an indication of the kind of role this flour will play in your cake. This is my favourite gluten-free flour and the one I use most often.

Gluten-Free Flours: Chapter 3: Sweet Rice Flour

We’re now full steam ahead on our series on Gluten-Free Flours. So far we have discussed how to get started in gluten-free baking, how we can best use the ready-made gluten-free flour blends and then how to move away from them to create light and fluffy gluten-free cakes. We’ve also talked in depth about nut flours, how to grind our own and how to use them to covert a cake recipe to be gluten-free. In this third chapter in our series we are going to be casting our net a little wider and looking at a flour that isn’t well-known at all in western baking and I doubt you will already have in your larder. However if you are gluten-free or want to bake for friends and family that are gluten-free then this is a flour you are definitely going to want to get to know.

Gluten-Free Flours: Chapter 3: Sweet Rice Flour

Today we’re investigating sweet rice flour. Until I started gluten-free baking I’m not sure I had ever heard of this flour, it’s certainly not the easiest to get a hold of, but now I find it completely indispensible in both my baking and my gluten-free cooking.

Sweet Rice Flour vs. White Rice Flour

The first thing to note is that this very fine and powdery flour is a totally different ingredient to regular ‘white rice flour’ which you can happily buy at most large supermarkets these days in the gluten-free aisle. The two products unfortunately are not interchangeable as they play completely different roles in our baking.

Sticky vs Long Grain Rice

In fact I would almost say that white rice flour and sweet rice flour are complete opposites. Whereas you might choose to use white rice flour to give lightness and crunch in a recipe, it is commonly used in shortbread for that very purpose. Sweet rice flour, which is ground from short grain glutinous ‘sticky’ rice is just that, soft and sticky. In fact short grain glutinous rice is the same rice that sushi is made from, so you get the picture, it likes to bind together.

Mochi Ice Cream

Sweet rice flour can usually be found in Asian baking. The most familiar of the Asian sweets, mochi, is made from sweet rice flour and if you have ever tasted delicious treats like mochi ice cream then you are in for a good idea of the taste and effect sweet rice flour can have in our gluten-free cakes.

The best reason for using sweet rice flour in baking is its binding properties. When we remove gluten from our cakes we are removing the essential component needed for gluing our cake together. During the bake gluten swells, forming an intricate network of gluten strands which provide cakes with their elasticity. This is what gives delicious sponge cakes their bounciness and prevents dry crumbly cakes.

Sweet rice flour has a high starch content which enables the proteins in the flour to glue together. If you have tasted mochi you will know that it has a discernable chewiness. If we harness this chewiness in the right way then we can use the sweet rice flour to mimic the elasticity of the gluten and make our gluten-free cakes incredibly soft and moist.

Best Gluten-Free Birthday Cake - a light and fluffy vanilla gluten-free sponge cake, sandwiched with a raspberry crush filling and covered in a whipped chocolate cream cheese ganache.

So sweet rice flour will give our baking excellent binding, moistness and a distinctive sweet taste. What could go wrong?

Basically for all the reasons that sweet rice flour is an excellent alternative flour are also the reasons that you really don’t want to go overboard in its usage. The moisture that sweet rice flour gives our bakes needs to be kept in check lest your cake loses its sponginess and just becomes really wet and chewy. I spent ages over this Pumpkin Bread trying to get the right texture, I started off with far too much sweet rice flour and kept pulling back until the flour did its job without overwhelming the cake. The texture of this cake is now perfect and its addictiveness is all thanks to the genius of sweet rice flour.

A deliciously moist Gluten-Free Pumpkin Bread, made with brown butter and alternative flours for an earthy nutty flavour and unbeatable chew.

The wonderfully distinctive sweet taste of sweet rice flour which is delicious in moderation can suddenly overwhelm a cake if used in excess and if you’re not judicious in its usage you’ll soon find all your cakes taste the same whether they are pumpkin, vanilla or banana.

How much sweet rice flour should you use?

I soon learnt that to gain all the benefits of sweet rice flour you can’t rely on this flour alone in your cakes and you need to blend it with other gluten-free flours to achieve perfect gluten-free cakes. Sweet rice flour is usually the main flour I use in any of my gluten-free flour blends but I try not to use more than about 40% in the overall blend for light and fluffy results that don’t taste overwhelmingly of sweet rice flour.

In the forthcoming weeks we’ll be discussing which flours to blend with the sweet rice flour for the different kinds of cakes we want to make.

Gluten-Free Flours: Chapter 3: Sweet Rice Flour

Aside from being the main flour in my homemade gluten-free flour blend, the recipe for which I will be sharing in a future post, sweet rice flour is the most hard-working flour in my kitchen. I remember writing in this blog about 18 months ago that the one thing gluten-free flours can’t fix are my gravies. There appeared to be no substitute for regular wheat flour in my roux. I am here to confide that I was completely wrong. I now make a delicious gravy with my Sunday roast beef simply by substituting regular flour for sweet rice flour. Sweet rice flour has a quality that stops liquids for separating so is a wonderful thickener for gravies and sauces without being gritty or grainy or having an overwhelming taste. Also try it in your white sauces or anything you use a roux for including béchamel and gumbo. This flour has really revolutionised my gluten-free cooking.

Gluten-Free Flours: Chapter 3: Sweet Rice Flour

The one final note on sweet rice flour is that if you add acidity to sweet rice flour it exacerbates the thickening qualities of the flour. So be wary of adding too much lemon juice, buttermilk or other acids if you are using a large quantity of sweet rice flour in your recipe.

A beautiful Strawberry Sweet Pesto Cake {gluten-free}

Where to buy sweet rice flour?

Well, it’s not easy to buy in the UK actually, so having pumped you up all about it I’m now about to completely deflate you. It is possible to pick up sweet rice flour in chinatown but it is not certified gluten-free so for the coeliacs among us and those that have a very strong intolerance it is not ideal. But I have finally found a brand which is 100% certified gluten-free and it’s fantastic. The brand is yourhealthstore Premium Gluten Free Sweet Rice Flour (glutinous) 1kg

The links above are affiliate links which means if you decide you want to click through to buy then Amazon gives me a small commission at no cost to you whatsoever. To learn more about how the data processing works when using these Amazon affiliate links then please visit my privacy policy page.

If you would like to read more of my series on Gluten-Free Flours… 

text saying Gluten-Free Flours: how to start gluten-free baking, which flours to use and how to convert wheat recipes: fromthelarder.co.uk

text saying Gluten-Free Flours: Nut Flours: how to grind them and how to use them: fromthelarder.co.uk: on an image of jars of nut flours

Text saying Guide To Gluten-Free Flours: White Rice Flour: what is it and how should we use it: fromthelarder.co.uk: on an image of White rice flour on a wooden board with a vintage sieve

Text saying Guide To Gluten-Free Flours: Tapioca Flour: What is it and how should we use it: fromthelarder.co.uk on an image showing tapioca flour on a board and in a mug

Text saying Guide to Gluten-Free Flours: Buckwheat Flour: What is it and how should we use it. fromthelarder.co.uk
Text saying Guide to Gluten-Free Flours: Oat Flour: What is it and How should we use it. fromthelarder.co.uk. In front of an image of some oats and oat flour