Ultimate Guide to Alternative & Gluten-Free Flours

There is more to gluten-free baking than just reaching for the bag of all purpose gluten-free flour. A huge range of alternative flours can now be found at supermarkets and health food shops which can make your gluten-free baking so much more exciting.

Your cakes can have more flavour and a better texture than their wheat counterparts. You just need to choose the right flour and I’m here to teach you how. Goodbye to dry crumbly baked goods and hello to a world of truly delicious gluten-free bakes.

Collection of images of gluten-free flours with text overlay

I can’t believe that’s gluten-free!
This is the best cake I have ever tasted!

These are regular comments I get from customers, friends, family or overhear at a parties I have catered.

It’s true. Gluten-free cakes should not be dry, crumbly, pasty or gummy. Those issues only occur when the wrong flour has been chosen.

There are so many different gluten-free and alternative flours which are now readily available at supermarkets, your local health shop or Amazon. The freedom to experiment is endless. If you are new to gluten-free baking or using alternative flours then this Ultimate Guide to Gluten-Free and Alternative Flours is a perfect place to start.

Little heaps of different gluten-free flours on a wooden board

Function of flour in baking

Flour is a powdery substance, ground from a larger source and used in baked goods to provide structure.

The most common flour used in baking is ground from wheat which has a neutral taste, meaning it can be used in sweet or savoury recipes and across many cuisines. You’ll know it as either plain flour or all-purpose flour (AP flour).

However, the true function of wheat flour lies in a powerful group of proteins found within its structure. When this group of proteins is introduced to a liquid they form gluten – a network of strong interlocking bonds which are highly elastic.

Due to the strength of these bonds gluten gives excellent structure to all manner of baked goods. The elasticity between the bonds mean the end results also have a wonderful soft and bouncy texture.

Blueberry Basil Lemon Drizzle cake on a plate on a wooden table

Removing gluten from baking

So what happens if we want to remove gluten from all our baked goods? In many cases we still need some sort of flour in our recipe to give our bakes structure.

Not always, see this post on 11 Flourless Bakes for amazing tips and recipes which don’t use any flour.

What flours can we use to replace wheat (rye and barley also contain gluten) and still achieve successful results?

We need to find flours that mimic the same function that gluten and regular flour provides in our baked goods.

Baker’s Tip: There are other ways to replicate gluten in baked goods, not just the choice of flour. For more information please read this Ultimate Guide to Gluten-Free Cakes which gives even more expert tips for successful gluten-free baking.

Function 1: Binding

The gluten in wheat based flours binds baked goods together using strong interlocking bonds so they don’t fall apart in some big crumbly mess.

Best gluten-free alternative flours for binding

The most effective flours to help bind and hold our bakes together are the starchy flours:

Best Gluten-Free Vanilla Cake on a cake stand on a wooden table

Function 2: Texture

Gluten gives cakes and bread a soft bouncy quality thanks to the elasticity of the gluten proteins.

Some bakers add xanthan gum to their gluten-free recipes which does an excellent job of assisting gluten-free flours with both elasticity and binding. However, this is not always the best choice as it can be a polarising ingredient.

Why I Don’t Bake With Xanthan Gum

Instead different gluten-free flours can provide a variety of textures. The trick is matching the correctly textured flour to the cake you want to bake.

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Function 4: Neutrality

The beauty of plain white flour (AP flour) is that it tastes completely neutral. This is an advantage in any bake as you can use the flour universally.

On the other hand a huge boon in using alternative flours is that many of them have unique and delicious flavours which can enhance recipes and add depth especially to baked goods.

Function 5: Leavening

When these strong interlocking elastic gluten bonds are formed they react with the leavening agent in your recipe (yeast, baking powder or bicarbonate of soda) to cause gas bubbles which inflate these elastic bonds, making your cake or dough rise.

It’s not all good news though as gluten-free flours simply cannot fulfil this same function of leavening which is why you might have experienced flatter and denser bakes when using these flours.

At this point you will need to turn to other sources to help your gluten-free baked goods to rise. There are some excellent tips in my Ultimate Guide to Gluten-Free Cakes.

baker weighing flour in a glass mixing bowl

What is the best gluten-free flour to use?

So, now we know that alternative flours can fulfil almost the same roles as gluten. Plus, they taste better and they don’t make us sick. So what’s the catch?

I’m sorry, yes there is a catch and I’m sure you’ve noticed it.

There is not one gluten-free flour which can substitute regular all-purpose flour.

We need to use more than one gluten-free flour to do the same job as regular all-purpose flour.

If we put all our confidence in just one alternative flour then we might get some unpleasant results.

  • Sweet rice flour – too stodgy
  • White rice flour – too grainy
  • Coconut flour – too dry
  • Oat flour – too crumbly
  • Almond flour – too dense

If you want a balanced taste but also a chance to retain the right texture and binding qualities of wheat flour, this is where you will need to start blending flours.

“Hey, but don’t some brands like Bob’s Red Mill and Doves Farm do that for us already. That’s what ‘gluten-free flour’ in the supermarket is, right?”

Can I just replace regular flour with gluten-free flour?

Gluten-free flour which you buy in the supermarket is great. However, results can be variable. Each brand of gluten-free flour has a blend of different alternative flours involved.

Some contain more starches, some contain xanthan gum and some contain oat flour which many coeliac sufferers just can’t tolerate. So always check the labels.

There are some occasions where you can certainly just do a straight swap and use one of these gluten-free flour blends instead of regular flour. In these instances I would stick to recipes where there isn’t a lot of flour to begin with, like in a brownie or friand recipe.

Baker’s Tip – That said, you can have great success using these gluten-free flours in conjunction with nut flours. It’s an easy way to convert cake recipes from a non gluten-free recipe. I discuss how to do this in my guide to Nut Flours.

close up of a cut slice of whole lemon cake

How to create your own gluten-free flour blend

The different types of alternative flours can be split into two different categories:

  • Wholegrains – e.g. sorghum flour, teff flour, buckwheat flour
  • Starches – e.g. sweet rice flour, tapioca flour, arrowroot

The wholegrains will give your bake excellent texture and flavour and the starches will help bind your bake together and give it structure.

I recommend the following rule to create the simplest blend:

70% wholegrain flours (1-3 different flours) :  30% starch (1-2 different flours)

sliced gluten-free irish soda bread on bread board

Gluten-Free and Alternative Flours – Taking it further

So now you are armed with some basic information.

  • Gluten is what gives cakes and bakes structure and texture.
  • You can’t always replace regular flour with gluten-free flour.
  • Different gluten-free and alternative flours provide different functions.
  • You often have to use more than 1 gluten-free flour in a recipe to achieve a similar result to using regular flour.
  • You have a solid ratio to start mixing your own gluten-free flour blend.

I bet you can’t wait to produce these amazing, delicious gluten-free cakes that I’ve been talking about! Although you might feel you need to have a little bit more in depth information about all these alternative flours.

Well, I’m not going to leave you high and dry. I’ve got you covered. Just follow the links below for everything you need to know about all your favourite Gluten-Free and Alternative Flours so you can bake with confidence.

The Ultimate Guide to…

For further reading I highly recommend Alice Medrich’s Flavor Flours. It’s thanks to this book that I’ve become so passionate about gluten-free flours and it gave me the springboard I needed to pursue my knowledge and understanding of these really special ingredients.

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The Ultimate Guide to Gluten-Free Cakes

This Ultimate Guide to Gluten-Free Cakes will help you understand gluten-free baking. By using my baking tips and recipes you can start to create amazing, tasty and simple gluten-free cakes.

Images of gluten-free cakes with text superimposed The Ultimate Guide to Gluten-Free Cakes

Gluten-free cakes often have a bad reputation. They can be criticised for being too dry or gummy. Or maybe you have heard they need lots of different and hard to find ingredients. I’m here to set the record straight.

Gluten-free cakes can be just as, if not more, delicious than regular cakes if you follow the rules and the right recipes. If you are new to gluten-free baking then don’t worry. I’ve been making and selling gluten-free cakes for many years now and I’ve got all the info you need to create delicious and easy gluten-free cakes. Let’s begin, shall we?

What is Gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat which has a unique adhesive yet elastic structure. Gluten is especially useful in cakes as it performs two functions:

  • Structure and strength
  • Gives cakes a light fluffy texture

What is Gluten Intolerance?

When some individuals consume gluten their immune system reacts causing damage to the gut. This means nutrients are not absorbed properly by the digestive system which can lead to pain, fatigue and depression. Gluten intolerance can range from mild to extremely severe, the latter of which may be diagnosed as coeliac disease.

What are Gluten-Free Cakes?

Gluten-free cakes are made without wheat flour or any other ingredient which contains gluten. This includes the regular plain flour in the bakery section of the supermarket but also the more specialist flours like rye or spelt flour.

Hidden Gluten. Some other ingredients in your baking may contain hidden gluten such as baking powder, sprinkles, cooking chocolate and even some ready-make icing.

Check Your Labels. Certified gluten-free ingredients should be clearly labelled so you can purchase with peace of mind.

side shot of a slice of Green Tomato and Stem Ginger Cake with Streusel Topping {gluten-free} on a plate with green tomatoes next to it

Which Flour Can You Use for Gluten-Free Cakes?

Single origin alternative flours like teff flour, rice flour or oat flour are becoming more readily available and can be found in supermarkets or health food shops. They work differently to regular wheat flour and should rarely be used as a direct substitute. These flours are best blended together to mimic the different properties of gluten. You may find recipes for gluten-free baked goods contain two or more alternative flours.

Do you want to know more about these gluten-free flours and how to use them in your baking? Then head over to my series on Gluten-Free Flours where you can discover all sorts of beautiful flours and learn how to incorporate them into your baking.

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Best Gluten-Free Flour

You can also buy plain (AP) gluten-free flour which combines a specific ratio of gluten-free flours and starches, and sometimes gums, which aim to mimic regular wheat flour. Two of the most popular brands in the UK are:

  • Freee by Doves Farm Gluten-Free Plain White Flour. This flour is the easiest to get hold of in the UK and is the most economical. It is made from a blend of five different gluten-free flours and starches. This is a light neutral flour and contains no xanthan gum. I find this flour works best when used in cake recipes where little flour is required like brownies or friands, or in tandem with a nut flour which helps add moisture.
  • Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-Free 1:1 Baking Flour. Made from a blend of five different gluten-free flours and starches but does contain xanthan gum. This flour works well as a direct substitute for wheat flour but it is not suitable for those with an intolerance to xanthan gum.

Why is Xanthan Gum used in Gluten-Free Cakes?

Xanthan gum is used to help bind the cake in the absence of gluten. It can also help give the cake a little more lightness. However, it is not always necessary and many people can’t tolerate it so it’s an ingredient to be careful of. Visit my in depth explanation of why I don’t bake with xanthan gum here.

Do Gluten-Free Cakes Taste Different?

They can taste different but that is what is incredibly exciting about gluten-free baking.

Several gluten-free flours like white rice flour, tapioca flour or potato flour are more or less neutral in taste and won’t interfere with the taste of the cake too much.

However most gluten-free flours have their own unique personalities and can be used to support or enhance the flavour of your cake and this is where it gets interesting.

  • A chocolate cake made with teff flour will take on its sweet malty flavour.
  • A blondie made with oat flour will have its butterscotch flavour instantly magnified.

Gluten-free cakes can be even more tasty than regular cakes depending on the choice of flour.

Is Gluten-Free Cake Healthy?

Gluten-free is not a catch-all for a healthy diet. It is true that some alternative flours often have a higher nutritional content which is definitely an advantage of gluten-free baking. However, cake should always be considered an occasional treat no matter how nutritious the individual ingredients are.

slices of Vegan Chocolate Coconut Banana Loaf on a wooden board

Troubleshooting Gluten-Free Cakes

My Gluten-Free Cakes Won’t Rise

If your gluten-free cake is looking a little flat then you might like to try the following tips:

  • Choose the right flours: Dense alternative flours such as buckwheat may hinder the rise so either pair it with a fluffier flour like oat flour or keep the denser flours for cookies or pancakes. Lighter flours such as millet flour or sorghum flour will create a lighter result.
  • Mix for longer: Gluten-free flours need longer in the mixer, if you get more air beaten into the batter it will help to lighten it and rise.
  • Add an acid: Try adding 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar or lemon juice to your cake batter. It will react with the bicarbonate of soda to create extra rise and a more tender cake crumb.
  • Add an egg: You could even add an extra egg which will help the cake to rise. However it will also give more moisture so you might need to fiddle with a few more ingredients so the batter isn’t too wet.
  • More leavening agent: Gluten-free cakes may need a little more leavening agent. Try adding 25% more, so ¼ teaspoon per every 1 teaspoon that your recipe requires. Don’t add too much though or you will start to taste it.

Why is My Gluten-Free Cake Gummy?

The dreaded gummy gluten-free cake is the mortal enemy of the baking world.

  • The most common culprit in a gummy gluten-free cake is white rice flour. This flour is widely used in gluten-free baking. Maybe overused. It is not a bad flour, but it should always be paired with other flours such as sorghum flour to counteract its tendency to clump.
  • However, gummy cakes can also be an issue with using the wrong or too much starch. Reduce your amount of tapioca or sweet rice flour or try swapping with different ones.

Why is My Gluten-Free Cake Gritty?

  • Try a different brand or flour. Different brands of gluten-free flours grind their flours to either a coarse or very fine texture. For example, I really love Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Whole Grain Sorghum Flour but it can have slightly gritty results compared to other sorghum flours as it is not ground as finely. This is also the problem for many white rice flours. Either choose a different brand or blend with a different flour to counteract the result.
  • Rest the batter. Also since many gluten-free flours do not absorb liquid as well as gluten flour then try resting your cake batter for 30 minutes before baking to give the flours a chance to soften.

A slice of Apple Blueberry Maple Cake on a plate in front of the cake

Why is My Gluten-Free Cake Dry and Crumbly?

Another pitfall of gluten-free baking is the dry crumbly cake. Gluten has unique adhesive properties which help bind the ingredients together. To mimic these properties in gluten you can choose to include the following options in your cake batter:

  • Xanthan gum is this is a manufactured product which helps bind ingredients. Use ¼ teaspoon per 200g gluten-free flour. However use carefully as individuals can be intolerant to it.
  • Psyllium husk has a high viscosity when added to liquid. Although it’s better really for breads due to its strong wheat taste.
  • Chia seeds or flaxseeds create a gel like substance when added to liquid that helps bind ingredients.
  • An extra egg will help to bind ingredients, increase moisture and leaven the cake
  • Use a starchy flour like sweet rice flour, tapioca flour or arrowroot which will help give moisture and bounce to your cake.

How to Make Gluten-Free Cakes Moist

Gluten is good at absorbing and retaining moisture. However, gluten-free flours are not as adept so you may want to try the following tricks:

  • Try swapping out caster sugar for brown sugar which has more moisture.
  • Swap in a touch of liquid sweetener like honey or maple syrup for the sugar.
  • Increase the oil or melted butter if using.
  • Include a heavy liquid like yoghurt, sour cream or buttermilk.
  • Add an extra egg.
  • Make sure your cake has enough starch. The starchy flours like arrowroot or sweet rice flour will help retain moisture.

Also your choice of cake can be key. Recipes with pureed fruit or vegetables already have added moisture in them. Banana bread, pumpkin recipes, courgette cake or apple cake are all good places to start.

Try this Golden Beetroot Carrot Cake and you will be amazed how beautifully moist it is. No dry crumbs in sight.

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.

Can You Freeze Gluten-Free Cake?

Yes. Gluten-Free Cake freezes brilliantly. You can freeze the cake before decorating with buttercream or icing but I have also frozen many slices of gluten-free cake wrapped up well and tightly. Leave it out to fully defrost before consuming.

More Quick Tips for Gluten-Free Baking

Low and Slow. Try baking your gluten-free cakes 20 degrees less than you would a regular wheat cake and allow it to bake a little longer. Gluten-free flours tend to brown quicker and take longer to absorb liquid so the lower temperature will ensure an even bake.

Always weigh your ingredients. If you want to start adapting wheat recipes for gluten-free versions then you will need to own a pair of scales. Gluten-free baking requires even less room for error than regular baking. Weighing your ingredients ensures a more reliable result.

Trial and error. Don’t be disappointed if a cake you have created fails first time or even second time. Gluten-free baking takes practice. Have fun playing with the huge range of gluten-free alternative flours, the results will usually be edible even if they are not perfect. It will take time before you will know instinctively which blend of flours will work for which recipe. Not to mention different brands often yield different results too. In the meantime I have many recipes on this site at your disposal which work perfectly.

Easy Gluten-Free Cakes

If you are new to gluten-free baking then I recommend beginning with cake recipes that don’t include any flour. Try these:

This Blood Orange Rosemary Polenta Cake is both gluten-free and dairy-free. Whole oranges are boiled then pureed to create an incredibly moist and intensely citrusy cake spiked with a hint of rosemary.

Once you have those mastered perhaps then go for cakes which already have good moisture content and can be made with a bought gluten-free flour blend:

Singing with citrusy aromatic flavour this gluten-free Blueberry Basil Lemon Drizzle Loaf is a showstopper of an everyday teatime cake.

Try experimenting with friands which are gorgeous little cakes and only need a little flour. Try different single origin alternative flours in these recipes.

gooseberry friands on a napkin on a wooden table

Finally get to blending flours, these recipes are a good place to start using simple blends of only three flours:

Lemon and Poppy Seed Muffins {gluten-free}

Hopefully this Ultimate Guide to Gluten-Free Cakes has made the challenge of gluten-free baking slightly less daunting. Let me know what’s the #1 single biggest gluten-free baking challenge that you’re struggling with right now in the comments. Let’s see if we can get it cracked. Even though we’re gluten-free we still deserve delicious moist, tender and beautiful cakes.

Update Notes: This article was originally posted in March 2019, but was updated in August 2019 with even more clarification and links to outside sources.

The Ultimate Guide to Sorghum Flour

Sorghum flour is a popular alternative flour which is naturally gluten-free and works well in many sweet and savoury recipes.

Sorghum Flour

As part of my on going series on Gluten-Free Flours we will be discovering what sorghum is, how sorghum flour is made, its nutritional benefits, the best way to use it in our baking and where to purchase it.

Sorghum Flour

What is Sorghum?

Sorghum is an ancient cereal grain common throughout Australasia and Africa. Its roots can be traced back 5000 years and is the fifth most important cereal crop in the world.

Sorghum can be used to make a breakfast porridge, to thicken stews or in the production of alchoholic drinks. The use of sweet sorghum syrup was a common ingredient in the southern states of America but its use has been swapped out in more recent recipes for the more economical, but less flavourful, corn syrup. Sorghum flour is also the key ingredient in the Indian flatbread, jowar roti.

close up of Sorghum Flour

What is Sorghum Flour?

Sorghum flour is finely ground from the whole grain kernel of Sorghum. It is light or beige in colour with a mild sweet flavour. Like most gluten-free flours it cannot be used solely as a wheat flour substitute but it is commonly used in several branded gluten-free flour blends such as Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1-To-1 Baking Flour due to non-assertive flavour and soft texture.

If you are looking to purchase sorghum flour you may also find it under the name ‘Sweet White Sorghum Flour.’

Lemon and Ginger Pudding on a plate drizzle with lemon custard

Nutritional Benefits of Sorghum Flour

Sorghum flour is high in fibre and a good source of anti-oxidants which helps fight inflammation and heart disease. It is a low gi food so slow to digest and helps to balance out blood sugars. Sorghum flour is also high in protein so promotes a soft tender crumb in bakes.

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

How Do You Use Sorghum Flour in Baking?

As sorghum flour is a whole grain flour, for most recipes it cannot be used as a direct replacement for wheat flour. Whole grain flours are lovely to use in baked goods as they provide taste and texture but they are lacking in the necessary stickiness to keep a cake together. You need a binder to stop the bake from being dry and crumbly which is where starch flours come in. You can use a starch like sweet rice flour, tapioca flour or arrowroot to mimic the gluten properties of wheat flour.

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Sorghum Flour is especially versatile because it can be used in both sweet and savoury recipes. It works excellently in breads or in pastry like in the recipe for these Gluten-Free Mince Pies.

Gluten-Free Mince Pies

Or this Pecan Treacle Tart

Pecan Treacle Tart

What Flavours Pair Well with Sorghum Flour?

Think of sorghum flour as a slightly sweeter version of whole wheat flour and you’ll be heading in the right direction as far as flavour profiles go. It pairs well with warm spices, bananas, berries, stone fruits, nuts, butter, caramel, dates cheese or honey.

I especially like to use sorghum flour in my banana recipes like in this Banana Rum Caramel Cake

Close up of Banana Rum Caramel Cake

Or these vegan Banana Peanut Butter Streusel Muffins.

Banana Peanut Butter Streusel Muffins {vegan, gluten-free}

Where to buy Sorghum Flour

Sorghum flour is gaining in recognition due to its impressive nutritional benefits and because of the rise in popularity of the gluten-free diet. You can purchase sorghum flour at health food shops and some well-stocked supermarkets. I will either buy my sorghum flour from my local organic shop, Ocado or I use the subscribe and save option on Amazon which is the most economical way of purchasing it.

This post is not sponsored but the links above are affiliate links which means if you decide you want to use these links to make your purchases then Amazon gives me a small commission at no cost to you whatsoever. I will only recommend products I use in my kitchen and love. To learn more about how the data processing works when using these Amazon affiliate links then please visit my privacy policy page.

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Sorghum Flour

MORE RECIPES WHICH MAKE THE MOST OF SORGHUM FLOUR

Honey Apple Spice Scones

Honey Apple Spice Scones {gluten-free}

Apple Thyme Cheddar Crumble Cake

Apple Cheddar Thyme Crumble Cake

OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES INCLUDE…

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Image of banana bread with text overlay Xanthan Gum

Gluten-Free Scones with Quick Strawberry Jam and Clotted Cream

These Gluten-Free Scones are made with buttermilk and without xanthan gum but instead a delicious blend of alternative flours for depth of flavour. A perfect afternoon tea served with a quick strawberry jam set with chia seeds and thick clotted cream.

Side shot of a gluten-free scone filled with clotted cream and strawberry jam on a wire rack

There is nothing more indulgent than going for a proper afternoon tea. The kind you have in a fancy hotel with a proper tea menu, huge fluffy white scones, delicate cucumber sandwiches and mile high slices of sponge cake. I haven’t been for ages. Luke and I wanted to go as my last treat before Beau was born but then I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes so that plan was nixed. We should really put it back on the agenda now the newborn days are over. Celebrating the first few months of Beau’s life seems a pretty good reason to treat ourselves.

side shot of a stack of gluten-free scones

It’s the proper presentation of the scones which I find so alluring, perched atop the tier of sandwiches and patisserie, wrapped in clean white linen, waiting to be discovered. I always go for the scones first. If it’s a first class establishment then these scones will be warm, fresh from the oven and that is when they are at their absolute best. They must then be layered high with thick golden Cornish clotted cream and vibrant strawberry jam. Whether you slather your scone with the clotted cream or jam first will betray whether you are of the Cornish or Devonshire persuasion.

Overhead shot of a plate of strawberries, a napkin and gluten-free scones on a wire rack

The presence of scones will always elevate an occasion. A pot of tea shared with my mum is suddenly made into a fanciful affair by the inclusion of scones. We might as well be partaking our cream team with the Duchess of Bedford at Woburn Abbey. The proper china must come out, including the teapot, and I feel an unexplained need to set the table properly with a tablecloth and decant the jam and clotted cream into bowls rather than dipping our spoon into jars and tubs.

side shot of gluten-free scones on a wire rack

Yet scones also feel rather homely. They are definitely a comfort to bake. You don’t need an expensive food mixer or a specific kind of cake tin. Just a cheap mixing bowl, a wooden spoon and a standard round cookie cutter. You can dive your hands in, rubbing the butter with the flour in your fingertips, feeling the texture of the dough in between your hands as you bring it all together. It’s so satisfying and they don’t take long at all from start to finish. Within 45 minutes you can go from a faint craving to taking your first bite out of your homemade scone without any fluster.

Side shot of a gluten-free scone on a wire rack

Gluten-Free Scones with Buttermilk

I have a few scone recipes on the blog but no traditional plain gluten-free scones, the kind I turn to frequently when a cream tea is required. This gluten-free scone recipe is made with buttermilk for a tender crumb and a slight tang.

Overhead shot of a gluten-free scone with clotted cream and strawberry jam on a wire rack with a plate of strawberries and flowers

Gluten-Free Flour

For the flour choice in these Gluten-Free Scones I have used a specific home blend of alternative flours. I try and vary my gluten-free baking recipes with ingredients that are easy to find like the plain gluten-free flour blend you can pick up at the supermarket and those that indulge my love of alternative flours. It’s not going to suit everyone that this scone recipe uses a mix of five different flours but flour is the main ingredient in a scone recipe and has nowhere to hide amongst the other ingredients. To achieve a very good gluten-free scone the flour choice needs to be right.

I am aware that I have a very particular obsession with alternative flours and it is not usual for a larder to be stocked with every single variation on the market. However a few choice alternative flours are so worth investing in even if you are not gluten-free. Sweet rice flour, oat flour and tapioca flour are my mainstays. To understand the use of every flour in this recipe I urge you to read through my guide to Gluten-Free Flours. The depth of flavour you achieve from specific combinations is surprising and you can aim for a greater control over texture, moistness and fluffiness than just using a plain ready-made gluten-free blend can provide.

Side shot of a gluten-free scone filled with clotted cream and strawberry jam on a wire rack

Gluten-Free Scones without xanthan gum

This gluten-free scone recipe is also without xanthan gum, a regular presence in a lot of gluten-free baking. It’s often used as a thickening agent or stabiliser to help prevent crumbly and dry gluten-free goods. It’s not something I particularly publicise but I never bake with xanthan gum. I don’t find I can digest it very well so steer clear. Instead I achieve my texture in baking from the right blend of alternative flours. Again, hence the need for so many.

Overhead shot of a bowl of strawberry jam next to a bowl of strawberries and gluten-free scones on a wire rack

Quick Strawberry Jam

Of course you can use a good strawberry jam bought from the farmers’ market to cut down on your labour but a quick fresh strawberry jam is easy enough and has less sugar. These July strawberries I have been buying recently have been so delicious, absolutely full of flavour. I use lemon juice to perk up the strawberry taste, a dash of caster sugar and chia seeds to create an instant luscious set.

overhead shot of a bowl of clotted cream next to a bowl of strawberries

Clotted Cream

Clotted cream is a fabulous ingredient, I could easily eat it with a spoon but the golden hued crust that you have to break through to get there is the real chef’s delight. Clotted cream is the only choice for a proper afternoon tea. I remember being served the most delicious homemade scones once in Brighton, utterly ruined by the airy canned whipped cream served with them. It’s the clotted cream that really achieves the high end cream team that we all hope for whilst enjoying our fresh homemade scones warm from the oven.

Side shot of a gluten-free scone filled with clotted cream and strawberry jam on a wire rack

Gluten-Free Scones with Quick Strawberry Jam and Clotted Cream

These Gluten-Free Scones are made with buttermilk and without xanthan gum but instead a delicious blend of alternative flours for depth of flavour. A perfect afternoon tea served with a quick strawberry jam set with chia seeds and thick clotted cream.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time18 mins
Total Time38 mins
Course: Afternoon Tea
Cuisine: British
Servings: 9 scones
Calories: 562kcal

Ingredients

Gluten-Free Scones

  • 175 g sweet rice flour
  • 125 g oat flour
  • 100 g millet flour
  • 50 g potato starch
  • 50 g tapioca flour
  • 100 g cold unsalted butter sliced thinly
  • 115 g caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs + 1 extra for glazing
  • 200 ml buttermilk

Quick Strawberry Jam

  • 500 g strawberries
  • juice 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons caster sugar
  • 1 tablespoon chia seeds
  • 250 g clotted cream

Instructions

Buttermilk Gluten-Free Scones

  • Preheat oven to 160°C/140°C fan/gas mark 3/320°F.
  • Whisk the flours together in a large mixing bowl then add the butter, rubbing together with your fingertips to create breadcrumbs.
  • Add the sugar, baking powder and salt and mix well.
  • Pour the milk into a jug and whisk in the eggs until just combined then pour into the centre of the scone mixture.
  • At first stir the liquid ingredients in with a wooden spoon then tip out onto a clean work surface and using your hands bring the dough together, turning and folding, until it is no longer sticky. Use a bit of extra gluten-free flour on the work surface if it is starting to stick.
  • Once you have brought the dough together into a ball, press it down into an even circle 1 inch thick.
  • Cut out the scones using 7cm cutter.
  • Place the scones onto a clean baking tray. Whisk the extra egg with a splash of milk and brush onto the surface of each scone, making sure not to let it drip down the sides, else your scones will not rise evenly.
  • Bake the scones for 18 minutes. Let the scones rest on the baking tray for 5 minutes then remove and let cool on a wire rack.

Quick Strawberry Jam

  • Hull the strawberries then place them in a medium sized saucepan with the lemon juice and caster sugar.
  • Cook for 10 minutes until the strawberries have broken down, then remove from the heat and stir in the chia seeds.
  • Chill until needed.
  • Serve the scones split open with the clotted cream and strawberry jam

Notes

These scones are best eaten straight away or a few hours after baking. They go stale rather quickly overnight.

Nutrition

Calories: 562kcal | Carbohydrates: 64g | Protein: 7g | Fat: 30g | Saturated Fat: 17g | Cholesterol: 107mg | Sodium: 175mg | Potassium: 439mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 20g | Vitamin A: 485IU | Vitamin C: 32.9mg | Calcium: 139mg | Iron: 1.8mg

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Although the metal cookie cutters may look a bit more stylish I always use these KitchenCraft Double-Edged Plastic Biscuit/Pastry Cutters with Storage Box (Set of 7) – White. They are the perfect range of sizes, they are plastic so don’t rust and can go in the dishwasher. Anything that can go in the dishwasher makes my life so much easier.

I use this KitchenCraft MasterClass Non-Stick Baking Tray, 35 x 25 cm (14″ x 10″) for all my cookies, biscuits, scones. It’s a great size and comfortably holds all of these 9 scones so you don’t have to bake in batches. It’s non-stick so the scones lift off easily from the tray and doesn’t require any baking parchment or greasing.

It’s not easy to buy sweet rice flour in the UK, but it’s a flour I use all the time. 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

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.

I order my millet flour through Amazon like most of my flours and the brand I like the best is Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Millet Flour 500 g (Pack of 4). It’s more economical to buy it this way and I love Bob’s Red Mill as it’s certified gluten-free.

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.

I use chia seeds a lot in chia seed pudding, in my granola bars, sprinkled in my porridge and in smoothies so I buy them in bulk. I like RealFoodSource Whole Natural Dark Chia Seeds 2kg (2 x 1kg bags) with FREE Chia Recipe Ebook. They are just reliably good.

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.

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Gluten-Free Flours: An Introduction

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

The Ultimate Guide to 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 to 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.

If you wanted to make your own oat flour…

I would be nowhere without my Magimix 4200XL Food Processor – Satin when I want to grind my own oat flour. I have easily had it over ten years and I use it nearly every day for all manner of kitchen jobs like whipping up dips, pestos, nut butters and flours and making my breadcrumbs. The Magixmix is an impressive piece of kit which even survived being dropped when we moved into our house (although it did have to have the motor replaced but that wasn’t too expensive). I put all the attachments in the dishwasher and they come out brilliantly clean but it also gives just great results. I love my Magimix and along with my Kitchenaid is the piece of equipment I use most often in my kitchen.

The links above are affiliate links so if you decide to buy anything using the links given 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.

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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.

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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.

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.

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