I am still in the learning process with all of this stuff. I have been looking it all up again because when you want to buy in bulk, bake a moderate amount and make your own flour blends it can be tricky. I often see a lot of conflicting information and I am having a bit of a hard time deciding what works best. While I’m thinking about it, I thought I’d do a post about what I’ve learned and experienced so far.
Things to consider:
Price: I am willing to spend more on gluten free and healthy baking because white flour has very little nutrition. However, I don’t want to pick the most expensive flours either. I haven’t had many problems with any of the flours I’ve tried, I love the rich, nutty-tasting flours such as sorghum and brown rice. I’d love to make a multiple flour blend, but I can’t afford to invest in ten different flours plus the storage for them.
Taste: When I make my own all purpose flour I find it tastes a lot better than Bob’s Red Mill which has a sour taste probably from one of the flours and the gum. I’m not fond of this but I don’t think my boyfriend even noticed. If you don’t tell people it’s gluten free, they probably won’t notice just pro tips!
Density: Grain flours will be heavier than lighter flours, but I honestly haven’t noticed a problem yet. I have stuck with brown rice, sorghum, millet and whole wheat and haven’t had a problem. For now, I will probably mix in white flour for treats so that will help. Usually people recommend a starch to help with this.
Gums: A lot of people agree you must have a gum for gluten free baking and I personally don’t really understand this. I have used Bob’s Red Mill all-p and a mixture of flours such as sorghum, teff and other grains without a problem. I often use flax eggs, so this could be what’s helping with that. Many people say that alternatively you can use flax or chia.
Convenience: Again, for me it doesn’t seem feasible to mix a multitude of flours together, even though that would undoubtedly work the best. I prefer simple blends of anything I make because the more complicated something is, the less likely I will be to stick with it. I have a hard time staying driven when things are grating on my patience. This link is a good guide to ratios. I am going to get potato starch, but so far mixing together even a couple of types of flour has worked out fine for me, and again the boyfriend test approved. For example, the first time I tried it I believe I used Bob’s All-p mixed with millet or sorghum flour and I had no trouble whatsoever. Another point is buying from bulk stores. For me, this would be the best option because I can buy small amounts whenever I need to ensuring the flour won’t go bad and that I can easily try different variations.
Your level of sensitivity: I believe I am sensitive to gluten, but I don’t think I need to avoid it altogether. I choose mostly gluten-free also for the health aspect. Because I don’t need to avoid it, mixing in a small amount of refined flour or whole wheat often seems to work well.
Who will be eating your baking: If it was for me, I am usually not too picky (though I still can’t get used to Bob’s Red Mill all-purpose on it’s own). For my tastes, the richer protein flours taste awesome and hearty. I don’t just tolerate these tastes, I really enjoy them. I thought blended up quinoa in my muffins tasted amazing because to me that’s a healthy hearty taste, white flour is not a taste I even like in muffins. Some people are picky and closed-minded. With these people, just let them discover the glory on their own instead of ruining their taste buds by telling them it’s vegan or gluten-free. I can’t understand why people think this means devil-spawn food. I guess food companies have done a good job making health look like a silly, tasteless trend. Healthy food tastes good and feels good!
I digress. If you are baking for a picky eater, you have to be careful what you blend together as something too far off from normal baking can be off-putting for them. For example, brown rice on its own would probably be too sticky and some flours have a weird sour taste on their own. I don’t think I’ve ever baked with just one. My boyfriend it kind of in-between the two extremes. He has always been open-minded about alternative diets and understands why I think it’s important. As long as it tastes good, he doesn’t mind that it’s healthy. He will notice if something is very different, but even then he considers it before he writes it off. That being said, he is someone who doesn’t quite fathom completely changing up diet and doesn’t seem to fully buy into the health risks of our society’s preferred types of diet. So I think that if he generally likes the things I make, there is hope.
Tips: Start off slow, do your research. Gluten free baking is a bit more difficult, but if you already know your way around a kitchen it is not that hard to adapt. I am still learning what works best for me. but so far I have only had maybe one flop when I tried something new. Make sure you know what it is that you are working with so you can think about how that would turn out.
Things I am still unsure of: (I’d love to hear feedback!)
-How long flours can really last (I have read anywhere from a month to a year. In my experience, I’d say they can last a long time, but I am not really sure)
-Whether or not the bulk barn is worth it and how to store flours: I know many should be stored in the fridge which makes me wonder if buying from the Bulk Barn is worth it at all. I have no idea how long things stay out and how well different flours can fare with this. I’d like to be able to buy from them, because it would be easier and sometimes flours that are expensive are less costly at a bulk store.
-Why some people think you always need certain ingredients. I have had success with just a couple flours with nothing else added. Maybe I am just lucky?
Easy all-purpose blend: Four ingredient blend
Alternatives to gums: http://gluten-free-bread.org/5-alternatives-to-xanthan-gum-and-guar-gum-in-gluten-free-baking