Wheat flour contains gluten, a protein that strengthens and binds dough in baking. Unfortunately gluten intolerance and gluten allergies are becoming fairly common.
Here are some gluten-free flour alternatives. It is important to know that there is no exact substitute for wheat containing flour, and recipes made with gluten free alternative flours will be different from those containing wheat or gluten.
Amaranth flour is made from the seed of the Amaranth plant, which is a leafy vegetable. Amaranth seeds are very high in protein, which makes a nutritious flour for baking. Alternative names: African spinach, Chinese spinach, Indian spinach, elephants ear.
Arrowroot flour is ground from the root of the plant and is very useful for thickening recipes. It is tasteless, and the fine powder becomes clear when it is cooked, which makes it ideal for thickening clear sauce.
Brown Rice Flour
Brown rice flour is milled from unpolished brown rice and as it contains the bran it has a higher fiber content. It has a slightly nutty taste, which will sometimes come out in recipes depending on the other ingredients, and the texture will also contribute to a heavier product than recipes made with white flour. It is not often used completely on its own because of its density.
Buckwheat flour is not a form of wheat. Buckwheat is actually related to rhubarb. The small seeds of the plant are ground to make flour. It has a strong nutty taste so is not generally used on its own in a recipe, as the taste of the finished product can be very overpowering, and a little bitter.
Chick Pea Flour (Garbanzo Flour)
This is ground from chick peas and has a strong slightly nutty taste. It is not generally used on its own.
Made from dried, defatted coconut meat this flour is high in fibre with a light coconut flavour. Typically additional liquid will be required in a recipe that uses coconut flour.
Maize Flour (Corn Meal)
Ground from corn. Heavier than cornflour, not generally interchangeable in recipes.
It can be used to thicken soups and make flat bread and griddle cakes. Because it lacks any form of gluten it’s not suited to many types of baking.
This flour should not be confused with potato starch flour. Potato flour has a strong potato flavor and is a heavy flour so a little goes a long way.
Quinoa is related to the plant family of spinach and beets. Quinoa provides a good source of vegetable protein and it is the seeds of the quinoa plant that are ground to make flour.
Tapioca flour is made from the root of the cassava plant, once ground it takes the form of a light, soft, fine white flour. Tapioca flour adds chewiness to baking and is a good thickener.
If you’re following a specific wheat free or gluten free recipe it will have been carefully formulated to get the best possible result using the flour substitutes listed. If you are looking for an easier solution, there are some really great pre-mixed gluten-free flour blends.