• Moy's Gluten Free Kitchen

Updated: Apr 6

In part 1 of this series, we discussed why we need a multi-tiered solution to building a good gluten free flour blend and ultimately successful gluten free recipes.


On their own, individual gluten free flour or components:

We also established that the basic formula for a good gluten free flour blend looks something like this:

Gluten Free Flour Blend = Primary flour + Secondary flour + Starch


And a good recipe will look like this:

Gluten Free Recipe = Gluten Free Flour Blend + Binder + Fat + Protein + Liquid


Finally we learnt that just as there are different types of regular wheat flour blends, e.g. bread flour, cake flour or pastry flour, there must correspondingly be specific gluten free flour blends by application. Bread flour needs more protein than cake flour because it needs a stronger support structure.


This last fact is very important because in spite of the claims gluten free 1 to 1 flour or all purpose flour blends cannot perform successfully in every type of recipe without “help”.


How to Make a Good Gluten Free Bread Flour Blend

We will be focusing on yeasted bread for now. What are the characteristics of a good loaf of bread?

What are the characteristics of a good bread
The characteristics of a good loaf of bread

The issue of crust, crumb and colour can largely be addressed by these factors:

  • Choosing the right gluten free flour

  • The addition of suitable non gluten forming proteins

  • Using the right amount of hydration

  • The quality and quantity of the leavening agent

  • Introducing a binding agent

  • Incorporating fat into the recipe

The right gluten free flour for making bread starts with a decent amount of protein. Non gluten proteins can hold water and stabilize starch gel formed during gelatinization. Their addition can also reduce amino acid deficits, making the bread healthier. Ultimately these proteins help with structure, color and texture producing a far more acceptable end product with a longer ‘shelf life”. Using my formula (see above) a bread flour blend will more than likely have 2 or more types of flour, one of which at the very least must be higher in protein. To balance out the blend and to produce a loaf with better texture you should also include one or more starches.


Sources of non gluten forming Protein in Gluten Free Bread


There are multiple ways to add non gluten forming proteins to your bread blend for e.g. via:

  • Higher Protein Flour

  • Protein Powders

  • Whey Isolates

  • Liquid for e.g. dairy or non dairy milk

  • Eggs

Let’s take a look at how some of my favorite and not so favorite gluten free flours stack up in terms of protein. Please note I am sharing what works for me, there are other successful formulas available and there are more gluten free flours on the market than I referenced. Also, my usability score is based on my experiences using various gluten free flours. The rankings are from 1 (great) -3 (not so much).

Rank of various gluten free flours
Comparison of different types of gluten free flour.

Flours that rank 3 on my usability score are more challenging to work with. In the wrong quantity they can negatively affect the crumb, taste and mouth feel of the bread. Unless you are a seasoned gluten free baker I suggest leaving them alone. We can also conclude that higher protein is not the only thing we must factor in when choosing which flour to use. How it behaves when water is added, the taste, the colour will also influence the choices we make.


Most used Gluten Free Flours
Comparison of How Each Gluten Free Flour Behaves

I have highlighted the flours I use most often or those I stock in my pantry. While how well it works is one deciding factor, availability and my personal preferences with regard to taste carried a lot of weight. In other words you may not like what I like and that is okay, the goal here is to make it easier for you to make your own blend


Let’s look again at one of the bread flour blends I shared in Part 1 of this series. You can treat these percentages as universal formulas to help build your own blends from now on

Gluten Free Bread Flour Blend Formula


Gluten Free and Vegan Bread Flour Blend by Percentage 1
Gluten Free Bread Flour Blend Option 1

The primary flour is the one you want to use the most. You may choose this based on taste, colour or whatever criteria you wish as long as it is NOT a 3 on my usability scale. You can also use one secondary flour or two as is shown here. I may choose a secondary flour which is higher in protein if my primary flour is lacking. Generally though I am trying to pair flavours or textures that work well together. I would also take into consideration what I have learnt about how each flour behaves. For example I have given Almond Flour a usability score of 2. However, I have found it works better in cookies, brownies, sweet or quick breads and in small quantities for bread dough. With that information in mind I may choose to stay away from almond flour in my bread blend.


So continuing with the sample bread flour blend I’ve shared (option 1) what if I wanted to replace the Buckwheat flour? With all of the information we’ve discussed this far, you can use more oat flour and/or sorghum flour, why? Go back to the flour comparison table, buckwheat, oat and sorghum have very similar profiles making them easily interchangeable.


At this point I must reiterate that this is what works for me. There are many formulas out there, many different types of flour and many many more forms of non gluten forming proteins available. Eggs have proven to be exceptional at improving the texture and overall “acceptability” of gluten free bread which means you have more options (flour) to choose from. Dairy protein and whey isolates are also strong contenders. As a default I do not bake with eggs or dairy, so I have found other ways to get the results I want. Lastly there are new(ish) advances in the science of gluten free baking. For example there is a product called Expandex Modified Tapioca Starch (see also Ultratex) that works wonders on the textural quality of gluten free bread. I have used it with great success and at some point it may become a pantry staple


Ready for something more complicated? I have done a few more options of the gluten free bread flour blend using my “formula”.

Several Gluten Free and Vegan Bread Flour Blend Options
Gluten Free Bread Flour Blend Options

The important takeaway here is that my “primary flour” accounts for 50% - 60% percent of my bread flour mix. At least 10% is a starch and the secondary flour/ starch is the difference. We will chat more about starches in another post. For now, note that tapioca starch is a more chewy, elastic starch and potato starch is a bit fluffier and can add moisture to baked goods (in many parts of the world, potato starch and potato flour are not the same, I am referring to potato starch only).

In addition to all of this I love adding ground flax or chia seeds to round off my recipe. Though these are good for binding and can be used as egg replacements, I use them because they are healthy and add a more robust bread flavour. In fact too much of either could be unpleasant. Read on and I’ll show you how the recipe comes together.


Moving from the bread flour blend to a gluten free bread recipe


A good gluten free bread recipe also follows this basic formula:

Gluten Free Bread Recipe = Gluten Free Flour Blend + Binder + Fat + Protein + Liquid


We will continue with Option 1 as our flour blend of choice. In this recipe xanthan gum does the binding, the oil is the main source of the fat, the non gluten protein is contributed mainly by the flour or milk if used and liquid is the water or milk. Resting the dough without leavening agents is a simple way to improve the quality of the finished product. Once you incorporate the yeast there is no need to let the dough rise twice as is the case with wheat flour.


This is undoubtedly a lot of information. As a start use the recipe below as is (no need to worry about the percentages) and see what results you get. Troubleshoot and tweak the recipe until it works for you. For example:

  • Dense loaf- may need more liquid (the dough will usually be wetter than regular wheat flour dough)

  • Gummy on the inside- bake for a longer time ( an hour or more is not uncommon)

  • Loaf sinks in the middle while baking- dough was proofed for too long (it does not get better the more you let it rise in the tin)

  • Baking tin is too big- the bread will spread out not up and the result may be a dense loaf

  • Baking tin is too small- the loaf will also be dense because the bread cannot rise over the tin without support

  • Generally unappealing after baking- use an oven thermometer to verify if your oven’s temperature is calibrated correctly

Once you’ve mastered the recipe as is, you can begin to manipulate the ingredients, preferably one at a time. Substitute ingredients that are similar in composition and similar based on what they do in the recipe. There are also ingredients that cannot be substituted 1:1, so do some research before making a decision. For example, can ground chia seeds be used as a 1 to 1 substitute for flaxmeal? The answer is, not all the time, chia is more gelatinous in water than flax and therefore stronger as a binding agent.


Everything I’ve shared including the percentages becomes easier to understand in time. Why? You will be doing the one thing this “how to essay” cannot teach and that is practicing. It is your willingness to persist, to make mistakes again and again that will eventually make you more confident and competent in the kitchen. You will begin to discover what flour or what brand you like and why. You will automatically develop your own “usability” score. And one day, if not now, you will explore other grains or legumes to incorporate into your baking.


I intend to share more information about starches, binders, ingredients in general. We will also explore a flour blend for more general purposes. Look out as well for tips and techniques to improve your baking (check out the Tangzong technique). My research continues so I will update this article if necessary, always striving to share more relevant, factual and useful information.


Send me a message or leave a comment below if you need anything clarified. I will do my best to respond in a timely manner


(this post was shared on Nov 25th, 2020)


An option for a Gluten Free Vegan Bread Recipe
Beautiful Crumb on Gluten Free Vegan Bread

Gluten Free and Vegan Bread Recipe


Ingredients

1¼ cup brown rice flour

½ cups buckwheat flour

½ cup oat flour

¼ cup tapioca starch

1 tbsp psyllium husk powder

OR

1¼ tsp xanthan gum

2 tbsp ground flaxmeal

2 tsp brown sugar

½ tbsp baking powder

2½ tsp instant yeast

½ tsp salt

¼ cup vegetable oil (I use coconut)

1¼ - 1½ cup warm water (105-115°F)* ½ tbsp vinegar


*You can use milk e.g. coconut milk instead of water

Making the Bread

In a bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients including the flaxmeal, use only 1/2 tsp of the yeast and none of the baking powder. Set aside Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients (except the vinegar), kneading or mixing until thoroughly combined. The dough should be slightly sticky but holding together and fairly easy to work with Cover the bowl with cling wrap or other and set aside in a cool place to rest for about an hour. Resting the dough improves the texture of the finished loaf At the end of the rest period add the rest of the yeast (2 tsp), the baking powder and mix or knead well. Add the vinegar and mix or knead again. The dough should be slightly sticky or shaggy but holding together (like a thick brownie batter, scoopable not pourable). Add more water or milk a little at a time if needed Scoop the dough into a baking tin (approx 7 1/2"l x 4"w x 4.5"h internal measurements). You can smooth the top of the dough with the back of a spoon. Wet the spoon, it will be easier to work with Allow the dough to rise just over the rim of the tin and no more (the bread can collapse if it rises too much) Once the dough is in the tin, preheat oven to 350°F. When it is ready place the dough in the oven and bake for 50 minutes After 50 minutes, lower the heat to 275 and bake for another 15 mins. After the 15 mins, turn your oven off and leave the bread there for another 15 mins, you can take the loaf out of the pan for this (if the bread feels really firm on all sides, especially the bottom of the loaf you can skip this step)

Cut the bread when it's completely cool. Store in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for an extended period of time

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  • Moy's Gluten Free Kitchen

Updated: Apr 6

There are gluten free 1 to 1 flour blends, all purpose flour blends, bread flour blends, specialty flour blends like those for cakes or brownies. Then there is rice flour, almond flour, buckwheat flour and so on. How do you figure out which one to choose and why are there so many variations?

The problem with gluten free baking and cooking

Let’s start with what is gluten and what it does. Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, barley, spelt and rye. It allows dough, like bread, to expand (rise) and trap gas produced by leavening agents (e.g. yeast or baking powder). This dual function improves texture, helps the baked good to retain moisture and gives bread dough for example the characteristic domed shape.


Without gluten, other grain flours like rice cannot trap gas as efficiently because there is no structural support, no gluten “network”. That is one of the reasons why many gluten free loaves are flat and dense. The gluten “net” is also binding, sticky, able to hold the flour together. Gluten free grains lack this stickiness which means that many baked goods can also be crumbly.


There is more...Wheat flour has it all, protein, moisture, starch and fat. Same with many of the other types of flour that contain gluten. Individual gluten free grains do not have enough of these components to successfully replace wheat flour.


Without help, gluten free flour is also deficient in a purely aesthetic way. Regular flour dough browns as it cooks giving the finished product a lovely glow. GF goods are often lacking in that department. Baked goods with gluten also have a better texture and a superior taste. Finally GF goods tend to stale faster.


So, in addition to putting together a flour blend that has a similar nutritional profile to wheat flour, the gluten free baker must find a way to improve the texture, taste, longevity and the look of the of their baked goods.

The solution to this multi-complex problem is the answer to the why, why we need so many gluten free grains and different types of blends. In short we are putting together individual components (grains, starches, binders etc.) that together will mimic the properties of regular flour.


Look at the Nutrition Facts Comparison Table below (this is not about which one is healthier or has less carbs or anything like that, this is not a complete analysis for those issues). In the comparison you can see the differences with wheat and other grains. The numbers do not vary wildly from one grain to the next but if you decided to pick one grain to replace wheat you would quickly see or feel the effect of those differing values. Also it is important to note that none of the other grains contain the gluten protein which is not accounted for here as a separate value (gluten is estimated to be as much as 80% of the protein found in wheat). Therefore, a blend of several gf flours and starches is the accepted way to create a more diverse profile, one that is more similar to wheat flour.

Nutrition Facts Comparison Table

(https://www.eatthismuch.com/food/browse)

Another huge factor lending success to gluten free flour blends and recipes is the addition of non gluten proteins. Their addition can reduce amino acid deficits, making the bread healthier. But these proteins also help with structure, color and texture producing a far more acceptable end product with a longer ‘shelf life”.


One more thing. There are also different types of regular wheat flour blends, e.g. bread flour, cake flour or pastry flour. Bread flour is engineered to have more protein than cake flour because it needs a stronger support structure. Gluten free flour blends adopt the same principle, bread flour blends need more protein, cake flour blends do not.

Gluten Free Bread Flour Blend Examples

All things considered the basic formula for a good gluten free bread flour blend looks something like this:

Gluten Free Flour Blend = Primary flour + Secondary flour + Starch


The logical question now would be, how do I choose what to use, which flour, binder, starch or protein? Well, I will be sharing more on this in another post. In the meantime take a look at 2 of my flour blends I use to make bread (table below). In these examples the primary flour is whichever one I use the most:


Gluten Free Bread Flour Blends Comparison Table

Either of these blends make really good gluten free bread. The success of the blend though is greatly influenced by what flour is in the primary position. Primary flours that I have found relatively easy to use include, buckwheat, brown rice, oat and sorghum (sometimes called sweet white sorghum flour). Many of these also work well as the secondary flour as demonstrated in the example above.


My preference for secondary flours would be corn flour, white rice flour, almond flour, cassava flour, quinoa flour, millet flour, coconut flour, nut and bean flours.


Until you have a good grasp on how each type of flour behaves, I would not suggest using almond flour, quinoa flour, millet flour, coconut flour or any nut and bean flours.


Once we have the flour blend we now add the other components that make up the recipe. We will continue to use bread in this example.

Gluten Free Bread Recipe = Gluten Free Flour Blend + Binder + Fat + Protein + Liquid


Xanthan gum, Guar Gum and Psyllium husk powder are all examples of binders. These help to improve the elasticity of gluten free dough, allowing it to form a basic “fiber” network. Typically you need very little in a recipe. Butter, oil, milk (dairy and non dairy), powdered protein isolates, eggs are often used interchangeably for the fat, protein and liquid components of the recipe.


Take a look at my full gluten free bread recipe printed below. In that recipe xanthan gum does the binding, the oil is the main source of the fat, the non gluten protein is contributed mainly by the flour or milk if used and liquid is the water or milk. It’s a simple enough recipe, you could replace the cassava flour with oat flour and the recipe will still work. Resting the dough without leavening agents is a simple way to improve the quality of the finished product. Once you incorporate the yeast there is no need to let the dough rise twice as is the case with wheat flour (in fact try not to do that, the non gluten protein structure can weaken).


Of course, this explanation is not exhaustive. At the very least, I hope you understand why gluten free recipes require so many components. In my next post of this series, I will share more on how to build a good gluten free flour blend for bread, cakes or other uses.


Feel free to try out the recipe below, make substitutions and observe the results, that is the best way to learn. I have made numerous "mistakes" to get where I am now and I still make them...

(this post was shared on Nov 12th, 2020)


Gluten Free and Vegan Bread Recipe

Bread made with buckwheat flour
Tasty Gluten Free Vegan Bread

Ingredients

1½ cups buckwheat flour

¾ cup cassava flour

¼ cup tapioca starch

1 tbsp psyllium husk powder

OR

1¼ tsp xanthan gum

2 tsp brown sugar

½ tbsp baking powder

2½ tsp instant yeast

½ tsp salt

¼ cup vegetable oil (I use coconut)

1¼ - 1½ cup warm water (105-115°F)* ½ tbsp vinegar

*You can use milk e.g. coconut milk instead of water

Making the Bread

In a bowl, mix all of the dry ingredients, use only 1/2 tsp of the yeast and none of the baking powder. Set aside Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the wet ingredients (except the vinegar), kneading or mixing until thoroughly combined. The dough should be slightly sticky or shaggy but holding together and fairly easy to work with


Cover the bowl with cling wrap or other and set aside in a cool place to rest for about an hour. Resting the dough improves the texture of the finished loaf At the end of the rest period add the rest of the yeast (2 tsp), the baking powder and mix or knead well. Add the vinegar and mix or knead again. The dough should be slightly sticky or shaggy but holding together (like a thick brownie batter, scoopable not pourable). Add more water a little at a time if needed


Scoop the dough into a baking tin (approx 7 1/2"l x 4"w x 4.5"h internal measurements). You can smooth the top of the dough with the back of a spoon. Wet the spoon, it will be easier to work with Allow the dough to rise just over the rim of the tin and no more (the bread can collapse if it rises too much) Once the dough is in the tin, preheat oven to 350°F. When it is ready place the dough in the oven and bake for 50 minutes After 50 minutes, lower the heat to 275 and bake for another 15 mins. After the 15 mins, turn your oven off and leave the bread there for another 15 mins, you can take the loaf out of the pan for this (if the bread feels really firm on all sides, especially the bottom of the loaf you can skip this step) Cut the bread when it's completely cool. Store in the fridge for a few days or in the freezer for an extended period of time

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  • Moy's Gluten Free Kitchen

In Trinidad and Tobago, Kachourie is a fried patty made with ground split peas and channa (chickpeas). It is served with various chutneys and pepper sauce for those who like spicy. The taste and texture reminds me of falafel which also uses ground channa (chickpeas), however Kachourie has it’s origins in India.


My recipe below makes use of my pholourie mix and pre-cooked channa so it is ready in quick time.


This is a great snack or appetizer to share with a group of friends or family


Gluten Free and Vegan Kachourie
Gluten Free Kachourie

Ingredients

1 cup MGFK pholourie mix

1 cup minced channa (chickpeas)

pinch of salt (to taste)

1 tsp baking powder

¼ cup cornflour (optional)

handful of seasoning garlic, onion, pimientos and chadon beni (culantro)

¼ cup water (add more by tablespoon)

oil for frying

Notes


The pholourie mix already has split peas, turmeric, baking powder and salt. As you add the channa (chick peas) to the mix, you may need a little more salt and baking powder

This recipe uses canned channa but you can use dry channa. Soak the channa overnight to soften and grind when ready

I ground my channa in a mini chopper so that the “meal” would be somewhat chunky

The cornflour (cornmeal not corn starch) adds a nice texture and helps the kachourie to brown nicely. It is optional

While you are frying you can always adjust the seasonings, salt and baking powder if necessary


Directions

To the pholourie mix add the minced channa, salt, baking powder, cornflour and seasoning. Mix well to combine

Add the water, stirring to form a thick batter. The batter will be sticky but you should be able to pick it up and shape it (usually wet hands help). Add more water by tablespoon if needed

Set the batter aside to rest for 15-30 mins. You can skip this if you wish

Before the end of the rest period, heat up a skillet with enough oil for deep frying. The oil must be at a steady medium heat before frying. If you begin to fry and the oil does not bubble it is not hot enough

Once the oil is ready scoop out some of the batter and shape to form a circular patty, 2"-3" in size or whatever you prefer. Working with wet hands or on a lightly floured surface helps. If a consistent shape is not important to you, simply scoop and drop the batter into the oil. In either case less than 1/2” thickness is ideal so the patty can cook all the way through. Fry on each side until medium to dark golden brown. The kachourie will “float” when it’s cooked. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels


Serve at once with your preferred chutney

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