I get asked for substitutions on my recipes by a lot of readers. I’ve decided to address some of these questions, and explain my thoughts on them. Today I’ll be discussing “all purpose gluten free flour”. Keep in mind, these are my thoughts only, and help explain why I write my recipes the way that I do.
“Can I replace all the individual flours with an all purpose mix?”
My thoughts? I wouldn’t, but if you want to, feel free to experiment with it.
There are a few reasons I don’t use the all purpose mixes that are available.
- Availability and use – 5 1/2 years ago, when I began baking gluten-free, there were very few gluten free flours readily available in the stores, much less any all purpose blends. I had to use what I could find. The first gluten-free cookbook I bought was Bette Hagman’s The Gluten-Free Gourmet Bakes Bread. In her book, Hagman lists her own flour blends – each blend being used for a different kind of bread. This required me to have 3 separate blends on hand. Then I baked a recipe from another blogger – they had their own flour blend. Before I knew it, I had all my flours tied up in a variety of flour blends, each with a different intended use. Being a new gluten-free baker, and wanting to follow the recipes as-written, I didn’t feel I could use a different blend than the one called for in the recipe. This resulted in a drawer full of blended flours that could only be used in a handful of recipes. (My early recipes use a flour blend, but the recipes shared in the last 3 years use individual flours and starches.)
- To many combinations – To mimic the texture of wheat-based baked goods, we have to use a variety of gluten free flours and starches, plus a binder (xanthan gum, guar gum, pixie dust*, etc). Unlike wheat flour, where every all purpose flour is made up of ground wheat, an all purpose gluten free flour can be made up of any combination of flours & starches. Some include bean flours. Some have no binders. So when a recipe calls for “all purpose gluten free flour”, unless a brand is listed, the end results can vary greatly depending on the blend you are using.
- End result – All flours and starches have different nutritional values, different amounts of protein, different tastes, and different weights. The way that the flours and starches are combined changes the texture of the baked goods. A Cinnamon Bun, Bundt Cake, and Cookies will all require different textures and tastes. I don’t know if you could find an all purpose blend that would work well in all applications, and if you could, it doesn’t mean that someone in another state (or country) would have access to that same flour blend.
So, what do I stock?
The flours and starches that I keep on hand at all times are:
- Brown Rice Flour
- White Rice Flour
- Potato Starch (not flour, those two are very different)
- Tapioca Starch/Flour (in this case, starch & flour are the same thing)
- Sorghum Flour (also called Jowar)
- Millet Flour
- Gluten-Free Oats
- Gluten-Free Oat Flour
- Sweet Rice Flour (also called glutinous rice flour)
- Xanthan Gum
Of course, there are many other great gluten-free flours available. The only reason I’ve limited my pantry to the flours mentioned is because those are the ones that I use on a regular basis.
You are welcome to experiment on my recipes using an all purpose gluten free flour blend, however I can not advise you on it since I have not prepared the recipe that way. If you would like to use an all purpose flour blend, here are a few sites that use it in their recipes:
*NOTE: I have not tried using the Pixie Dust mixture, but have heard from many other bakers that it works well. If you have any questions about it, please ask the creator of the recipe, Dr. Jean Layton.
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Great post. A good tip is to read through more than just the recipe posted on a blog to see what that person means by All Purpose Blend. Seems there’s a lot to choose from.Read the comment section as well since many in this gluten free baking community are willing to share their own tips and experiences with subbing in recipes.Also I had to laugh …. I thought Pixie Dust was sarcasm. Learned something new today. 🙂
Jeanine Friesen says
Very true, Kathryn! Some bloggers mention a blend, then list it individually as well. That’s helpful too. Always read through a recipe completely before beginning. 😉
PS ~ I always get a kick out of Nicole Hunn’s disclaimers regarding baking mixes and bean blends. 🙂
Jeanine Friesen says
Haha, yeah, disclaimers are always important, huH? 😉
Well done. It’s a learning curve. I started out with those blends and decided I hated GF baked goods. I have now changed my ways with the help of a few Gluten Free blogging angels, like you. Also, it has to be said, if you have other allergy issues using a prepackaged blend can be a nightmare.
Wonderful post, Jeanine.
Jeanine Friesen says
It is definitely a learning curve! It does get easier when you start to play around a bit, or sometimes just guess. 😉 But you’re right, if you can’t tolerate corn, rice, potato, etc, a preblend is definitely not for you! Good point, Laurel. 🙂
Ouida Lampert says
Jeanine, how do you store your flours? I keep reading that brown rice flour, millet flour, sorghum flour (and buckwheat flour) are prone to going rancid – but mine seem okay out. The brown rice flour keeps going into the refrigerator, and then having to come out because I need the space. Sigh.
Jeanine Friesen says
I know that it is suggested that you store your flours in the fridge or freezer, but I go through mine so quickly, I just store them in air-tight containers in my drawer (pictured above). Another thing to remember is that if you do store it in the fridge or freezer, you have to let it come to room temp before baking with it.
I do store my ground flax seed and any almond flour that I might have in the freezer though.
Hi Jeanine, I’m enjoying your site and user comments. I too have quite a few flour mixes that I’m slow in using up. I’m reworking a few of them a bit at a time.
I really enjoy experiments for the most part. I am a baking professional and have pulled out some hairs with some of them: such as bagels that were edible for about an hour, with okay flavor. After the hour they became hockey pucks.
All of that aside, I keep all of my flours in canning jars which I can then right on with a sharpie marker. Rubbing alcohol will take sharpie off of glass and plastic, a handy thing when you are changing or deleting a flour type.
Thanks for all of your incites!
Jeanine Friesen says
Great tip about the jars, Debbie! I’ve found myself relabeling my containers as things change. 🙂
PS – have you tried my bagel recipe?? 😉 http://www.thebakingbeauties.com/2011/11/gluten-free-bagels.html
Debbie K says
I like to make my own flours as it is hard to find store bought GF flours where I live and if I do find some they only come in packages of 1 cup each.so making is so much fun as a learning product.I do find some nut flours go bad before grain flours.When I make nut flours I find my coconut flour will so bad well before my almond flour does.I guess I will have to make them in the dry season and see what happens,maybe it is the weather making them go bad.I store all my flours in zip locks bags doubled as I do not have room in my fridge.I mix make my flours with grain flours and nuit flours and add cornstarchand xatham gums to make an all purpose flour.I have not had a bad batch of food yet.Touch wood.
Jeanine Friesen says
That’s exactly one of the reasons I don’t bother with preblended flours, it’s just too hard to find anything locally.
Nut flours, coconut flour, ground flax seed, etc, should be stored in the fridge or freezer. They do have a tendency to go rancid quickly.
I have found most recipes that call for an all purpose GF flour blend, I tend to avoid – unless of course they have included a “recipe” to mix that flour blend at the end of that recipe. All too often, I was finding when I tried to bake with the all pupose blends, it would be the typical gluten free issues – falling apart and cracking, couldn’t manipulate the dough, or it was far too much like cake batter to be able to work with. I have found in the past few months I love baking again. I can create such tasty wonderful items again. And I’ve focused on keeping the basics on hand – brown rice, white rice sweet rice, … My list is almost exactly the same as yours. I do have a couple other flours, but use so little of them, I don’t really consider them staples.
Pamela Bagwell says
Katrina – what happened in the last few months to renew your love of baking? I, too, used to love to bake. Key words, used to! Would love to know any tricks you found to instill a new confidence?
Jeanine Friesen says
Pamela, are you having some difficulties that I can help with? I love to hear that people have embraced and enjoy baking gluten-free. I’d love to help any way I can! 🙂
Jeanine Friesen says
Looks like our way of baking is very similar then, Katrina! Glad to hear that you’ve got a love of baking again! 🙂
Has anyone tried the new Robin Hood Gluten Free flour? I am anxiously waiting to try it out on a few things. Christmas Dinner, I hope can have a few gluten free baking items and perhaps making some gravy for my adult daughter that has Celiac disease. Just diagnosed in the last year.
Thank you All for any advice,
Tried this flour in a pie crust, cookies and tarts. Terrible. The texture is gritty and heavy.
Hardly suitable even as a sauce thickener. It’s pretty much a waste of time. Had to throw
out a whole Saskatoon berry pie, which was inedible because of the crust.
That’s what I’ve heard too, Brian. Sorry to hear that, hope you could scrape out those saskatoons and serve over ice cream or something. 🙁
I just bought some before Christmas 2014 to make my daughter, who was coming home for the holidays, some special treats. Believe me they haven’t changed their formula at all. You nailed it gritty/sandy texture and awful taste. I just emailed them as they do have a money back guarantee.
On the hunt for other ideas now.
Ugh, sorry to hear that, Dorothy. Hopefully you will be refunded your money. I’ve heard good things about Cup 4 Cup, but not sure where you’d buy it. I know Sobeys and Superstore both have their own brands, and Bob’s Red Mill now has a 1-to-1 blend as well. Again – that’s why I stick with the individual flours – so many varieties, it’s hard to know what will work and what won’t.
Mrs. T says
I tried the Bob’s Red Mill 1-to-1 over Christmas. For most things, I am like most people here and just keep a variety of flours on hand (having, again, found at the beginning that I needed to make my own blends of flour, but having learned, mostly from you that it’s easier to keep a variety).
However, I bought the 1-to-1 specifically with the idea of being able to substitute it cup-for-cup in my old favorite Christmas cookie recipes. I tried it in two recipes — raspberry-filled shortbread cookies and chocolate butter cookies — and was very pleased with the results.
Later, I tried it in my old favorite focaccia bread recipe and was disappointed. Bottom line, I am going to use this yearly for my Christmas cookies that I’ve been missing. I would say that in my limited trial of it, it works very well for cookies.
So many it’s better for low gluten things, like cookies and muffins, but not for things that require more gluten, like bread. Interesting – thanks for the feedback, Mrs. T. I’ve been wondering how this flour blend behaved.
Hi, I used the Robin Hood gluten free flour for the gluten free chocolate chip cookie recipe they have on their site. I found the flour to have a definite taste and smell. It has sugar beet fibre in it and I’m thinking that is what might give it its unique scent. I myself thought it was ok in the cookies, but I definitely wouldn’t use it for something like pancakes or bread because of the taste. The cookies turned out well and the flavour isn’t that noticeable. I guess I’m just not quite sure what to think about sugar beet fibre.
robin sanders says
hoe long can you keep these flours.
Jeanine Friesen says
It is best to store your gluten free flour in the fridge or freezer, where they can keep for months. I usually just store mine in air-tight containers, since I go through it fairly quickly. If you do store it in the fridge or freezer, be sure it comes to room temperature before baking with it, or the end results won’t be the same.
Help…completely new to gluten free baking and cannot have potato starch or corn anything. What else can I use? How do I know which amounts to use? Is arrowroot interchangeable with potato starch 1:1?
Thanks so much,
Hi Jill. I don’t use arrowroot, so I’m not quite sure of it’s properties, but I found some information on Gluten-Free recipe box I think you’ll find useful. http://glutenfreerecipebox.com/gluten-free-starch-substitute/
Brilliant! Thank you ever so…
Where Do I find Potato Starch ???
I find it locally, or at a health food store, Cheri. But potato FLOUR is NOT the same thing, so don’t bother with that one.
Hi! I’m just starting in gluten free baking. Just wondering, do you know how to make gluten free baking powder? Thanks
Hi Tin, Regular baking powder in Canada does not contain gluten, but you can also make your own by following this recipe: http://thehealthyeatingsite.com/make-your-own-gluten-free-baking-powder/
Hi, I just find your website and also new to gluten free. Yesterday I spent a day at my mother after asking her to help and show me how to make home maid bread since the store bought tasted terrible. My mother doesn’t need to eat without gluten but jump on the occasion to help me out. After searching for info’s on flours to bake with, I discovered the Robin Hood all purpose GF. Hum!.. their you go, no mixing with all sorts of flours sounds simple and straight to the point. It was a disaster.We try 2 different times, thinking we did something wrong. My mother did not understand how a bread could be so difficult to make. Mixing very difficult to do, it dries, cracks..After baking them both, smell and taste was bad. I’m very disappointed, I long for my tuna salad sandwich …The smell of that flour coincides with the taste (awful). I will not attempt the cookie recipe. What I would like to know, if I buy those flours and mix them together, will I get that AWFUL taste again. I am starting to loose faith and dislike baking now. The only great thing I had out of that day, was time with my 74 year old mom. We had to laugh it out in the end but still no solution to simply eat good tasting bread like I used to.
Hi Brigitte! I do not recommend that flour blend, or any other gluten-free flour blend, for the exact reasons you mentioned. I’ve had fabulous results with the recipes I make using individual flours though, and it costs a lot less in the long run than buying the preblended flours.
I know this thread is old but thought I’d comment anyways. I found the Robin Hood GF flour at a local store for $5.99 so decided to give it a try. I made 30 all-spice minicupcakes which turned out ok. It did have some grittiness and was a tad sweet but it wasn’t bad really. I read some reviews beforehand so I added 1 tsp guar gum, an extra 1/4 cup of potato starch and an extra 1/4 tsp baking soda into the mix. I think that helped.
Re: Robin Hood All-Purpose GF flour blend. I also purchased it at a great price and being new to GF baking I thought I had found a goldmine and I would live happily ever gluten-free after. I like to make GF pancakes and waffles (slipping in some nutritious goodies too) for my teenage grandson who has ADHD. I figure it’s a positive way for him to start the day as school can be very trying for him. The words gritty/sandy are very fitting for how they turned out. I have managed to use most of the flour – adding a little bit here and there with other mixes but I had decided to throw the rest out. As a last-ditch effort I decided to make the recipe on the package before doing so – Cranberry Orange Muffins. They turned out really well and are now one of my favourite GF recipes. I add whatever extra nutrients I can into all of my cooking/baking and I especially like doing that with muffins because they can then be breakfast, an in-between meals snack and a lunchtime snack for the grandkids and feeling good that I have control over what goes into them (ie less sugar, and organic and non-GMO products). A nice almost guilt free pleasure that can be made up in advance and frozen. So maybe the RH flour can be a good substitute in recipes where there is a higher liquid content?
You summary of why not to use all purpose mixes is right on!’ I sure could relate to the multiple flour mixes. That was me too! After 35 years of being gluten free and trying all the new products, mixes etc, I am back to Better Hagman’s basic flour mix but I have always used brown rice flour and not white. I have one or two other commercial mixes b/c they are good for certain products or when I am in a mood.
One thing that bugs me about recipes that call for mixes, such as Pamela’s they say or any other gf flour mix. Those mixes already contain xantham gum and or baking powder so how can some substitute work.
I am impressed with your replies. Thank you for making the effort.
You don’t need to publish this, but I wanted to make you aware of one typo – “To many combinations”. It should be ‘Too many combinations”. (the way I remember the difference is To = direction, Too = also, more).
I’m glad to have found your blog, thanks!
Omg, so many typos on my part! The font was too small to read it properly! And it wasn’t meant to be published! So sorry!
Jacquie Sutherland says
Robin Hood recently released a new Gluten-Free All Purpose Flour (after receiving endless feedback that it was awful to bake with) which includes Xanthan Gum! I’d be curious to know your opinion once you have a chance – if you’re willing – to test it out, and if you still felt it required some additions or whether it was improved and didn’t require any add-ins!
I noticed in a few recipes, you use almond flour. What is the substitute for almond flour? My daughter has severe peanut and tree nut allergies, so would like to replace with another gf flour. Thanks!
Jeanine Friesen says
I wish I had an easy sub for almond flour, but there really isn’t one that I know of. I have very few that call for almond flour though, most are a blend of other grains and starches.