Non-Wheat Flour and Grains

Copyright © 2000 Sarah Phillips Sarah Phillips, Inc. All rights reserved.
Sarah's Gluten-Free Yellow Butter Cake RecipeNon-wheat flour is the product obtained by grinding grains, nuts, legumes, and some fruits and vegetables. Some grains contain gluten, while others do not; those that don't can be used in Gluten Free Baking. Non-wheat flour is not new at all; most have been around since ancient times, nourishing entire civilizations. High in protein, a good source of fiber, low in calories and many containing little or not fat per serving, many non-wheat products offer a nutritional boost to any baked good.

Gluten Free (GF) means a product is free from wheat, rye, barley and other gluten-containing grains and their derivatives. Wheat free, however, does not mean a product is definitely gluten free. If truly gluten-free, make sure it has been processed and packaged in a gluten-free facility to avoid contamination. Always read ingredient labels carefully. See also GLUTEN-FREE INGREDIENTS

Many are highly perishable and go rancid quickly. They should be stored in an airtight container, either refrigerated or kept frozen.
 
Milled Grain Types:

  • Hammer-milled: In this milling process high-velocity steel hammerheads are used to powder whole grains at ultra-high speed. The method generates a great deal of heat and can destroy nutrients.
  • Roller-milled: In this milling process steel rollers or cylinders are used to grind grains at high speed. A great deal of heat is generated, causing nutrients to be destroyed.
  • Stone-milled (stone-ground): This milling process employs a pair of ridged stones to crush and grind grains slowly, without creating heat that can destroy nutrients. The ground flour is sifted to catch larger particles of bran and germ, which are then ground again and mixed with the rest of the flour to produce more nutritious flour. 

TYPES
NOTE: (GF) indicates gluten free


Flourless Chocolate Almond Cake or Torta Caprese RecipeALMOND FLOUR OR MEAL (GF): is made by grinding blanched (dark skin removed) almonds. It's a high fiber, high fat flour that adds moisture, flavor, texture and nutritional value to gluten free baked goods. See also NUT FLOUR.

AMARANTH (GF): Is from a small seed that has a strong, sweet, spicy, nutty-flavor simiiar to graham crackers without the sweetness. Best used as an accent flour in waffles, pancakes, cookies or muffins. Amaranth is 15 to 18 percent protein and very rich in iron.

ARROWROOT FLOUR (GF) is a powdery white starch ground from the root of the tropical herb Maranta. It is an excellent thickener in sauces and gravies, adds body and texture to gluten free backed goods and works well as a batter coating or breading for chicken, fish and vegetables. It can be used in place of cornstarch in recipes if you're sensitive to corn. Substitute cup for cup.   

BARLEY:
Low in gluten and with a sweet nutty flavor. Mixed with wheat flour, it gives bread a cake-like texture.

BEAN FLOUR (GF) is made from chickpea (See CHICKPEA FLOUR), garbanzo (See GARBANZO FLOUR) and fava beans, are creamy-colored and have a sweet, bean flavor. When using this flour in recipes, it tends to have a slightly bitter taste, so some blend it in with sorghum flour. Bean flours make great savory baked goods. Some manufacturers heat-treat bean flour during processing to make the flour more digestible, but some people do experience digestive distress when using bean flours. Use bean flours as a portion- about 25% of total flour ratio in all purpose gluten free flour mixes and recipes. Bean flours can also be used to replace brown rice in gluten free recipes.

BROWN RICE FLOUR (GF) - See RICE FLOUR

BUCKWHEAT: It is not from wheat but the fruit seed of a plant related to rhubarb, but contains a low amount of gluten. Most commonly used combined with wheat flour for pancakes, waffles, blintzes, and in pastas.  High in fiber, iron and B vitamins.  It contains high proportion of essential amino acids; close to being a complete protein.

BULGUR:
Bulgur, for all practical purposes, is considered a whole grain, but as much as 5 percent of the bran may be removed in the processing. Bulgur is made by soaking and cooking the whole wheat kernel, drying it, removing some of the bran and cracking the remaining kernel into small pieces. Because it is a par-cooked product, bulgur is a convenience food, and in some recipes requires only the addition of hot water or broth for preparation. Bulgur makes an excellent cereal, salad, side-dish or additive to breads, soups and casseroles.

CHESTNUT FLOUR (GF): is used primarily in Italian and Hungarian cake and pastry making. The chestnut flour used in Italian cakes and pancakes is made from pulverized raw chestnuts, whereas in Hungary it is made from dried chestnuts.  

CHIA SEED FLOUR (GF): They are milled into flour and used for baking. According to Nuchia Foods, the manufacturer of Chia Seed Flour (a blend of milled chia seeds and organic brown rice flour), their product performs as a 1:1 replacement for wheat flour.

CHICKPEA (GF) : See GARBANZO FLOUR

COCONUT FLOUR (GF): can be used in small quantities in gluten free recipes to increase fiber content. It is almost 60% fiber, is high in fats and lower in carbohydrates than other GF flours. Coconut flour works best in recipes that include eggs and has a short shelf life. Refrigerate baked goods made with coconut flour to prevent spoilage.

Healthy Oven Pumpkin-Orange Cornbread RecipeCORNMEAL (GF): Cornmeal is used to make cornbread, muffins and other baked and fried foods that include some wheat flour and leavening. It is made from ground corn. There are several varieties of cornmeal: white, blue and yellow and different grinds. It can be added to recipes, such as soft breads, muffins, doughnuts and pancakes. American cornbread is a good example. Southwestern Native Americans have been using colored cornmeal for centuries.

  • Blue Corn - Simply a variety of flint corn with a dark bluish to red color that when ground produces blue color flour. Higher in protein than yellow cornmeal. Turns lavender color when cooked and has a superior flavor to yellow or white. The corn has a coarser texture and a nuttier flavor than other varieties of corn used for flour. Blue corn is grown predominantly in the Southwestern part of the United States. It has been a staple food of the Pueblo Indians dating back centuries. The most popular color among the Pueblo Indians, the Navajos and the Hopis. The primary use for blue corn is to produce blue corn tortillas, but can be used in pancakes, muffins and corn tortillas. It is available in some supermarkets and specialty stores. Tortillas made from blue corn flour are frequently denser than a white corn tortilla, but I find that it has more flavor.  It is also used to produce Nixtamal which in turn is used for tamales, tortillas, or pozole. Far less of this corn is commercially harvested for a variety of reasons.  The corn is simply not as hearty as 'dent' corn varieties.  It frequently produces multiple stalks that fall over and cause problems with harvesting equipment and in general produces a lower yield.
  • Corn Husks - The outside sheath that covers a cob of corn.  The husks can be used fresh or dried. Normally the dried husks are soaked and used to wrap foods such as tamales. 
  • Flint Corn - Called flint because of it's dense, hard exterior. This is also referred to as Indian corn.  Both red and blue corn, as well as popping corn is types of flint corn. This type of corn is primarily used for animal food. 
  • Grits - Similar to polenta, this is a staple dish of the American south, consisting simply of coarsely ground corn.  They are easy to prepare by either baking or boiling them with water or milk. The very finest-ground corn (even finer than the fine-ground grits) is cornmeal. Grits can be either white or yellow, depending on the corn variety used. Cornmeal can be used instead, but is considerably finer and will give you a dish with a much smoother texture than grits. Polenta and grits can be substituted for each other with comparable results, though polenta is a more refined, slightly finer product than grits. Regular, quick, and instant grits are all widely available. Use regular grits when you are eating the grits as a dish in and of itself. Quick grits are an acceptable substitute, and are often preferable when baking with grits. Avoid instant grits.
  • Lemon Raspberry Polenta Cake Recipe TutorialHominy - Essentially it is the same as nixtamal. Dried field corn that has had the hull and germ removed. The fresh version bears little resemblance to the canned product.  Hominy is used to make traditional Mexican dishes such as Pozole (soup). It can also be dried and ground and used for hominy grits. Hominy grits are grits made the traditional way: from hominy corn, which is corn that has been treated with an alkali solution to remove the hull.
  • Maize - From the American Native Indian word, mahiz. This is the term the Europeans gave "corn". 
  • Masa - Masa is the Mexican word for "dough".  It refers to the corn dough used to make tortillas, tamales, as well as other traditional Mexican dishes. 
  • Masa Harina - Is "dough flour".  The fresh masa is force-dried and ground into a fine powder.  It may then be reconstituted with water or other liquids and used to make tortillas. 
  • Nixtamal (nixtamalado) -  Dried maize which has been lime treated and partially cooked.  Available in Mexican grocery stores.  This can be used to grind and make tamales or tortillas, or used for hominy or pozole. 
  • Polenta - See Yellow or white cornmeal  
  • Red Corn - Another type of Flint or Indian corn. Occasionally used to make flour for tortillas.  Normally used for animal feed. 
  • Yellow Corn: Contains germ and fibrous bran. Rich "buttery" flavor. Use for polenta, corn bread and muffins. from gourmetslueth.com 

CORN FLOUR (GF): There is also corn flour product in the US. It is used to flavor baked goods and adds nutrition. It is gluten and wheat-free. It's the finest grade of cornmeal. Made from flour corns, it contains very little protein and is practically pure starch, making it a good thickener. It also contains fat and fiber, while cornstarch does not. 

Gluten-Free Fresh Strawberry Roulade or Jelly Roll Cake RecipeCORNSTARCH (GF): is a starch made from grain and is similar in usage to sweet rice flour as a thickening agent. It also stabilizes liquid proteins when they're heated, staving off excessive shrinkage and contraction. Cornstarch helps to prevent eggs from curdling—certainly a helpful contribution to make to a custard and second, it causes the heat to be transmitted more evenly throughout the custard; this helps to take care of the overcooked outer ring when making a custard pie. In cakes, cookies and pastries, cornstarch is often mixed with flour to produce more tender baked goods. Cornstarch is used as an ingredient when substituting cake flour.

Cornstarch is manufactured by soaking the whole maize grain, milling it coarsely to remove the germ and hull and grinding, sieving, and centrifuging the remainder to separate the seed proteins. The resulting starch is washed, dried and reground into a fine powder resulting in single granules. Choose organic cornstarch to avoid genetically modified corn. It does not contain fat or fiber. Close the package tightly and store in a dry place, where may be stored indefinitely.

Question: I have a problem with cornstarch thickened sauces thinning. What is the cause?
SARAH SAYS: Go to Thickeners - Cornstarch for information about Problems and Solutions. See also Go to THICKENERS - HOW TO USE CORNSTARCH
 
Question: What is the difference between corn starch and corn flour? Can you substitute one for another? Cornstarch is not available around here. Will appreciate your advice.
SARAH SAYS: To clarify things, there are three products marketed in the United States. They are all made from maize or corn:
From a look at the nutritionals, you can tell that cornstarch and corn flour are different products.  
Nutritional Information for Cornstarch: Serving Size 1 Tbsp(8g) x 4 = 1/4 cup
Servings Per Container 77.00
Calories 30.00
Calories from Fat 0.00
Total Fat 0.00g
Saturated Fat 0.00g
Cholesterol 0.00mg
Sodium 0.00mg
Total Carbohydrate 7.00g (>>>>> x 4 = 28g
Dietary Fiber 0.00g
Sugars 0.00g
Protein 0.00g
Ingredients cornstarch

Nutritional Information for Corn Flour: Serving Size 1/4 cup(29g)
Servings Per Container 23.00
Calories 106.00
Calories from Fat 10.00
Total Fat 1.00g
Saturated Fat 0.00g
Cholesterol 0.00mg
Sodium 2.00mg
Total Carbohydrate 22.00g
Dietary Fiber 4.00g
Sugars 0.00g
Protein 2.00g
Ingredients Whole grain corn

DIASTATIC BARLEY MALT POWDER: (See DOUGH ENHANCERS - BREAD) An all-natural, barley-based product that improves both the flavor and appearance of bread. 

GARBANZO (CHICKPEA) (GF): is a high protein/fiber flour that adds moisture, good texture and nutritional quality to gluten free recipes. Garbanzo bean flour is also blended with fava bean flour to make "garfava" bean flour. These products can be used interchangeably in flour mixes and recipes.

FLAX SEED MEAL (GF): Flaxseed Meal = Flaxseed Flour = Ground Flaxseeds. If you want to make your own, you can grind whole flax seeds in a clean coffee grinder. It goes rancid quickly after grinding. It is best to grind just before use. Flax seeds are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, and a sprinkle of flaxseed is an easy (and delicious) way to increase your daily fiber. It is used in gluten-free baking. See also Gluten-free Ingredients

GUAR GUM POWDER (GF): is derived from the seed of a legume and has many times the thickening power of cornstarch. Using too much can produce a heavy or stringy texture in baked goods, so measure carefully. It is used in gluten-free baking. See also Gluten-free Ingredients.

LECITHIN, GRANULAR: Cut back on a tablespoon or two of fat and substitute it with an all-natural, soy-bean based add-in. However, any time you start substituting fat with something else, the recipe is automatically altered in both texture and flavor.

LECITHIN, LIQUID: is a soy derivative (but is also found in egg yolks) and acts as an emulsifier in butter cake batter. It makes cakes slightly higher and more moist, but slightly dulls its buttery flavor. If making a butter cake 3 to 4 days in advance, to the eggs add 1/2 teaspoon per 2 to 2 1/2 cups of flour. Store it in the refrigerator; if it has an off-smell or smells rancid, do not use it.

MALT FLOUR: This flour is malted barley that has been dehulled and ground. Because it is rich in alpha amylase it increases the diastatic activity of wheat flour. The increases in diastatic activity will make yeast food more available.

MILLET FLOUR (GF) has a nutty flavor and is made from the most alkaline and easily digestible grain. A staple in Asian, North African and Indian recipes.

MONTINA (GF): Montina®, is a registered product, developed at the University of Montana. It is milled from Indian ricegrass, not a true rice, is a tan-colored flour with brown flecks, high in protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals. It can be used to replace a portion of other gluten free flours in most recipes to improve texture and nutritional quality.

Gluten-free Linzer Blossom Cookies Recipe TutorialNUT FLOURS (GF): Nut flours are high in protein and come in almond (See ALMOND FLOUR), hazelnut (See HAZELNUT FLOUR), and others. When used in small amounts, they add flavor and texture to a recipe. They also make delicious coatings for chicken, fish or vegetables. Nut flours can also be used to replace powdered milk in some recipes, making them a useful, dairy-free alternative ingredient. You need to experiment in adding in the nut flours to your recipes--you can't use 100% nut flour because it does not have gluten-forming proteins. When using, keep in 3/4 of the white flour, and only substitute the remaining 1/4 with the nut flour. Nut flour goes rancid quickly due to its high oil content, so keep it frozen in an airtight bag. No need to thaw before using. To make nut flour, pulse whole (blanched) nuts in a food processor fitted with a steel blade or coffee mill.

OATS: Which is best for baking, quick or old fashioned? These oats can be used interchangeably in most recipes -- it just depends upon the results you are looking for. If you want something that looks very whole grain and is very chewy, you'll want to use old fashioned. On the other hand, quick oats are cut smaller and are less noticeable in the recipe.

  • Flaked, rolled or as meal, oats add fiber and texture to baking recipes. Store the oats in an airtight container or freezer bag. There is no need to thaw the oats before using as they will remain free flowing.
  • Oat Bran: Oat bran is the outer casing of the oat. It contains soluble fiber, which can help lower blood cholesterol levels when eaten as part of a low-cholesterol diet. Add oat bran to muffins or bread. Use as a coating for chicken and seafood.
  • Oat Flour: has a relatively high protein content, 17 percent, but does not form gluten. Oat flour can be substituted for as much as 1/3 of wheat flour in bread.
  • Old Fashioned Oatmeal: The only difference between this and quick-cooking oatmeal, is that quick cooking is cut into smaller pieces and rolled to flatten them, so that it cooks a little faster. You can pulse the old-fashioned oatmeal in the food processor to get smaller pieces so that it's just like the quick cooking oatmeal. Just one cup of cooked old-fashioned oatmeal gives you 4 grams of total fiber.
  • Quick-cooking Oatmeal: Perfect for using in baking recipes. (Don't use instant oats, which have been pressed even more finely.) The oat flakes in this type of oatmeal have been pressed more finely than old-fashioned, regular oats, and cook in a shorter time.  Their fineness gives a nice oat taste without bulking up the dough, which can happen with regular oats.
  • Instant Oatmeal: Hot water is added and they instantly rehydrate.
  • Colloidal Oats: Oats that are ground into a very fine powder. Colloidal oats are typically used in health and beauty aids such as oatmeal baths, moisturizers and many facial scrubs and masks.
  • Rolled Oats: Rolled oats are whole oat groats that are rolled to flatten them into an oat flake. Old fashioned, quick and instant oats are all rolled oats. However, Instant Quaker oats are not recommended for use in recipes unless specified in the recipe.

SARAH SAYS: Oats can be eaten without cooking. For example, there are a number of no-bake cookies containing oats that are very popular. However, because some individuals have more sensitive digestive tracts, it is a good idea to introduce raw oats to your diet slowly and to drink some fluids when eating the oats.

Love-ly Lace Cookie Heart Pops RecipeOATS (GF) There are gluten-free oats and oat products available.
NOTE: The use of oats in gluten free diets is controversial. Cross-contamination with gluten is common in traditional oat products. The Gluten Intolerance Group®, the Celiac Disease Foundation and the Canadian Celiac Association approve the use of moderate amounts of "Certified Gluten Free Oats" but the Celiac Sprue Association recommends that oats be avoided. If you plan to use certified gluten free oats, start by using small quantities to make sure that you can tolerant them.

POTATO STARCH / POTATO STARCH FLOUR / POTATO FLOUR (GF): You will see Potato Starch also referred to as Potato Starch Flour or Potato Flour; potato starch is 100 percent starch, whereas potato flour is about 85 percent starch, the rest being largely fiber, protein, fat, and sugar. Potato starch is pure white, while potato flour is yellowish, having traces of color and flavor from the potato.

Potato starch is used as a thickening agent for soups and gravies, and does a better job at thickening fruit pies than potato flour, which tends to clump and turn opaque, rather than clear.
SARAH SAYS: However, when making pies, I recommend using Instant Tapioca as a substitute because it works better, and is easier to find. Just pulse it in a food mill to get a fine, powdery texture that will dissolve readily in the pie.

Potato flour is a moist, heavy flour- use it in small quantities in flour mixes and recipes for gluten free breads. It used in combination with other flours because it has no gluten and a mild potato taste. In a pinch, Potato Starch can be used as a substitute for cornstarch or tapioca flour in a pinch.

QUINOA FLOUR (GF): is from ground quinoa seeds. High in protein and minerals with a light texture, it is great in baked goods with chocolate or bold flavors. It has a slightly bitter taste and experts suggest using no more than 1.3 part in baking mixes created from gluten-free flours.

RICE FLOUR (GF): has about 6.5 - 7.0 protein content, but does not form gluten. For people who do not tolerate gluten, rice flour is an acceptable substitute in this type of baking. If you can tolerate wheat, substitute no more than 1/4 to 1/3 of the regular flour in a recipe.
Brown rice flour is milled from unpolished brown rice and has a higher nutrient value than white rice flour. Best when combined with several other flours to avoid a grainy texture in the finished product.
Sweet rice flour is often used as a thickening agent and is useful in baking tender sweets, pies, cakes and lighter bread products.
White rice flour is milled from polished white rice and is best combined with several other flours to avoid the grainy texture of rice flour alone.

RYE FLOUR: Rye Flour is milled from 100% whole rye. It is graded or labeled as different types, based on the degree of bran removal or purification during milling. The greater the bran removal in milling the lighter in color, lower in protein and dietary fiber and the blander in flavor. There is cracked rye, white to medium rye flours, pumpernickel, the coarsest rye meal. Rye berries can be used like wheat berries. Using rye flour yields baked goods that are moist and dense, with a slightly sour flavor. It is often used in combination with wheat flour (bread flour or all-purpose). The wheat flour is included in order to make a gluten structure strong enough to form a framework that will hold the gases released from the yeast.

  • White rye flour can be successfully substituted for 40 percent of wheat flour in a recipe without loss of volume. It is the purest of the rye flours and the only one that is sometimes bleached. It has very little rye flavor and is milled from the very center of the endosperm.
  • Medium rye flour is milled from the entire rye endosperm. It is so much darker and flavorful than white rye. It contains 9 to 11% protein. 
  • Dark rye flour is commonly thought of as a whole grain flour because it does not contain ample bran. It intensely flavored, contains between 14 to 17% protein, and is milled from the outer portions of the endosperm. Medium and dark rye should be limited to 30 percent and 20 percent, respectively, of the total flour amount.
  • Rye meal (pumpernickel) is coarse, milled from the entire rye kernel in a range of different particle sizes. 

Rye flour also has a much higher percentage of carbohydrate gums, which make rye dough stickier to work with than wheat, so don't add extra flour when kneading. On the up side, the substances which yield the sugars in rye that the yeast feeds on, break down very easily so they usually ferment well. So, you may find it included in pre-ferments or sourdough starter recipes. 

SALBA (GF): Salba is the commercial name for a variety of chia. It has a white seed coat, hence the name Salvia hispanica, var Alba.

SORGHUM FLOUR (GF): A grain commonly used in Africa and India for flat breads and chapattis. It is also used in gluten-free baking because it's close in texture and taste to wheat flour. It makes great waffles and pancakes. It also cuts the somewhat bitter taste of bean flour and is excellent in bean flour mixtures.

SOY FLOUR (GF): is high in protein and fat with a nutty flavor. Soy flour can be used to replace no more than 1/4 to 1/3 of the wheat flour in bread, rolls, cakes and cookies, and to enrich bread and macaroni. Also helps to tenderize baked goods. Soy flour is sensitive to light and heat and is not recommended for sautéing or frying. Check your supermarket and natural foods store for defatted soy flour because it has a better nutritional profile than regular soy. Other kinds of soy flour you might find are low-fat or full-fat. Soy flour with fat could develop "off" flavors if stored at room temperature, so keep it well wrapped in the refrigerator or freezer.

SOYA (GF): Very versatile and nutritious. When milled, becomes very high in protein. A small amount added to wheat flour can help give bread a white color and gives a boost of nutrition to the dough.

SPELT: An ancient grain gaining popularity today as a wheat substitute. Similar to high protein wheat. If substituting for wheat in a recipe, reduce the liquid by 25%. Do not over knead; gluten is sensitive.

SWEET RICE FLOUR (GF) - See RICE FLOUR

TAPIOCA STARCH / TAPIOCA FLOUR (GF) is light, velvety flour from the cassava root. It lightens gluten-free baked goods and gives them a texture more like that of wheat flour. It is a flavorless, high carbohydrate starch and, like other starches used in gluten free cooking, it is very low in nutrients. It's especially good in pizza crusts when used in equal parts with either white or brown rice flour. It is also used in batter coatings and breading recipes for crisp, golden crusts. See also Tapioca, Thickener.

TEFF (GF): is from an ancient grain and has a sweet malty flavor; it is particularly good in foods with bold or savory flavors. Use in quick breads, pancakes, and waffles. For leavened bread, use 5 parts wheat flour to 1 part teff. It's somewhat mucilaginous, encouraging cohesion in gluten-free baked goods and can be used to Use to thicken stews, soups and sauces. The whole seeds, can be soaked and added to recipes. Rich in calcium, protein and iron, teff improves the nutritional quality of foods.

TRITICALE FLOUR: is a hybrid of wheat and rye. It has an average protein content higher than that of wheat flour. In yeast bread dough, triticale flour has better handling properties than rye flour because it will form gluten, but does not handle as well as wheat dough. For a good quality dough, ferment yeast dough made with triticale flour for a shorter period than wheat flour dough.

WHITE RICE FLOUR (GF) - See RICE FLOUR 

XANTHAN GUM (GF)