There are lots of gluten free flours available, which means you can be creative and decide which tastes and textures are most appealing to you. But the following three flours have won over my taste buds:

  • Sorghum flour
  • Tapioca flour/starch
  • Cornstarch (or potato starch)

I can modify most non-gluten-free recipes by substituting a combination of these three flours and adding a little xanthan gum and a little extra baking powder (if called for). For most baked goods that have a delicate crumb texture, like cakes and quick breads, I generally use 2 parts sorghum, 1 part tapioca, and 1 part cornstarch.

For chewy textures, like bagels, French bread and pizza crust, I skip the cornstarch, which adds lightness, and generally use 1 part sorghum and 1 part tapioca.

As for rice flours…I don’t want to be too harsh, but they are sort of tasteless and very dense. When I use them, it is usually for cookies, which need a good chew and which have a lot of butter and sugar for taste. For shortbread, sweet rice flour is great.

Xanthan gum sort of does what gluten does in most baked goods: it keeps things from falling apart. My general rule of thumb for the addition of xanthan gum to recipes is 1 tsp xanthan per cup of flour for yeast breads, and 1/2 tsp xanthan per cup of flour for cakes and most other baked goods.

Bob’s Red Mill sells sorghum, tapioca, cornstarch and xanthan gum at many health food stores (even some Walmarts!) that is certified gluten-free. If you have an ethnic grocery store nearby, you might be able to find Goya brand tapioca starch or an Indian brand of sorghum flour (it may be labeled Juwar/Jowar flour) for pretty reasonable prices.  You do need to exercise caution, however, when using brands of flour that are not certified gluten-free as there may be cross-contamination issues. Also, please read my note about tapioca flour.

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