Flour Power: Think Beyond Wheat

Mention “flour,” and I think of the stuff made from wheat. But if cooks don’t live in a wheat-cultivating region–or can’t eat wheat products–they rely on flour milled from rice, nuts, beans and other raw ingredients.

flour-power-think-beyond-wheat

Many of those so-called “specialty” products are going mainstream, thanks to the growing ranks of consumers diagnosed with celiac disease (also known as gluten intolerance). The gluten-free market is projected to balloon to $6.6 billion in sales by 2017.

I’m not gluten intolerant, but I appreciate the increased availability of intriguing new ingredients turning up on supermarket shelves, in health-food store bulk bins and, as always, tucked away in ethnic markets.

But there's a caveat to using these flours: The gluten in wheat flour gives baked goods structure, so you can’t simply swap out wheat flour for gluten-free flours in recipes and expect the same results. If you’re gluten intolerant you’d use a blend of gluten-free ingredients (or pick up a box of gluten-free baking mix) to mimic the qualities of wheat flour. Others without intolerance can sub some of the wheat flour in a recipe with one of these specialty flours (The Cook’s Thesaurus has a great guide to subbing specialty for wheat flours).

Here are three types of specialty flours. Please note: these are ideas for cooks like me, who aren’t gluten intolerant but are curious about what these ingredients can bring to our cooking. If you have celiac disease, check out Shauna James Ahern’s blog Gluten-Free Girl and The Chef.

Nut flour

These have a finer texture than nut meals, but they can be used in many recipes that call for nut meal. Almond flour is the most common type, but you’ll also see flour made with hazelnuts and chestnuts. They have a high fat content and can go rancid quickly, so store them in the freezer.

Try it: These flours add deep, nutty flavor and moisture to baked goods. Substitute for up to a quarter of the all-purpose flour. Nut flours also are a tasty way to thicken sauces.

Rice flour

Rice flour can be milled from white, brown, red or any variety of rice, and it has a long tradition throughout Asia, from India to Japan. Brown rice flour has a nutty quality whereas white rice flour is more neutral.

Try it: Rice flour lends baked goods a crumbly texture, which you can use to your advantage–in shortbread, for instance, which should be crumbly, or to create a tender crumb in cakes. Substitute rice flour for a quarter of the all-purpose flour in baked goods. Use starchy Japanese mochiko (made from glutinous short-grain rice) as a thickener.

Bean flour

Visit any Indian market and you’ll be blown away by the variety of flours milled from beans and other legumes, which are used in baked goods. These days, you’ll find chickpea (garbanzo bean) flour in many supermarkets, too. Bean flours add and earthy, well, beany flavor to food.

Try it: I used chickpea flour to make this socca, a Provencal street-food snack. It’s also a key ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking for falafel and is ideal for making a super-smooth hummus. As with nut flour, bean flour is a terrific to thicken a sauce. Robin Asbell's terrific new book, Big Vegan, uses chickpea flour in a number of creative ways, including a sauce for terrific vegan mac ‘n' “cheese.”

There’s a whole world of wheat flours, too, and we’ve tackled in The Whole Story on Whole Wheat Flours. In the meantime, try this simple socca. Viva la France!

Share The Love!

NOURISH-EVOLUTION-recipe-download-img

Lorem ipsum dolor

Consectetur Adipiscing Elit, Sed Do Eiusmod Tempor Incididunt Ut Labore Et Dolore Magna Aliqua.

Hey there ... I'm Lia Huber

Hey there ... I'm Lia Huber

My mission is to inspire and equip you to live a richer life through real food by becoming a more competent, confident home cook.


I’m the author of Nourished: A Memoir of Food, Faith, and Enduring Love, founder and CEO of Nourish Evolution, and the creator of Cook the Seasons, Home Cooking School, and the Real Food Reset, and I empower intentional women to cook in a way that brings them (and their families) joy, health, and ease.

Making the shift from processed food to real food doesn’t happen overnight. It’s an evolution that occurs over time, with effort, intention, and belief. And it will change the course of your life. Are you ready to take the first step? I’m so glad you’re here … and I’m honored to be with you on the journey to becoming nourished!

Nourish Evolution video

Watch the video and download the customized action plan to take the first step on your nourish evolution now.

Watch the video and download my customized action plan to take the first step on your nourish evolution now.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE:

Sticky-Sweet Sugar Snap Peas

This simple side dish adds Asian flair to any meal. These sugar snaps are delicious hot out of the pan or at room temperature for lunch the next day. Mirin is a sweet wine made from glutinous rice that’s a staple of Japanese cooking.

Read More

Radish and Feta Flatbread

This is based on a bar snack Alison spotted while, well, sitting at the counter at a local wine bar watching the bartender turn out quick pizza-like snacks with lavash (a type of Armenian flatbread), a variety of toppings and a toaster oven.

Read More

Sauteed Spring Mushrooms

Use any combo of wild spring mushrooms you find for this simple saute—porcini, shiitake, oyster, morel, hedgehog, etc. Or add creminis (brown mushrooms) to the mix.

Read More

Privacy Policy

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Proin vel ullamcorper nisl. Praesent tincidunt nibh sit amet sagittis porttitor. Class aptent taciti sociosqu ad litora torquent per conubia nostra, per inceptos himenaeos. Maecenas euismod ullamcorper libero, quis sollicitudin metus ullamcorper et. Curabitur elementum tincidunt fringilla. Vestibulum a ligula vitae dui rutrum consectetur non nec quam. Aliquam gravida ornare erat, sit amet lobortis massa sagittis pellentesque. Sed dapibus sed est nec blandit. Curabitur tellus felis, porttitor et odio nec, elementum aliquam sem. Nam ut dui enim. Nullam ac ornare odio. Nullam pulvinar purus porttitor dolor gravida lobortis.

Ut pulvinar pulvinar neque ut euismod. In tempor placerat risus, ut tempus eros congue vel. Ut venenatis ultricies magna, porta hendrerit dolor posuere ut. In sit amet tempor ante, eget lacinia ipsum. Nunc in condimentum ex. Sed sit amet urna ultrices, euismod urna vitae, sollicitudin orci. Quisque non justo convallis, scelerisque nulla sit amet, tincidunt augue.