Friday, August 5, 2011

Gluten-Free Brown Rice Flour Mix

In measurements:
  • 2 C brown rice flour (extra finely ground)
  • 2/3 C potato starch (not potato flour)
  • 1/3 C tapioca flour
For a larger batch:
  • 6 C brown rice flour (extra finely ground)
  • 2 C potato starch (not potato flour)
  • 1 C tapioca flour
1. Combine all ingredients, based on the measurements for the batch size you're making. Store in airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Robyn's notes: this recipe comes from a book by the Food Philosopher. She stresses that it's very important to use an extra finely ground brown rice flour (not just any grind), or the baked goods will be gritty, heavy, and/or crumbly. She recommends Authentic Foods brand, and mentions that they now make this entire recipe already prepared under the name of GF Classical Blend. It can be purchased online, and the price looks reasonable, but part of my focus here was to make and test the recipe based on what was available at my local chain grocery store (I didn't even go to the Trader Joe's in town or the nearest Whole Foods, because I know they're not available to everybody). So I'm using Bob's Red Mill brown rice flour, which I bought for just over $3 at Nob Hill (Raley's). It's true that I can feel a bit of grittiness between my fingers, but that may be partly because I was forewarned. Once I've cooked with it, I'll add my notes to this entry and give this flour a star rating.

Remember that when measuring flour, especially gluten-free flours, not to dip the measuring cup directly into the flour. Spoon the flour into the measuring cup, shake it gently, and use the flat part of a table knife to level it off.

Xanthan Gum

A white powdery flour, produced from the fermentation of corn sugar, which is used as a thickener or binding agent for dressings, gravies, and sauces. It's an ideal substitute for gluten in gluten-free baking.

Unlike other gums, it is stable under a wide range of temperatures. Most recipes call for very small amounts, which allows a small bag of xanthan gum to go a long way.

Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Tapioca Flour

Derived from the root of the cassava plant, this flour is very light, powdery, smooth, and tasteless. It can be used as a thickening agent, as well as combined with other gluten-free flours to make delicious baked goods. It thickens quickly and at a relatively low temperature, which makes it a good choice for correcting a sauce just before serving it.

Tapioca flour and tapioca starch are two names for the same product.

Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Potato Starch

A flour derived from cooked potatoes that are crushed and washed until just the starch remains. The starch is then dried to a powder.

Potato Starch is used as a thickener for sauces, soups, and stews. Potato starch tolerates higher temperatures than cornstarch when used as a thickener. It's a natural way to add moistness to many baked goods.

Unlike cornstarch or other grain-based foods, it is permitted for use during Passover.

Potato starch and potato flour are not interchangeable.

Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.

Rice Flour

Polished rice, with the hulls removed and the raw rice ground very finely, becomes rice flour. It can be made from either white rice or brown rice. Rice flour has a similar texture to cornflour and can be used as a thickening agent, mixed with a little water, milk, or stock according to the recipe, and added while the dish is still hot and still cooking. It is a particularly good substitute for people who are intolerant of wheat.

In Asia, it is widely used for making rice papers and the dough for dumplings. It is often used to make sticky Asian cakes and sweets. Rice flour can be combined with wheat flour to make bread, but this produces a crumbly loaf.

Glutinous rice flour is a separate product and is usually labelled rice powder. It is made from finely ground glutinous rice, or "sweet rice" and is principally starch, plus a small amount of protein. The starch is waxy and makes an excellent gel.

Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place.