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Ask The Experts...

Ask the Experts...About Baking with Non-Wheat Flours

Q: I would like to eat a wider variety of grains in my diet. How much non-wheat flour can be substituted in baking recipes?

Non-gluten flour/meal ingredients:

(For celiac sprue patients needing special products or handling to ensure gluten-free, see the glossary listing for additional resources.)

Corn flour or meal
Flaxseed meal
Garbanzo (chick pea); other beans/lentils
Guar or Xanthan gum
Potato starch and flour
Rice - brown and white

Source: Bob's Red Mill, 800/553-2258

Dear Baker: Eating a variety of grain foods is a good nutrition practice* and home baking provides one of the best places to incorporate more grain variety. Realize each grains' flour will have varying levels of gluten and its own flavor and texture to contribute.

Wheat flour is the base of most recipes for a good reason. Its greater level of gluten provides dough or batter with structure, expandability, and other properties. In most products, some, or the majority, of the flour needs to be wheat flour for good results. However, other grain flours or meals are delicious and nourishing mixed with it.

To use a variety of grain flours in baking:
In a recipe developed for using all-purpose, whole-wheat, or bread flour, substitute between 15 percent and 25 percent of the flour with a non-wheat flour. Measure 2 tablespoons to ¼ cup non-wheat flour in the bottom of the dry measuring cup, complete the cup with all-purpose (or other wheat-based flour) and level off.

Of course, using low- or non-gluten flours works best in products that don't rely on gluten development for volume and structure in the first place; for example, quick breads such as muffins, pancakes or waffles, scones, cookies, or pastry crust. These may allow more non-wheat flour to be used but, with yeast breads, the 15 percent to 25 percent levels will give you the best results.

Keep flavor in mind. Some non-wheat grain flours are very assertive and have coarser textures. Some are better in sweet products, some in savory.

*See 2000 Dietary Guidelines for Americans (www.ars.usda.gov/dgac/)