Tuesday, April 14, 2015

An Update on Off-the-Shelf Gluten-Free Flour Blends

I often choose off-the-shelf flour blends for my allergen-free and gluten-free baking. After all, they are convenient and easy to use. But not all flour blends are equal – in fact, they vary considerably in performance and taste. In my first book, Learning to Bake Allergen-Free, I suggested the use of these blends and gave the run-down on which I preferred at that time. But the landscape has changed and it’s time for an update.

There are both new flour blends to consider as well as changes to some of the flour blends. Nevertheless, my list of favorites hasn’t changed too much.

What I considered in making this list was performance, consistency, and taste. I did not consider cost. Why not? Well, with gluten-free flour blends (as with many things) you get what you pay for. Even flour blends that appear to have the same ingredients can vary considerably. The truth is, the better performing gluten-free flour blends tend to be expensive.

Here are my picks:


Best all around: King Arthur Flour Gluten Free Multi-purpose Flour. I find that most gluten-free flour blends that claim to be “all purpose” are not always good for all types of baked goods. This one (in my opinion) is the exception, and gets the gold medal for consistency!

Best for pizza crust and bread:
GF Jules Gluten Free Flour. If you are looking for the flour blend created by the one and only Jules Shepard, this is the flour blend to use. This flour blend pick is what I now use in place of Jules Gluten Free All Purpose Flour. It’s a great one to have on the shelf!

Best for cookies and pie crust:
Authentic Foods Multi Blend Gluten Free Flour. If I’m reaching for an off-the-shelf blend to go on a pie-making binge and I don’t want to stop and mix my own flour blends in between batches, this is the flour blend I use.

Best for muffins and cakes:
King Arthur Flour Gluten Free Whole Grain Flour Blend. This flour blend is the best-kept secret in the world of gluten-free baking. It comes in a brown paper bag (sealed inside) with the King Arthur Flour label and I’ve only been able to find it on the King Arthur Flour website and in their store in Vermont. Nevertheless, it’s worth every penny. Love this blend!!

Honorable mentions:
Pamela’s All-Purpose Gluten Free Flour and Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking. The first of these is new to the world of gluten-free flour blends since the writing of Learning to Bake Allergen-Free, while the latter (uniquely based on bean flours) continues to make my list. In both cases these flour blends (while gluten-free) may not be suitable for some with food allergies due to shared facilities and shared equipment. I continue to prefer this Bob’s Red Mill Flour Blend to the newer Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free 1 to 1 Baking Flour, recently reviewed here.

No longer recommended:
Namaste Perfect Flour Blend. When I was developing recipes for Learning to Bake Allergen-Free this was one of my favorites. Since that time I have had too many inconsistent batches (usually resulting in baked goods that seem to be underdone and overly gummy) and I have heard from readers who have experienced the same thing. For that reason, I no longer use or recommend this flour blend.

As noted above, these flour blends can be expensive. I suggest signing up for mailing lists and newsletters so that you can hear about special deals.

And a reminder – these flour blends vary considerably by weight (from 120 grams per cup for The King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Blend to 160 grams per cup for the Authentic Foods Blend and the King Arthur Flour blend in the blue and white box). They are not substitutable by volume. In other words, use the scale rather than the measuring cup.

Note: I am not compensated by nor do I work for any of these brands.


brinestone said...

Have you ever tried Gluten-Free Mama's? You have to order it online (I bought through Amazon), and I have only tried her coconut blend, but I liked it a lot. (My son is allergic to tree nuts but not coconut, so her almond blend isn't an option.) She also has some amazing recipes on her blog.

I didn't like King Arthur's Blend very much. It has a grittiness I don't like. I had been using Namaste consistently with no problems, but a few days ago, my chocolate cake didn't set up right, just as you described. I thought it was my fault, but now I wonder.

Colette said...

No, I haven't tried Gluten-Free Mama's. Have you tried it? Do you like it?

Yes, I suspect you have had the same problem I have with Namaste.

Colette said...

No, I haven't tried Gluten-Free Mama's. Have you tried it? Do you like it?

Yes, I suspect you have had the same problem I have with Namaste.