Living Gluten-Free: Part 3

GF FLOURS continued

By Donna Easto

GF starches and flours used in blends can be confusing. Recipes often call for a ratio of about 80% starches to 20% whole grain flours. The following list is not exhaustive by any means – I’ve not even touched on most seeds, nuts and legumes. However, I have attempted to list many of the most common starches and flours.


  • White rice flour: white rice flour was once the primary flour used in GF baking. It must be combined with one or more other starches like corn, potato, or tapioca. Used exclusively in early GF recipes, the resulting product was often gritty, crumbly and dry. Happily, we now have a wide range of choices, but it remains an essential ingredient and is easy to find in stores, economic, and recipes have vastly improved.
  • Potato starch (not the same as potato flour): adds moisture to baked items, making them light and airy. Helps bread rise higher.
  • Tapioca starch: lightens baked goods, giving them a sweet, chewy texture. Stable when frozen, a good choice when you wish to freeze the product.
  • Arrowroot: baked goods bind better, and it lightens the final result.
  • Cornstarch: mixed with GF flours, bread, cookies, and pastries bind better and are lighter.

Whole Grain Flours

  • Brown, and wild rice flour: brown, lends a mild, nutty flavour to biscuits, bread and cakes. Wild rice flour adds a hearty flavour to pancakes, scones, muffins and cookies—best mixed with other GF flours.
  • Millet: closely related to sorghum and corn. It’s the first choice for flatbreads and mixes well with other flours for baked goods, especially bread. Gives baking a creamy colour.
  • Oats: use in quick bread, cookies, and cakes. Be sure it’s GF, non-GMO and glyphosate-free. Look for Saskatchewan made, “Only Oats,”
  • Quinoa flour: originating in the Andes Mountains, this relative of Swiss chard, spinach, lamb’s-quarters and beets is now grown in Canada. Quinoa contains all the essential amino acids and is high in protein. Most recipes call for small amounts because of a strong taste. Sorghum flour: one of my favourites because it can stand in for most other gluten-free flours. It’s mildly nutty taste’s reminiscent of wheat.
  • Whole cornmeal: milled from corn, this pantry staple can be found in yellow, white, blue or red. The coarser the grind, the stronger the corn flavour. (when looking for whole-grain cornmeal, avoid degerminated cornmeal; it’s less nutritious and less flavourful.) Use in polenta, breading, cornbread, ancient grains, bread, and muffins.


  • Amaranth: Boost the nutrition of pancakes and flatbreads by replacing ¼ – ⅓ of GF flours with amaranth. It blends well with almond flour. Unfortunately, it can be hard to find, so if your recipe calls for it, try quinoa 1:1.
  • Arrowroot starch: for thickening, use cornstarch 1:1
  • Brown or wild rice: in most recipes, you can substitute millet, as long as it doesn’t comprise over 25% of the total flour blend.

Quinoa: substitute ⅞ brown rice flour to 1 cup.

Next: Hidden Gluten