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Eating & Living Gluten Free Issue 5

Eating & Living gluten free front cover issue 5

Eating & Living Gluten Free
Issue 5 April / May 2015 


With so many speciality flours to choose from, it's hard to know where to start - we asked Emma Goss-Custard, owner of Honeybuns gluten free cakes, to talk us through her 10 favourites.

Gluten free baking is akin to going off-piste. With so many free-from nut, seed, legume, and grain flours the combinations are virtually endless. Blends of flours work well and you can also use some solo. In the following list I’ve included some nutritional info as well as specifying whether the flours are good as solo flours and also whether they’re grain-based or grain-free. Grain based flours are higher in carbohydrates and not suitable for paleo diets.

Coconut flour is high in protein, fibre and healthy fats and is very easy to digest. It is not grain-based and is one of the staple flours for paleo baking. It mops up any moisture and this needs to be addressed by adding more liquid to the recipe. At Honeybuns, we've used it with Coyo plain yoghurt for muffins and this has worked well. You may find you need extra binding ingredients too - eggs, mashed up banana and dates can help counterbalance crumbliness. Coconut flour is worth adding for its nutritional pluses but is best blended with a moisture giving nut or seed flour.

Almond flour is one of our favourite "go to" flours at Honeybuns. It is readily available, or you can make your own by blitzing whole, unblanched nuts in a food processor. It's perfect for denser, low rise cakes such as Orange, almond and polenta cake.
Almond flour is not grain-based and has a healthy boost of protein, plus it's low in carbohydrate and is naturally cholesterol free. It's also a good source of fibre. Almond flour can be used solo, but can be oily, so we tend to blend with sorghum and polenta. Try "The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook" by Elana Amsterdam for some great recipe ideas.

Potato flour IS a natural source of B vitamins, iron and fibre, but it should be used sparingly as it is quite heavy and can feel "claggy" if over-used. We've used it in pizza bases and in bread, and were pleased with the softness and flavour of both.  It absorbs moisture very well, and is particularly good when blended with sorghum or brown rice flour. Potato flour is not suitable as a solo flour, and it's not grain-based.

Flax is made from brown or golden linseed. We use the golden for its colour and slightly milder flavour. You get a lovely nutty taste and texture, not dissimilar to adding wholemeal flour to a recipe. We don't exceed 20% of the flour blend in recipes, as it can be drying and a little bitter if it dominates a flour blend. Golden flax is especially good in cakes and breads. It's contains omega-3 fatty acids, is an excellent source of fibre, and is renowned for a myriad of health benefits. It is not grain-based.

Amaranth is a very pretty plant with long red flower spikes. It’s the best gluten free grain in terms of protein content that is also easily digestible. At Honeybuns we tried amaranth as a solo flour in cookies, and found it needed extra binding to hold together. We used honey as we found it quite a crumbly flour to work with if the recipe (such as cookies) is quite dry to begin with. Amaranth flour can also be used as a thickener as it absorbs moisture. It's best used with moist ground nut or seed flours as a blend. As well as the protein content, amaranth also has an optimum balance of essential amino acids, so it’s a great way to improve the nutritional profile of a recipe. It's not grain-based, but also not suitable for paleo diets as it is a pseudo-grain.

Sorghum, or jowar, flour is the best general-purpose flour we've come across. It works brilliantly when mixed with moist nut and seed flours, as it fluffs up and produces a soft eating cake. We use it happily in breads, pastry, cookies and cakes. It can have a slightly bitter aftertaste, but we have had no problems using it up to 50% blended with ground almonds or milled pumpkin. Nutritionally, sorghum flour is rich in vitamin and minerals. More specifically, it’s a good source of selenium and niacin, both of which have been cited as having possible anti-cancer properties. It's a grain-based flour.

Arrowroot is a powder that's used typically for thickening sauces and gravies. A lovely cheat's jam can be made by heating any fruit berries in a pan with a little honey and a squeeze of lemon juice. Break the fruit up with a fork, then off the heat, stir in a little arrowroot at a time and it will thicken. Used in tarts, this jam will not spread and spill in the oven. Arrowroot is not grain-based, but also not paleo. It’s almost pure carbohydrate.

Tapioca, or cassava flour, is one of our hardworking flours in the Honeybuns kitchen. It has no nutritional pedigree It’s virtually flavourless and lends body and chew to a recipe. It absorbs moisture and acts as a binding agent. As with potato flour, you don't need very much. We blend it at 15% with sorghum and almond flour in sponge cake recipes. It's not grain-based and not suitable as a solo flour.

Chestnut flour is beautiful to work with. It has richness and depth of flavour to it and it complements chocolate, fruit and spices well. It is eye wateringly expensive and if used on its own, it is very dense. We use it at 50% of the flour blend in our Chai, date and pear cakes when the budget is allowed to slip a bit! Chestnut flour is a good source of potassium, calcium and magnesium, and it's not grain-based.

Gram flour is a valuable ingredient owing to it nutritional benefits. It is 20% protein and contains high levels of vitamin A, B1, B2, niacin and vitamin C. It has a strong flavour and is a very heavy flour. We use it to add body and flavour to savoury pastry, but only up to 15% of the flour blend. It's not grain-based.

Find details of Emma's products, cafe and her blog at honeybuns.co.uk


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