Wheat flour substitutes for cooking and baking
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Varsha Lalla investigates some wheat flour substitutes for those who can't eat wheat - check out these alternatives...
Wheat flour is important for any baking recipe because it contains gluten that strengthens and binds dough together. Many people can’t eat wheat due to wheat allergies or celiac disease.
People who can’t eat wheat have to find alternatives in wheat-free flour but, unfortunately, there’s no one great product that can replace wheat for all cooking purposes. You’ll just have to choose the one that’s right for each specific purpose.
Substituting wheat flour can be a very tricky business even when you are following a recipe. Don’t be discouraged if it comes out wrong the first time – just keep on practising until you get the hang of it.
Barley flour is ideal for thickening soups and stews. It only contains a small amount of gluten so if you’re planning on using it to bake cakes, pastry or biscuits it would be best to blend it with alternative flours. Don’t use barley flour to make bread because there is just not enough gluten to make the bread stay together.
Chick pea flour
This is a wheat- and gluten-free product but it can’t really be used on its own. It has a very strong taste (almost nutty) so make sure that you’re aware of that if you use it for baking.
Oat flour is not gluten free but is still a very popular alternative to wheat flour. It’s very important that people are aware whether or not the oat flour is sourced from a non-wheat contaminating process. Either look at the packaging or go on the company’s website to double check on that point.
Oat flour can easily be substituted to make cakes and biscuits but, because it absorbs so much liquid, you’ll have to increase the liquid content of any recipe that you’re using. Oat flour can go bad fairly quickly so it’s advisable to buy small amounts or store it in the freezer.
Arrowroot flour is very useful for thickening food such as sauces, soups and stews. This is ideal when you’re making a clear sauce because the flour itself becomes clear when it’s cooked. It’s free of both wheat and gluten but sadly it can’t be used for baking.
Brown rice flour
Brown rice flour has a higher nutritional value than its counterpart, white rice flour. It also contains bran so it has high fibre content and a grainy texture. It is a heavy flour so it might need to be used with alternatives to lighten the product. Don’t buy this product in bulk because it works much better if it’s fresh.
I’ve only mentioned a few of the wheat alternative flours available. There are many others that can help you make delicious recipes. Just read the recipe carefully and work it out from there. Using wheat-free flour is a trial and error experiment but with a little time and effort you will get there. Happy cooking!
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