8 Alternative Flours You'll Want to Experiment With

Frontier Co-op distributes a broad range of gluten-free (and whole grain) flours for baking, thickening and more. While these high-quality flours are excellent substitutes to all-purpose flour, they come with their nuances. Not all flours will produce the same yields or be used as a 1:1 ratio. Gluten-free flours, for example, can require more moisture and often thickeners/binders such as xanthan gum or guar-gum. From almond, hazelnut, coconut and tapioca to buckwheat, sorghum and teff and rice, here are some things to know about these unique flours and how to bake with them:

Almond:

  • What is it? Though almond flour and almond meal have two subtle differences that set them apart, they're both used interchangably. Almond flour is typically made from blanched almonds which have had the skins removed, and is ground more finely than almond meal, which typically still contains the skins and has a more coarse grind.
  • Taste/Texture: Both almond flour and almond meal retain much of their natural flavor, and lend a sweet, nutty aroma to baked goods.
  • Uses: Use this protein-rich flour in pancakes, tortillas, cookies, scones, breadings, macaroons or binding such as meatloaf or meatballs.
  • Ratio: Use 1:1 with all-purpose (white) flour. Note: Almond flour typically requires more egg or binding agent, so the recipe might need to be altered.
  • Other info: Gluten-free, low-carb and high calorie – it’s harder to get baked goods to rise while using almond flour as a 100% replacement for wheat flour.

 

Coconut:

  • What is it? Coconut flour is a soft, naturally grain- and gluten-free flour produced from dried coconut meat.
  • Taste/Texture: It has a very distinct coconut flavor, and can sometimes be gritty if not sifted. Its mildly toasty flavor features a light and fluffy texture and produces tender baked goods
  • Uses: It can be used to make cakes. cookies, breads and muffins. While it is a versatile baking flour, it can be challenging to use. It’s also a great thickener!
  • Ratio: Coconut flour cannot be substituted on a 1:1 ratio for all-purpose flour, or most other flours; however, you can begin by substituting 1/4 cup coconut flour for every one cup all-purpose flour. In addition, every 1/4 cup coconut flour typically requires one egg for both moisture and structure. You may also need to increase other liquids in the recipe or make small adjustments to baking times.
  • Other info: It is high in fiber, protein and healthy fats and free from wheat and other grains. It is also low in sugar, digestible carbohydrates and calories. Plus, this flour has a low score on th Glycemix Index. Coconut flour is particularly absorbent, and a very small amount of flour will absorb a very large amount of liquid. It also tends to have a drying effect on baked goods, because it is so absorbent.

 

Hazelnut:

  • What is it? A low-carb nut flour that’s made from grinding hazelnuts
  • Taste/Texture: Hazelnut flour is nutritious and also gives a rich, sweet, nutty flavor and dense texture to foods.
  • Uses: Coating for meats, great addition to smoothies, thickeners or binders in baking, pancakes, granola, cookies and brownies.
  • Ratio: Replace no more than 25-30% of the flour in your recipe with hazelnut meal. This will bring a richness and nutty texture to your baked goods.
  • Other Info:  Hazelnut flour is a great option for people on low-carb diets or who are gluten sensitive or intolerant. Because hazelnut meal does not contain gluten and is light on starches, it should be used in conjunction with other flours.


Tapioca:

  • What is it? Tapioca flour is made from the crushed pulp of the cassava root, a woody shrub native to South America and the Caribbean. Like other starches, tapioca flour is a very fine, white powder that works well in gluten free baking.
  • Taste/Texture: Tapioca flour is an extremely smooth flour, which makes for a great thickener in sauces, pies and soups since it never discolors and contains no discernible taste or smell.
  • Uses: This starchy, slightly sweet flour is a staple in gluten free baking and a fantastic thickening agent in soups, sauces, pudding and pie fillings.  It can replace cornstarch as a thickener for pies and sauces and aids in creating a crisp crust and chewy texture in baking.
  • Ratio: Replace 1 tablespoon cornstarch with 2 tablespoons tapioca flour or replace 1 for 1 for all-purpose flour.
  • Other Info:  Grinding tapioca pearls will not produce tapioca flour. However, you can replace instant tapioca pearls with tapioca flour.

 

Buckwheat:

  • What is it? Buckwheat Flour is made from 100% whole grain buckwheat groats. Despite the name, buckwheat isn’t related to wheat and is gluten free.
  • Taste/Texture: Hearty buckwheat packs a wonderful earthy, rich (strong, somewhat bitter) flavor. Roasted buckwheat has an intense taste – like darkly toasted bread or a hoppy beer. Its moist and tender in small amounts, but chalky in larger quantities.
  • Uses: Pancakes, porridge, cold grain salads, veggie burgers and bread.
  • Ratio:  It can be swapped out for wheat flour in the same quantity with no issue in most recipes. However it won’t rise as much when baked, so it doesn’t work as well for bread and cake unless you also include gluten-free bread flour in the mix or add extra baking powder or other raising agents like eggs.
  • Other info: Buckwheat is one of the healthiest, nuttiest, most versatile whole grains. It’s very high in nutrients, and it has even more fiber than oatmeal.

Sorghum:

  • What is it? Stone ground flour from 100% whole grain sorghum.
  • Taste/Texture: It has a light color and smooth texture and a mild, sweet flavor. Its texture and flavor is similar to wheat berries and the flour has been called out as being the most wheat-like gluten free flour.
  • Uses: Pancakes, muffins, oatmeal, beer flat bread, cookies, sweet breads and cakes. Sorghum can also be used in soups, salads, side dishes, pilafs, and more.
  • Ratio: Replace 1:1 for wheat flour in sweet breads, cookies and more—although keep in mind you’ll need to include a binder such as xanthan gum.
  • Other info: It makes a great substitute for wheat berries, pearl couscous, and other gluten-full grains in most recipes. One of our favorite ways to enjoy sorghum is to pop it. It makes perfect little miniature “popcorn” that the kid in all of us will enjoy.

 

Teff:

  • What is it? Teff is a fine grain—about the size of a poppy seed—that comes in a variety of colors, from white and red to dark brown. A gluten-free grain with a mild flavor, teff is a healthy and versatile ingredient for many gluten-free products.
  • Taste/Texture: It has a slightly sweet, nutty, malt-like flavor.
  • Uses: Use it to make yeast breads, pancakes, scones, quick breads, and muffins, as well as flat bread. Teff flour makes any baked good denser.
  • Ratio: 1/4 cup teff flour for wheat flour in every cup. If you use all teff flour in place of all the wheat flour, the bread will be chewy and dense and will not rise as much as wheat flour breads
  • Other Info:  It's a good source of dietary fiber and protein and has highest percentage of calcium of all whole grains.

 

Rice:

  • What is it? Rice flour is a form of flour made from finely milled rice. It’s is a common substitute for wheat flour, but also used as a thickening agent in recipes that are refrigerated or frozen since it inhibits liquid separation.
  • Taste/Texture: Rice flour is lighter, milder and easier to digest than wheat flour, but some people find white rice flour to be slightly gritty.
  • Uses: White or brown rice flour can be used to bake cakes, cookies, dumplings, breads and more, as well as thicken sauces and coat fish and other proteins.
  • Ratio: Use a 3/4 to one ratio when substituting rice flour for wheat flour.
  • Other info: Add one extra egg for every egg called for in a recipe to hold the rice flour together better while baking.

 

Explore and shop all of these flours (and more!) here.