FOR DECADES, the term “flour” was synonymous with the powdery and versatile baking go-to, which is made from ground wheat. Alternative flours of varying colors and textures are now widely available, thanks in part to the growing popularity of the gluten-free diet. They can have more nutrients, plus protein and fiber. But how do you use them? Here’s a primer.
1. Almond Meal – Makes great pie crust and cookie bars. Mix it into a dough with butter, sugar, and a pinch of salt, and press it into a greased baking dish—or crumble the dough over sliced ripe fruit and bake.
2. Cornstarch – Commonly used to thicken stews and sauces and tenderize meats in Asian stir-fries. Dredge chicken or fish in cornstarch before pan-frying for a deliciously crisp exterior.
3. Glutinous Rice Flour – Gluten-free, despite the name! Because it’s higher in starch content than regular rice flour, it can be used as a substitute for wheat flour in a béchamel or roux.
4. Millet Flour – The high-protein cereal grain can also make a quick and easy flatbread when mixed with water and salt into a dough, rolled into balls, pressed flat, and cooked in a lightly oiled pan.
5. Sorghum Flour – High in nutrients, this drought tolerant cereal grain is often a star ingredient in gluten-free flour blends, but can stand on its own when swapped for flour in tortilla or pancake recipes.
6. Whole Grain Flours – Even a year ago, it was tough to find a gluten-free whole-grain flour blend with good flavor and texture. Now there are plenty that can be swapped for wheat flour measure for measure.
7. Guar Gum – This flour acts as a thickening agent, and also a binder when used in small amounts. For stretchy pizza dough, add one teaspoon per cup of flour mix that doesn’t contain xanthan or guar gum.