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Gluten-Free Basics & Beyond

All About Gluten-Free Baking:

Tasting Store-bought GF Flour Blends

Trying the Store-bought Stuff

In gluten-free baking, the flour blend you use can make or break your final dish.

In traditional baking recipes, the brand of flour isn’t terribly important. That’s because all brands of all-purpose flour (as well as bread flour) contain the same single ingredient—wheat flour. Yes, protein levels in the wheat will vary among different brands, but this has minimal impact on the finished product.

In gluten-free baking recipes that call for a gluten-free flour blend, the brand of flour will have significantly more impact on the final baked good. That’s because each brand of flour blend, whether all-purpose or whole-grain, relies on a mix of different ingredients, yielding cookies, cakes, breads, and muffins with varying textures, colors, and flavors.

All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blends: The Testing

To get a sense of the range of possible outcomes, we tested 10 store-bought all-purpose gluten-free flour blends in three of our well-vetted, gluten-free recipes: chocolate chip cookies, blueberry muffins, and sandwich bread. Twenty tasters from our test kitchen participated in these blind taste tests, which also included samples of each recipe made with the ATK flour blend (the control). Tasters were asked to rate how close each sample came to the control.

The Results

For the most part, all of the blends worked in these recipes—that is, they made cookies, muffins, and loaves of bread that at least looked the part. However, there were significant textural and flavor differences. Our two favorite brands are made with neutral-tasting rice flour. Brands that ended up at the bottom of the rankings tend to include ingredients with more personality, such as sorghum or bean flours, which were detectable in the baked goods. Based on these tastings, we divided these 10 flour blends into two groups: recommended replacements for the ATK flour blend and those recommended with reservations.

All-Purpose Gluten-Free Blend Basics

Taste Test Store-Bought Gluten-Free Flour Blends

Could any store-bought blends deliver consistent—and impressive—results?

 

Recipe America's Test Kitchen All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour Blend

When looking for a wheat-free substitute for all-purpose flour, no single gluten-free flour or starch behaves like wheat flour—a blend is a must.

 

Whole-Grain Gluten-Free Flour Blends: The Testing

There are very few whole-grain blends on the market at all, never mind a brand that is widely available in supermarkets. We tracked down five whole-grain blends (mostly online) and gave them each a turn in our recipes for Whole-Grain Chocolate Chip Cookies and Whole-Grain Blueberry Muffins.

The Results

We wanted to find a store-bought whole-grain flour blend that we could recommend as a suitable alternative to the ATK Whole-Grain Gluten-Free Flour Blend, but unfortunately we didn’t find any. Although all of the blends produced edible cookies and muffins (some more edible than others), none of them came close to delivering the deep, hearty, “wheaty” flavor of our blend.

Whole-Grain Gluten-Free Blend Basics

Taste Test Store-bought Whole-Grain Gluten-Free Flour Blends

We wanted to find a store-bought whole-grain flour blend that we could recommend as a suitable alternative to the ATK Whole-Grain Gluten-Free Flour Blend. Unfortunately we didn’t find any.

 

Recipe America's Test Kitchen Whole-Grain Gluten-Free Flour Blend

None of the store-bought whole-grain gluten-free blends worked consistently in every recipe. So we made our own.

 

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