The Cheapest Gluten Free Flour
About 12 years ago, I discovered that I was intolerant to gluten. It is likely that I have Celiac Disease but I have never been formally tested. I could go to the doctor and pay a couple hundred dollars to be tested, but why? It won’t change the outcome: I cannot have gluten in my diet.
My reaction to gluten can range from intestinal distress (that is a nice way of putting things, isn’t it?), to headaches, stuffy nose, stomachaches, arthritis (I used to have to soak my hands in hot water every morning before I could use them), to depression. Any exposure to gluten will trigger these reactions so it is extremely important that I stick to using only gluten free products. I know this because like the great adventurer that I am, I have tried “testing” myself several times to see if I was “really” allergic to gluten. Yes. I am allergic to gluten.
But have you SEEN the price of gluten free products these days?! It is outrageous.
Loaves of bread run around $6 per loaf. Tortillas and bread crumbs are about the same price. Prepackaged baked goods run $7 and up. Baking mixes and granola are around $8 a piece. But the ultimate is gluten free flour which runs $12 to $18 for 4 pounds! That is ridiculous. Someone is capitalizing on the market and I decided I wasn’t going to be a victim.
Gluten free flour isn't just one grain, but a blend of several gluten free grains. The grains are most commonly brown rice, white rice, tapioca or arrowroot starch, potato starch and sorghum. Each grain adds a unique consistency and taste to the final flour blend. Some gluten free flours include a strong-flavored bean or grain such as garbanzo beans or buckwheat. These have more health benefits than the rice or starches, but I personally find them overpowering in a multi-purpose flour. In addition to the grains, most mixes also include a binder such as xanthan gum or guar gum. The binder acts like gluten would in flour and adds elasticity. If you ever used a premixed gluten free flour and the flour tends to wrap all around the beaters like taffy, that is the binder.
I started off buying my own individual grain flours and making my own flour blends. But these are just as expensive, if not more so, sometimes running $6 per pound! I wanted a solution that was more sustainable. I wanted to use ingredients that were already in my pantry that I could easily grind into flour for making anything from pie crusts and pizza dough, to loaves of bread and cookies.
After many years of trial and error, I came up with a blend of oatmeal (for moisture), rice (for density), and tapioca (for loft). All of these ingredients I store in bulk in my pantry for making other meals. To make the flour, all I have to do is grind it up using my vita-mix blender. It isn’t as fine as I would get if I had an actual flour mill but it works. (ahem, anyone want to send me a flour mill?!). All in all it takes me less than 10 minutes to make and the best part? It works out to be around $1 per pound!
This gluten free flour recipe is very flexible. I have tried different types of rice and I only loosely measure ingredients and it always works out. Feel free to cut the recipe in half and try a sample to see if it works for you.
Cheap Gluten Free Flour Blend
4 cups tapioca powder (I just buy the powder in bulk from Azure)
2 cups gluten free oats, ground (I buy in bulk from Azure)
2 cups dried rice, ground (I use a 50/50 mix of Jasmine and Calrose, but you can use any!)
Grind all of the grains to a fine powder and dump in a giant bowl. Mix thoroughly then store.
I use this flour 1:1 in most recipes. I say "most" because no matter what brand or mixture you use, gluten free flour is always going to have its limitations, Even the ones that claim "cup for cup". If you are using in a recipe that calls for baking powder or yeast, add a bit more of those ingredients as they will help the recipe rise better.
Sometime in the near future I will post my recipe for my loaf bread which uses this flour along with some extra oatmeal.
I hope you try this gluten free flour mixture. If you do, let me know how you like it!
**UPDATE: We now use the Wondermill Electric Grain Grinder...and it is awesome! Find it here: http://amzn.to/2sFIGaq