Guest Post: Stephanie Seege, Founder of Helpings

Stephanie Seege was inspired to set up Helpings following her struggle with chronic illnesses. Stephanie discovered that following a diet excluding gluten, dairy and yeast free helped her to manage her symptoms. However Stephanie’s overall approach to health and wellbeing isn’t just about diet: she considers the balance of both body and mind. 

I get many questions about what kind of flour can be used when making gluten free food. At the beginning it can be a bit of a challenge to switch, but fret not, it is possible! This article will help you navigate some of the options available, including how each type of flour behaves.

Buckwheat flour

Despite its confusing name, buckwheat is 100% gluten free and of all pure gluten free options, it most resembles wheat. It took me over a year to start using it, only because of the name!

How to use it

Buckwheat has a very specific aftertaste and some people don’t like it. You sometimes have to be a bit sneaky to cover it up. This is completely doable; it often works really well when you mix buckwheat flour with ground almonds or strong spices such as curry, oregano and cardamom.

Ground almonds/almond flour

Ground almonds are lovely to use for practically anything food related – they bake well, have a pleasant taste and tend to be stomach friendly. Even if your cake turns out a little soggy, the texture you’ll end up with is more like a blonde version of gooey brownies – so not too bad, right?

How to use it

You can make cakes with ground almonds that are so fluffy and moist no one would ever know they are gluten-free. This is especially so if you can use eggs, as vegan egg alternatives take away some of the structure eggs provide.  

Rice flour

Rice flour is a bit like plain gluten free flour (see below), except that it is pure, which is why I prefer using it.

How to use it

You can get very good results using rice flour together with buckwheat or ground almonds. I also make seeded breads with it. Be aware that it won’t change shape much, but it sticks together much better than coconut flour.

Corn flour

Corn flour has wonderful properties and I believe there is still much to be learned about it for baking. If you have digestive problems you might want to be a little careful as it can make you gassy.

How to use it

Corn flour allows you to create tortillas, cakes and bread. It can also be mixed with other flours. When baking you often end up with a fluffy and moist product that will impress most people.

Coconut flour

I find it quite difficult to bake using coconut flour and usually stay away from it. Maybe I’m yet to discover the beauty of it – but I would forget substituting coconut flour for buckwheat flour when making pancakes, muffins and cakes. I’ve tried many, many times over and all the results have ended up in the bin! 

Any good tips out there? (There will be a future post on cooking with coconut flour so get in touch if you have any successful tips you’d like to share.)

How to use it

Coconut flour tends to work well in breads when mixed with some vegetable, such as pumpkins or courgettes. Be careful – the flour can easily crumble and have an unpleasant powdery texture if used on its own.

Self-raising gluten free flour

Many brands make their own versions of self-raising gluten free flours. I like Dove’s Farm; their mix is a blend of rice, potato, tapioca and maize. I generally try staying away from very starchy flours such as these kinds of mixes, mainly for digestive reasons. However I do still get excited when I use them as the results are good, if not great, almost every time.

How to use it

This is a good flour to use for general baking. The consistency is very wheat-like and it will rise beautifully in the oven, which is amazing for amateur bakers with little experience of how gluten free flours work.

Plain gluten free flour

This flour has the same or similar components as the one above, but lacks the rising factor.

How to use it

I use it in crepes and other kind of cooking where you need a little bit of flour that sticks together, but doesn’t need to change its shape.

The main thing about gluten free baking is to forget trying to recreate everything with gluten that you have ever eaten. Focus on learning a whole new world of alternative cooking instead. Why not start with my recipe below for courgette bread?

Gluten-Free Courgette Bread

Image courtesy of Emma Pharaoh / HELPINGS

 

Nut-Free Seeded Courgette Bread

I like playing around with vegetables in bread. This recipe was a by-product of trying to make courgette cake, when I realized the cake would turn green unless I added chocolate.

Courgettes are great for baking because the taste is almost non-existent when cooked. This recipe is filled with seeds to nourish your body and give you lots of vitamins. I’ve stayed away from nuts completely, so this recipe is good for anyone who suffers from nut allergies.

Preparation time: 10 minutes + 40 minutes in the oven

Makes one big loaf of bread

Ingredients:

200g courgette (1 small courgette)

250ml water

3 tbsp chia seeds

160g buckwheat flour

120g sunflower seeds

110g pumpkin seeds

30g sesame seeds

2 tsp ground oregano

1 tsp baking soda

1.5 tsp salt

 2 tbsp coconut oil

1 tbsp maple syrup

  

1. Mix the water with chia seeds and stir for a while using a spoon. Soon you’ll have an even, thick liquid.

2. Grate the courgette and place it in a bowl. Add all seeds, buckwheat flour, oregano, salt and baking soda. Mix well.

3. Mix the chia water with the coconut oil and the maple syrup. Finally add the liquid to the dry ingredients and mix together using a spoon.

4. Place the dough in a large silicone bread mould or greased loaf tin, and bake in 200C for 40 minutes.

5. Remove from the oven and leave to rest for a few minutes. Turn out on to a wire rack to cool.

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