So Many Flours, So Little Time (Part 1 of 2)

First, a story about gluten free flour.

[Be warned, there is no happy ending – yet. But there will be in Part 2, so stay tuned.]

Part 1:

And so it begins. No more gluten. You clean out your pantry, wipe down your shelves. Eradicate any evidence of gluten. Your baking shelf is bare. Forlorn looking. But not for long.

You’re hungry. For something sweet, baked, and familiar. You thumb through your recipes and realize everything is off limits. Everything has gluten. You do a little research and realize the one bag (of flour) lifestyle you took for granted is Over. There is no one way to bake GF because there is no ONE flour. There are dozens. You start to sweat. Then you come across Bob Red Mill’s All-purpose gluten free flour. Seems promising. You also buy a small package of a pricey fine white powder called Xanthan gum. Now you’re ready to bake.

But wait. You discover some rather unflattering online reviews of bean flours, like Bob’s. Hmm. Undeterred, you get back out there. You buy another blend, this time no bean.

Nothing is going to stop you from making some cookies. Or cake. Or bread. Okay, maybe not bread. Not yet.

You obsess over recipes, searching blogs and books for answers. A pattern emerges. Each recipe seems to call for a different brand of flour. So and So’s flour blend. There are a lot of So-and-So’s.

Then a recipe suggests making your own flour blend.

You start to sweat again. But you put on a brave face, shrugging off doubt, fear, not to mention the mounting expenses. You contemplate making your own flour blend, but that would mean investing in several more bags of flours. And what about the AP blends collecting in your pantry? What about the Xanthan gum?

The last straw is the bashing of that most expensive ingredient, the one several bloggers told you was impossible to bake without, but now it seems there is a controversy among gluten free bakers. The pro gums versus the anti gums. This is what now consumes you. Gums. And not the bubble blowing kind.

Things are getting dire. Partly out of desperation, and partly out of curiosity, you order phyllium husk, a non-gum ingredient to replace the gums. You’re willing to experiment. After dozens of orders from Amazon and countless trips to the organic (crazy expensive) market, you’re up for anything. Okay, it’s mostly desperation. Then it comes in the mail and the container says, in big bold unmistakable letters (the kind of letters you couldn’t read in the dark when you ordered it at three in the morning on your phone from Amazon):

Colon Cleanser.

Pause here to Freak Out.

To be continued…

Part 2 will be coming soon, with some much needed hope and advice, but tell me, please, what is YOUR story about GF baking? Is your pantry overstuffed with half-used flours and mixes? What has worked best for you? What has been a disaster? Do you gum or not gum? Have you tried the colon cleanser? (I haven’t – yet.)

If you’re feeling really desperate, visit The Good Stuff for a general list of what brands my family likes, but please do come back soon for an advice-filled post about GF flour.

It’s not all doom and gloom. I promise.

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8 thoughts on “So Many Flours, So Little Time (Part 1 of 2)

  1. I laughed so hard when you got to the Colon Cleanser punchline! 😀 I have not experimented with phyllium husk, yet. I feel fine with Xanthan and Guar gums. It’s been nearly 18 months for me, gluten free. It sure is an adventure!

    • Rebecca, I have been waiting for a quiet moment to respond to your two great comments, but with a very active and may I say dramatic preschooler (on the cusp of pre-K which probably doesn’t help) and a nine-month-old baby who just started crawling, my moments are few and far between! But I am SO appreciative of your comments and the fact that anyone is reading let alone laughing !! at my posts amazes and delights me. YES, colon cleanser, so crazy! My husband is actually more afraid of me using it than I am, but I’m gearing up to try it out soon. I will definitely let everyone know how it goes 🙂

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  3. I’ve used only All Purpose flour with xantham gum and have had no complaints! In my few GF cookbooks I see the various type of flour. I don’t have the money or patience so I say whatever and just use what I have. Can you really notice a big difference?

    • Hi Kathy, I think if you have a GF all purpose that works for you (with or without xanthan gum) then use it! That’s what Part 2 is going to be all about, finding the right flour for the best price. Early on in my GF journey I went a little nuts ordering different flours, and thinking I didn’t have the “right” blend (hence the neurosis of Part 1). But my next flour post is going to focus on sharing what I learned. I’ll be curious to hear what you think! Thanks again for reading 🙂
      -Dana

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