Flour Power - Vegetarian Times

Flour Power

A guide to gluten-free all-purpose baking blends
Flour Power

What gluten-free flours produce the best muffins?

Learn to cook gluten-free with Editor in Chief Mary Margaret Chappell. Register now for her Gluten-Free Cooking course

In VT's latest baking experiment, we tried seven different gluten-free flour mixes in three basic recipes for blueberry muffins, banana pancakes, and chocolate-chip cookies. The takeaway? All the mixes were good, but the best choice mostly depends on personal preference and what you're planning to make.

Read on for a brand-by-brand report.

Arrowhead Mills Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Mix
This blend contains baking powder to lighten baked goods.

muffin results: Firm, moist, smallish muffins with flat tops; thick batter needed extra baking time.
pancake results: Pale, crisp pancakes that rose moderately and cooked evenly.
cookie results: Puffy and crunchy cookies on the outside, tender and buttery inside.

Better Batter All Purpose Flour Mix
The box says to add extra liquid to yeast doughs; we did the same for batters.

muffin results: Tender, chewy, smallish muffins with rounded tops.
pancake results: Pretty, perfectly round pancakes that browned quickly and were slightly chewy.
cookie results: Cookies looked more like nuggets, but they had a melt-in-your-mouth texture like gourmet bakery cookies.

Bob's Red Mill All Purpose GF Baking Flour
Unlike most mixes, this is primarily garbanzo bean flour. (Package recommends adding xanthan gum, but we did not.)

muffin results: Thin batter; produced smaller muffins with flat tops and slightly nutty taste.
pancake results: Smooth, chewy pancakes that browned evenly and had a buttery flavor.
cookie results: Crisp cookies with caramel-like flavor from a dough that spread quickly in the oven.

Fearn Rice Baking Mix
Baking powder, baking soda, and salt in this rice flour/soya powder mix make it more like self-rising flour. (We left out leavening agents in recipes.)

muffin results: Flat-topped, quick-browning muffins with a crumbly texture.
pancake results: Thick, fluffy pancakes that browned quickly in the pan.
cookie results: Not recommended for cookies.

Gluten Free Pantry Gluten-Free All-Purpose Flour
This basic blend produces results closest to all-purpose wheat flour.

muffin results: Tall, round-topped muffins with a tender texture.
pancake results: Pale-colored, thick pancakes that were dense and chewy. Batter had to be thinned with water.
cookie results: Dough spread a lot when baked and yielded thin, crunchy cookies.

King Arthur Gluten Free Multi-Purpose Flour
Without guar or xanthan gums, this blend makes thin batters and soft doughs.

muffin results: Round-topped muffins with a fine, dense crumb.
pancake results: Thin pancakes that were crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, with a buttery-sweet flavor.
cookie results: Flat, crisp cookies that were somewhat fragile.

Namaste Perfect Flour Blend
This mix of brown rice, tapioca, arrowroot, and sorghum flours and xanthan gum makes thick batters and doughs.

muffin results: Slightly lumpy batter produced crumbly topped, moist muffins.
pancake results: Not recommended for pancakes.
cookie results: Tender, puffy cookies that were almost meringue-like.