Have you ever tried to make a pizza or bread with gluten-free flour? Yes? Then you will have noticed that it is not easy to balance taste, texture, and final result. If you’re not careful (and don’t use the right flours), you risk getting a very sticky and unappealing dough. That’s exactly what we don’t want to happen. But that’s where we come in, with our tips! Let’s start with choosing the most suitable gluten-free flours. Unfortunately, it is not always easy to navigate this choice, especially if you are a beginner. This is because gluten-free flours are not all the same. In supermarkets and specialized stores that offer gluten-free products (where the choice is wider), we can find different types of products: de-glutenized flours, pre-made mixes for making bread, pizzas, focaccias, fresh pasta, and desserts, or flours that naturally do not contain gluten.
The real problem is that regular flours have a much higher leavening power compared to gluten-free flours. This happens thanks to the ability of a very elastic network, the gluten mesh, to form while kneading, which is able to trap air and form the classic bubbles that give lightness and softness to the dough. Gluten is present in wheat and other cereals such as oats, barley, spelt, rye, kamut, or triticale (a hybrid cereal born from the combination of durum wheat and rye; a lethal mix for a person with celiac disease!). So, what are the naturally gluten-free flours to use to prepare a savory dough worthy of being served at the table? Let’s find out together. A piece of advice: when preparing gluten-free doughs, don’t be afraid if the result does not meet your expectations: each flour behaves differently. Experiment, knead, and find the perfect recipe that best suits your taste. It is very important to mix different gluten-free flours to obtain a more satisfying final result. You can also add naturally gluten-free flours to pre-made mixes that you can find in stores. This way, you can flavor your dough with the flour of your choice. But remember, the key word in this case is EXPERIMENTATION.
Rice Flour Classic
Yes, but never taken for granted. Whether it’s white or whole grain, rice flour is great for all gluten-free dishes, both sweet (we’ll talk about it later) and savory. Since rice is rich in starch, its flour is also an excellent thickener and for this reason, it is very suitable for making gluten-free bread and pizza. The most common recipes involve several options: you can use rice flour alone, mix it with other gluten-free flours, or combine it with a potato puree (or simple potato starch) to obtain a softer dough. Rice flour is also great for batter: use it to make your fried foods crispier and lighter.
Corn flour Sweet
Corn is the most commonly used gluten-free cereal in the world, and we often find it in the ingredients list of packaged gluten-free products. In addition to being very versatile, it is also rich in nutrients: it contains vitamins A, C, E, and B group vitamins; it is rich in potassium, iron, zinc, calcium, and other minerals valuable to our health. In baking preparations, when added to rice flour, you will obtain excellent dough for bread and pizza. They will be crunchier and have that rustic and very appetizing touch. A tip: you can also use corn flour alone to dust the baking sheet and your dough before baking: the coarser texture of corn flour will give the crust a greater crunchiness.
Rustic. Used to prepare pasta, bread and pizza without gluten, buckwheat flour, thanks to its compactness and dryness, is excellent for making dough less sticky and more consistent. But we feel generous and we’ll tell you more, read on, this is a real gem. Homemade gluten-free foods may have a different result even during baking, but buckwheat flour can solve this problem: add some to your dough and the baking will be better. Oh no, it doesn’t rise simply by letting it rest… buckwheat flour is rich in protein but it cannot rise if used alone. So don’t expect to find a puffy loaf and a dough full of bubbles under the towel, you would be disappointed! In this case too, it is good to mix it with rice flour.
Curious. Did you know that the quinoa plant comes from the spinach family? That’s why it’s a pseudocereal, which, given its exceptional nutritional properties, is considered a superfood (click here to learn more). Naturally gluten-free, quinoa and its flour have a very high content of proteins, minerals, vitamins, and a very low glycemic index. Quinoa flour has a very particular taste that tends towards bitterness (especially the toasted one), which is quite different from the more neutral taste of its seeds. Our advice? Use it in small quantities, in addition to other flours to prepare savory doughs. Trust us.
Not just birdseed. Yes, we know. It’s not a very well-known food and is rarely used, but being naturally gluten-free, millet is a valuable ally for celiacs. Rich in minerals, antioxidants, and fiber, its flour has a very delicate flavor and thanks to its more moist texture compared to other flours, it lends itself very well to being mixed, for example, with rice flour to make bread or pizza dough. A main characteristic of millet flour (alas, like that of buckwheat flour) is that it cannot leaven by itself, so if you want to use it for baking, always remember to add it to other flours.
Amaranth flour Aromatic
Amaranth flour has a very distinctive aroma that may resemble that of lightly toasted wholemeal flour. This characteristic makes it perfect for preparing doughs with a unique taste! One tip: when you decide to use it mixed with other gluten-free flours, add it little by little and only 25-30% of the total dough: if you use it in larger quantities, you will get a very hard dough, difficult to work and above all to eat. Your dentist will thank you.
Oriental. Widely used in Asian cuisine, soy flour is an energy food, very rich in protein and minerals: a real boon for our diet! It is aromatic and therefore reminiscent of the taste and fragrance of hazelnuts. If combined with neutral-tasting flours, such as rice flour, you will get dough with a biscuity taste. Very interesting!
Legume flours Protein-rich.
There are flours made from chickpeas, beans, lentils, and peas. Obviously, they all have different (and unique) flavors, but they have one thing in common: a high protein content that makes them perfect for athletes and those who are very conscious about their diet. To achieve excellent results when preparing dough for bread and pizza, it is ideal to mix them with rice flour or corn flour. In this way, the dough will be more consistent and less crumbly or powdery.
These are flours that are obtained from foods that naturally contain gluten, such as wheat or barley, and that undergo a transformation process during production that removes the gluten and makes them suitable for consumption by people with celiac disease. If you intend to use them as a replacement for wheat flour, we recommend adding more liquid than what is called for in the recipe, as gluten-free flours tend to be drier. Oh, and when baking, don’t forget to take them out of the oven at least 10 minutes before the time indicated in the recipe. Otherwise, you risk ending up with a pizza or bread that’s as hard as a rock.
A godsend for the gluten-free world! Called xanthan gum, this particular product made from sugars is a completely natural additive to add to gluten-free preparations. A great discovery, isn’t it? You only need an infinitesimal amount (about 1% of the preparation) to give the dough softness and stickiness. Once you try it, you won’t be able to do without it: it improves the texture of your dough without altering its taste or odor; it’s a completely neutral thickener. We know, we’ve piqued your curiosity, and by this point, you’re probably wondering, “Where can I buy it?” Don’t worry, xanthan gum is easily found on the market, both in supermarkets and in specialized gluten-free stores!