Gluten-Free Baking with Rice Flour Gone Gritty
February 28, 2011 4:55 PM   Subscribe

What is up with the grittiness in rice flour and how do I make it go away?

Ms. Vegetable is experimenting with gluten-free baking for some wheat-free friends of ours. She uses rice flour and chickpea flour, because that’s what we have. The rice flour seems to be causing everything to be gritty - is there anything to do to prevent that? Something to add, some order to mix things in? Or is this going to have to be a “you need to get all these other GF baking items to make it work”?
Please note: She’s baking desserts, not mains, not sides. Just enjoyable baked good desserts.
posted by a robot made out of meat to Food & Drink (5 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Brown rice flour is noticeably grittier than white rice flour, so that may be part of your problem. In my experience, corn flour is even worse for grittiness.

I make a quickbread with 1.5 c brown rice flour to 1 c amaranth flour (wonderful, albeit expensive, stuff) and the stickiness of the amaranth keeps the texture of the rice flour from being unpleasantly noticeable.

Through experimentation, I came up with this cookie recipe guideline that uses quinoa flour (even more expensive than amaranth and bitter before it's baked), rice flour, and arrowroot starch (sometimes called arrowroot flour). I haven't yet been satisfied with any flour substitution that uses only rice flour and thickeners/starches/gums, but I've only been baking gluten-free for about half a year so far.
posted by thatdawnperson at 5:35 PM on February 28, 2011

In my area there is a store that sells all kinds of bulk flours and other baking needs. They double mill their rice flour and that cuts the grit factor considerably. I've had success with 1 cup white rice flour + 1/2 cup potato starch+ 1/2 cup tapioca starch + 2 tsp. powdered fruit pectin = 2 cups white flour.

Don't bother buying super expensive Xanthan gum if the recipe calls for it, powdered fruit pectin that you find on the baking aisle is much cheaper and has the same effect. Substitute straight across.
posted by TooFewShoes at 6:24 PM on February 28, 2011 [2 favorites]

White rice, tapioca and mochiko (sweet rice flour) are things you can add to brown rice flour that can greatly help reduce the grittiness of your end product.

The Art of Gluten-Free Baking is a go-to blog for me, for this sort of thing. Its writer Jeanne has done bread recipes but she focuses a lot on desserts, so it should be perfect for the missus.

I went to Jeanne's donut-making class, and she came up with a flour mixture along the lines I mention above that I have found is miles better than store-bough GF mix in taste and texture.

The cinnamon-sugar pumpkin donuts are ridiculously tasty — some non-GF-enjoying guests we had over last Saturday night kept eating them as I took them out of the pot.

You can get all the relevant ingredients at a local co-op or Asian market.

She recommends mixing the ingredients in bulk to make a batch of ready-use flour. It's about 15 minutes of work. I just make a big tupperware of the stuff, keeping the mix sealed in the fridge to take out and use as needed.

I recommend keeping the mix in the fridge. Otherwise, the brown rice fats go rancid, which is not good eats.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:53 PM on February 28, 2011 [1 favorite]

Presumably, the grittiness is because the flour is milled less finely than wheat flour. But cooked rice isn't gritty, which implies that properly hydrating the flour ought to solve this problem. With cakes that contain gluten, over-beating or letting the batter sit is discouraged because it develops the gluten, leading to a chewier texture. With cakes that don't, leaving the batter to sit, and/or pre-hydrating the rice flour with warm water-based liquid (whichever of water, milk, buttermilk, or juice the recipe calls for), might be a good idea. This should not produce a chewy result, even if the cake contains eggs or other carbohydrate-based thickeners like xanthan gum, methylcellulose, or tapioca.
posted by novalis_dt at 9:46 PM on February 28, 2011

I don't know how committed your wife is to this project, but I've found Gluten-Free Baking Classics to be a really excellent resource for GF baking. Maybe your library has it? For cakes and cookies and other sweet stuff, the author recommends a superfine brown rice flour mixed with potato starch and tapioca starch (you can buy it premixed). I still eat gluten, but the cake and cookies I made with the superfine flour were indistinguishable from wheat-based baked goods -- I was really shocked. The extra milling of the flour made for a much lighter, fluffier cake than any of the other GF flour combinations I've tried.

This super simple flourless peanut butter cookie recipe is also awesome.

Finally, you might know this already, but wooden spoons and cutting boards can retain gluten -- so if you have a non-GF kitchen at home, she should avoid potential cross-contamination by using plastic or metal for her GF baking.
posted by Siobhan at 5:56 AM on March 1, 2011 [1 favorite]

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