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pastrygirl

GF flours - why so gritty?

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I was cooking for a party last night at which a gluten free cake was served for dessert.  I had a few bites and aside from the cake being dry and the frosting very sweet, there was that tell-tale grittiness that GF baked goods seem to have. This particular bakery uses a blend of millet, sorghum, tapioca and potato flours.  I used some Bob's Red Mill GF flour to satisfy a customer request for GF shortbread and found the same grittiness - they use garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, whole grain white sorghum flour, tapioca flour and fava bean flour

 

Obviously some sacrifices of flavor and texture are made when trying to replicate the magic of gluten, but why can't these flour blends be softer?  Can't they be milled more finely?  Or is it just the way the particular starches or proteins in those other flours are felt on the tongue? 

 

It's like that chalky cold cooked rice texture, do you know what I mean?  Why can't it be better?  Almost every time I eat something made with substitute flours, it makes me sad and want to fix it.

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gfweb   

I have no answers but agree completely

 

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Alex   

For the limited amound of GF baking I've done so far, I've used Namaste Foods "Perfect Flour Blend" in combination with some coconut and almond flours and have never noticed any grittiness. Its ingredients, from most to least, are sweet brown rice flour, tapioca starch, brown rice flour, arrowroot powder, sorghum flour, and xanthan gum.

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lindag   

Cooks Illustrated has a 'recipe' for Gluten free flour.  I don't do gluten free but I understand their mixture produces very good results.

It consists of:

   white rice flour
  brown rice flour
   potato starch
   tapioca starch
 

nonfat dry milk powder

If you'd like the exact amounts please PM me and I can give them to you...their site requires a membership.

 

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teonzo   

As far as I know, it depends on what grains are included. Some grains are easier to mill (to get a small granulometry), others are more difficult especially if they are whole. For example whole sorghum and whole millet tend to give a coarse flour. Same for lentils. So it depends on what grains are used in the GF mix.

 

 

 

Teo

 

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Thanks, @teonzo, sounds like it may be the sorghum adding coarseness in both flours I've tasted.  That's what I was wondering, if some grains are just harder to mill to fine, soft flour.

 

Usually when people order GF desserts I give them truffles, French macaron, or flourless chocolate cake to avoid disappointing flour substitutions. 

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RWood   

Authentic Foods makes a GF cake flour and a regular baking blend that I have found work best. I've used them in a few wedding cakes and I've been really happy with how they turned out.

I leave the cake trimmings out for they guys in the kitchen and everyone loved the chocolate cake and had no idea it was GF. 

 

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I don't know much about gluten free baking, but the first ingredient you list, @pastrygirl, is garbanzo bean flour. I buy this at Patel Brother's Indian grocer as besan, chickpea flour. It is very, very finely ground. There is not grittiness at all in it. It's so silky, I would say it is smaller grained than flour I buy at the grocery. The Indians are masters at grinding stuff, I have found. Besan also has some of the binding properties of eggs.

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teonzo   
13 hours ago, pastrygirl said:

Thanks, @teonzo, sounds like it may be the sorghum adding coarseness in both flours I've tasted.  That's what I was wondering, if some grains are just harder to mill to fine, soft flour.

 

For sure sorghum, millet and others are harder to mill than wheat. I never found a fine flour made with those grains. But I suppose it would be possible to mill them pretty fine: corn is a PITA to mill, most corn flours are coarse, but you can find fine corn flour.

Probably it's a mix between cutting milling costs and psychological marketing. Grains like millet are much smaller than wheat, this means the bran ratio is much higher. Getting a fine flour when the bran % is much higher takes more work, if you discard the bran you loose a big %, if you mill it fine you spend much more money. Then there is the psychological effect: people who look for alternative flours usually do so because they want a "more natural" diet. A fine milled flour gives the sensation to be less natural (more manipulated) than a coarse one. So the subconscious of those people tends to say "it's coarse so it's better".

Personally I think that coarseness can be a good thing in some baked goods, like shortbreads, pie crusts or cookies. In leavened/aerated goods (cakes and so on) that coarseness is a defect about texture, but with crumbly stuff it can give more crunch and so more satisfaction. That is if you don't mind that "sandy" effect on the tongue. I'm partial to this, since I grew up eating zaeti (cookies typical of Venice, made with corn flour and raisins), most of the time they are made with coarse corn flour, so it can be an acquired taste.

 

 

 

Teo

 

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19 hours ago, RWood said:

Authentic Foods makes a GF cake flour and a regular baking blend that I have found work best. I've used them in a few wedding cakes and I've been really happy with how they turned out.  I leave the cake trimmings out for they guys in the kitchen and everyone loved the chocolate cake and had no idea it was GF. 

 

 

I think that is the holy grail, not being able to tell something made with alternative flours is GF.  Maybe I'm a picky pastry chef, but the few things I've had from this bakery always make me want to go and offer consultation.  I think there must be a better way, but if these bakers and their clientele are happy ...   One of my SILs is GF, I'll have to find some of that cake flour so I can make something she can eat for holiday desserts.

 

5 hours ago, teonzo said:

 

For sure sorghum, millet and others are harder to mill than wheat. I never found a fine flour made with those grains. But I suppose it would be possible to mill them pretty fine: corn is a PITA to mill, most corn flours are coarse, but you can find fine corn flour.

Probably it's a mix between cutting milling costs and psychological marketing. Grains like millet are much smaller than wheat, this means the bran ratio is much higher. Getting a fine flour when the bran % is much higher takes more work, if you discard the bran you loose a big %, if you mill it fine you spend much more money. Then there is the psychological effect: people who look for alternative flours usually do so because they want a "more natural" diet. A fine milled flour gives the sensation to be less natural (more manipulated) than a coarse one. So the subconscious of those people tends to say "it's coarse so it's better".

Personally I think that coarseness can be a good thing in some baked goods, like shortbreads, pie crusts or cookies. In leavened/aerated goods (cakes and so on) that coarseness is a defect about texture, but with crumbly stuff it can give more crunch and so more satisfaction. That is if you don't mind that "sandy" effect on the tongue. I'm partial to this, since I grew up eating zaeti (cookies typical of Venice, made with corn flour and raisins), most of the time they are made with coarse corn flour, so it can be an acquired taste.

 

 

I don't mind a bran muffin, or cornmeal.  I made some banana bread with 1/3 graham flour (relatively coarse WW) yesterday and it was still perfectly soft when baked.  I wonder about the "more natural" theory - you may be correct, after all gritty, un-conched chocolate seems to have found a place in the less-processed foods market.  Thanks for your input!

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Cally   

Hi all,

 

I'm pretty new to gluten free baking, but according to some research I've been doing the cause of this problem is the different starch profiles found in gluten free grains.  They absorb water at different rates and in different amounts than wheat flour. 

 

So if we have a conventional recipe, we have to change the quantity of water to compensate for the change in flour.  We also have to change the amount of time we give the dough or batter to absorb the water and rehydrate the starches in the GF flour.

 

I'm still learning about the changes to the amounts of water in recipes.  But, the most successful GF recipes I have tried share a 30 minute rest period for any batter or dough before it's cooked.

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RWood   
4 hours ago, pastrygirl said:

 

23 hours ago, RWood said:

Authentic Foods makes a GF cake flour and a regular baking blend that I have found work best. I've used them in a few wedding cakes and I've been really happy with how they turned out.  I leave the cake trimmings out for they guys in the kitchen and everyone loved the chocolate cake and had no idea it was GF. 

 

 

I think that is the holy grail, not being able to tell something made with alternative flours is GF.  Maybe I'm a picky pastry chef, but the few things I've had from this bakery always make me want to go and offer consultation.  I think there must be a better way, but if these bakers and their clientele are happy ...   One of my SILs is GF, I'll have to find some of that cake flour so I can make something she can eat for holiday desserts.

 

I know what you mean.

I think the blend is easier to find, maybe some supermarkets. I like it because it doesn't require the addition of xanthum gum.  The cake flour does. You can order directly from them, but the shipping is outrageous.  I think I found the cake flour from a site called Vita-cost.  Much better shipping costs. 

Theres a cookbook called Patisserie Gluten Free that's really nice. Authentic Foods is the recommended flour in the book. Fortunately I don't get a lot of GF requests, but I feel OK with cakes I can offer now after trying so many other flours. 

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Alex   
52 minutes ago, RWood said:

I know what you mean.

I think the blend is easier to find, maybe some supermarkets. I like it because it doesn't require the addition of xanthum gum.  The cake flour does. You can order directly from them, but the shipping is outrageous.  I think I found the cake flour from a site called Vita-cost.  Much better shipping costs.

 

Yes, I get my Namaste flour (and other food items and some supplements) from Vitacost. In fact, no more than three minutes ago I placed an order for 16 bags of Lundberg Organic Rice Chips. I'll have to try Authentic Foods' version after my current supply runs out.

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@RWood, Thank you again for the recommendation of Steve's GF pastry flour from Authentic Foods.  I got a bag and made a cake and it was not gritty at all!

 

It was a bit pasty, but that may have been due to all my other substitutions.  I went full gluten-, milk-, and egg-free, using egg replacer and a combo of oil and cocoa butter for fat.  I believe if I had used butter and eggs as usual it would have been even closer to "real" cake.  (With so many substitutions plus winging it, I didn't have high expectations.  I'm sure even vegan could be better with fine tuning.) I don't get many gluten free cake requests, but next time I do I'll use that flour.  Do you think it's better frozen for storage or fine at room temp?

 

Here's the cake, layered with strawberry jam and cashew/brown sugar/vanilla "cream"

 

IMG_6848.thumb.JPG.5af1c6f0dfa65c95bc14c0ab50fdb8c8.JPG

 

 

 

 

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