Cakes and Pastries! Cookies and Breads! We all love a good indulgence when it comes to satisfying our carvings. But what if I tell you that there is a gluten-free alternative to your baking flours that can relieve you from the guilt of indulging in your baked goods cravings? Essentially, baking flours can be considered to be the most important ingredient needed for baking (well, of course you do need other ingredients like sweeteners and binding agents). Commonly used to make cakes, cookies, pancakes, breads and muffins, some of the gluten-free flours include tapioca, buckwheat, sorghum, banana, quinoa, corn and amaranth flours.
For those who are gluten sensitive or have celiac disease, these flours are a perfect substitute to regular flours in your diet. While it helps you keep a check on your weight, gluten-free flours improve energy levels and eliminate bloating due to gas related issues. While it is said to reduce depression and the frequency of headaches, it improves bone and skin health as well. It also ensures a better over-all gut health.
History Fact: Recent research suggests that humans have been baking bread since 30,000 years. Yeast was first used by bread bakers in Egypt around 300 B.C. The process of refining flours was started by the Mesopotamians in 800 B.C. In 12th century B.C., Egyptians consumed a flat bread called “ta”.
The first evidences of baking infer that man made a paste of wild grass grains and mashed them to make a paste, which was then poured on a flat surface and when hardened, looked like a bread. The Greeks baked bread around 600 B.C. which also points to the first use of ovens. In the medieval era, access to baked good or just the process of baking was considered to be an act of luxury that only a few privileged people could afford. Only the rich could afford bread, and the richer, cake. This takes us to the famous dialogue by Marie Antoinette, the Queen of France, who said –
“If people have no bread, let them eat cake.”
15th century Britain popularized the making of the wigg, which is a flavorful bun made with sweetened dough and spices. By the 17th century, plump cakes and buns with a lot of cream, butter and raisins became ‘the thing’. While India does not traditionally have a baking tradition, the first cake in India was said to be made by Mambally Bapu in Thalassery, Kerala in 1880.
So, here is the list of gluten-free baking flours –
1. Sorghum (Jowar) Flour: Rated among the top 5 healthy grains in the world and indigenous to India, jowar flour helps with digestion because it is high in dietary fibres. It is gluten-free, boosts immunity and helps maintain heart health. Along with being a rich source of protein, it also helps balance the blood sugar levels. It is a popular baking flour especially for breads, cookies and cakes, because it is easy to work with. You can also use this to make variations in baked confectionaries like tarts and pies.
Taru Products – Ancient Jowar Atta
2. Banana Flour: Native to Africa and Jamaica, banana flour is made from the fibrous green bananas. Beneficial for those who suffer from celiac disease or are on a gluten-free diet, banana flour is rich in probiotic fibre, potassium and resistant starch that helps maintain blood sugar levels. Banana flour is popularly used to make brownies and is a gluten-free replacement for regular flours. Commonly, they are mixed with some form of chocolate like choco chips by bakers for flavor enhancement.
Taru Products – Banana Flour
3. Tapioca Flour: Native to Brazil and South America, Tapioca flour is extracted from the cassava plant’s roots. It is recommended for people who have celiac disease, gluten sensitivity and nut allergies. Easily digestible, it is an excellent source of calcium and iron and is low in sodium (which in turn helps deal with high blood pressure, heart diseases and strokes). This can be used to bake rolls, gluten-free batters and mixes and flatbreads. Tapioca flour helps add crispiness and chew to baked goods.
Taru Products – Tapioca Flour
4. Amaranth Flour: Popularly called ‘the prince’s feather’, Amaranth aka Rajgira flour is known to be super nutritious and also an aid in weight loss. Rich in antioxidants, fibre, protein and phosphorous, it acts as an anti-inflammatory against allergens and lowers cholesterol levels. Historically, amaranth forms an essential part of the staple diet of the Inca, Maya and Aztec civilizations. Amaranth Flour is frequently used to make crackers, pancakes and cookies. It adds excellent texture to the baked goods.
Taru Products – Amaranth Flour
5. Buckwheat Flour: A popular pseudo-cereal, Buckwheat flour is the primary ingredient in authentic European and Asian cuisines. Suitable for people who are gluten intolerant, it is rich in minerals, like copper, magnesium, iron and phosphorous and helps maintain blood sugar levels and heart health. It also helps balance blood lipid profiles and blood pressure. In baking, it adds flavor and texture and is thus used in cookies, muffins, scones and biscuits. In cakes though, it is usually mixed with a little wheat flour.
Taru Products – Buckwheat Flour
6. Quinoa Flour: A close relative of Amaranth, Quinoa is said to have been an important crop in the Inca Empire and called “mother of all grains”. High in fibre, protein, Vitamin B, iron and calcium, quinoa flour helps balance blood sugar levels. It has a low glycemic index, contains nine essential amino acids and improves metabolism. In baking, especially with bread, quinoa flour gives it texture and structure. It is used to make cookies, waffles, brownies and pizza crusts.
Taru Products – Quinoa Flour
So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get baking! Shop on www.tarunaturals.com
- Shruthi Narayan.