how to make a gluten-free whole-grain flour mix

How to make a gluten-free whole-grain flour blend for muffins and other baked goods.

Last week, I was happily startled to find this lovely piece about gluten-free muffins in The New York Times. Gluten-free in The New York Times! Hot diggety!

(This is Lucy’s favorite phrase of the moment. Hot diggety!)

And then, in the middle of the piece, I read this: “So I put together my own gluten-free flour mix, one without bean flour, and turned to America’’s favorite Gluten-Free Girl, Shauna James Ahem,  for guidance.”

Gulp. Really? Wait. Hot diggety!

I’m honored. Martha Rose Shulman, the author of the article and the creator of all the fine muffin recipes that accompany it, is one of my favorite recipe writers. Unfailingly interested in food, she creates good-for-you recipes that taste fantastic. Just a few weeks ago, Danny and I sipped soup for days that was made with her vegetarian pho stock. If you don’t know her work already, we’d like to suggest that you dive in.

So once again, hot diggety! The fact that hundreds, if not thousands, of people across this country made muffins based on our whole-grain blend this week made us a little breathless. And very grateful.

Then, Danny and I realized. We’ve never explained our whole-grain flour blend succinctly. So here you go.

You might have seen the video we did this summer about how to make a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend. If you haven’t seen it, take a look. It’s the same process you’ll use to make a whole-grain mix. We wrote about this a couple of years ago, as part of a larger post about whole grains and why we don’t use the gums in baking anymore. (Pssst. Baked goods made with psyllium or chia or flax or my favorite — a combination of the three — have always turned out better for us than baked goods made with xanthan gum.)

Want to make a gluten-free whole grain flour mix in your kitchen? Here’’s how.

We generally use this ratio: 70% whole-grain flours to 30% starches or white flours.

Let’s make it simple. Let’s make up 1000 grams of whole-grain flour mix.

Choose 700 grams of any combination of the following flours:

Brown Rice
Roasted Soy
Sweet Brown Rice

You might notice that I have not put in garbanzo (I don’t like it) or coconut (I don’t like the way it tastes or the way it sucks all the moisture out of a baked good). You might like those. Substitute if you want.

This means that you can make your own blend. If you are allergic to corn, and you know you can’t eat the certified gluten-free oats, blend up 100 grams each of brown rice, buckwheat, millet, quinoa, sorghum, sweet brown rice, and teff. Or make it easy on yourself: 350 grams of buckwheat and 350 grams of millet. (The flavor you find by blending all these different tastes is fascinating. It’’s amazing how boring regular AP flour seems after you use this.) Find your own favorite combination.

And then throw in 300 grams of any combination of the following:

Potato Starch
Tapioca Flour
White Rice Flour

We like using 150 grams potato starch and sweet rice, at the moment.

Combine the 700 grams of whole-grain flours with the 300 grams of starches in a big container. Shake it all up. Use a whisk to combine them until the flour blend is one color. You have a whole-grain flour blend.

The question always arises: do we really need the starches? That’s up to you. The starches do help lighten the flour mix, so you get more rise and lift in baked goods made with some starches than without. However, I have been playing with an all whole-grain mix — — buckwheat, millet, and teff —— and it works well with nearly every baked good I love to make. (Not pie. Whole-grain pie crust is just sad.) In fact, before sitting down to write, I ate a warm slice of sweet potato-oatmeal bread, made with coconut sugar and an all whole-grain flour mix. It was utterly delicious.

So it’s up to you. If you’re brand new to gluten-free and used to eating a lot of white bread, you might want to try the gluten-free AP flour blend, then graduate to the whole-grain mix, and then make a mix of whole-grain flours that are entirely whole-grain. After all, just eating gluten-free isn’t enough to be healthy. We all have to find our own way.

Me? I’m finding my way to another one of these cornmeal-millet muffins with sharp cheddar cheese. When we gave one to Lucy today after her swimming session, want to know what she said?

Hot diggety!

CORNMEAL-MILLET MUFFINS WITH CHEDDAR CHEESE, adapted from Martha Rose Shulman’s recipe

70 grams millet flour
70 grams cornmeal (make sure it’s gluten-free)
140 grams whole-grain gluten-free flour blend
10 grams (2 teaspoons) psyllium husks (you can also use ground chia seeds or ground flaxseeds, or any combination)
5 grams (1 teaspoon) baking powder
3 grams (about 1/2 teaspoon) baking soda
3 grams (about 1/2 teaspoon) kosher salt
5 grams (1 teaspoon) chili powder
3 grams (1/2 teaspoon) smoked paprika
2 large eggs, at room temperature
40 grams (2 tablespoons) Dijon mustard
300 grams (1 1/4 cups) buttermilk
75 grams extra-virgin olive oil
115 grams (1 cup, packed) grated cheddar cheese

Preparing to bake. Heat the oven to 425°. Grease a standard-size muffin tin.

Combining the dry ingredients. Whisk together the millet flour, cornmeal, whole-grain flour mix, psyllium husks, baking powder, baking soda, salt, chili powder, and smoked paprika in a bowl. When the mixture is one color, set aside the bowl.

Combining the wet ingredients. In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, Dijon mustard, buttermilk, and olive oil.

Finishing the batter. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients. Pour in the liquids. With a rubber spatula, stir everything until it is almost combined. Add the grated cheese and stir together until entirely combined. Make sure there is no visible flour remaining.

Using a large ice cream scoop, fill each of the muffin cups to 3/4 full.

Baking the muffins. Bake the muffins at 425° for 10 minutes. Turn down the heat to 375° and bake until the tops are lightly browned and a toothpick inserted into the middle of a muffin comes out clean, about another 10 to 15 minutes. Allow the muffins to cool in the tin for 15 minutes then remove them to a cooling rack.

Makes 12 muffins.

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