Wheat free Reference sheet

Naturally, in order to make wheat free bread or cakes, you need wheat free flour. What is out there? Well, here's the low-down!

Pre-blended flours

Exactly what it says on the tin. These are pre-mixed flours (available as white and wholemeal bread, plain and self-raising) made to use as a substitute in wheat flour recipes. By far the most commonly found is Dove's Farm flours, although which ones vary by supermarket or health shop.

Dove's Farm seems to be in most stores, although larger Waitrose stores also has some Red Mill products, which are fairly common in America.

Arrowroot

Ground arrowroot is used as a thickener much like cornflour, however, it becomes clear when cooked, making it ideal for flans. Waitrose stocks this in their cook's ingredients range.

Buckwheat flour

Despite its name, buckwheat is actually a relative of rhubarb. It has a strong nutty and slightly bitter flavour, so it is rarely used on its own. One common use of this is soba, a form of Japanese noodle that is traditionally eaten on New Year's Eve.

While Dove's Farm sells this, it is worth noting that it is made in the same mill as their wheat flours.

Cornflour

Available in most supermarkets, cornflour is used as a thickener in sauces. Also called cornstarch, it has a bland taste and is often used in conjunction with other ingredients.

Gram flour

Also called chickpea flour, gram flour has a slightly nutty taste and is rarely used on its own. Ethnic food aisles are a great place to search for this. Dove's Farm sell this, but again, I cannot guarantee wheat free since it is kept on the same aisle as wheat flours.

Rice flour

By far the most common I've seen is a blended rice flour by Dove's Farm. Brown rice flour is more nutritious than white, but it is also heavier in terms of texture.

Rice flour is best stored in an airtight container to keep out moisture, but has a reasonable shelf life.

Dove's Farm's rice flour is sold in a number of supermarkets, including Sainsbury's and Waitrose. Supermarkets in communities rich in different ethical backgrounds may stock this in other brands.

Side note: Do not mix up with sweet/gluttonous rice flour, which is commonly available in Asian specialist shops.

Potato Flour

Ground potatoes into a fine powder, this can be a heavy flour and a little goes a long way. Unlike its lighter cousin potato starch flour, it doesn't have a very long shelf life so unless you find yourself using it often do not buy it in bulk.

I have found this flour in Holland and Barett, Tesco, Asian specialist shops and larger Waitrose shops.

Tapioca Flour

A soft flour made by grinding the root of the Cassava plant, I first heard of this in Canada, as it is used to make the pearls in a popular drink called Bubble Tea. It adds a chewiness to baking that will help the texture of breads and cakes. Noted for its resilience, storing this at room temperature is no problem.

So far, I've only seen this flour in Asian specialist shops, however, if you have a mill or a good coffee grinder, you could make it from tapioca pearls, which are sold as a cook's ingredient.

Soya Flour

I have yet to come across a recipe that uses soya flour, and in all honesty, I might not use one if I do, as Xander had a bad reaction to soya milk (hence why I use other milk alternatives in recipes) but if you find the need to use this, Tesco sells this in the whole foods section. It is noted for having a nutty flavour, but its high fat content makes it prone to going rancid quickly, so store it in an airtight container in a cool, dark place, or even in your fridge.

Available in Tesco and Holland and Barrett.

Xanthan Gum

Although not a flour, xanthan gum is a useful ingredient in wheat free baking, gluten, which coeliacs and some allergics react to, is what gives bread its elasticity. Xanthan gum is a natural emulsifier that is used to create a similar elasticity in gluten free bread. Available in health shops and gluten free sections at supermarkets.

Wheat free, but not Gluten Free


The following ingredients are not suitable for coeliacs or those who react to gluten, but are safe for people who are allergic to wheat.

Spelt

A relative of wheat, this is an ancestral grain that can be used in most recipes calling for wheat flour. however, the gluten in this is more delicate and thus needs to be kneaded gently in comparison. It is a sweet, slightly nutty flavour and from personal experience it is delicious.

If you're fortunate enough to live in West London, there's a small chain of bakeries called 'The Bread Shop' which sells spelt breads. Sainsbury's sell wholewheat spelt spaghetti while Marks and Spencers sell another form of spelt pasta.

Rye

Characteristic for its dark colour, rye contains less gluten than wheat, and is used for, among other things, a bread also known as Pumpernickel.

Oats

Oats need no introduction, but some species can contain gluten. These are high in fibre, great for lowering cholesterol, and used in both recipes and as a breakfast cereal.

Barley

Probably best known for being in malt vinegar, barley is another grain safe for those with a wheat intolerance but not safe for gluten allergic or coeliac.

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