One ingredient that’s present in just about every baked good, whether sweet or savory, is flour. While all-purpose flour is far and away the most popular choice, it’s really just one of many. There are countless alternative flours that are available these days. Some are well-suited for particular diets, like gluten-free or low-carb, but even if you don’t follow a certain diet, these alternative flours are well worth exploring. Just like adding a different kind of spice or chocolate to a baked good can alter it, so can an alternative flour. Go beyond all-purpose and you can achieve various textures and flavors, not to mention get a bolt of added nutrients. Here are 5 unique flours to try:
1. Almond Flour
Almond flour is the perfect introduction into the world of alternative flours. It’s made from almonds that have been blanched, to remove their skins, then finely ground. That means it delivers a nutty, slightly sweet taste to baked goods and because almonds naturally contain lots of healthy fat, it makes them extra moist and rich-tasting. You’ll also get great things like protein, iron, magnesium, calcium, potassium, and vitamin E. Almond flour is naturally gluten-free and grain-free and suitable for a low-carb diet. It can be substituted 1:1 for all-purpose flour.
2. Buckwheat Flour
Despite containing the word “wheat” in its name, buckwheat flour is totally unrelated to wheat and is gluten-free. It’s made from the seed of a flowering fruit that is related to rhubarb and sorrel and is antioxidant-rich and a great source of B vitamins. The color of buckwheat flour is quite dark, resulting in deep brown baked goods. The flavor is also a bit intense: It’s earthy, nutty, and slightly bitter. For this reason, it’s best to combine it with another flour unless you’re making something that’s traditionally made completely with flour, such as buckwheat crepes.
Bake with it: Buckwheat Banana Cake with Yogurt-Espresso Frosting from Bon Appetit
3. Chickpea Flour
Chickpea flour is also known as garbanzo flour, gram flour, or besan and is made from finely ground dried chickpeas. It’s full of protein and fiber, along with things like magnesium and potassium — it’s also naturally gluten- and grain-free. The flavor of chickpea flour is distinctively savory, so unless it’s blended with another flour or plenty of sugar or something else sweet like chocolate is added to offset it, I think it works better in savory baked goods than sweet ones.
4. Cassava Flour
This lesser-known alternative flour is made from the whole root of a starchy root vegetable native to South America called cassava, or otherwise known as yuca. It delivers a mellow flavor that most mimics all-purpose flour, so it can be used 1:1 as a great gluten-free substitute (though it is high in carbohydrates, if that’s a concern). It also happens to be fiber-rich.
5. Oat Flour
Oat flour is one of the easiest alternative flours to try at home because you can make it yourself quite easily by simply blending old fashioned rolled oats in a food processor until they’re finely ground. Of course, oat flour is readily available at grocery stores, too. As long as the oats are noted to be gluten-free, oat flour is, too. It lends a nutty flavor and chewy texture to baked goods and is perfect in both sweet and savory recipes. It can be used on its own but I also love using it in combination with almond flour. You’ll get lots of good fiber from oat flour, as well as nutrients like protein, magnesium, and phosphorus.
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