I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a baker. When it comes to making loaves of bread, cakes, cookies, etc. I tend to follow recipes vs. making my own.

In recent years, baking flour has gone from that simple white powdery substance in mom's kitchen to all different sorts of flours for all sorts of recipes. It left me scratching my head! It also made me wonder more often than not if I could substitute them easily. (Somehow whenever I need oat flour for a recipe, I always have almond flour and vice versa!)

I compiled a list below of the different characteristics of each flour, what they're best used for, and how to substitute (if you can!). Read on!

All-Purpose Flour: a blend of hard & soft wheat, bleached or unbleached. APF has 8-11% protein and is NOT gluten-free! It's one of the most commonly used and readily accessible flours in the United States.

We'll use this as our golden standard for substituting!

All-Purpose Gluten-Free Flour: Bob's Red Mill AP-GF-F (lol) is the most common version of this flour, and is made with garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, whole grain white sorghum flour, tapioca flour, and fava bean flour.

It can be substituted for APF at a 1:1 ratio.

Almond Flour: This is probably the most common grain/gluten-free flour. It's made of ground and blanched almonds (the skin of the nut has been removed). Almond flour contains a lot of minerals and is a good source of vitamin E, but the fat content of almonds increases it to 640 calories per cup (!!!!!!), which is 200 more than your typical wheat APF.

Almond flour has a higher moisture content than APF, so using it as a substitute can be tough! You have to use a larger quantity of it in order to offset the moisture. You can also combine it with a fried flour (like coconut flour).

It can be substituted for APF at a 2:1 ratio (almond vs APF), but you should use an extra egg. Your batter will be thick and dense. Prepare for lots of trial and error!

Arrowroot Flour: Arrowroot flour or powder (same thing!) is high in starch and low in calories. It's used mostly to bind, thicken, and moisten recipes, like cornstarch or tapioca (see below!).

You need to make a slurry to use arrowroot flour. Combine the flour with water at a 2:1 ratio and add it at the very end of the recipe.

Oat Flour: Oat flour is made up of ground oats. You can technically make it yourself (add your oats to a blender and grind them up) but it's never worked for me. I tried it with my cinnamon rolls and... well, if you know, you know! Using oat flour in your baking will make your end products more moist.

There's some debate about the ratio of oat flour to APF, but the most common answer is that you can substitute them at a 1:1 ratio. 

Other answers include "you can substitute up to 1/4 cup of whole wheat flour with oat flour," "you can substitute oat flour for all-purpose flour in a ratio of 3:1," and "you can substitute oat flour for around 25-30% the amount of regular flour in most recipes." So... nobody really knows. You can always add more flour or more wet ingredients, but be prepared for some trial and error here.

Coconut Flour: Coconut flour is made from the leftover coconut meat after you milk the coconut (lol). It's super dry and soaks up a ton of moisture, which makes it great to add with almond flour! You'll only need a tablespoon or two because of the dryness. Ain't nobody got time for dry donuts and bread! A typical recipe might call for 1 cup of almond flour and 1 TBSP of coconut.

Coconut flour can be substituted at a 4:1 ratio (coconut vs. APF), but again be very wary! Less is more. As my mom always said, you can add but you can't take away! Note: for every 1/4 cup of CF you'll need at least one egg to bind.

Cassava/Tapioca Flour: Both of these are made from the cassava plant, which is a tuber similar to yams and potatoes. It's gluten, grain, and nut-free, and vegan, vegetarian, and paleo.

Tapioca flour is made from the wet pulp of the cassava plant. Cassava flour is made from the whole root, so it has more fiber. (Fun fact: raw cassava has cyanide in it and can be poisonous to consume. Fear not, though, no commercially available cassava flour is toxic.)

Cassava flour is extremely high in carbohydrates, so moderation is key with this one! Per 100 grams, cassava has double the calories and carbohydrates as a sweet potato.

Cassava flour can be substituted at a 1:1 ratio with APF. However, quality matters! You can get different results with different brands. The preferred brands for cassava flour are Otto's and Anthony's.

Tapioca flour (also known as tapioca starch) can be substituted for cornstarch for pies, sauces, and crusts.

Tapioca flour can be substituted for cornstarch at a ratio of 1:2 (cornstarch vs. tapioca) and at a ratio of 1:1 for APF.

Baking is 100% science. There's less room for error here (error that leads to the "correct" result, at least) but if you love to experiment in the kitchen, now you have the ratios and can do it! For me, I just follow the recipe that someone else created. Live your truth!

Sources: https://www.paleoscaleo.com/all-purpose-flour-substitutes-how-to-use-them/https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/gluten-free-flours#section8

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