At some point you may want to experiment with the wide variety of gluten-free flours that are available. As someone who made a series of revolting and inedible banana breads and cookies, I want to spare you from making the mistakes I made. You can make new ones, but I figure that I should at least warn you about my errors.

Rice Flour appears in most gluten free recipies. The reason for this is that it is relatively cheap, easy to adapt, and generally hypoallergenic. It lacks the protein content that wheat has, but by adding egg whites, most recipes get around this deficiency. The problem with rice flour is that it sucks all of the flavor out of the food. I am not a food scientist so I don’t know how this happens but you are going to need what will seem like a staggering amount of vanilla extract in order to make anything with a lot of rice flour taste like vanilla. Otherwise you can do what I did and create cupcakes that taste like rice. It is the same for cinnamon. It will seem like too much and then somehow, it won’t be enough. In addition, rice flour has a distinctive flavor which my husband thinks is the flavor of Gluten Free Food. So if you are going to cook with mostly rice flour you will want to use really flavorful ingredients, use real eggs if you can, and use a lot of spice.

On the other hand, the starches (potato, tapioca, corn) taste comparatively like nothing. Where rice flour would mean that you need to triple or quadruple the amount of vanilla in a recipe, potato starch means that you may need to cut the standard amounts in half. You will taste the sugar and the vanilla and yet taste none of the flour flavor. So the result can be a candy-like taste with a cake texture. If you use any gluten-free kosher for passover cake mixes you will know what I mean. Those cakes use a lot of potato starch which apparently has almost no intrinsic flavor. In these cases, do not go overboard with seasoning as you will taste every last bit of whatever flavoring you use.

For this reason, even in my gluten eating days, I preferred using a starch as a thickener. I don’t need the flavor sucked out of my gravy.

Garbanzo Bean and other Bean Flours – These vary in flavor, but they all have one. Garbanzo bean flour can taste metallic. Bean flours have the advantage of containing a lot of protein, which makes them ideal for people who must avoid eggs. That said, they are too distinctive for recipes with a light taste like vanilla or lemon. They work best with stronger flavors like chocolate or coffee. You want a flavor to mask the mineral bean taste.

Coconut Flour is sweet and very high in protein and fiber. It is a very healthful flour. It is nice as an addition to cakes but you cannot make things exclusively with coconut flour. I have tried. All that fiber means that you need more liquid and then instead of a cake you end up with a gel that is reminiscent of metamucil left to sit for too long. Interestingly it does not have a strong flavor. It also does not seem to effect how much vanilla you use.

Teff is a nutritious specialty flour. Use it for rolls, or special teff recipes. It is very dark in color and distinctive. You can use teff alone as a flour and there are 100% teff recipies.

Buckwheat is related to rhubarb and is in no way related to wheat. I have not found buckwheat flour widely available, but it can be ordered online. I have made GF buckwheat pancakes before. I have not done a lot of baking with buckwheat.

Sorghum Flour – Sorghum is a grass like wheat and corn. It is native to Africa. It is beige and neutral tasting. It is used quite a bit by the Enjoy Life company in their baked goods. It can make up the bulk of a recipe but like many GF flours it tends to be crumbly and needs eggs and starches to be added.

Soy Flour – Like coconut flour this is a high protein high fiber flour and it is best used to enhance a recipe. Using it straight will not work as the properties are too different.

Hemp flour is green. It is healthy, mild tasting, and high in protein but it is dark army green. It is also kind of gritty. I find it works in chocolate and coffee flavored items. and I have an as of yet unpublished granola recipe that uses it. It cannot be used in vanilla or lemon items because….they turn army green.

I hope this has been helpful and somewhat entertaining. There are other flours out there including pea and sweet potato, but I have never baked with them. I eventually decided to just skip using my own flours and instead to use mixes, which are easier to keep fresh and just plain easier.

If you have time, play in the kitchen. If not, explore with a mix. Either way, have fun with it.