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It's under accusation and banned from many of today’s kitchens: we are talking about white and all purpose flour, a product that is often overly refined and whitened during processing, to the detriment of many of the characteristic nutrients of wheat.
Health and nutritional issues apart, here we are going to address the topic of the all-purpose flour substitutes, new alternatives to white flour also perfect for giving original nuances, textures and flavours to oven-baked products such as cakes, piadinas and many other recipes. Not just wholemeal flours: because of food intolerance or allergies, first and foremost that of gluten, so we have chosen to focus on pulses, chestnuts and other cereal-like foods such as amaranth, quinoa and teff.
But, more specifically, what all-purpose flour substitutes are available and what are their individual characteristics? Don't miss these 9 flours.
Obtained by crushing the seeds to powder form, this flour has a brown/green colour and a very soft consistency. It contains various nutrients and is perfect for people who are gluten-intolerant. It confers a hazelnut flavour but it is always preferable to combine it with other types of flour to obtain a more digestible mixture.
Made from chestnuts, this flour is rich in carbohydrates and mineral salts but is low in fat. From cakes to pasta, chestnut flour is ideal for gluten allergy sufferers (and for those following a paleo diet).
By no means a newcomer to the scene, this flour has always been used in traditional products such as farinata (a sort of chickpea crepe) or panelle, a tempting Sicilian street food. Excellent when used in pizza or focaccia to which it adds an unmistakable flavour.
Kamut is a legally registered trademark owned by the eponymous American company. Also known as Khorasan wheat, its characteristics are superior to those of common wheat but it is definitely not recommended for those who are allergic or intolerant to common wheat. In fact it is a predecessor to durum wheat and shares some of the latter’s properties.
Obtained from ground almonds, this flour is perfect for making cakes and sweets. This is also a gluten-free flour high in calories and proteins, which can even be home-made by grinding peeled almonds, better still if they are sprouted.
The official name of this wheat is Triticum monococcum and in Italy it is mainly grown in the provinces of Brescia and Piedmont. In Lombardy it goes under the name of Shebar, whilst it is called Enkir in Piedmont. This flour is rich in nutrients and low in gluten, but it rises very little. Foto: ©Wikipedia
QUINOA AND AMARANTH FLOUR
Two types of flour that derive from wheat-like seeds: quinoa and amaranth, both of which are gluten-free. Quinoa flour has an almost greyish colour and is mainly used for flat oven-baked products – in fact, it is often used to make piadina. Amaranth flour is rich in protein and fibre and has more or less the same characteristics.
Tapioca is a South American tuberous root used to produce a flour. Tapioca contains a great deal of starch, protein and fats, and is perfect for thickening creamy dishes and sauces.
Despite being one of the so-called super foods, teff is not yet easy to come by. Teff is a cereal used by Ethiopians which contains a large amount of fibre, vitamins and starches. The flour made from it has quite a strong flavour and is excellent when mixed with other flour types. Moreover, it is gluten-free. Click here for further information on Teff. Photos: © www.familyfoodandrunning.wordpress.com