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Why Quinoa Flour is Your New Gluten-Free Go-To

quinoa flour

Quinoa flour is a bit of a newcomer but is already proving to be a popular choice amongst those in the know. For those navigating the world of gluten-free cooking, getting to grips with gluten-free flour can sometimes be a daunting task. Packed with all the goodness of quinoa, this flour is a game-changer for those on a gluten-free diet. In this post, we will explore everything you need to know about this fantastic flour alternative. And, for good measure, throw in some tips about how to use it in your favourite recipes.

Introducing Quinoa Flour

Quinoa may be absolutely everywhere but it turns out that it also happens to make a surprisingly good gluten-free flour. Quinoa flour, made from quinoa grain, is rising in popularity due to its excellent nutritional profile and gluten-free credentials. Made by grinding whole quinoa grains into a fine powder, it has a subtle, nutty flavour and can be used as a direct substitute for wheat flour in many recipes. Its versatility makes it an essential ingredient in gluten-free baking, allowing for the creation of delicious, nutrient-dense food items that cater to the needs of gluten-sensitive and health-conscious individuals alike.

Organic quinoa flour

Organic quinoa flour, as the name suggests, is derived from organically grown quinoa grains. This means they are cultivated without the use of synthetic pesticides, or fertilizers, and are non-GMO, ensuring you get the purest form of this nutritious superfood. By choosing organic quinoa flour, you are not only making a healthier choice for your body but also supporting sustainable farming practices that benefit our environment.

Check out our organic quinoa flour

The Nutritional Value of Quinoa Flour

You don’t need us to tell you that quinoa is really really good for you, but just in case here’s a recap.

Rich in Protein

Quinoa flour stands out in the world of gluten-free alternatives primarily due to its high protein content. Quinoa is in fact made up of 22% protein. Unlike many other actual grains, quinoa is a complete protein, which simply means it contains all nine of the essential amino acids. Pretty exceptional for a plant-based protein! Each serving provides a substantial amount of protein, making it an excellent choice for vegetarians, vegans, or anyone looking to add more plant-based protein to their diet. Unlike traditional grain flours, this high protein content also contributes to the feeling of fullness, making meals more satisfying and aiding in weight management.

This powerful little pseudo-grain is a particularly potent source of the amino acid lysine, which aids in tissue repair.

Vitamins and Minerals

Quinoa flour is not only protein-rich but packed with a variety of essential vitamins and minerals. It contains significant amounts of B vitamins, a wide spectrum of E vitamins, plus a host of minerals including iron, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. A  rich source of silica, it can help keep skin strong and elastic. It also has powerful antioxidant properties provided by the E vitamins and flavonoids that appear in high concentrations.

Omega-3 and Fatty acids

Also rich in essential fatty acids, and particularly anti-inflammatory omega-3s, quinoa flour is a rich source of oleic acid which is thought to help lower LDL cholesterol.

Fibre Content

A fantastic source of dietary fibre. Fibre not only keeps everything moving along nicely but also helps to control blood sugar levels by slowing the absorption of sugar into the bloodstream. Plus, high-fibre foods like quinoa flour can help to manage weight by promoting a feeling of fullness and reducing overall calorie intake. So, not only does it provide a gluten-free, protein-packed alternative to traditional flours, but can also contribute to digestive health, blood sugar control, and weight management with its high fibre content.

Gluten-Free

And of course, one of the best things about quinoa is that it is gluten-free.

Is Quinoa Low-Carb?

Quinoa is often thought to be a great choice for those following a low-carb diet. Yet it is important to understand that while quinoa is lower in carbs than some types of grains, it is not strictly a low-carb food. A cup of cooked quinoa contains around 40 grams of carbs, which is more than the daily intake suggested by some low-carb diets. That being said, it’s a complex carbohydrate, which means it digests slower than simple carbs and offers sustained energy without causing a rapid spike in blood sugar. Therefore, while not a low-carb food in the strictest sense, it can still be a healthier choice compared to many other grains and is enjoyed by many people following a balanced, healthy diet.

Cooking and Baking with Quinoa Flour

So, while it is good to know just how nutritional this stuff is, what we really want to know is how to cook with it. Right? We will be looking at these things in more detail over time, but here’s a quick overview to get you started.

The basics of cooking and baking with quinoa flour

In the realm of gluten-free flour, quinoa flour is high in protein and has a high absorption rate. If you remember from our in-depth guide to using gluten-free flours, these flours can be grouped into two categories. These are protein flours and starches. High protein flours often have more pronounced flavours than starches but they do lend strength and elasticity to a bake. Starches, on the other hand, contribute little in the way of flavour yet they add a fluffy light texture to the heavier protein flours.

Just as some quinoa can be slightly bitter, but not all, the same goes for its flour. Again, the flavour can range from profoundly earthy to pleasingly nutty.

As with most gluten-free flours, this flour is best used alongside other varieties to get the best balance between texture and flavour for your particular recipe needs. That said, your choice of flour will depend very much on what you are making, so there are times when you can directly substitute for all-purpose wheat flour.

Substituting quinoa flour in recipes

Getting to grips with using gluten-free flour is always a bit of a baptism by fire. Recipes and suggestions should be used as a guideline only, largely because such flours can be wholly unpredictable. There is nothing more frustrating than a tried and tested recipe that does not deliver results.

There will be some cases where it is safer to begin with a 1:1 substitution for wheat flour than others. Remember that the protein content makes it denser, and also means it will absorb more water. Gluten is required to build strength, elasticity, and structure into a bake so it is really important in bread making yet can lead to toughness in a pastry. Cakes need little in the way of gluten, yet also require a certain amount of bulk and fluffiness.

And then there is flavour. Quinoa flour has a pronounced flavour. If you find that it tends towards bitterness, then it can be toasted in a moderate oven for about 10 to 15 minutes before cooling and using. So, whilst you may not want to make a delicate Victoria sponge with quinoa flour, it could be perfect for that parmesan pastry you have in mind. Or a more robustly flavoured banana muffin.

So our advice is to begin with a 1:1 ratio in recipes where it may seem appropriate. Like a pastry or a muffin. If you find it too dry, then use a little less flour, or a touch more liquid.

Sauces and batters rely more on the liquid content of the recipe. So substitute your flour slowly, gradually adding more until you reach the desired consistency.

Tips for cooking and baking with quinoa flour

  1. Test small batches first: Before using quinoa flour in large quantities, consider trying it in smaller recipes. This allows you to understand its unique characteristics and adjust your main recipe accordingly.
  2. Blend with other flours: Quinoa flour alone may not suit all recipes. Try blending it with other gluten-free flours to create a balance of flavour and texture.
  3. Adjust liquid levels: Quinoa flour tends to absorb more liquid than wheat flour. Keep an eye on your batter or dough and be prepared to add extra liquid if it seems too dry.
  4. Store properly: Keep your quinoa flour in an airtight container in a cool, dark place. Proper storage preserves the flour’s taste and extends its shelf life.
  5. Cooked quinoa flour: If the flavour of quinoa flour is too strong, try toasting it in the oven for 10-15 minutes before cooling and using. This can help to reduce bitterness.
  6. Use in savoury recipes: Quinoa flour can be a wonderful addition to savoury recipes like flatbreads, pizza dough, or pasta, where its unique flavour can shine.
  7. Healthy baking: Use quinoa flour in recipes where health is a priority. It is protein-rich and offers a nutritious alternative to traditional flour.

Quinoa flour in bread-making

It’s a whole other subject, but the protein content of quinoa flour makes it an excellent contender in the gluten-free bread stakes. It will need to be used alongside other flours though so we will explore this more fully at a later date.

To sum up, it would certainly seem that even for those without gluten-related disorders, quinoa flour offers a change of pace from traditional flours, allowing for experimentation with diverse, nutrient-rich alternatives in the kitchen.

Have you seen our other gluten-free flours?


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Gluten Free Flour Suppliers”.
See original article:- Why Quinoa Flour is Your New Gluten-Free Go-To

How to Make Gluten-Free Brownies

gluten free brownies

One of the easiest introductions to gluten-free baking is the brownie. Why? Because your classic squidgy soft brownie contains very little flour. And what little flour is there, is to create bulk and solidity rather than harness the properties of gluten.

Gluten free baking and healthy baking are two separate issues and, although they often merge, in this article we will explore purely the gluten free aspect of making brownies and leave the rest of the ingredients as they would be in a classic brownie.

Choosing the right gluten-free flour

We talked a lot about choosing the right flour in our article on gluten free flours, so let’s recap that information to figure out what kind of flour we want for our gluten free brownie.

A brownie recipe contains anywhere between 10% to 15% flour. It is folded in very gently right at the end for two very good reasons. One, so as to keep the air that is incorporated by whisking sugar and eggs. Two, so as not to OVERWORK THE GLUTEN. That bit is important, it gives us a good clue that using gluten free flour may work in our favour.

So, the flour in our brownie is there to add solidity and stability to our mixture of whisked eggs and sugar, plus the melted chocolate and butter. It is the eggs and the sugar that give most of the structure to our brownie. The final texture is as much to do with the baking time as it is the ingredients themselves.

Because right now what we are doing is trying to replicate our classic brownie as closely as possible by simply switching out wheat for something without gluten, we can ignore all the flours that might bring in interesting flavour. Quinoa flour, or buckwheat flour, could add some interesting flavour to our flavour profile, but really what we are looking for is that same neutral base that we get with wheat flour.

Also, because we are not trying to replicate any of the properties of gluten, we don’t need to look at the higher protein flours that we would need to use in breadmaking.

All of this tells us that the best thing to use will be one of neutral tasting gluten free flour blends. Let’s use this one…

Gluten free flour blend

200g white rice flour

40g potato starch

20g tapioca flour

The thing we need to watch out for with gluten free brownies is that they remain moist. One of the pressure points of gluten free baking is that gluten free flours can absorb a lot of liquid, resulting in a dry, crumbly bake.

How to Make Brownies

Before we move on to our gluten free brownie recipe, let’s first consider some of the ins and outs of making classic brownies.

Other than a deep chocolatey taste, a brownie is all about texture. Words like fudgy, squidgy, and chewy spring to mind. The temperature of the oven and the length of the bake make a big difference here, but it is also about the ratios of ingredients.

Keep the flour content low

The first consideration is keeping that flour to an absolute minimum. Too much flour (gluten free or otherwise) is what makes a brownie cakey.

Choose the right chocolate

The chocolate that you use is important. Use the best quality chocolate that you can afford. Most people will tell you to use 70% cocoa content chocolate. Yet you need to bear in mind that chocolate also contains sugar. Using a dark dark chocolate may require more sugar in the recipe. If you alter the cocoa content of the chocolate that you use then this will impact the amount of sugar that you need. So it is a play off between chocolate intensity and sugar. The amount of chocolate will also affect the solidity of the final bake.

Sugar in a brownie is important. Obviously you do not want it to be too sweet. You do however want that classic brownie cracked top and a structure that will hold up with the minimum amount of flour.

Use unsalted good quality butter

The amount of butter that goes into your brownie is also important. If you think about butter being solid at room temperature, and also think about the solid slow melting texture of a chocolate ganache (which is made from chocolate and butter) then you see how butter contributes to that final fudgy texture. Use unsalted, good quality butter.

So the perfect brownie is all about getting the ideal ratios of just four ingredients; chocolate, butter (wet ingredients) flour and sugar (dry ingredients).

It is also about finding a happy medium of temperature. Baking at a lower temperature of 160C allows the inside to set and become fudgy without drying out the outside. On the other hand, baking at a higher temperature creates that all important crackly crust. The issue with drying on the outside is that it starts to enter cakey territory at the edges. We aim to hit the sweet spot of both these scenarios, beginning at a lower temperature for most of the bake, with a boost nearer the end to create the crust.

Recipe for gluten free brownie

The recipe we have come up with for our gluten free brownie aims to be solid, yet not cakey, and fudgy rather than squidgy.

150g 50% chocolate

75g 70% chocolate

150g unsalted butter

3 large eggs

225g caster sugar

90g gluten free flour blend (see above)

20g cocoa powder

  1. Grease and line a 20cm square baking pan.
  2. Pre heat the oven to 160C.
  3. Place the butter in a heatproof bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and melt.
  4. Turn off the heat, remove the bowl, and stir in the chocolate until it melts. It should melt in the heat of the butter, but if not just put the bowl back over the hot water.
  5. Leave aside to cool.
  6. Using an electric beater at high speed (free standing or handheld) whisk the eggs and sugar together for about 7 minutes or until they triple in volume and become pale and fluffy. Whisk in the chocolate mixture at a slower speed until combined.
  7. Very gently, fold in the flour, salt, and cocoa powder until just combined.
  8. Pour the batter into your prepared tin and bake on the centre shelf for 15 minutes at 160C, then turn up the heat to 180C and bake for a further 8 minutes. When you insert a skewer, it should come out with just a little of the mixture sticking to it.
  9. Leave to cool completely in the tin, before turning out and slicing. It is best left overnight in the fridge before eating, in order to let the slightly sandy texture of the rice flour settle down.
  10. The brownie will keep in an airtight container for up to a week, in or out of the fridge. It is particularly good eaten straight from the fridge, and the texture improves with age.

 

 

Explore our range of gluten free flours, and other healthy baking ingredients.


This article was reproduced on this site with permission from operafoods.com.au the “Gluten Free ingredients Suppliers”.
See original article:- How to Make Gluten-Free Brownies