Back in 2006 Will Ferrell started in a movie called Stranger than Fiction. In it he becomes smitten with a woman who has a bakery. In it there is a scene where he brings her “flours”. It’s a scene that has stuck with me for over a decade. Then a few years back I discovered “Good to the Grain“. A cookbook about baking with alternative flours. You see, I love baked goods and I wanted to see if there was a way to either make them “healthier” or more interesting and that means looking at the flour.
Since getting that cookbook I have grown my flour collection. I am now well past a dozen flours, I guess that depends on how you look at certain ground nuts and corn, but still there are a lot of them.
What’s interesting is that each one brings something unique to the baked good. Other than using bread flour when making bread and using cake flour when making cakes, there are a few things I have picked up in using all of these flours.
- Oat Flour is good in just about anything. I think the best cookies are a blend of oat flour and all-purpose flour.
- Kamut and Millet Flours together make for a delicious accent in challah. Which then can be adapted to french toast and babka.
- Amaranth Flour can add depth to things like waffles and pancakes.
- Buckwheat Flour has a sweetness to it that works surprisingly well in my Pumpkin Cream Cheese Muffins.
- White Rice Flour is a great gluten-free option and combined with oat flour makes a wonderful Carrot Cake.
- Teff Flour is the biggest discovery. It makes the single best brownies I have ever had. Anything that is a chocolate baked good Teff would only enhance the flavor.
- Whole Wheat Flour is tricky to work with but blended with others can add a wonderful nuttiness to your baked good. It’s also a surprising addition in the english muffins I make. Giving them a deeper and more complex flavor.
- Hazelnut Flour/Meal is delicious in chocolate chip cookies!
Of course I still use good ol’ All-Purpose as well. The trick with the ‘alternative’ flours is not to fully replace the all-purpose flour but just to accent it unless you have a recipe that specifically calls for the other flours. The way they interact with moisture, their gluten content, and how they bind and form shapes will vary.
As for storing all of these flours I like the OXO “Pop” top containers with the exception of my all-purpose. With having more all-purpose than any other single flour I needed a much larger container. That’s when I saw the Boots & Barkley 10 pound dog food storage bin. With it’s air tight seal and easy to use clasp to keep it shut I love this bin for bulk storage!
If you are going to put your flours into containers to easier storage make sure you not only label them but I find it really useful to include the 1 cup measure in grams straight off of each specific flour as it will change from flour to flour. This makes playing with recipes much easier when you’re not trying to track down “What is a cup of Kamut flour in grams?”