Gluten-free flour mixes, available at most supermarkets, can produce tender home-baked treats. The best ones are a combination of a few alternative, nonwheat flours, blended by food scientists to take the guesswork out of gluten-free. If you’re wondering what some of these ingredients actually do (xanthan?), this glossary will help. Choose a blend that specifies a 1-to-1 swap with all-purpose flour (such as Cup4Cup Gluten Free Flour or Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free All Purpose Baking Flour).
Xanthan gum holds baked goods together, creating chewy cookies and silky batters. This white, plant-based powder, which imitates gluten, is essential.
Potato starch has a powdery texture and helps keep baked goods silky, light, and moist.
Tapioca flour is a mildly sweet, starchy white flour that thickens breads and cakes while preventing crumbling. It also lightens baked goods and adds chewiness.
Rice flour, brown or white, is a starchy low-fat flour favored because of its neutral flavor.
Sorghum flour is high in protein, iron, and dietary fiber. Although it has a smoother texture than rice flour, some people find it makes baked goods taste a little bitter.
Bean flours, such as chickpea and lentil flours, are high in protein. They’re fine for savory foods but can impart an unpleasant density and bean flavor to sweets.