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Flour Power

Q. I see so many different types of flours on the market – rice flour, coconut flour, tapioca flour, oat flour. What are the differences and are they interchangeable? –Clark, Menasha

A. The many different types of flours on the market seem to be a directly proportionate response to the increased demand by consumers to minimize or eliminate gluten from their diets. Since gluten is primarily produced from wheat, oats, rye and barley, different flours offer gluten-free alternatives for cooking. The quick answers to your questions are yes, they are all distinctly different and therefore no, they are not necessarily interchangeable. Even when one type of flour is a reasonable replacement for another, the conversion may not necessarily be one-to-one. Cooks experiment with different flours just like cooks experiment with different sugar substitutes. Because each flour is milled from a different product, each flour is distinct. Recently I attempted to make cookies using almond flour. While the cookies were edible, I’m not sure they would be considered ready for “prime time,” if you know what I mean. The important thing is to WRITE EVERYTHING DOWN as you experiment so that you can make continuous improvements as you get closer to your desired outcome. Good luck!

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