Substitutions for ingredients in my gluten-free recipes

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Gluten-Free Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day tries to accommodate a wide variety of food sensitivities but some readers asked about substitutions for what’s called for in the book’s flour mixtures, and so here are swaps for flours that some of our readers don’t eat. Others may be possible, but these are the gluten-free substitutes that actually worked.

Flour Mixture #1 is based on rice, sorghum, tapioca, and potato, with xanthan gum or psyllium providing structure. If you’re sensitive to the bold-faced ingredient in the list below, you can try swapping in one of the suggested gluten-free substitutes. But keep in mind that if the recipe already has some of that ingredient, you may throw off the flavor or consistency. Are other substitutions possible? Maybe, but it’s risky.

White rice flour can be replaced by brown rice flour, but increase the water by 2 tablespoons per full batch of our dough recipes. It seems that at least some rice flour is pretty much a requirement for a good result, whether white or brown. If you can’t use rice at all, you probably need to try a different method.

Sorghum flour can be replaced with oat or amaranth flour.

Tapioca starch/flour can be replaced with arrowroot starch/flour or cornstarch. However, cornstarch cannot be omitted from the brioche recipe–substitutions there just did not work.

Potato starch: You can try proportionally increasing the other starches/flours in the flour mixture, but you may have to adjust the water to keep the consistency at about the level that you see in the video.

Corn starch: In testing, it was tough to decrease corn starch in these recipes, despite much experimentation. You could start trying partial swaps, or combination swaps for other powdery starches or GF flours, but as I say, this was frustrating. On the other hand, if you can tolerate a little density, or are willing to settle for flatbreads only, you could end up with something acceptable to you. For the books, the doughs had to be multi-purpose, including working well in sandwich loaves and other lofty breads. The flatter you’re willing to accept–the more leeway you’ll have when you experiment with swaps for corn starch–but I can’t make any guarantees here.

Finally, some readers have asked about ingredients like almond, millet, or quinoa. Though those appear in small amounts in some of the book’s recipes, they don’t make a good yeasted bread when you start to use more significant amounts.

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181 thoughts to “Substitutions for ingredients in my gluten-free recipes”

  1. Hi, I am a fan first with the Zoe Bakes Cakes. Love it.

    My DIL has found out she has Celiac disease and so I bought the GFAB in 5. Since you wrote the book in 2014 there are so many GF mixtures out on the market such as Bob’s Red Mill GF flours. Can we substitute any of these instead of mixing our own per your recipe?

    Thanks in advance.

    1. Hi Jules,

      Thank you so much, I am thrilled that you are enjoying the cake book.

      When we wrote the GFAB book there were very few GF flour blends and we couldn’t find one that produced the texture and flavor we wanted. There are many more available, but the only one I have tested and has come close to the results we get with our own flour blend is called Better Batter. If you try different flour blends, I would make a small batch of dough to make sure you are happy with the results. I found most of them to produce gummy bread, but as you suggested, that was years ago. If you find one you like, please let us know.

      Cheers, Zoë

  2. Hello, I have a question…I am wondering if I am able to replace the active dry yeast in the GF master bread recipes and instead use a dried “wild yeast” powder that is made of the following ingredients: organic brown rice flour, live active cultures. It is a packet of dehydrated gluten free sourdough starter. I would like to enhance the gut health benefits of using wild yeast strains and not just one strain from the typical dry active yeast. Would you have any recommendations for how to adjust the process for this substitution?

    A secondary question would be, would this work as well for the additional active dry yeast that some of the recipes require to be added in for the enriched dough recipes, etc?

    I am not as interested in having to substitute the additional yeast for the recipes, but I am definitely interested to know if you think that the original master recipe could be successful with the “wild yeast” powder instead of the typical dry active yeast! I’d love to make this work for our family who has gut health issues and make your process work for our family! 🙂 Thanks so much!

    1. Yes, it should work in both instances, but I don’t know how to advise you about the quantity to use. The rise might be very slow, but you can just wait on that and the results will be good. If this is really a sourdough culture, it’s going to take much longer. For dough with eggs or dairy, you should do no more than 2 hours at room temperature, then the rest of the rise in the refrigerator. So that would be very, very slow.

  3. Great Day!
    Are you able to substitute sugar for honey in the Challah recipe in gfbreadin5? If so, what’s the portioning? Great bake, grateful for the time put into developing the book and recipes.

    1. Yes it should be about a one for one swap my volume. You might have to add a little bit of water, but wait and see if it looks like the standard recipe when mixed

  4. Is there a substitution for xantham gum and psyllium husk that will get the same results? Would ground flax see work? I’m asking due to allergies. Thank you!

    1. No, unfortunately, ground flax will not create the structure that’s needed here. If you’re unable to use psyllium or xanthan gum, you’re not going to be able to get a bread that’s gluten free, and also rises.

  5. I can tolerate butter, but not milk. What is the best sub for milk in your GF brioche recipe? Is soy the closest? Thanks!

    1. Well… didn’t test that, but soy is a reasonable guess. Unfortunately this’ll take a bit of experimentation for you.

      1. Thanks for answering. I’ll test it and report back. Is the milk there mainly for protein or the fat content? Or some other reason?

      2. With brioche, it’s there for flavor and texture. That might not reproduce with soy milk, but it could be worth a try.

  6. How well do you think it would work to use Bob’s Red Mill 1-for-1 GF flour mix, or the King Arthur GF Measure-for-Measure Flour, instead of your recommended Flour Mixture #1? For example, the King Arthur mixture has Rice, Whole Grain Brown Rice, and Sorghum Flours, as well as Tapioca and Potato Starch, as well as Xanthan Gum.

    1. Those didn’t work well, but some readers have claimed that the “Better Batter All Purpose Flour” blend works– I can’t vouch for it though. This is why I developed the custom mixtures for bread.

  7. If I substitute brown rice flour for white in Mixture #1, then the Whole-Grain Gluten-Free Loaf (No Eggs, 50% Whole Grains) on page 99 of GF Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day will be 87% whole grain since Mixture #1 will then be 75% whole grain. You mention in the intro to that recipe that if you want more than 50% whole grains, eggs or egg whites will be needed to get good rising. Will it still work to use this recipe without eggs? Or does swapping in the brown rice flour obligate me to choose a different recipe, one with eggs? I realize that the water needs to be increased by 2 tablespoons if brown rice is substituted, no matter which dough recipe I am making.

  8. Hello! My girlfriend can’t eat gluten or rice. In your FAQs about substitutions you write “If you can’t use rice at all, you probably have to use a different method.” Do you have any recommendations? Are there any substiitutes you’ve experimented with that have yielded decent results? Just wondering if you have any suggestions! We tried buckwheat flour but the results weren’t promising.
    Thanks for your time!

    1. I had much the same experience as you– it’s very challenging to come up with substitutions. The only ones that I found which worked were the ones in my book, which are re-printed here on this post.

    2. Has your girlfriend tried baking with rice flours? I am intolerant to rice flour in bought goods but have found, after trying, that I am OK with organic brown rice flour when I bake at home. Just a thought Good luck.

  9. I recently got GFAB5 and have been enjoying my early experiments. I would love to try the pizza / flatbread recipes, but am not able to have corn. Any suggestions for substitutions for the cornmeal in that recipe?
    Thanks for a great book and method!

    1. So glad you’re enjoying. On page 174, in the ingredients list, it says that you can use “… any other dough other than those in Chapter 9…” for the pizzas and flatbread. Much easier than struggling with testing for a substitution (the allowable substitutions are on page 61). The Master Recipe works for pizza and flatbread. It take some practice, and it’s easier to use the “no-fail” technique on page 177. Or even just flattening with fingers on top of parchment (skipping the plastic wrap), and baking right on the parchment.

      1. Thanks! I’ll give it a try with the Master Recipe and try your suggestions.

  10. I would love to try your pizza. But I can’t do cornmeal. Do you have any suggestions for a substitute?

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