Substitutions for ingredients in our gluten-free recipes

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We tried to accommodate a wide variety of food sensitivities in our gluten-free book, but some people have asked about substitutions for what we call for in the book’s flour mixtures, and on this page, we’ll summarize swaps for flours that some of our readers don’t eat. Others may be possible, but these are the gluten-free substitutes ones we’ve tested and liked.

Our 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? All we can say is that they might work, but we just haven’t tested them yet. Experiment, and adjust the liquids as needed:

White rice flour: can be replaced by brown rice flour, but you need to increase the water by 2 tablespoons per full batch of our dough recipes. We have not been able to get good results without some rice flour in the recipes.

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 our brioche recipe.

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 our video.

Corn starch: We had a hard time decreasing 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, we were frustrated. 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 our books, the doughs have 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 we can’t make any guarantees here.

Finally, some readers have asked why we didn’t base our gluten-free flour mixtures on ingredients like almond, millet, or quinoa. Though we use those in some of our recipes in the book, we’ve found that they don’t make a good yeasted bread unless they are used in relatively small amounts.

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159 thoughts on “Substitutions for ingredients in our 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.

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