Alternative Flours : A Series – #3 – Rice Flours
Rice flour (also referred to as rice powder) is a flour made from finely milled rice. It is not to be confused with rice starch, which is usually produced by soaking rice in lye.
Rice flour is a fine flour made from ground rice. It is completely gluten free, including even “glutinous rice flour,” which is made from sweet rice (also not sweet) it is merely the “sticky variety”.
Rice flour is a very good substitute for wheat flour. *Commonly used in gluten free baked goods to give them structure and substance, it is also a popular addition for non gluten free baked goods. Because of its unique, slightly sandy texture, for instance, a small amount of white rice flour in a buttery shortbread recipe can give that shortbread a better mouth-feel.
Rice flour is also used as a thickening agent in recipes that are refrigerated or frozen since it inhibits liquid separation. It is commonly used as a breading for fried dishes and as the base for various baked goods. *It can also add a heartiness to a yeast bread recipe when a small amount is added, since it contains no gluten and will compact a bread dough somewhat, so it can be found in some dense, whole grain breads.
Rice flour is available in white, which is made from polished white rice, and in brown, which is made from whole grain brown rice and both types of flour work just about the same way in a recipe. They do however, have slightly different flavors and colorings and vary somewhat in cooking times. (Brown rice noodles can take longer to cook , for instance, as brown rice takes longer to cook than white rice.)
So if you’re ready to take the plunge with gluten-free baking, rice flour, especially brown rice flour, is a key ingredient. This flour has a mildly sweet and nutty flavor. It is handily used in gluten free baking as a substitute for wheat flour (7/8 cup Superfine Brown Rice Flour = 1 cup wheat flour) or combined with other gluten free flours.
Care and Storage
If you so desire you can deal with freshness issues by using stabilized rice flours – this extends its shelf life WAY beyond typical brown rice flours, but as with all whole grains, we recommend freezer storage to preserve taste and freshness.
©Barbara A. Ziegler/BAPantryGourmet.com 2014 All rights reserved