Ground from a wide range of grains, grasses, and starches, whole grain and alternative flours cover a broad spectrum of tastes and textures.
High in protein, this flour has an assertive, nutty taste and blends well with other grains such as rye and whole wheat flours. Use it in quick breads, particularly pancakes, waffles, and muffins.
Barley Flour: Low-protein barley flour has an earthy, sweet flavor and a slightly chewy texture. Use it with regular or whole wheat flour to make scones, bread, muffins, and pancakes. For more even baking, reduce the oven temperature by 25F.
Buckwheat Flour: Also known as kasha, buckwheat is not technically a grain but the seed of a plant in the rhubarb family. When ground, buckwheat makes a low-protein flour that makes delightfully tender baked goods. Light buckwheat flour is cream-colored and has a subtler flavor than dark buckwheat flour, which has a stronger, almost bitter taste and a purple-gray hue. Pair buckwheat flour with fruits such as prunes, apples, sour cherries, and pumpkin to make breads and muffins.
Chestnut Flour: Ground from dried chestnuts, chestnut flour is best during the chestnut season of late fall and winter. The flavor of the flour will vary depending on how the nuts have been prepared. Sometimes they are roasted over an outdoor fire, lending a distinctive smoky flavor. Chestnut flour makes wonderful muffins, dumplings, pancakes, and pizza dough, but because it has no gluten, it must be used in combination with all-purpose flour.
Millet Flour: High-protein millet flour has a mild, slightly nutty taste that pairs well with cornmeal and with other grains such as oats, rye, and rice.
Oat Flour: Although rich in protein, oat flour will not rise with yeast, and because it has no gluten, it must be combined with all-purpose flour for baking. The sweet, earthy taste of oats goes well with other grains such as rye, millet, and whole wheat.
Potato Flour: When dried and ground, starchy potatoes make a delicious flour that's often used in breads. Potato flour is quite dense and cannot be used interchangeably with potato starch or instant mashed potato flakes.
Quinoa Flour: Mild-tasting quinoa flour is quite high in protein and makes wonderful quick breads. Combine it with cornmeal, spelt, oats, or barley.
Rice Flour: For quick breads, either the delicate white variety or the denser brown rice flour. Combine with oats, graham, or spelt to make biscuits, quick breads, and cakes. Rice flour is not recommended for use in yeast breads.
Rye Flour: Whole grain rye is ground to make light, medium, and dark flours. The very coarsest rye flour is what we know as pumper-nickel. You can make quick breads from rye, but add white flour to prevent them from turning out coarse-grained and flat.
Soy Flour: When used in combination with other flours, soy flour gives baked goods a golden crust and delicate flavor. High in both fat and protein, soy flour also works as a preservative by slowing rancidity and adding moisture. Look for stone-ground soy flour at a health food store. It has better flavor and is more nutritious than the highly refined, defatted flour. Because soy flour makes a crust that browns quickly, reduce the oven temperature by 25F when baking with it.
Teff Flour: There are three main types of teff: ivory-colored light teff, the darker brown version labeled "dark" and red teff, usually found only in ethnic markets. Brown teff flour has a rich, molasses-like flavor that goes well with spicy gingerbread makes distinctive waffles, pancakes, and quick breads.
Triticale Flour: High in protein but low in gluten, this hybrid of rye and wheat is a popular ingredient in whole grain breads. Combine it with wheat flour for the best texture.