If you have been a regular reader of my blog, you would have noticed that I don’t use any refined flours or any other ingredients in my baking. I have been using different kind of flours consciously or sometimes to make use of the left over flours lying in my pantry. Sharing with you a list of unrefined flours which can be used to create tasty and healthy bakes. Whole wheat flour/Atta/Chakki atta – I use whole wheat flour in almost everything I bake from cakes, breads,cupcakes to muffins. It is my best substitute to refined maida or white flour. This flour is a safe bet and if you are slowly switching over from white to whole flour, I suggest that you start with wheat flour. Your cakes or breads may turn out dense initially but you will soon learn to mix flours to give your bakes some nice body and lightness. Recipe for Apple Cake using whole wheat flour.
Ragi or finger millet – gluten-free and can give a little sandy taste at times. I personally, like to mix ragi with either one or more flours and some almond meal to combine a nutty taste. Recipe for gluten-free banana bread or egg-less chocolate cupcake.
Amaranth flour – this gluten-free and high on protein flour can be used in combination with various flour mixes. Amaranth flour tends to impart a strong flavor which may not be appealing to some. However, if the proportion of this flour in the baked item is less, you can add only the amaranth flour, like the gluten-free brownies or chocolate cake. Trying using amaranth & chocolate together, they are a match made in heaven! Recipe for Amaranth Brownies.
Brown rice flour – It is best to use in very small proportions. Brown rice flour is high on fiber as compared to the white flour. This flour can be used to make banana bread or cookies.
Buckwheat or Kuttu – this rarely found nutty flour can be a baker’s delight. Buckwheat like amaranth goes extremely well with chocolate and can be used in a lot of your baked dishes. Recipe for Chocolate Cake.
Corn flour or makki ka atta – This is another flour which should be used in small proportions, mixed with other flours. It is high on fiber. Do not confuse this flour to the refined corn flour which is used in Chinese dishes.
Cornmeal – Corn meal is also famously known as polenta. It is called polenta because the consumers don’t confuse it to be made of any other dish and also to indicate that it is ideal for making polenta. I had made this delicious cake with this ingredient once. This ingredient is coarse in nature unlike other flours. The other types of gluten-free flours are bajra (pearl millet) or jowar (sorghum) which I’m assuming will work well when mixed with other flours.
These flours work great in combination, rather than using just one flour due to its non-glutenous nature. Whole wheat works great for baking breads but you could also use finger millet or amaranth for that extra nutrition. You can also find mixed millet flours available in most of the organic shops which I’m yet to try. Different recipes call for different flours and I’ve been trying to include as many flours I can in my baking. The choice of using flours is up to you but the proportions is what you should be looking at closely. For eg: If you are using whole wheat and finger millet in a recipe, you could use 2:1 or can be even reduced to half the quantity in some recipes. The reason being that finger millet and most other flours come with a strong flavor and sometimes may over power your baked dish in taste and colour. Here is a quick recipe for you to start getting acquainted with unrefined ingredients.
Ingredients for Cranberry Coffee Cake
200 gms whole wheat flour
50 gms corn flour
1 tsp baking powder
100 gms butter (salted)
2 free range eggs
250 gms coconut sugar
200 gms frozen or dried cranberries/blueberries
1 vanilla bean split powder
100 ml milk
25 gms chopped almonds
Recipe for Cranberry Coffee Cake
- Pre-heat oven at 180 degree centigrade
- Sieve, weigh and measure all the dry ingredients, flours and baking powder
- If using frozen cranberries, coarse grind them with vanilla and not into a fine paste
- Measure butter and coconut sugar and beat until well combined
- Add egg one by one and beat until it is well in combined with the butter and sugar mixture
- Combine both the dry and wet ingredients. Add cranberries and mix well
- Add milk and mix well until well combined
- Add this cake mixture into a greased pan, garnished with chopped almonds
- Bake for 40 minutes. Once done, allow it to sit for 10 minutes in the pan, before transferring to a wire rack for cooling.
- Eat warm with your favorite choice of toppings.
My all time favorite snack is banana bread. It is not only easy to make but it is so tasty and healthy! The best part about banana bread is that you can always play with different ingredients. I usually make banana bread with whole wheat flour. This time, I wanted to try the gluten-free version by using millet flours that were lying in my pantry for sometime. I’ve made this bread couple of times as this particular recipe has become one of my new favorite. I’ve used two types of millets – pearl and amaranth. The addition of almond meal gives this banana bread a nice texture and a nutty taste. Coconut oil is something that I love using in my banana bread as it imparts a pleasant aroma and is also an healthy option when compared to butter. More about coconut oil here and coconut sugar here.
75 gms finger millet flour or ragi
75 gms amaranth flour
50 gms almond meal
1 medium sized or two small over ripe banana, mashed
80 gms coconut oil (some extra to grease the pan)
80 gms coconut sugar
1 tsp baking soda
a pinch of salt
few pieces choco chips or cocao nibs (optional)
- Preheat the oven at 160 degree centigrade and grease a 8 by 4 inch loaf pan or equivalent.
- Sieve the flours along with baking soda and salt.
- Add coconut oil, coconut sugar and beat until mixed well. Add egg and lightly beat.
- Combine the dry and wet ingredients (with mashed banana) and mix some choco chips gently with the help of a spatula.
- Pour the mixture into the greased pan and bake for about 45 minutes or until its done based on your oven settings.
- Allow it to cool on a wire rack for about one hour before slicing.
I’ve been baking for a year now….I have realized that baking is like learning how to drive a car. You practice, gauge and finally become an expert. I bake not only to eat healthy but also to rejuvenate. I know, most of you will agree that baking is therapeutic and can really get you all pumped up! I prefer to follow or create recipes which are easy and most of my recipes are made using unrefined ingredients. If you are addicted to refined ingredients, it may take you a while to get used to unrefined ones. However, these small changes do make a huge impact on your life and I can assure you that I’m experiencing it first hand.
I’ve been wanting to use amaranth flour in a lot of ways….I’ve used them in my choco chip cookies, combined with wheat flour. Amaranth or rajgiri flour has a very distinct taste. Amaranth comes in three forms – grain, flour and puffed. Puffed ones are commonly used in Maharashtra and are easily available. Amaranth flour can be used in baked goodies like cakes, cookies, cereals and if using it to make bread, it is advisable to mix it with another flour for bread to rise. Amaranth grain can be used as a substitute for rice or in cereals or baked goods and the puffed one can be used in making muesli, bars, laddoos or snacks. Flour and grain are not easily available and only a few keep them in stock. SOS is one such brand, which produces locally grown Himalayan amaranth.
Amaranth is one of the oldest grain. It is a nutritional grain and contains only 4 grams of fat. Amaranth is also very high on proteins. Amaranth contains four times the calcium found in wheat and two times the iron and magnesium. Amaranth is very similar to quinoa when compared to it’s evolution and nutritional contents. However, amaranth contains slightly more protein compared to quinoa. Buckwheat is another gluten-free flour that I love baking with and it goes perfectly well with chocolate. Chocolate and amaranth are a good combination too! The earthiness of amaranth flour and the hint of dark chocolate can make this brownie your snack, breakfast or dessert. The addition of amaranth grain gives this brownie a good crunch and a texture. Feel free to add nuts or cocoa nibs. This brownies tastes better each day. I had refrigerated it for a week and found that it matures with age. This is my guilt-free version of brownie and ofcourse, don’t tell anyone that you have added amaranth flour…Let your family and friends keep guessing 😉
100 grams dark chocolate (65-70%)
75 grams amaranth flour
100 grams raw sugar (you can add 25 grams more for sweetness)
2 free range eggs
1/2 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp baking powder
50 grams butter
50 grams olive oil
25 grams raw amaranth grain or add nuts or chocolate chips
- Measure butter, olive oil & chocolate in a bowl and melt it on a double broiler. Keep this aside and allow it to come back to room temperature.
- Mix all the dry ingredients.
- Once the wet mixture is cooled, add two eggs and beat it lightly until fluffy.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet mixture, including the amaranth grain and mix well.
- Pour this mixture in a pan, lined with parchment paper. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degree centigrade for 18-25 minutes or depending on your oven settings.
- Allow the brownie to cool completely before cutting into squares. I got 15 pieces. Store these in an air tight container. This can be refrigerated up to a week.