Using gluten-free oat flour instead of traditional flours in your recipes takes a little practice, but once you learn how to use it, this flour can be a valuable addition to your gluten-free pantry.
How to Use Oat Flour
Gluten-free flours often absorb more water than wheat flours and gluten-free oat flour is no different. Like other gluten-free flours, it lacks the viscosity found in its gluten-laden counterparts. If you haven't used oat flour before, or are unfamiliar with gluten-free baking, it is a good idea to start with a recipe that features oat flour as an ingredient. This approach offers a chance to gain experience with oat flour in a proven gluten-free recipe that's been successful for others. Once you know what to expect from oat flour, you can try it in your own gluten-free recipes.
Oat flour lends a nutty flavor to recipes, and it works well in baked goods that depend on baking soda or baking powder as a leavening agent. This includes recipes for treats like cookies, muffins, cakes and pie crusts. It is not a flour recommended for recipes that rely on yeast and gluten to make the recipe rise, because gluten is necessary to catch and hold the carbon dioxide released by the yeast. The lack of gluten in oat flour allows the gas to escape and the recipe does not rise. Even with recipes that don't use yeast, the key to making oat flour work is to mix it as little as possible once it has been added to wet ingredients. Too much mixing can work the carbon dioxide and oxygen out of the mixture and cause the recipe not to rise well.
Try a few of the following recipes to get a feeling for working with oat flour and enjoy some new gluten-free treats at the same time:
Benefits of Gluten-Free Oat Flour
When you add oat flour to your gluten-free arsenal of ingredients, along with being a gluten-free option, it adds beneficial dietary fiber to your diet. This fiber may even help to improve immune system function. Other dietary benefits related to oat flour include the following nutrients:
- Vitamin E
Types of Oat Flour
For those with celiac disease or other chronic sensitivities or intolerance to gluten, it is important to pay attention to the type of oat flour you buy. For example, just because the label says that the oat flour is organic or whole-grain, it does not mean it is a certified gluten-free product.
While oats are naturally gluten-free, the problem lies in the processing of oats. Many manufacturers that process oats also process gluten-containing grains with the same equipment. This introduces a very real chance for cross-contamination, which means some oats and oat products may contain gluten. To ensure the oat flour you use is gluten-free, you can make your own from certified gluten-free oats, or you can buy flour that is certified gluten-free such as Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Oat Flour.
How to Make Oat Flour
If you want to try your hand at using oat flour in a recipe, you can also make your own from certified gluten-free oats, if you own a good blender. All you have to do is place the rolled or steel-cut oats in the blender and blend until it is the consistency of flour. One and one-forth cup of rolled oats makes about one cup of oat flour. It's a quick process and ensures the flour you're using is fresh. Making your own oat flour also lets you create small amounts at a time so you won't have to find space for another large bag or container on your pantry shelf.