This week I did it. I broke into my brand new bag of sorghum flour. That may not sound very exciting to some of you. But for a gluten-free baker (and I’m using that term VERY loosely), trying different flours is important. As I understand it, finding the perfect mix of gluten-free flours can be the difference between a favorite bread and a flop.
This however is my first venture into ANYTHING beyond the basics of rice flour, potato and tapioca starches (well I’ve done sweet rice flour too). I have had sorghum flour in my freezer for about 3 months — as I wondered what to do with it. And right next to it, is my quinoa flour — still unopened, but purchased at the same time. My goal is to test these babies out a few times before Thanksgiving — and learn how these two magical flours can work for me and my gluten-free peeps.
Why use sorghum?
Here’s what I’ve learned about sorghum flour so far. According to Robert Landolphi’s Gluten Free Every Day Cookbook, sorghum flour is “a heavy flour ground from cereal grain…[it] resembles wheat flour and works very well in baked goods such as muffins and breads.” Landolphi also explains that sorghum is a whole grain flour and is higher in fiber and protein than other refined white flours. He says sorghum is one of his primary flours that is the most versatile in the kitchen.
According to Landolphi’s book, 1/4 cup of sorghum has fewer calories, three times the fiber and twice the protein than white rice flour. The nutritional value appears to be one of the main reasons why someone eating gluten-free may use this in cooking. Another reason that came up was just to have plain old variety.
My attempt at baking with sorghum
So Tuesday I made a bold attempt to make a gluten-free cinnamon bread in my bread machine. I cut my regular flour by nearly a third, and added the rest as sorghum flour. I put in the rest of my ingredients plus my “mix ins” of cinnamon and sugar. I was excited to see and taste the finished product, but while it was baking I started to smell something burning!!! Yes, for the second time in less than a year, my bread machine overflowed! Ugh. The entire house stunk!!
I originally deduced that overflowage would happen when I used large eggs — that really were on the extra large side. I had been cutting my three eggs down to two whole eggs and one egg white. I did that with yesterday’s recipe too, but it overflowed like crazy. I’m sort of wondering if the sorghum played a role? I’m not sure that I’ll ever know unless I do the same thing again, but without the final egg whites.
Sorghum flour baking tips
If you are experimenting like I am, there are a few notes you should consider to try and make your dish a success. eHow.com describes why sorghum can be tricky:
“When baking with sorghum flour as a direct substitute for all-purpose flour, you must add other ingredients to compensate for dryness. Foods baked with sorghum flour are also extremely likely to crumble.” -eHow.com
Corn starch seems to help bring the best out in sorghum. According to eHow.com you should add 1/2 TBSP of corn starch with each cup of sorghum flour — unless you’re baking bread, then you increase the corn starch to 1 TBSP. Other options: add a little oil if the recipe seems dry or add a little egg or egg white if it is too crumbly, says Twin Valley Mills, a producer of sorghum flour.
Tired of spending gobs of money on flours? Practicallyedible.com recommends getting sorghum flour at a lower prices by going to an Indian food market and look for sorghum flour under a different name: jowar or juwar.
One final tip, sorghum does have a shelf life…so you need to make sure you don’t old rancid flour. Twin Valley Mills says,
“…at room temperature it should stay fresh for several months. However, if refrigerated or frozen the shelf life can be extended and freshness preserved.”
Landolphi is a little more specific. “Store in an airtight container in a cool, dry place for up to 1 month, refrigerate for up to 3 months or freeze for up to 6 months.”
Now I need to keep trying sorghum…But my next big task is to open up the bag of quinoa flour.