After all the examining of back to basics I had a sudden inspiration. Could I make my own flour? Most of my favourite recipes involve some sort of flour but if I made my own would it be cheaper than buying it from the shop.
I decided to test this theory out. I have never made my own flour before so started by doing some research. I wanted to discover what flour could be made out of. Were there any ingredients I could forage for or anything lying in the back of my cupboard that could be used.
I found that often you don’t need specific flour for a recipe and can adapt the recipe to suit the flour. One example, which shows how to use normal flour instead of self-raising and vice versa can be found here: http://southernfood.about.com/cs/breads/ht/self_rise_flour.htm
Then I remembered that acorns are sometimes used to make flour. There are no acorn trees near us but there is a recipe for acorn flour here: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Acorn-Flour orhttp://www.self-sufficient.co.uk/Making-Acorn-Flour.htm Don’t forget to rinse out the acorn mush before drying to remove tannins (which are bitter and poisonous but thankfully water soluble)
Next I looked at rice flour: http://www.wikihow.com/Make-Rice-Flour . However after reading reviews about white rice flour is mainly used for thickening soups, stocks and stews and not for baking. What I needed was an all -round multi-purpose flour that was inexpensive to produce.
I found a handy list of different types of flours you can make and level of difficulty at: http://www.attunefoods.com/blog/2013/04/how-to-make-your-own-gluten-free-flours-in-3-minutes-or-less/
The two that appealed to me were rice and oats as I already had these in. I decided to make a small batch and see how I got on.
I made a batch of oat flour which was fantastic and my old blender processed in seconds. I now have a tub of oat flour which I will be using in my next bake session. Probably to make pasta or bread.
However when it came to producing the rice flour I tried both blending it with water and blending it dry. Blending it with water slightly crushed the rice but that was all no sign of flour after a good ten Minuet’s of holding my hands over my ears to counter the noise made by the machine.
Rice flour wet blend
Blending the rice dry in an attempt to crush it was more effective with an obvious sign of flour. As you can see against the plastic of the tub. Unfortunately my poor old blender was not up to the challenge of totally crushing the grains. In the case of rice I think some kind of grinder definitely needs to be used.
Rice flour dry blend
Eventually after much searching of the web I found this awesome recipe for multipurpose gluten free flour and the importance of the ratio of different ingredient with suggestions and a how to video. Check it out at: http://glutenfreegirl.com/2012/07/how-to-make-a-gluten-free-all-purpose-flour-mix/ . This site was amazing as it showed how to balance my homemade flours to ensure that they could be used for most cooking just like normal flour. I didn’t intend to learn how to make gluten free flour when I set out but it was an added bonus as several of my friends are gluten intolerant (celiac). I will definitely be using some of these (easier to crush) combinations in future when we have a baking spree.
At Gluten-Free-Girl they suggest using 40% wholegrain flour to 60% white flour or starches and provide a list of examples for each category.
I have now learnt how to make my own flour and would love to make some acorn flour when I get a chance. However, I think for now I will be sticking with basic shop bought flour. For those of us who can get away with gluten flour it is still cheaper to buy it from the shops at 65p for 1.5kg of Sainsbury’s basic flour compared to 40p for 500g of basic rice. This can be made cheaper if you buy in bulk but not everyone has access to bulk-discount store and for this experiment I only wanted small amounts and had to rely on the local supermarket. However, for those who are intolerant to gluten making your own is a much cheaper alternative to the shop priced packs.
http://www.forgivingmartha.com/ – a blog by a gluten free dairy free chef who cooks amazing masterpieces from her apartment.
http://www.self-sufficient.co.uk/index.htm – website for anyone interested in foraging and recipe ideas.