Regular Trader Joe’s shoppers will have noticed that TJ’s has added a new item to their baking section in the past few weeks: Baker Josef’s Gluten Free All Purpose Flour. They’ve had a good Gluten Free Brownie Mix that has been around for quite a while now, and this all purpose blend should give gluten free bakers a few more options for gluten free baking at home. The popular brownie mix uses rice flour as its primary grain, and so does this flour mixture, which is made with whole grain brown rice flour, potato starch, rice flour and tapioca flour. It’s a small bag – only 16 ounces – so you only get about three cups of flour (give or take) to play with at a time. The bag states that it can be “substituted cup for cup with all purpose wheat flour in most recipes.”
I find that rice flour is often the base for many gluten free flour blends when they’re intended use is dessert baking, as opposed to heartier bread recipes. I tried the flour in several recipes, including a cake and the cookie recipe that comes on the back of the bag. The cake had an extremely tender, soft crumb and a good flavor – but it also had a slightly sandy texture from the rice flour (common, with rice flour) that kept you from forgetting that you were eating a gluten free cake and not a regular one. The blueberries in blueberry muffins tended to sink down a bit, since they didn’t get as much structural support from the batter as they do in regular muffins, but they looked beautiful and were still tasty. The cookies worked out very well, and were just a touch more crumbly than you might expect regular chocolate chip cookies to be. The sandiness that comes from the rice flour was much less noticeable in cookie form.
Overall, I found this to be a good and versatile GF all purpose flour option. It worked well in both the specifically gluten free recipe on the bag and in recipes where I simply substituted it for all purpose flour. I do feel that saying it can be “substituted cup for cup” in most recipes might give bakers who aren’t familiar with gluten free flours some difficulty, as I definitely feel that you’ll get better results in some types of recipes than others. For instance, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this for a layer cake because the layers would likely be very difficult to handle when you try to stack them if you’re not very careful (although if you’re careful and or have something like a cake lifter you probably won’t have any problems). It would be a great choice for many cookies, brownies, muffins or single-layer cakes where you should get good results with most recipes.