Baking is never as easy as it seems like it will be. Unlike cooking, which can usually be adjusted and corrected as you go, baking requires that you combine the ingredients using exactly the right portions and methods, then put your creation it in the oven and hope for the best. Despite their shared name, varieties of flour are not interchangeable — swapping equal portions of all-purpose flour for a more nutritious alternative can dramatically change your final product. If you want to incorporate sorghum flour into your diet, there are some things to know in advance — but we’ve got you covered! Read on to learn everything you need to know about this ingredient and how to best use it in your culinary ventures.
What Is Sorghum Flour?
Sorghum flour is a gluten-free flour that is smooth in texture and has a subtle, sweet, nutty flavor that makes it a great alternative to whole wheat flour. It is most commonly used to bake cakes, breads, and a variety of other sweet treats, and is often combined with other gluten-free flours and gums to achieve the desired texture.
A tropical cereal grass native to Africa and a member of the Poaceae family, sorghum is ancient grain that has become known for its incredibly nutritional content. In addition to being naturally gluten-free, sorghum flour is high in fiber, packed with antioxidants, and contains compounds which could help lower cholesterol.
If you’re looking to bring greater health properties to your baked goods, sorghum flour may be a great option for doing so.
To learn more about the history, nutritional benefits, and many forms of sorghum you can add into your diet, read our A-Z Guide to Sorghum here.
Are There Different Types of Sorghum Flour?
Sorghum comes in many different varieties, but sorghum flour is most commonly available in white and whole grain varieties. What are the differences between them in terms of color, flavor, and nutrition?
Whole Grain Sorghum Flour
Whole grain sorghum flour is made by milling the entire grain – including the hull. This makes it a better source of protein and fiber than its white alternative. Whole grain sorghum flour has a neutral flavor and a light color that works well in most baking situations.
White Sorghum Flour
White sorghum flour, conversely, is milled without the grain’s hull, which lowers the fiber and protein content somewhat, but doesn’t make it any less effective in your baking projects.
What Are the Culinary Uses for Sorghum Flour?
Sorghum flour can be used in most recipes calling for whole wheat flour, including breads, pastas, rolls, cookies, injera, flatbreads, biscuits and more.
Most commonly, sorghum flour is paired with xanthan gum, as this provides the finished baked goods with a bit more structure than they’d otherwise have.
If you’ve never used this flour before but are well versed in other gluten-free flours, sorghum flour is most comparable to gluten-free oat flour.
Because it’s a largely flavorless flour, it can easily be incorporated into any sweet or savory dish, so long as it is appropriately balanced with other ingredients to achieve the right holding power.
Baking With Sorghum Flour
With the rise in popularity of gluten-free baking, sorghum flour has become more accessible and readily available in North America, Asia, and Latin America in recent years. You see it included more and more on mainstream recipe sharing platforms. But this grain has been around for over 5,000 years, so recipes incorporating it in many different forms have been around just as long.
Its Adaptable for Different Recipes
The gentle texture and flavor of sorghum flour make it incredibly adaptable ingredient with which to bake. Whether you’re looking to use it in a savory pasta or biscuit recipe or a sweet cake or muffin recipe, it will not overpower or interfere with the flavor profile you’re working to create.
The key to using any gluten-free flour is to know how to compensate for its lack of gluten when adapting recipes, so that the final product is as you want it to be. Since the crucial protein gluten brings baked goods is gone, you need to replace or substitute it another way.
Using gums such as xanthan gum or guar gum, or even a binding agent like psyllium husk power or flax seed, will help achieve the right final result in your baked good without gluten.
To learn more about the science of gluten-free substitutions, check out this article (https://zestforbaking.com/guide-to-gluten-free-flour-substitutes)
High Nutritional Content
Replacing all-purpose flour with sorghum flour immediately ups the nutritional content of whatever it is you’re baking. In addition to its aforementioned high levels of protein and fiber and its cholesterol reducing properties, it delivers a number of other important nutrients.
Sorghum Flour is rich in nutrients like B vitamins, essential for healthy metabolism, skin, and hair. It’s also a great source of magnesium, flavonoids, and phenolic acid. Consuming sorghum can improve gut health, lower stress and inflammation, improve heart health, and even help manage your weight.
Sorghum Flour Can Be Substituted for Most Flours
While generally touted as a great substitute for whole wheat flour and oat flour, because of their similarities in flavor and texture respectively, sorghum flour can be used in recipes to replace just about any flour you’d like. Just remember — baking is a science, and removing key components like gluten can have a dramatic effect on your end result. This doesn’t mean you can’t or shouldn’t substitute, just make sure you’re researching how to best do so with the flour of your choice in advance.
For sorghum flour, you can substitute one cup of wheat flour for one cup of sorghum flour, plus the addition of a binder such as xanthan gum, egg whites, gelatin, or corn starch. In making cookies and cakes, add a half teaspoon per cup of sorghum flour. For breads, add a full teaspoon of binder for each cup of sorghum flour.
Improved Taste and Texture
Due to its relatively soft texture and subtle sweetness, using sorghum flour over another gluten-free option — which often imparts their own taste and mouthfeel to what you’re baking, distracting from the sensory experience you had intended to create — can improve taste and texture in your baked goods.
It’s Becoming Easier to Find Due to Its Increasing Popularity
Despite its long history, sorghum was seldom seen in western cooking and baking until relatively recently. Since gluten-free baking took the western world by storm, it has become increasingly popular — and as a result, increasingly easier to find.
If you’re looking to experiment with sorghum flour, you’ll likely find it at well stocked grocery stores and health food stores. If not, you’ll find it easily online through Amazon and other retailers.
It Has a Long Shelf Life
Compared to many other gluten-free flours, sorghum flour has a relatively long shelf flour. Stored in an air-tight container in your pantry, it’s good for two months. In your refrigerator (or below 40 degrees), it’ll last three-four months. When stored in the freezer, it’ll last four months.
Tips for Baking with Sorghum Flour
When baking, exactitude is essential. Rather than measuring ingredients like sorghum flour with measuring cups and spoons, which could produce inconsistent results depending on your altitude and the fluctuating humidity level of the environment use a scale to weigh it. One cup of sorghum flour is 135g in weight.
Can You Make Sorghum Flour at Home?
Absolutely! If you have a mill in your home, you can purchase whole or hulled sorghum and then grind it yourself. Some people like this option, as it allows you to source the sorghum yourself and control the quality of the flour you use in cooking and baking.
Working to incorporate new and nutritious ingredients into your cooking and baking is a fun way to test your culinary skills. Next time you’re feeling experimental, consider picking up some sorghum flour and seeing how it makes you feel!
If you’re looking for recipe inspiration, check out this list – or try your hand at modifying a recipe on your own with the above substitutions! Happy baking!