Sorghum scones (gluten-free)

Happy Lunar New Year and wishing everyone good health (isn’t that the most important thing?) in the Year of the Ox ^_^!

Here is quick bread recipe from The Best-Ever Wheat and Gluten Free Baking Book but a change from my usual muffins.

Sorghum is grain commonly used in South Asian, where it is known as jowar (see my page on gluten-free flours in Indian cooking). Prior to my interest in gluten-free flours, I had only heard of sorghum in the context of the Zhang Yimou movie “Red Sorghum” 高梁, starring Gong Li, which takes place around a distillery for sorghum liquor.

These scones have a hard, crisp shell, perhaps reminiscent of rock buns, quite different from English scones. Unlike cake-like muffins which can be heated up in a microwave, wrapped in a paper towel, these scones need to be reheated in an oven bring out the crisp texture of the crust.

Gluten-free sorghum scones

Gluten-free sorghum scones

I made some tweaks to the recipe in the book to omit cumin, salt and sugar. Below are the ingredients I used.


1 1/2 cups (175g) sorghum flour
1/ 2 cup (60g) tapioca flour
1/2 cup (80g) brown rice flour
1 1/2 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp xantham or guar gum
1/2 cup raisins


4 Tbs (55g) butter
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup (160g) plain yoghurt or 1/2 cup (120ml) milk

1) Preheat oven to 230°C.
2) Mix dry ingredients.
3) Beat the butter with hand mixer as if creaming (the original recipe involves creaming butter and 30g sugar).
4) Add beaten eggs and yoghurt to butter.
5) Add dry mixture to wet mixture and stir until just combined.
6) Stir in raisins.
7) Spoon the dough into large mounds onto a greased baking sheet, as I did. Alternatively, pat into a large round to be cut into wedges after baking.
8) Bake for 12 to 15 mins. Be careful they don’t burn. You might want to turn down the oven temperature halfway through or cover the scones with tin foil.

Verdict: Super! Tastes great, nice texture, easy to make. Delicious plain or with butter or cream and jam.

Gluten-free, yeast-free bean bread

Today I tried out the basic yeast-free bread recipe from The Gluten-Free Gourmet Bakes Bread by Bette Hagman, using the Four Flour Bean Mix described in my previous posting with the standard supermarket flours using in Indian cooking (Mustafa being the only supermarket I know that stocks them, though!).

The result was rather uneven: some parts did not rise much – the very smooth, close-textured parts – and other parts had huge air bubbles.

However, taste-wise and in terms of ‘mouth-feel’, I’m pleasantly surprised! The very green smell from the green bean flour disappeared after baking, and the bread was springy to the touch, much like real bread (despite the cake-like appearance). Actually, the texture reminds me very much of kueh lapis!

I tried it with a variety of savoury and sweet toppings as well as plain with butter, and it tasted fine every time. I couldn’t stop eating… how wonderful to be able to eat ‘bread’ and not be worrying about exceeding my wheat & gluten limit.

The recipe for a small loaf:


2 cups Four Flour Bean Mix : I used 1/3 part chickpea flour, 1/3 part green bean flour, 1/3 part sorghum flour, 1 part cornstarch, 1 part tapioca starch
1 1/2 tsp Xanthan gum
3 Tbs brown sugar [which I reduced to 2 Tbs – still rather sweet]
1/2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp Egg Replacer [omitted; Hagman uses this to provided additional protein and leavening power]
1/2 tsp salt


Eggs – 2 plus 1 white [I used 3 small whole eggs, also because I omitted the Egg Replacer]
2 Tbs melted butter [replaced with ghee as I was too lazy to melt butter!]
1 Tbs honey [replaced with light argave syrup]
3/4 cup buttermilk [used substitute]
approx 1/3 cup water [used much, much less]

[Hagman also uses optional dough enhancer, which I have omitted completely here.]

Preheat oven to 180°C. Grease loaf pan(s) and dust lightly with rice flour.

Whisk together dry ingredients.

In a large bowl, beat eggs and egg white(s). Add melted butter, honey and buttermilk. Blend with mixer on low speed.

Add dry ingredients and continue to blend on low speed.

Add ‘sufficient water to make the dough the consistency of cake batter.’ This was the hard part! What is the correct consistency? I’ve seen a whole range of consistencies of cake batters. Anyway, using my judgement, I only needed to add about a tablespoon of water. The batter was strange-looking because of all those sticky flours, the cornstarch and tapioca starch, not at all like cake batter.

Beat 1 minute on high.

Spoon into prepared pans and bake for 55 to 60 mins, covering with aluminum foil after 30 mins.


* The bread rose tremendously in the oven the collapsed afterwards, which suggests that I should reduce the amount of leavening agent next time.

* The texture was very uneven, it did not affect the taste, but certainly is less than ideal. Bette Hagman constantly gives strict instructions to follow recipes exactly as substituting ingredients may end up with a different result. As usual, I can never follow a recipe precisely so I guess I will have to keep experimenting.

* Hagman also suggests that overly dense texture might be due too much liquid, and from my experience with muffins (which is what this essentially is – a muffin method, dry + wet ingredients then mix) is that it could also be case of over-mixing. I might just make this by hand next time; the mixer is unecessary and might have contributed to the over-mixing.


Whatever the problems, I was really pleased with the result. I fear the little test loaf in the freezer won’t last long at all. Am definitely making this again, and at double the quantity :).

Here are Hagman’s quantities for a large loaf:

Four Flour Bean Mix (see above) – 4 cups
Xantham gum – 3 tsp
Brown sugar – 1/3 cup
Baking soda – 1 tsp
Baking powder – 1 rounded tablespoon
Egg replacer – 2 tsp
Salt – 1 tsp

Eggs – 3 plus 2 whites
Butter, melted – 6 Tbs
Honey – 2 Tbs
Buttermilk – 1 1/2 cups
Water (more or less) – 1/2 cup

31/10/08 Update: experimented with this recipe a second time, making some tweaks and getting a much better result. Read more here: Improved recipe for gluten-free, yeast-free bean bread.

Gluten-free flours in Indian cooking

Food sensitivities come on many levels and the last few months I’ve tried to work on fine-tuning my diet to take into account foods that I can tolerate, but which aren’t actually great for my system. So I’ve had to face up to the fact that chocolate should only be an occasional indulgence (the same way alcohol is to others, perhaps – both impair brain function!), and now, finally coming out of denial about the effect of wheat and gluten on me. This has been hard because I love baking so much, and alternative flours will always be that much more difficult to work with, requiring plenty of patient experimentation.

Just got a new gluten-free recipe book today, The Gluten-Free Gourmet Bakes Bread by the late Bette Hagman, and the best thing about it is the explanation of the results from different types of flours. Hagman has moved beyond the rice-based GF flour mix she used in her earlier recipe books — and many gluten-free recipes from other sources also use mainly rice flour as a replacement — as the results are noticeably different from using wheat flour, particularly in terms of texture. She has found that bean flours are much better, particularly for bread.

Hagman’s Four Flour Bean Mix recipe (available ready mixed from Authentic Foods) :
2/3 part: garfava bean flour (a garbanzo/chickpeas flour + fava flour mix, produced by Authentic Foods)
1/3 part: sorghum flour
1 part: cornstarch
1 part: tapioca flour

This sounds pretty exciting but first of all, I needed to stock up on bean and other alternative flours. I immediately thought of shopping at Mustafa, which turned out to have everything I was looking for and more! No need to turn to Bob’s Red Mill flours which costs S$5 upwards for about 500g :). A wide range of non-wheat flours are common to Indian cooking and thus easily available at affordable prices. Cornstarch and tapioca flour are common in Chinese cooking and easily available at regular supermarkets in Singapore (NTUC is the best for a wide range of Chinese & Southeast Asian flours).

Here’s what I bought in Mustafa:
* Jowar flour = sorghum
* Besan/ chana dhal flour = garbanzo beans/ chickpeas [can be easily made at home too]
* Green bean flour = mung bean — the Indian variety looks coarser and less refined than the Indonesian type (hoon kwee flour), possibly the the latter has had the skin removed
* Urid/urad dhal flour = black gram (similar to mung beans)
* Roasted ragi flour = finger millet
* White rice flour — similar to that used in Chinese cooking but the Indian version seems a bit coarser and less white, which could suggest less bleaching (have always wondered about this when it comes to Chinese rice flour)

Other non-wheat flours sold at Mustafa include:
* Bajra/ kambu flour = pearl millet
* Kotu/ kuttu flour = buckwheat
* Makka flour = cornmeal, comes in fine & coarse (different from cornstarch)

Of course, one route to gluten-free bread substitutes is simply to make the Indian dishes that use these non-wheat flours. Here’s a sampling:
* Jowar/ sorghum flour: jowar roti, jowar paratha
* Besan/ chana dhal/ gram flour: besan puda, besan and zucchini pancakes
* Mung/moong dhal/ green bean flour: moong dhal dosa
* Urad dhal/ black gram flour: urad dhal dosa
* Ragi/ finger millet flour: ragi neeru (a drink), ragi idli, ragi biscuits, ragi chakli (looks like murugu), ragi mudde (balls), ragi sandige (fritters)
* Bajra/ kambu/ pearl millet flour: bajra roti, another bajra roti, bajra paratha, sweet millet biscuits
* Kotu/ kuttu/ buckwheat flour: buckwheat pakora in yoghurt sauce, kotu poori, kuttu paratha
* Soy flour: ragi, oatmeal & soy dosa
* Rice flour: rice flour dosa, rice flour roti
* Makka flour/ cornmeal : cornmeal & potato kachauri, cornmeal roti,

Need help deciphering ingredient names in various Indian languages? See this glossary.

For more information on non-wheat flours:
Cook’s Thesaurus: Non-wheat flours
Recipe Tips : Non-Wheat Flours – Grains
Recipe Tips : Non-Wheat Flours – Seeds
Recipe Tips : Non-Wheat Flours – Legumes
Recipe Tips : Non-Wheat Flours – Tubers
and you might also want to refer to my page on using flours in general.

I’ll mix the chana dhal flour with a mix of the other bean flours to replace the ‘garfava flour’ in Hagman’s Four Flour Bean Mix. Will have to open the various packets to check if the other bean flours have a particularly strong taste that will affect the flour mix. Here’s hoping all goes well when I try out a gluten-free, yeast-free bread recipe soon!