As a regular Trader Joe’s shopper, I’m happy to tell you that they now sell an all purpose gluten free flour! My unbiased review so far? It’s complicated. See below for product details, the product in use and detailed ratings.
Price: $3.99 for 16 ounces (1 pound)
Ingredients: “whole grain brown rice flour, potato starch, rice flour, tapioca flour”
Manufacturing Practices: There are no warnings listed on the package about possible cross-contamination with other allergens. I have sent an email to the company through their website asking those questions. Stay tuned for an update.
*UPDATE*: This is the response I received from Trader Joe’s when I contacted them through their website to ask if the product was made in a dedicated facility and/or on dedicated equipment, and whether it was nut-free:
Thank you so much for contacting us. Our new Gluten-Free Flour is made in a peanut and tree nut-free facility and on dedicated gluten-free equipment. The facility does process wheat on other equipment, but the facility’s allergen control program is so strict that the flour tests at well under 20 ppm of gluten. Please know that we would never actually label a product with the words “Gluten Free” unless it tests at under 20 ppm of gluten or is made in a dedicated facility.
My guess of the source of this gluten-free all purpose flour: King Arthur Multi Purpose Gluten Free Flour. Trader Joe’s almost always purchases products like this from companies that specialize in the niche, and puts their label on the product (a totally legitimate practice called white labeling). Based upon the ingredient list, and the product performance so far, I believe that it is King Arthur’s product. **UPDATE: King Arthur Flour has contacted me and indicated that the Trader Joe’s gluten free flour is NOT their flour. I take them at their word, so I stand corrected!
What Gluten Free Recipe I Tested With Trader Joe’s Flour
Since I knew you’d be anxious to hear the skinny on this flour blend, I jumped right into the deep end and made yeasted gluten free pizza dough. I used the Trader Joe’s flour to make 4 batches with my super top secret gluten free pizza dough recipe that will be in my new cookbook out December 2013 (for now, try this recipe for gluten free pizza dough). I used the dough in pizza…
I used it in gluten free calzones. Notice anything? Almost no matter what I did, they simply wouldn’t brown. This blend has waaaaaaay too much starch in it.
The Test Results
The dough was very, very easy to handle, though, but frankly that is mostly due to my crackerjack recipe (I know – so sorry I can’t share it now!). And the rice flour does not seem superfine to me, but that doesn’t matter very much when you’re making yeasted dough since the proofing time softens and expands the grains. But when I tried baking the dough until it browned, it baked up like a pale cracker and I literally had to toss it in the trash. And there’s olive oil in the dough! Not cool. My children complained about the texture, saying that it was chalky, and the pizza itself dried out very quickly and easily. I experience none of those things with my favorite gluten free flour blends.
A Comparison with My Blend
I then made the same super secret recipe for gluten free pizza crust with my Better Than Cup4Cup Flour Blend, changed absolutely nothing else, and it browned beautifully and tasted great. The pizza was also much, much more fragrant as it baked. It tasted … like great pizza.
I will test this flour in other recipe categories (cookies, cake, pastry), and report back. I was really pulling for this flour. I am a regular Trader Joe’s customer (in fact it’s my first shop, every week), and although the price isn’t as good as other blends are when you buy them in bulk, I love seeing basic, important gluten free products in mainstream markets. Especially markets with the vast reach of Trader Joe’s. I think the flour will do just fine in muffins, cakes and cookies (although it will likely be gritty – I so wish they used superfine flour), but I think it will make dry pastry that is difficult to work with. All that being said, I’m thrilled to have something there for when you’re in a pinch and need something to work with.
A Product Review Results Chart
For those of us who enjoy a nice chart, I created one that mimics those I created when I conducted The Gluten Free Flour Blend Test in 2012.