Baking With Oat Flour Vs. Wheat Flour

white flour on wooden table
A pile of flour on a cutting board. (Image: Magone/iStock/Getty Images)

There are many types of flour that you can use for baking, including oat flour and wheat flour, both of which are versatile. They can be used for breads, cookies, rolls and many other baked goods. There are some important differences that you should be aware of when converting wheat flour recipes to oat flour ones.

Availability

Many people use wheat flour simply because it is available in any grocery store. Oat flour is a little harder to find, but it can still be purchased at upscale grocers or in health food stores. You can make your own oat flour by putting dried oats into your blender and using the pulse setting to chop the oats into a fine powder. 1 1/4 cups of rolled oats makes one cup of oat flour.

Gluten Content

Many people are attracted to oat flour for their baking because it is gluten-free, unlike wheat flour. Some people avoid gluten because of medical or dietary concerns. Gluten is a protein that makes dough elastic and baked goods chewy. Without gluten, oat flour can leave your baked goods heavy or the item may fall apart. Some cooks remedy this by adding more liquid or rising ingredients to their recipes.

Texture

The texture of wheat versus oat really depends on what type you are using. For example, a whole wheat flour has a thicker, grainier texture than an all-purpose wheat flour. Similarly, some oat flours are coarser than others because of the milling process. For example, if you make your oat flour at home, it would generally be somewhat coarser than a highly ground oat flour. Generally, though, oat flour is much lighter and less coarse than a whole wheat flour.

Flavor

Oat and wheat flour have similar flavors, though many will find that an oat flour has a heartier flavor than all-purpose wheat flour. It is also somewhat sweeter than whole wheat flour, so you may consider adding less sweetener to your recipe.

Rising Problems

Since oat flour doesn't contain gluten, you will need to adjust your ingredients to make your baked items light and fluffy. When making recipes that require yeast, you will need to add more yeast if you use oat flour than when you use wheat flour. When making recipes that require baking powder, add 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder per cup of oat flour. If you are using buttermilk in your recipe, replace the buttermilk with 1/2 teaspoon baking soda for each cup of milk.

Moisture Content

Oat flour tends to make a baked good more moist than wheat flour. It is a good choice for making cookies and quick breads for this reason. In your cookie and bread recipes, replace up to 1/4 cup of the wheat flour with oat flour. In recipes other than breads and cookies, you can substitute 1 1/2 cups oat flour for one cup of wheat flour.

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