In Mother Grains, Roxana Jullapat—baker and co-owner of Friends & Family in Los Angeles—shares “recipes for the grain revolution,” celebrating the flavors and textures and wonders of buckwheat, corn, oats, and then some. But the rice chapter caught my eye the most, with its gooey peach cobbler and sticky banoffee pie (both excerpted below, oh yes). Today, pour yourself a cup of tea and hang out with Roxana to learn what makes brown rice flour such an invaluable ingredient. Then get baking.
Emma Laperruque: What do you like about baking with brown rice flour?
Roxana Jullapat: Brown flour is the lightest of all the whole grain flours I’ve ever worked with. It can add texture and nutrition, as well as nuanced flavor to many baked goods.
EL: What distinguishes brown rice flour from white rice flour?
RJ: As any other whole grain flour, brown rice contains the exterior bran-rich layer of the grain, making it more nutritious than regular rice flour. Refined rice flour is pure starch and therefore really efficient at raising blood sugar levels. Even though it is bran-y, it is a very light flour so you can increase the amount of fiber in a recipe without having to incorporate additional fat or liquid to soften the bran.
EL: And, on that note, what distinguishes it from other whole-grain flours?
RJ: Brown rice’s flavor is a very neutral. I like to use it to add lightness to a recipe without worrying about how it pairs with the other ingredients in a recipe. For example, think of Tres Leches Cake. Brown rice helps lighten the chiffon-like sponge cake, but doesn’t take anything away from the milky richness of the tres leches bath that the cake is soaked in.
EL: Can you swap brown rice flour into any baked good recipe that uses all all-purpose?
RJ: Rice is a gluten-free flour and therefore lacks the ability to bind that regular all-purpose flour has. You have to keep this mind when you use it in a recipe.
EL: And if so, what percentage would you recommend starting with?
RJ: I like to use it in combination with all-purpose or whole-wheat flour. I recommend starting by replacing one-quarter of the amount of flour in a recipe. So if the recipe calls for 1 cup all purpose flour, try using 1/4 cup brown rice flour plus 3/4 cup all-purpose flour instead. You will gain the benefits of lighter crumbs in cakes, sandy short crust in tarts, or crispy edges in cookies. Once you become more comfortable at baking with it, you can try upping the amount to half of the total flour.
EL: The drop biscuits in your peach cobbler look so, so good. Could readers bake these on a sheet-pan too?
RJ: Yes, you could. But be aware that they’ll bake faster.
EL: Similar thought about the tart—after readers try the banoffee version, could the brown rice crust be used for other recipes?
RJ: Absolutely, this is a very good tart shell for tarts that have very moist fillings and have to sit out for more than a few hours. It will remain snappy for a long time.
More on Brown Rice Flour
“Brown rice flour is often bone white, despite containing the rice kernel’s bran and germ. It’s very fine with a slightly gritty texture and a mild, toasty flavor. It contains no gluten and cannot be utilized in the traditional ways we use wheat flour. However, it can enhance crispness in cookies or lightness in cakes. It’s also useful in savory dishes. I like to use it in place of all-purpose flour to make gluten-free fried chicken or tempura. The flavor of rice flour ranges from clean and creamy to rich and nutty. I favor organic heirloom brown rice flour from artisan producers like Anson Mills or Koda Farms, which can specify the variety used, but procuring it requires planning ahead. Luckily, easier-to-find options like Bob’s Red Mill and Authentic Foods are available nationwide. Store flour in a cool pantry and try to use it within 3 months of purchase. To keep track, I recommend labeling the bag with the date of purchase.”
Reprinted from "Mother Grains: Recipes for the Grain Revolution." Copyright © 2021 by Roxana Jullapat. With permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.