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Coronavirus and a Slice of Cake: Flour Shortages & the Coeliac Conundrum

Coronavirus and a Slice of Cake: Flour Shortages & the Coeliac Conundrum

When trouble hits, apparently Britain gets baking.  When the lockdown went into full effect in March, flour mills saw a 92% increase in demand, according to the BBC.  Mills struggled to keep up, not because of a lack of product, but the inhuman possibility of bagging enough of it in time to replenish stocks in shops.  Indeed, in general only 4% of flour goes to supermarkets and independent high street retailers, with bulk being delivered at around 16kg weight via tankers to bakeries and the like each.  One idea to battle the lagging behind demand was to offer bulk flour bags to customers.

But what of those on a gluten-free diet?  Coeliacs reported early on that gluten-free flour, also, had completely disappeared from off shelves.  With 1% of the British population suffering from the disease, to not have gluten-free alternatives was worrying to say the least.

Other, more unusual flours are set to line shelves sooner rather than later, now that panic-buying has lessened: the likes of coconut and chickpea are well known, so too almond and cassava, but how about cauliflower?  If that sounds not too abnormal given the population’s penchant for pizza of such a crust, then how about green banana or cashew?  Or is that a step too far?  One has to consider reception of the recipe that did the rounds during the early days of the lockdown for pulled banana skin (all that banana bread left a substantial amount of waste skins, after all)…

In the interim, here are your safest bet for a little more down-to-earth gluten-free baking:



Brilliant for beta-glucans, oats regulate blood sugar levels and are beneficial for lowering cholesterol.  You must search for “gluten free” labelled oat flour if coeliac, due to risks of contamination with other grains in the harvesting process.

Those coeliacs who are intolerant of the avenin in oats must not consume this flour.

Try Rob's Best Mill Gluten Free Wholegrain Oat Flour 400g available on the store

Gram (Chickpea):

A strong taste for savoury recipe concoction, chickpea flour is high-protein and replete with heart-healthy magnesium and potassium.


The smallest grain in the world, teff also contains more calcium than any other grain.  As with oat flour, you must make sure the label states “gluten free” due to the harvesting process and risk of gluten contamination.

Try Just Natural Organic Brown Teff Flour available on the store


A pseudocereal with a distinct, nutty flavour, amaranth is particularly good for pie crusts.  With a healthy serving of manganese, phosphorous, and selenium, in addition to protein, iron, and potassium, you can be sure this flour nourishes both body and mind.


Grown for more than 5,000 years, this dense flour provides a healthy dose of immunity-boosting iron.  As with oat and teff flour, the label must state “gluten free” to ensure no contaminants from a multi-grain harvest.

Try Rob's Best Mill Gluten Free Sweet White Sorghum Flour 500g available on the store


From the tropical plant Maranta arundinacea, arrowroot flour can be mixed with other gluten free flour for desserts, but on its own provides a crisp coating.  Rich in iron, B vitamins, and potassium, it is thought to offer support for the immune system, too.

Brown Rice:

Useful for thickening and “breading” tofu and the like, brown rice flour is high in both protein and fibre, and contains the plant compounds lignans, which are thought to be beneficial in the prevention of heart disease.

Try Just Natural Organic Brown Rice Flour available on the store


Ultra fine cornmeal (from the entire corn kernel), corn flour also works well in savoury recipes.  Containing the antioxidant carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin, corn flour also offers vitamin B6 and selenium.

Try Just Natural Organic Corn Flour available on the store


Made from the starchy liquid of the cassava root, tapioca works well as a thickening flour and its particular resistant starch is thought to be beneficial in lowering blood sugar levels.

Try Just Natural Organic Tapioca Flour available on the store


Also known as yuca, this digestive system-friendly resistant starch root flour works well as an alternative to all-purpose white flour.

Try Just Natural Organic All-Purpose Cassava Flour available on the store

Tiger nut:

Actually a root, the sweet taste means recipes require less sugar.  High in fibre, tiger nut flour also provides vitamin C and E, together with iron and potassium, too.

Try Just Natural Organic Raw Tiger Nut Flour available on the store

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