Rice flour is a gluten-free alternative to regular wheat or rye flour that is becoming more popular in baking. Made by grinding whole rice kernels into a fine powder, it’s been used throughout Japan since the Nara era. This versatile ingredient can be used to make many different baked goods, from cakes and cookies to breads and pastries.
Health benefits of using rice flour instead of regular flour
One of the main advantages of rice flour is that it’s gluten free. Gluten – found in wheat, rye and barley – causes health problems for people with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. Rice flour has many other nutritional benefits: it is rich in calcium, has high mineral density and contains a relatively high amount of choline, which helps prevent the buildup of fat in the liver. An added bonus? Rice flour itself is low in fat and calories, making it a healthier option compared to other gluten-free flours like almond or oat flour.
But be careful! Rice flour is a healthier alternative to regular flour, but that doesn’t mean you can eat as much as you want. Take care not to go too crazy with rice flour sweets. Someone on our team went overboard and gained 11 pounds (5 kg) from eating too much mochi over the New Year Holidays, so don’t follow in their footsteps!
Introducing the humble yet mighty daifuku
Daifuku is a type of Japanese confectionery also referred to as daifuku mochi. It is characterized by the colors and shapes employed, which can vary greatly depending on the ingredients used. Daifuku is said to have originated in the Edo era, when it was popular among common people.
Traditionally, daifuku consists of red bean paste wrapped in mochi, but there are many other styles of daifuku. Mame daifuku uses mochi mixed with red beans and soybeans, while shio daifuku is red bean paste wrapped in mochi and seasoned with salt. In the “fruit daifuku” category, ichigo daifuku – a whole strawberry wrapped in white bean paste and mochi – are popular, but strawberries can also be swapped for tangerines, peaches, grapes or melons.
Some “modern” twists to daifuku include the coffee daifuku, which uses red bean paste flavored with coffee and can sometimes be served with fresh cream, and also the pudding daifuku, which contains custard pudding or custard cream instead of red bean paste.
Finally – and perhaps you’ve seen it at your local Asian supermarket – the Yukimi Daifuku (or sometimes known as mochi ice cream) is another popular version of the daifuku that contains ice cream on the inside, served frozen.
Other sweets made from rice flour
You might assume that rice flour can only be used for traditional Japanese sweets, but actually, rice flour is a cost-effective ingredient perfect for Western baked goods too. You’ll be surprised to know that pancakes, cookies, pound cakes and even chocolate cake can be made using rice flour. Rice flour allows consumers to avoid gluten without giving up the sweet treats they love.
Are you interested in trying your hand at using rice flour in cooking? Some great sites to pick up recipes are Komeko-jp,. Japanese Rice Flour and also Namasato. In addition to the recipes, you can also purchase rice flour and other rice-based products on the sites as well!