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Sun Oven Sunday – I Tried Making Flour From Rice Instead

Since the weather has been crummy for the past few days, I didn’t have a chance to use my Sun Oven. So, instead I decided to try something that I haven’t seen elsewhere in the preparedness community–and probably for good reason–I tried to make flour from rice in order to make a loaf of bread. As you might tell from the picture (left) it didn’t work out so well; this is normally the story of my life the first time I try something new. ;)

Originally, I tried to follow these instructions, An Illustrated Guide to Making Rice Flour. Since the instructions included some pretty pictures, I assumed I could follow them. Strangely, the instructions said I should soak the rice, dry it off to be damp (not wet), grind it, and then heat the rice flour to evaporate any water. Unfortunately, that didn’t work AT ALL! After soaking the rice and attempting to dry it, I tried an electric grinder and the rice simply wasn’t being fed properly at all. I then tried my Back to Basics Hand Grain Mill and I got about a 1/4 teaspoon before it wouldn’t grind any rice whatsoever either. I assumed I either had the rice still too wet or I shouldn’t have followed these instructions in the first place.

So, I decided to wing it and do what felt right and I ground dry rice instead. That worked out quite a bit better and more how I expected. I ended up doing two passes through the hand grinder and got about two cups of flour from 1.5 cups of dry rice, which is equivalent to grinding wheat.

If you look at the picture to the right–click to enlarge–you can see the differences in what flour looks like (left clump) versus the first pass with rice (right clump). I’ve also got a second pass of rice (top clump) and a first pass of wheat (bottom clump) for comparison purposes shown too. It seems that the rice, even at second pass, is a bit more like salt than flour. I expected this a bit because even wheat isn’t a whole like like flour after a pass or two in my hand grinder.

Regardless, the wheat seems to work out ok when used for bread. Let’s see how the rice turned out…

Here (left) you can see what the rice looks like when used as a bread mix. To me, it looks an awful lot like mashed potatoes and felt very gritty, as if I were using WAY TOO much salt. FYI, the ingredients were 2 cups flour, 1.5 tsp yeast, 1.5 tsp salt, 1 cup lukewarm water. It’s a very basic recipe that I’ve used in the past and works ok.

As I mixed it the dough didn’t have that sticky feeling I’m accustomed to. In fact, it wanted to fall apart more than stay together. Regardless, I was committed so I covered the bowl and let sit for two hours. After checking the dough it was obvious it didn’t rise and I wasn’t expected miracles but I decided to bake it anyway. In the oven it went.

30 minutes later (at 450 degrees) I took it out and was still disappointed. The taste test didn’t do anything for me either but a few people said it didn’t taste too bad. The “bread” was cooked but tasted weird to me… and it obviously did not rise. Perhaps the yeast was bad (I didn’t test it and now I’m thinking that was my problem) or maybe the rice wasn’t ground enough, or maybe it’s because I used rice as flour instead of wheat. I don’t know what the problem was exactly, but I’m fairly positive I won’t be trying that again any time soon. I’ll stick with what I know.

[EDIT: Turns out it WAS the rice, according to Bellen's comment below: "Rice does not have gluten, the protein found in wheat, that gives the dough that stretchy quality and allows the air bubbles to form and raise the loaf." Thank you for clarifying that.]

Even though the bread didn’t turn out well, I had a good bonding/teaching moment with my kids. That was good enough for me…

8 comments to Sun Oven Sunday – I Tried Making Flour From Rice Instead

  • Bev

    Thanks Bellen! I appreciate the response :)

  • Gadabout

    When baking with any flour other than wheat, you need to add a bit of Xantham gum. Any gluten free recipes will include it.

  • T.R.

    Thats one thing I never tried is rice flour .

  • Anne Ollamha

    My late mom-in-law used to make rice bread regularly for our pharmacist, and he would bring her a big 25 lb sack of rice flour from time to time. It was a real pain to make as the dough is really sticky and it’s hard to work if you have arthritis in your hands. You can’t add too much extra flour to make it less sticky or it won’t rise at all, as opposed to the miniscule bit it will rise if made exactly according to the recipe.

    Also, I recall that she would add extra salt beyond what the original recipe called for, as it was incredibly bland otherwise. I myself really liked her rice bread, and would happily trade a loaf for a jar of preserves etc when he came to get his loaves :)

    From the look of your picture, I would say it worked out about as well as can be expected with rice.

    Anyway, our pharmacist finally had to start making his own bread, and he started experimenting with different non-wheat options. He uses a bread-maker these days to make all different kinds of breads. The last I talked to him, he was on an almond-flour bread kick.

  • Bev

    I enjoyed this post and love it when the kids are involved!

    Bellen, please share with us some of your favorite from scratch recipes!

    • Bellen

      Bev – most of my favorite recipes are simply a basic recipe, for example pancakes, where I alter the ingredients. Such as 1 cup of WW flour with 1 cup of mixed flours/grains like oats, cornmeal, triticale. I also add different flavorings/spices/herbs. Soups/stews start with a homemade broth to which I add assorted veggies, beans, pasta and maybe meat or fowl. I keep a variety of herbs & spices so I can flavor for French, Italian, Mexican, Indian. To be honest – except for pancakes, muffins and one cake and one brownie recipe everything else is just common sense. Cake recipe is Happy Valley Chocolate – no eggs or milk, mixed and baked in the same pan. Brownie recipe is from Baker’s Baking Chocolate but I use the cocoa alternative. Both can be changed with using different flavorings and additions. Both can also be baked as cupcakes. Hope this helps.

  • Bellen

    While your experiment with rice flour didn’t work out it wasn’t your fault. Rice does not have gluten, the protein found in wheat, that gives the dough that stretchy quality and allows the air bubbles to form and raise the loaf.

    All the rice flour bread recipes I found combine rice flour, potato starch which will ‘smooth’ out the dough and help prevent that gritty quality, and tapioca flour. A check on any gluten free baking site will give you recipes and reasons.

    Working with rice flour, and grinding it yourself, is a great idea for when we can’t get wheat flour or berries. Keeping our foods as normal as possible is necessary in times of need.

    As I comment often I thought I should give some background: I majored in Foods & Nutrition during Johnson’s War on Poverty and have been using this info for the past 45 years of marriage. Unfortunately, most of the books on this type (recycling, mending and sewing, cheap cooking & making from scratch) of info are no longer in print but much can be found, thankfully, on the internet.

    • Ok, I won’t try to use rice as flour again! While I figured there was a reason people didn’t use it in place of wheat (I should have researched why) I figured it was worth a shot just to know myself. Sounds like you have a wealth of experience that many of us could benefit from. Thank you for your time and knowledge.