Sorghum, an African grain, is not new to the United States, but until recently, it was considered only fit for beasts. What was once added to animal feed is becoming increasingly popular in cereal, muffins, and bread either instead of wheat flour or in addition to it. It’s relatively high protein, iron, and fiber, in addition to the fact it is gluten free, make sorghum flour, which is called milo flour in some circles and jowar atta in others, welcome in pantries around the world.
Sufferers of the autoimmune disorder called celiac disease can’t digest gluten protein in oats, wheat, or barley. Sorghum means they don’t have to abandon a stack of pancakes or a piece of toast. With double the protein as white flour, triple the fiber, and fewer calories, even diners who can handle gluten are asking for baked goods made with sorghum.
Some gluten flour substitutes such as rice flour can add a gritty texture to cookies or bread. Bakers prefer sorghum’s smoother texture. As nothing in this world is perfect, the trade-off is that sorghum flour can be a black hole for liquid. It’s drier than Uncle Bob’s sense of humor, James Bond’s martinis, and the pile of bones that mark the final resting place of a penitent who tried to shed sin by trudging across the Atacama Desert combined.
The fix is simply to add extra liquid in the form of oil or eggs. Gluten, which binds ingredients to one another, can be substituted for by adding corn starch to sorghum batter or dough. To convince sorghum flour-based goodies to rise, a little extra baking powder usually does the trick.
Like other flours made from ground seed or grain, sorghum naturally contains fat and won’t keep forever. It can be kept in the pantry for a month or two, but bakers who expect to dip into it less often will do better to give it the cold shoulder. In the refrigerator, it’s good for a few more months; in the freezer, it remains viable for a half year or more.
Due to its very mild taste, sorghum flour is a natural choice to incorporate into sweet breads, cookies, or the like. It’s becoming more available to the home cook, but because of its gluten-free personality, marketers have discovered it will sell for considerably more than wheat flour. Savvy shoppers might head to an Indian market for jowar atta, instead. It’s an identical product at a lower price