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A line of alternative flours lifts our baking ennui

Whole wheat is only the beginning.

There is an untapped world of grains and seeds for grinding, and, thanks to the Peruvian company Zocalo, we've gained a few new ways to enhance our baked goods.

Of the handful of alternative flours available, perhaps the most interesting is the mesquite. Made from the indigenous algarroba tree in northern Peru, the powder imparts a sweet smokiness. Capitalizing on that charred flavor, we matched it with bourbon in a recent boozy batch of carrot-cake muffins. The results were sublime: Think barbecue for breakfast.

Also in the portfolio is kañiwa flour, milled from a grain similar to quinoa. Although its density requires that it be blended with another type of flour in your favorite bread recipe, the payoff is large: The grain brims with protein. For a nutritional jolt, use it to dredge chicken or pork. Purple-corn and sweet-potato flours add a vegetal sweetness to dishes: A purple-corn flour roux as the base of a seafood bisque added newfound complexity to a familiar pairing. Plus, the entire line is gluten-free.

Spice, move aside. Variety is now the flour of life.

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