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Wheat has gluten, and oats have avenin (which are similar proteins).
What is different about avenin that you can't substitute oat flour for wheat flour when baking cookies, breads, etc?

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I don't know what you mean by avenin being "similar", but it doesn't behave like gluten at all. Oat flour behaves like any other gluten-free flour and is a poor substitute for wheat flour. You can only use it in recipes which are specifically engineered for gluten-free flours. If you try using it in recipes which rely on gluten, you will fail for certain.

It is somewhat interchangeable with some other gluten-free flours like chestnut or sorghum flour (also buckwheat if you don't need the flavor profile), but gluten-free recipes being fickle, you always run a risk of failure, unless you have a pretty forgiving recipe like crepes. It is not a good substitute for nut-based flours, and is a mealy, not waxy starch.

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  • Actually buckwheat can be pretty gluten-ish if you mix your dough and leave it overnight. I no longer need to do gluten-free baking but we still make buckwheat pancakes because we like the taste.
    – RedSonja
    Apr 12 at 13:26
  • Yes, buckwheat pancakes are tasty. It turns out that most pancake and crepe recipes are very good with gluten-free flours, and you can mix and match the flour pretty interchangeably. I also have a teff pancake recipe, it is very nice if you are into that nutty flavor.
    – rumtscho
    Apr 12 at 13:52

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