Of all the comments I get on this blog*, by far the most popular goes something like this:
“X didn’t turn out as I expected, it was a bit dense…was it because of the coconut flour?”
A short answer to these queries is: “yes, probably”, but you deserve better than that.
The intricacies of baking with coconut flour really merits an entire post and so I have put together the following tips. If you’re new to this flour, a seasoned pro or just curious about dabbling in ‘alternative’ flours (join us! all the cool kids are doing it!), this might provide some answers.
1. Coconut flour is very dry, be careful with your batter
This is the biggest, most important, lesson to learn about coconut flour. It really does love moisture. This is why every recipe featuring this flour is usually heavy on the eggs. That freaks some people out. Not me. I love eggs and happen to think that they’re one of the most nutritious foods out there.
But I digress. The propensity of coconut flour to suck up moisture faster than my dog inhales his dinner means that you have to be very careful with the batter. In all my coconut flour recipes I advise mixing the wet ingredients into the flour gradually. By gradually I mean little by little, stirring briefly after each addition. Don’t go crazy with the wooden spoon – over stirring gives the flour more of a chance to bind with the wet stuff so you’ll end up with a clumpy batter, and that’s no fun for anyone.
The best test is to eyeball it. I never have a problem with my recipes coming out too dense or dry. That’s because I know from years of experience when my batter is good. If you end up over stirring just add some liquid in there to correct (milk, both dairy and non-dairy is a good idea) and proceed as instructed.
2. You cannot switch coconut flour with other flours 1:1
You have almond flour, quinoa flour, rice flour or whatever flour floats your boat in the house. It needs used up and you’ve spied a recipe that looks perfect…but wait….it’s using coconut flour. Curse you stupid recipe! Quel disaster! (I think this comes under the heading ‘First World Problem” but go with it). You decide to proceed anyway.
To quote Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman: “BIG mistake. Big. Huge.”
Because of the aforementioned dryness of coconut flour, you cannot simply substitute it for another flour in any given recipe. Sadly life isn’t that kind. At the very least you need to double up on your eggs and maybe think about throwing some yoghurt or milk in there too.
3. Coconut flour can clump
I live in a warm climate so most of my flours go straight into the fridge. This keeps them fresher for longer. Unfortunately it also makes delicate flours, like coconut, clump.
When you are using it for baking, it’s important to sieve the flour beforehand.
4. Coconut flour has a unique nutritional profile
This is not your average flour. For a start it’s gluten and grain free. For another thing coconut flour has the highest percentage of dietary fibre of any other variety.
According to Mercola.com, it’s 58% dietary fibre and 14% coconut oil with the remaining 28% consisting of protein, water and carbs. This makes it a very good alternative to the standard refined white flour which can play havoc with your insulin response and digestion, as well as encouraging inflammation.
5. A little coconut flour goes a long way
There’s no getting around it, coconut flour is more expensive than the usual wheat variety. Believe me, I know. I live on an island in the Caribbean where only two stores stock it and they import it at huge cost…which is then passed on to the customer.
Manys the time I’ve stood in the aisle of the supermarket, staring at a bag and wondering: ‘can I really justify this?’
The answer is always yes. Not only is it an investment in my health (you are what you eat, so don’t eat the cheap stuff!) but coconut flour is extremely economical.
You’ll notice that most of my recipes call for 1/2 cup for a standard loaf and no more than 3/4 cup for a large cake. I bake pretty much every week and find that my bag of flour lasts a long time. So that price tag suddenly doesn’t look so horrifying. You can always shop around on the internet too, that’s usually where you find the good deals and can buy in bulk.
NB: In case you’re interested, I use Bob’s Red Mill Organic Coconut Flour. I am not affiliated with them in any way, I only include that information here because I’ve been asked before and if you’re looking to buy some that might be a good place to start. I should stress that I only use Bob’s Red Mill because I can’t get any other brands, I don’t know what they’re like in comparison to others but they’ve always served me well.
What do you think? Did I leave anything out? Have you switched to coconut flour? What are your experiences?
*I love feedback. Although I may not respond to every one, I still cherish each comment. Keep ’em coming!
This post was also shared at Party Wave Wednesday