If you’re looking for a gluten free or deliciously nutty substitute for flour, look no further than almond flour! Here’s how to get the best out of your bake …
Gluten-free home cooks have long enjoyed the nutty, flavourful bags of almond flour in their pantries. But it’s not just a great substitute for wheat –finely ground almonds make for a great flavour and texture profile in any bake, from delightful macarons to rich breads and pastries.
It is, however, a little difficult to get an almond flour substitution right every time without a few tricks up your sleeve. Here are our top tips for baking with everyone’s favourite nut:
Almond meal vs almond flour
Although they can often be used interchangeably, almond flour and meal are not the same thing. Meal is a little courser, sometimes roughly chopped with the skins still on the nuts. Flour is finely ground from blanched almonds that have been skinned.
Both can be used in a variety of baked dishes, but almond flour is a little more versatile. The lighter your desired dish (like a macaron or fluffy cake), the finer you want your flour ground, so steer clear of almond meal until the heavier dishes come along.
Get your ratios right
Although there are many delicious recipes designed specifically for almond flour, most wheat flour recipes can be tweaked with a few substitution tricks.
Almond flour is a little more moist than wheat flour, and doesn’t have quite the same binding qualities. You’ll do best to substitute 1:1 to begin with, as many recipes respond well to this direct replacement. But be prepared to add more almond flour as you go to compensate for the wetter batter.
You’ll also want to keep a few extra egg whites handy if you want to ensure that your bake doesn’t fall apart. Aim for a relatively stiff batter, adding more almond flour until you’ve found your desired texture.
Last but not least: keep it cool
Because of its high moisture content and oilier texture, almond meal and almond flour should ideally be stored in cooler environments like the fridge or freezer if you’re not using them frequently. Make sure that your containers or packets are well-sealed to avoid extra moisture from the air getting in.
The same rule of “keep it cool” applies to the actual cooking or baking process too. Almond meals and flours burn a whole lot quicker than regular flours, so might get too hot too quickly and leave the tops of your dishes crunchy and over-browned. Try making “tents” with foil to cover your baking trays and tins in the oven to keep your batter luscious and nutty.