Coconut flour: How to cook with this gluten free option
Whether you’re looking for a gluten-free flour substitute or just want to change up your baking repertoire by cooking with coconut flour, here are some things to keep in mind…
Coconut flour is a delicious, nutrient-rich option for those home cooks attempting gluten-free recipes. But it’s not just a useful substitute for wheat flour – it’s also full of protein, packed with flavour and adds a natural sweetness and unique texture to your favourite bakes.
But because of its high fatty acid content and super-absorbent quality, it can’t just be substituted one-for-one and requires a few extra steps if you’re going to get the best results from your recipes.
What is coconut flour and where can you get it?
Coconut flour is a fine flour ground down from the dried meat of delicious coconuts. Did you know that it’s also a by-product that is produced in the process of making coconut milk? That means that it’s relatively sustainable and helps us use every part of the coconut.
Coconut flour is increasingly available in mainstream supermarkets, and can easily be found at health stores or organic groceries. If you can’t find it, there are many stockists of coconut flour online too!
Less coconut flour, more eggs for best results
Coconut flour has the extraordinary ability to soak up vast amounts of liquid, so very little is required in a baking recipe when compared with wheat flour. In fact, the optimal ratio for substituting in your cakes, muffins and biscuits is around ¼ cup coconut flour for every normal cup of cake flour.
You’ll also need to increase the amount of eggs or binding agents in your recipe in order to retain the fluffy, firm result of a normal cake. Best practice usually states that for every cup of coconut flour, 6 beaten eggs and one cup of milk is a good ratio. As you can imagine, this often makes existing recipes a little tricky to adjust, so working with recipes designed specifically for coconut flour is your easiest option, and prevents you from wasting any ingredients if the substitution is a little off the mark.
Sieve and mix well
Because of its interesting texture, coconut flour often clumps together, so make sure you sift and beat thoroughly to incorporate the ingredients perfectly. Nobody likes biting into a lump of dry flour! Making sure that you’ve got enough wet ingredients (as in the above step) will help with this process too, ensuring that you don’t end up with a dry or lumpy bake.
Where is coconut flour best used?
Because of its naturally sweet flavour profile, coconut flour is best used in desserts and sweet baked goods – although it can add an interesting flavour to savoury bakes too! Some of our favourite coconut flour recipes are cakes and delicious coconut biscuits.
Coconut flour also lends itself to rich, dense breads and flavourful, light flatbreads and pancakes or tortillas. Recipes with fruits and vegetables in them – like carrot cake or banana bread – are also incredibly effective, as they are often packed with more moisture, and counteract the absorbent flour perfectly.