We are going to start a series about different gluten and grain free flours and the things to look for when buying them. Let’s start with coconut flour, as it is the base of both our brownie mix and our blondies.
What is it?
Coconut flour, at its most basic, is dried, ground up coconut meat. It is a byproduct of the coconut milk process. Once they have soaked and processed the coconut and gotten as much liquid out of them as possible, they dry out the remaining flesh. When it’s dry, they grind it into flour. Pretty simple!
Coconut flour is good grain free flour due to its high fiber, protein (for a flour) and overall nutrition content. 2 Tablespoons of it has 3 grams of protein, 10 grams of carbs (7 grams of which is dietary fiber) and 3.5 grams of high quality fat. Due to it’s high fiber content, it is great for those doing keto or other low-carb eating plans.
It lends a pleasant coconut flavor when added to recipes and a nice softness to the texture of what you are baking. You do need to beware that it soaks up a LOT of moisture, which is why it is usually only used in small amounts.
How can I use it?
Since it is made out of dried out coconuts, it does not have the structural capabilities of many grains. On the one hand, this is great because you cannot overwork coconut flour, and it does lend a very nice, soft texture. On the other hand, you will get no lift, airiness, or texture from it.
Because of this, you can’t just substitute coconut flour into a recipe that needs structure, such as a bread or cake, and expect great lofty results. It can end up being fairly dense, especially when used by itself. Most flours (wheat or gluten free) are made from the seed of the grass or plant and are not “dried” in the same way that dehydrated coconut is. Therefore, coconut flour LOVES to soak up basically any liquid you throw at it. It makes everything compact fairly well and can really bring together a recipe (like our blondies, for example!).
Coconut flour works best in recipes that are more quick bread style, and don’t require much height. Quick breads, cookies, brownies, pancakes, waffles, etc are a great use for coconut flour. They do not require nearly as much structure to hold together.
Due to how much water it soaks up it can be a fantastic minor addition to recipes. Adding even a tablespoon will sometimes do what you need to stabilize a recipe.
Are there downsides?
It tastes like coconut. If you don’t like the taste of coconut or don’t want a particular recipe to taste like coconut, it’s not a great choice. If you just add a Tblsp, it will be a very very slight hint, but those who dislike the flavor may still be unhappy. I really don’t mind it, and it most desserts it blends in quite well, so it never bothers me, but I do want y’all to know.
It makes things dry. As we discussed, this can be a blessing or a curse.
It doesn’t have much structure. Even with recipes that work well with it (like pancakes), they have a tendency to still be fairly fragile. Pancakes, for example, you have to be careful flipping as they can fall apart.
Is it still a good choice?
Absolutely! I love the addition of coconut flour to recipes and even using it by itself. Is it perfect? Nope! Neither is any wheat or gluten free flour. Learn where it fits in, and especially if you are trying to be grain free or do low carb baking, it’s a great addition.
We primarily use the Nutiva brand which I like quite a bit. The grind size can vary by brand and sometimes be grainy, so buy a small amount if you’re trying a new brand. We just buy off of amazon, which is always convenient, but most grocery stores should carry it as well.
Do you use coconut flour? What has been your experience with it? Let us know on social media or in the comments below!
Make it a tasty day,