I love coconut. Whether it’s the oil, the flavor in coffee, or the flakes, I love everything about it. But when I saw a container of coconut flour on the shelf at one of the grocery stores, I thought “baking?” I’d never tried it. I have several friends who are eating gluten free these days, so I decided to give gluten free baking a try.
All flours are not equal!
When I started researching coconut flour on the internet, I found that you can’t just substitute coconut flour for wheat flour at a 1:1 ratio. Your product will end up far too dense. This is because coconut flour is very absorbent. You can substitute coconut flour at the rate of ¼ cup of coconut flour to 12 cups of wheat flour. And you need to use a great deal more liquid as well. A good rule of thumb is 6 eggs for every cup of coconut flour plus a cup of liquid. Yes, really! I thought my first try was going to be a failure – I’d never cooked like this. I was pleasantly surprised when I tried it, and everything I’d been taught about baking with wheat flour went right out the window.
Why gluten free baking with coconut flour?
Coconut flour is not only economical to use, but it’s also really good for you. I purchased a 2.2 pound container for less than $4.00, and it will last a long time at this rate. The amount of nutritional value is staggering. In 3.5 ounces there is 8.7 grams of fat – good fat that is easily used by the body. This fat contains no cholesterol. There is also only 80 mg of sodium, 38.5 grams of fiber and 19 grams of protein. There are 64 grams of carbohydrates, but they are a complex carb, not refined like white flours. It also contains 5% of the daily recommendation of iron for an adult. Coconut flour is high in lauric acid, which is thought to help the immune system and thyroid. It’s also high in manganese, which contributes to bone health, the nervous system, and helps to control blood sugar levels.
Coconut Flour Bread Recipe
Here’s a recipe for a quick bread made with coconut flour. There’s no baking powder or baking soda, yet it’s extremely moist, light, and tender.
- 1½ cups coconut flour (find organic coconut flour here)
- 1 cup liquid, ½ should be water-based (like milk) and ½ oil based (like coconut oil) – you can also try goat’s milk or shredded zucchini for part of the liquid
- 12 eggs
- 2 Tablespoons honey (find organic raw honey here)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt (find unrefined sea salt here)
Beat the eggs, honey, and liquid. Set aside. Sift the salt with the flour in a large bowl. Gradually add the flour mixture, ¼ cup at a time. Beat well, don’t be afraid to over beat. When ready it will look like a thick paste. Pour into a large greased loaf pan. Bake at 350° for 40 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Let cool and slice. I serve mine slightly warm with rhubarb blackberry sauce and fresh whipped cream.
You can make many substitutions with this recipe. Try using pureed pumpkin for part of the liquid, adding ½ teaspoon each of cinnamon and nutmeg. Or try adding fresh or frozen blueberries, or maybe raspberries. For the liquid try milk, water, or even kefir or yogurt. For the oil part try coconut oil, safflower oil or something exotic like macadamia nut oil. There is no end to what you can do.
Other uses for coconut flour
Even though you can’t substitute coconut flour at the same rate as wheat flour for baking, there are other things you can do with it for cooking. Try using as a coating for your chicken or chops, like you would flour. For this you can use it just as you would wheat flour. It adds a subtle sweet nuttiness to your meats. You can add a teaspoon or so to your smoothies in the morning. Just remember that it is highly absorbent and must be added slowly. You might find that ½ teaspoon is enough. I’ve used it to thicken stews, though it must be beaten with water first, then forced into submission. For the most part, in gravies and such, I’d stick with wheat flour, as coconut flour is harder to work with.
And, as a soap and natural products maker, I love using it as a mask. I take ¼ cup and put it in a coffee grinder. Then I add some herbs, depending on how my skin feels. If it’s really dirty, I use dried mint and comfrey. If it’s feeling dry, I add dried plantain and mallow, and when it’s feeling overstressed, I add dried chamomile, calendula, and lemon balm. I give that a few turns in a spice grinder and place the powder in a sealable bowl. Then when I want to use it, I take out a tablespoon or so and place it in a glass bowl. To the powdered mixture I add honey, mashed avocado, mashed banana, beaten egg, or even milk or water. Start with a small amount and add more as you go along. (It could be anywhere from ¼ cup to 1 cup of these ingredients.) When it gets to be a thick paste, apply it to your face in a thin layer and let it dry. Rinse it off and follow with a moisturizer if necessary.
Have you used coconut flour?
What’s your favorite use for it? Please share in the comments section below!