Coconut flour seems to be on the rise in popularity, even in our little Luxembourg. I’ve noticed a huge trend in allergy-free and free-from recipes using coconut flour to substitute in their sweet treats as well as other uses. I was a bit skeptical at first because I thought it would make everything taste like coconut like when I tried coconut milk substitutions. Needless to say, I have been pleasantly surprised to notice only a slightly, mild nutty flavor in this naturally gluten free flour. Really it’s hardly noticeable especially with strong flavors like chocolate and nuts.
Ok then, so what exactly is coconut flour you ask? Well it’s what remains of the fleshy white “meat” inside the coconut after the water has been extracted. This solid is separated from the shell ground down. It’s then pressed to strain out the coconut milk followed by a low and slow drying process until the dry flour consistency is reached. It’s not overly complicated and produces flour with less processing than most other flours.
The health and nutritional values alone seem to make it a reasonable choice when needing to replace wheat flour or the highly starchy gluten free flours in some baking and cooking for a more healthful alternative. As an added advantage, from a restrictive diet perspective, it’s grain-free making it a more appealing choice. If you’re scientifically minded then check out this report for more detailed information.
For the sake of simplicity I’m just going to share an overview of the value of using coconut flour. Protein, fat and fiber are the three most notable qualities and since most gluten free flours are so high in starches, this makes coconut flour a good contender for a healthy substitute. It has a good dose of protein which helps with energy and feeling fuller. It is a healthy fat since it is plant based also making it low in carbohydrates. Lastly, the high fiber content makes this a wonderful addition for those of us always looking for way to increase the fiber in our diets.
Coconut flour is fairly dry and really absorbent. Two very important adjustments need to be considered when substituting; you must add more liquid and eggs and reduce the amount of flour by quite a bit. I’ve done some of research on the correct ratios of liquid to dry when adjusting and the recommendations are a bit inconsistent. To give you a rough idea,1/3 cup of coconut flour would be used in place of 1 cup of regular flour. The liquid would increase by a few tablespoons and 2-3 eggs would be needed in addition to the eggs listed in the recipe. This is quite daunting and could get costly through trial and error so I would highly recommend recipes that have had success and share accurate quantities until you get the hang of it. Here are a few to check out:
- Coconut flour bread
- Chocolate zucchini bread
- Apple cinnamon coconut flour cake
- Coconut flour spice cookies
There are many more uses for coconut flour for instance, as the batter coating for frying and sautéing, as a thickening agent in place of white flour or cornstarch, in smoothies and shakes and binders in place of breadcrumbs or crackers when making hamburgers and meatballs. I haven’t had a chance to try any of these additional uses since I only recently learned about them but wanted to mention them just to show the versatility of coconut flour.
So, if coconut flour sounds like a possibility for your allergy-free recipes then look for it at Naturata, Cactus and sometimes Auchan. I am still keeping my eyes open at other stores but have not had success finding it with any regularity as of yet.