Even though coconut flour is low carb and contains rich concentrations of protein and fiber, working with coconut flour is more complex than adding it to a batter. I’ve ended up with more than my fair share of dry or dense goods made with coconut flour.
I put together this guide to baking with coconut flour to prevent you from making the same mistakes I did. But before we get to the tips for baking with coconut flour, let’s discuss what coconut flour is.
What Is Coconut Flour?
Coconut flour is a naturally gluten and grain-free flour produced by grinding dried coconut meat. Coconut flour is a by-product of making coconut milk. Manufacturers press coconuts for the milk; then, the leftover coconut meat is dried and ground into a soft, flour-like powder used in baking.
Coconut flour is popular among persons who do not consume grains or gluten and persons on the paleo and keto diets.
How To Store Coconut Flour
Knowing how to store coconut flour is the only way you will get your money’s worth. Like most foods, coconut flour will eventually spoil, but how it is stored will determine how quickly or slowly it deteriorates.
Always store your coconut flour in an airtight container away from direct sunlight. This will prevent the coconut flour from clumping up.
If the coconut flour is exposed to moisture, it will clump up. While most people store their coconut flour at room temperature, I prefer to keep it in the fridge or the freezer.
Coconut has a shelf life of 8-12 months. Coconut flour has a sweet and slightly nutty odor. However, it will smell rancid, musty, or rubbery if it is spoiled.
Tips For Baking With Coconut Flour
Coconut flour is a baking staple in gluten-free, keto, paleo, and grain-free baking. It can be used to make Bahamian coconut sweet bread, pancakes, waffles, cakes, muffins, and so much more.
Even though coconut flour is very versatile, it is also challenging to use. It’s best to use tested coconut flour recipes, especially if you are new to baking with gluten-free flours.
Coconut flour is as absorbent as a sponge. The smallest amount of coconut will literally soak up all the liquid in a recipe.
This is why you should add 1 cup of liquid for every cup of coconut flour. In addition to this, if you are making a quick bread, muffin, or cake batter, let it sit for 5-10 minutes.
The coconut flour will absorb the liquid and thicken up the batter. This will also prevent you from adding too much liquid to the batter.
No one enjoys eating dry bread, cakes, or cookies, but if you’ve made these baked goods with coconut flour, chances are you’ve encountered some dry baked goods. That’s because coconut flour can dry out baked goods.
This can be solved by adding pureed fruit such as apple sauce for half of the liquid or fat. The pureed fruit or apple sauce will make the baked goods moister and turn it into a low-fat recipe.
Another way to prevent your baked goods from drying out is to add a lot of eggs. If you are not a fan of eggy bread, it is best to use fruit or vegetable purees.
Egg whites contain protein which will give the baked good structure. On the other hand, egg yolks will give the baked goods moisture.
The general rule for baking with coconut flour is to add 1 egg for every 1/4 cup of flour. However, I prefer to add 3 eggs for every 1/2 cup of coconut flour and 6 eggs for a cup of coconut flour. Remember, if you are adding additional eggs or liquid, you may need to adjust the temperature of the oven and the baking time.
Cakes, muffins, and bread can have a dense texture when they are made with coconut flour. It may be best to separate the eggs depending on what you are making. Combine the egg yolks with coconut flour.
Whip the egg whites in a stand mixer until they are stiff, and fold them into your batter. This will combat the dense texture that coconut flour can give baked goods.
Whether you are allergic to eggs or lead a vegan lifestyle, you can still improve the texture of baked goods made with coconut flour by using flax seeds. Flaxseed eggs can be used as a 1:1 substitute for eggs.
You can make a flaxseed egg by combining a tablespoon of flaxseed meal with 3 tablespoons of water. Alternatively, you can use apple sauce, mashed bananas, avocados, or another soft fruit as a substitute for eggs.
I recommend using both flax eggs and fruit purees. The flax egg will bind the batter together, while the fruit purees add moisture to the baked goods.
Coconut flour can give foods a gritty or grainy texture. The easiest way to combat this is by sifting the coconut flour before adding it to the batter. However, you can purchase extra refined coconut flour to give your baked goods a smoother texture.
Whether it is a sweet or savory dish, food made with coconut flour will have a subtle coconut flavor. If you do not like coconut flour, I would recommend using foods with a strong flavor to mask the coconut flavor.
If you are baking a cake, you can add cocoa powder or chocolate to dilute the coconut flavor. Herbs such as rosemary or spices such as cinnamon also mask cinnamons flavor.
You can add other coconut products to your recipes, such as toasted coconut, coconut cream, or coconut milk to intensify the coconut flavor if you love coconut.
Use It With Other Gluten-Free Flours
Substituting coconut flour for all of the flour in a gluten-free recipe is a recipe for disaster. Unless the recipe specifically calls for coconut flour, always pair coconut flour with another gluten-free flour.
Coconut flour works well with hazelnut flour, almond flour, tiger nut flour, and cassava flour. You can also add a little protein powder, xanthan gum, potato starch, or tapioca flour to help create the best product.
Substituting Coconut Flour For All-Purpose Flour
Unfortunately, you cannot use coconut flour as a 1:1 replacement for all-purpose flour. The same rule applies to most gluten-free flours.
Alternatively, you can reduce the amount of all-purpose flour by substituting 1/4-1/3 cup of coconut flour. If you want to eliminate the all-purpose flour from a baking recipe, use a mixture of gluten-free flours.
Limits Of Using Coconut Flour
While coconut flour contains ample amounts of fat, fiber, and protein, it also contains high concentrations of salicylates. Salicylates are naturally occurring compounds in many foods such as cauliflower, citrus, broccoli, and coconut.
Some persons have adverse reactions to salicylates. They can heighten headaches and hyperactivity and play a role in skin conditions such as eczema. If you have salicylate sensitivity, excluding coconut and coconut products from your diet may be better.
More Baking Guides:
A Guide To Baking With Hazelnut Flour
A Guide To Sugar-Free Sweeteners
A Guide To Gluten-Free Flours
Working with coconut flour is a steep learning curve, but luckily you’ve got all the tips and tricks you need to bake with coconut flour. Hopefully, you won’t make the same mistakes I made when I first started baking with coconut flour.