A Primer: Baking with Coconut Flour

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Last week, Amy primed us on using almond flour in our GAPS-friendly baking. And this week, Patty is here to tell us all about baking with coconut flour. Each flour behaves completely differently and deserves its own discussion. –Wardee

My family makes most of our baked goods with coconut flour. In addition to following GAPS, two of us need to be on a low-oxalate diet. Coconut flour is the only low-oxalate, GAPS-friendly flour.

I really like that coconut is technically a fruit and is very low in anti-nutrients, making soaking unnecessary (as is necessary with all grains, nuts, and seeds). However, sometimes it is processed together with nuts, which is an allergy concern for sensitive people.

Coconut Flour: Unique

Unlike nut flours, it absorbs liquid well. Unlike glutinous flours, it is not really sticky. Coconut flour is a fairly bland flour, but it does have a mild coconut flavor. Some people who do not care for coconut eat coconut flour baked goods without complaint.

It is made from the fiber leftover from making coconut milk, which is then ground to a powder. At this point, it doesn’t have much oil left, so can’t provide the health benefits that you would get from coconut oil.

It’s high fiber content can be a problem for those with irritated guts. All that fiber can make constipation and diarrhea worse!

Conventional wisdom says that fiber helps with constipation, but many people have the opposite problem. We are told that the answer to constipation is more fiber so most people just keep increasing it and wondering why it doesn’t work. (Ahem: I do have some personal experience with this issue.)

Anyhow, you have been warned! :)

A GAPS Caveat

If you are on GAPS, remember that baked goods, fruit, and other “treat” foods should be kept to 20% or less of the diet. In other words, don’t get carried away!

Just because some foods are “GAPS Legal” doesn’t mean you can eat as much as you want. Continue to focus on the healing foods like broth, meats, veggies and ferments for the bulk of your food, adding baked goods as an occasional treat.

How to Use Coconut Flour

Coconut flour works well in many recipes that call for wheat flour, like to coat foods such as fried chicken or when browning a roast. In situations like these,  use it in the same ratio as the original recipe. (It does have a bit of a sweet flavor to it so you may need to accommodate that in your recipes.)

Some people use coconut flour to thicken gravies and sauces. Personally, I think that it makes for a gritty texture, so I don’t prefer to use it that way. If you do want to try out using it for a thickened sauce, keep in mind that it is much more absorbent than wheat flour — start with about 1/4 as much wheat flour and work up from there.

When baking with coconut flour you need to use quite a bit of egg in the recipe. In fact, I have yet to come across any egg-free coconut flour recipes. The eggs bind the ingredients together and also provide a lot of moisture. Usually coconut flour recipes will also call for some fat, and some liquid like coconut milk or yogurt. Please don’t cut back on any of these ingredients — this usually results in dry or crumbly baked goods.

And ideal wheat flour recipe to convert is one that calls for a lot of eggs. You can often just replace the full amount of wheat flour with 1/4 coconut flour. That’s how I converted my husband’s Grandmother’s Hootenanny Pancakes recipe to be GAPS-friendly.

Coconut flour absorbs more liquid than other flours but not as quickly — it takes a few minutes. If you are making a recipe and think it seems too thin, give it 5 minutes to thicken up before adding more flour. You might be surprised at how thick it gets! If you still need to add more flour, do so in very small amounts at a time. Remember, it is four times as absorbent as wheat flour!

Though I mentioned converting recipes, usually this is very hard to do with coconut flour. In most cases, it doesn’t work to simply substitute, even if you reduce the flour to 1/4 the original amount. Your best bet is to find recipes that call for it specifically.

Personally, I find the texture coconut flour baked goods to be dry. But I found that using dates for the sweetener helps with this —  the resulting baked goods taste great to me.

By the way, my friends and family think I am crazy and do not notice the dry texture that bothers me so much. If you’ve tried coconut flour baked goods and didn’t care for the texture (like me) you might find that adding fruit will improve things for you.

As I have healed on GAPS, I have liked the coconut flour baked goods better and better. Perhaps my extra sensitivity to that texture has healed. (Go, GAPS!)

Choosing Coconut Flour

There are several brands of coconut flour available. I have used the Coconut Secret, Tropical Traditions, and Wilderness Family Naturals coconut flours and found them all to all be equally good. They seem to work interchangeably in my recipes. (I have not tried every brand in every recipe, though.)

My Favorite Coconut Flour Recipes

I will leave you with a couple of links to our favorite coconut flour recipes from my blog.

Do you bake with coconut flour? What are your favorite coconut flour recipes? Let’s make the comments a great resource for finding recipes!

New to our GAPS series? Get up to speed by browsing past posts in this series or reading what the GAPS diet is.

This post is shared with GAPS-Friendly Fridays.

This post may contain affiliate links. We only recommend products and services we wholeheartedly endorse. Thank you for supporting Traditional Cooking School by GNOWFGLINS with your purchases. Our family thanks you!

Comments

  1. Dianne says

    Thank you, Patty. My first attempt at baking with coconut flour was a disaster! I made banana bread and substituted the coconut flour measure for measure. It was SO DRY!! I made a vanilla pudding and poured it over the broken up pieces… This is just what I need.

  2. says

    Great post. I am sad that I don’t really use much coconut flour anymore since eggs started giving me awful stomach aches six months ago. Like you said, there are few egg-free coconut flour recipes!

  3. says

    Thanks for the primer on coconut flour. I will still use it mixed with other flours but I am so very allergic to gluten, dairy, and eggs so using only coconut flour won’t work for me. It was nice to read about having to use eggs to get it to work so I know where the problem lies for me.

  4. Sally says

    I was so sad to read that you haven’t come across any egg-free coconut flour recipes. I’m intolerant to eggs, currently on GAPS and low oxalate diets and was hoping for ideas for occasional treats. If you come across any egg-free coconut flour recipes, please post!
    Sally

  5. Rachel says

    Sorry to be coming late to the party, but I have a question I am hoping you can answer. My kids and I LOVE coconut flour muffins (among other coconut flour goodies) so I make them all the time. However, I can’t for the life of me figure out how to make them so they come out of the pan whole. I grease the pan, but the bottom third or so still sticks to the pan. Of course they still taste yummy, but I would be embarrassed to serve them to guests ;-) I prefer to be able to use the paper muffin cups for ease of clean-up, but when I use those I end up throwing half of the muffin with the paper. Can you help me? Thanks so much!

    • says

      Hi Rachel,
      You are right it does tend to stick. I personally use the papers. I’m not sure what you are greasing your muffin cups with but I personally find that lard and palm shortening work better than coconut oil. You could also try flouring them like you would for a cake. It may also depend on your muffin cups themselves. My cast iron ones stick terribly no matter what I do.

    • Jeanmarie says

      Try silicone baking forms. The silicone muffin cups should work for you. I have made coconut break in a silicone loaf pan and didn’t have problems with it sticking.

  6. Jen says

    I’m trying to cut back on grains in my diet. no health concerns, just thought i’d try it out. anyway, i’m doing some research for baking alternatives… i keep seeing that coconut flour needs eggs. I was wondering if anyone had tried substituting the eggs needed with a 1/3 cup of the oil of their choice, or a 1/3 cup applesauce for each egg that the recipe calls for. I’ve used both in a pinch in traditional wheat flour based recipes. thought i’d throw the suggestion out there for those with egg sensitivities.

    • says

      Coconut flour recipes really, really need eggs, not pureed beans, applesauce, egg substitutes. It really needs real eggs to work. I am allergic to eggs also and am trying to find and create bread substitutes with no flour of any kind. The cauliflower pizza crust is awesome and my normal family and friends love it so much they use it just because it taste great and is much healthier for us. I use cheddar cheese and triple garlic and spices it and we love the recipe. I have a gluten free pancake recipe that no one knows it’s not GF but bread has been a total disappointment so far. I’m using recipes that require no gluten at all for our main meals. It’s helping to just avoid the gluten issue. Where 1/3 of our family is GF and the rest love gluten and can have it. I have 43 no gluten recipes so far. We just have a few gluten recipes I have to adapt as they are family favorites.

  7. says

    I love coconut flour! I use it mostly in coconut flour pancakes! I can’t tolerate gluten :( so using coconut flour instead of wheat flour is the perfect alternative :)

  8. reds says

    Is it possible to use coconut flour for Doughnuts? Our main problem when we use coconut flour is its texture and the amount of fat absorbed after frying. Can you please help me?

    • says

      When using coconut flour you need to use eggs and lots of them. You might also blend in other flours with it but I’ve used it straight but doubled my eggs to get it to work. Good luck! I know how frustrating experimenting to get the right flour blends can be. I haven’t made my lovely yeasted donuts yet. Probably won’t until this Fall. Let us know how it works out and what is the winning combination for you donuts!

      • james d says

        dear cherlynn,

        I have a recipe for a flat bread which uses coconut flour, psyllium, coconut oil and hot water and not one egg. it rolls like a wrap and I cut it up into squares and toast it to enjoy with my eggs. if anyone wants the recipe without or with my modifications I would be pleased to share.
        regards,
        james

    • Jen says

      have you tried almond flour? it gives more of a flakey crumbley consistancy than coconut flour does, which i find to be more moist and chewy. perhaps a blend of the two will give you your desired results.

  9. says

    I love coconut flour! I like it better than other gluten free flours because it’s low in carbs and really healthy. It doesn’t have added chemicals like others contain :) I love using it to make coconut flour pancakes, and muffins :D I recently used it to make pizza, and it’s like a whole new world! Ha! Great post, nice to know there are more people supporting the coconut flour community :)

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