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!
This post is shared with GAPS-Friendly Fridays.