Are you baffled about how to cook and bake with coconut flour? Have your experiments with it produced disappointing results: brick breads, hockey pucks, and crackery cookies? Don’t give up. With practice, precise measuring, and some basic principles, you can crack the coconut flour code.
If you read my article,” Cooking with Coconut Flour: A tropical twist on gluten free goodness,” or part one in this series of blog posts about cooking and baking with coconut flour, you know a little bit about the features, advantages, and benefits of using coconut flour. It’s gluten-free, grain-free, high in protein and fiber, low in fat, low in net (digestible) carbohydrates. It’s a source of lauric acid (monolaurin), an immune-enhancing fatty acic also found in human mother’s milk. Few people are allergic to coconut relative to foods such as wheat, corn, soy, and dairy.
Coconut flour also presents a tremendous challenge. Its high fiber composition means that it absorbs more liquid than grain-based flours so you cannot use it cup for cup in place of other flours; you must use considerably less coconut flour. You need to add more liquid and leavening (best provided by extra eggs) when using coconut flour.
In the spring, when I worked the coconut flour article for Living Without Magazine, I read about coconut flour and then modified, tested, and retested recipes. In the process, I developed rough formulas for replacing conventional flours with coconut flour. What follows are general guidelines.
1) Use coconut flour to replace up to 10 to 30% of the other flour(s) in muffins, loaf breads, dinner rolls, cookies, cakes, bars, and quick breads. It makes great gluten-free baked goods, but you need to measure carefully and work from a recipe or do some math calculations to remake your own or other people’s recipes (read on for more tips).
2) For each portion of coconut flour you use, add an equal amount of additional liquid in the form of water, milk, juice, a dairy-free milk alternative, or light coconut milk, or honey. I usually replace granulated sugar (white or brown) with honey. To do this, I replace 1 cup sugar with 3/4 cup honey. Next, I usually halve the amount of honey and supplement with pure stevia extract liquid or powder to reduce the amount of sugar and carbohydrate calories. My Ice Dream Cookbok features a conversion chart for sugar to honey and sugar to stevia). When I do this, I count the honey as part of the additional liquid I need in the recipe.
3) To counter balance the heaviness and high fiber content of coconut flour, you may need to double or triple the amount of eggs in a recipe. When using an egg replacer in baked goods, double the amount you would ordinarily use.
4) When using coconut flour to replace 100% of the flour in a recipe, you will need as much as 30% less, and a larger amount of eggs for leavening and binding. You may need to triple the amount of eggs called for in muffin, quickbread, and cookie recipes and quadruple the amount called for in a cake.
5) In meatloaves and meatballs, you may replace cracker crumbs or bread crumbs with a quarter to a half as much coconut flour, then add an equal amount of water, milk, nut milk, or diluted coconut milk as coconut flour. So, if your recipe calls for 1/2 cup of bread/cracker crumbs, try 1/4 cup of coconut flour, the first time around, combined with 1/4 cup liquid. You may need to increase the liquid or add an egg to the recipe the second time or reduce the amount of coconut flour you use.
6) Remember to fluff the flour before diving into the container with a measuring cup or spoon. This can make the difference between a dense doorstop and a culinary masterpiece. I use the dip and sweep or spoon and sweet method to measure all kinds of flour.
Let me know what you make and if you apply these suggestions, what results you achieve. I look forward to hearing from you and to helping you crack the coconut flour code.