I’ve always loved baking. I have so many fond memories of holidays when I was a child with my mom, grandmother, and dear family friend all baking what at the time seemed like an endless variety of cookies and goodies. In my minds eye, trays of beautifully arranged treats could go on for as far as I could see. So I tend to think of baking as a birth right, a family learned skill, and a comfort for special occasions. Mixing doughs in the kitchen and peeking into the oven window to watch what is rising appropriately is like therapy to me.
But baking has changed for me very much of the years. As health and nutrition have become more and more important to me over time, I’d tweak my recipes to have a little less sugar, and then even less again. Then eventually swapping ingredients for more nutritious alternatives. Add to that my recent discovery that I am gluten sensitive (I’ll write more about this at a later date), and baking has become an interesting challenge. How can I bake delicious things given all of these parameters?
My goal now is to experiment with baking nutritious foods using minimal sugars, and only from natural sources, and of course without wheat. I’ve tried several different flours: brown rice flour, almond meal, gluten free store bought mixes, buckwheat flour… But my favorite so far has been coconut flour. Let me tell you why.
Coconut flour is created from the meat of the coconut that is left over from the process of deriving coconut milk.
Coconut flour is gluten free and allergen free and rich in protein, fiber and fat. The same healthy saturated fat that is found in coconut oil. It is 14% oil, 58% dietary fiber, and the remaining 28% is a mix of water, protein and carbs. Even more fiber than flaxseeds. Coconut flour does not effect mineral availability the way that grain or nut flours can and there fore does not need to be soaked before using.
It is also a good source of lauric acid and manganese.
Because less coconut flour is used per recipe, (see Differences below), it makes it fairly economical. Though coconut flour is more expensive than regular wheat flour, it goes much further.
Coconut flour can NOT be substituted 1 to 1 for regular flour in recipes. Coconut flour is exceptionally absorbent, so 1/4 cup of coconut flour would replace 1 cup of regular AP flour, PLUS you must add extra moisture to the recipe, and typically lots of eggs to help act as a binder. Without extra moisture and eggs, a recipe made with coconut flour can come out crumbly and remarkably dry. When you read a recipe written for coconut flour, the wet to dry ingredient ration will throw you off, but trust. As a rule, add one egg per ounce of coconut flour.
Coconut flour CAN be used in place of AP flour for breading or dredging in a 1:1 ratio.
It is highly recommended that coconut flour be stored for any length of time in an airtight container and frozen or refrigerated to keep it fresh. Also, baked goods need to be refrigerated. Coconut flour can be bought out of the bulk bin at your local grocery or health market, or purchase it online.
The recipe below is one that always gets gobbled up at my house. They are buttery, lemony, slightly sweet and the tea adds just a subtle effect that makes these delicious. The texture is similar to that of a corn bread muffin.
Honey Lemon Tea Muffins
4 tbsp butter
1/2 cup of milk of choice
1 tea bag (either black or green tea – to taste)
zest of one lemon
3 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 cup coconut flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
2 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 tbsp honey
2 tbsp lemon juice
pinch of sea salt
Preheat oven to 400.
1. cut butter into small pieces and melt over low heat with the milk. Stir constantly and do not boil. Once the butter is melted, take if off of the heat, add the tea bag and cover to steep.
3. Mix the coconut flour, sea salt, baking powder and lemon zest together.
4. When the butter and heat are room temperature, remove the tea bag, and combine with eggs and honey. Mix well and slowly add the dry ingredients. Mix until smooth
5. Distribute batter into muffin tin, and bake for 12-15 minutes, until firm and slightly golden brown on top.
6. While baking, combine the glaze ingredients and warm until well mixed.
7. Glaze tops of muffins after they come out of the oven
Remember to refrigerate these if they won’t be eaten the same day. Enjoy!