How to Bake with Alternative Flours
If you’re anything like us, our quarantine schedule has been on a strict stay-at-home-and-bake schedule. From banana bread to chocolate chip cookies, there’s no better way than to pass the time counting down the kitchen timer for when to devour your long-awaited treat.
One of the key components in baking— and by far the worst thing to run out of— is flour. Flour is a crucial part of many treats like cakes, cookies, muffins, etc.. But there are cases when regular doesn’t cut it i.e. it’s out at the grocery store, you have a special dietary need, or just want to try a new alternative flours. And there are so many to try! Well, we’ve got you covered.
Note that with most alternative flours there is no 1:1 ratio with regular all-purpose flour as they vary in moisture absorbing and protein content. The best way to cook with alternative flours is to use a recipe meant for them or you can opt for a strictly gluten-free 1:1 baking blend that has a good ratio of alternative flours combined.
Without further ado, here’s your guide to baking with alternative flours.
Almond flour is usually made with blanched, unskinned almonds that are finely ground into a fine, flour-like texture. Note the difference between almond flour and almond meal, which is ground almonds made from whole, skinned almonds and has a coarser texture. Almond flour is high in protein and lower in carbs, and can be used in anything from cookies to cheesecake crusts to coating savory dishes.
Coconut flour is made from coconut pulp that has been dried and ground into a fine flour. It’s extremely high in fiber and is a great alternative to tree nut-based flours. It does have a higher fat content and is highly absorbent, yielding for a much higher ratio of liquid in many recipes, so it does not exactly work as a 1:1 substitution. It gives a denser characteristic to baked goods, which is perfect for recipes like this coconut flour banana bread.
Another flour that is extremely absorbent is rice flour. There are two standard types: brown and white. While virtually interchangeable, brown rice flour has a bit of a nuttier note and has a few more health benefits, though it does have a shorter life span. Note that rice flour is not the same as rice starch. White rice flour has a very neutral flavor and is also low in FODMAP making it a great gluten-free flour alternative. Stick to recipes made for rice flour like coconut rice cakes or rice flour sugar cookies.
The South American cassava plant is a starchy, fibrous tuber that produces the cassava root, also known as yuca. It is similar in nature to yams, taro, plantains and potatoes. The ultimate vegan, paleo, and gluten-free flour, you can make anything from cassava chips to tortillas to cassava chocolate chip cookies.
Despite the name, buckwheat is not wheat. It is actually a seed making it the perfect option for a naturally gluten-free, nut-free flour. Buckwheat flour has a really earthy and nutty flavor, which is great to feature in buckwheat pancakes or French Breton galettes.
Also known as garbanzo bean flour, raw chickpeas are ground up to make chickpea flour. While it is high in protein, fiber, and iron, chickpea flour tends to have a strong chickpea taste versus other alternative flours. Rather than use it in baking, opt for socca or farinata or a chickpea flatbread.
One of the best parts about oat flour is that most everyone already has it if you have oats sitting in your pantry! All you have to do is put your oats in the food processor and voila, oat flour.
It’s got a bit of protein and fiber with a more subtle taste which makes it a great alternative flour to use for cookies, pancakes, and breakfast bars.
From nut flours to seed flours to making flour out of legumes, there are so many great ways to utilize different types of flours for a different kind of texture, taste, and treat. Let us know if you try using one of these alternative flours and let us know how it goes!