A bout 6 months ago, I was exploring the interwebs when I came across an intriguing ebook. With the irresistible title of ‘Guilt-Free Desserts’, I found myself hitting the ‘Add to Cart’ button in record time.
I’m super happy I did. As expected, I’ve added some really delicious, healthy sweet treats to my repertoire. Like these ‘paleo brownies‘, some amazing vanilla cupcakes that actually contain cannellini beans and a new blueberry muffin.
But the thing that’s been even more valuable is that I’ve added some new, healthier ingredients into my baking larder. Which brings me to my latest favourite flour…
What is the best low GI, gluten-free flour?
For me, it’s coconut flour.
Why do I love coconut flour?
It keeps baked goods moist
Coconut flour has an uncanny ability to absorb and hold onto water. This means your baked goods stay lovely and moist – always a good thing in my book!
It’s high in fiber
You probably don’t need me to tell you why fibre is a good thing. Happily, the fibre in coconut flour is light and white, so it doesn’t taste or feel like a traditional ‘high fiber’ food such as a classic ‘bran muffin’.
It’s low GI
Unlike wheat and most other ‘gluten-free’ flours, coconut flour is low in digestable carbs so it doesn’t spike your blood sugar levels. This means it’s more waistline-friendly.
It’s grain-free and gluten-free
So it’s wonderful if you want to eat more ‘paleo’ or need to avoid gluten.
What’s not to love about coconut flour?
Wheat based flour is so cheap, it’s not surprising that coconut flour is significantly more expensive. But remember you’ll be using a fraction of the amount, so the price difference isn’t as extreme as it seems at first. And I like to think about the long term savings to my health.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but coconut flour does have a distinct slightly sweet coconut flavour. This can be a plus for things like brownies. In more savoury baking like the bread below, I quite like the subtle coconut but my Irishman isn’t a huge fan.
How do you use coconut flour?
After experimenting with substituting coconut flour for regular flour, I’ve had mostly successes with a few failures.
I’ve found the best starting point is to replace the flour with 1/3 coconut flour and 2/3 water. For example in a recipe that calls for 100g (3oz) regular flour, I’d use 33g (1oz) coconut flour and 66g (2oz) water or other liquid.
Depending on the results, you may need to tweak. But mostly it should be fine.
makes 1 loaf
Adapted from ‘Better Breads’ a free bonus ebook that accompanies ‘Guilt-Free Desserts‘ by Kelley Herring.
If you’re expecting this bread to be just like your favourite sourdough (like Iggys from Bronte), I’m afraid you are going to be disappointed. But if you’re after a hearty bread that’s also healthy then you’re in the right place.
Don’t be alarmed by the number of eggs. Coconut flour is much lower in protein than wheat flour, so the eggs are needed to give enough protein in our loaf.
165g (6oz) coconut flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
250g (9oz) butter, melted
12 eggs, lightly beaten
1. Preheat oven to 180C (350F). Line a loaf pan with baking paper.
2. In a large bowl combine coconut flour, baking powder and 1 teaspoon salt. Make a ‘well’ in the middle of the flour.
3. Add eggs and butter in the well. Whisk to combine, but don’t stress if there are a few lumps.
4. Transfer the mixture to your prepared pan. Smooth the top.
5. Bake for 45 minutes or until the loaf is well browned and a skewer inserted in the middle comes out clean.
6. Remove from the pan and cool on a rack before eating.
dairy-free – replace butter with 1 cup light flavoured olive oil or other mild flavoured oil.
vegan / egg-free – I’m afraid the eggs are critical to the bread texture so best to stick to regular sourdough.
flavoured bread – feel free to add a few handfuls of your favourite flavourings like rosemary, roast cubed potato, seeds, nuts, roast garlic, caramelized onion. Whatever you feel like.
fruit loaf – stir in a few handfuls of dried fruit. I love figs or apricots. Almonds are also good.
can’t find coconut flour? – best to stick to regular bread like my rustic loaf over here.
video version of the recipe
What about you?
Are you a keen baker? Is there anything you’re struggling with from a baking perspective? Or do you have a favourite ‘healthy baking’ ingredient you’d like to share? I’d love to hear from you in the comments…