Over the past few years it seems that coconuts have gone from being things that were only ever really seen on shys at funfairs or dried and sprinkled on top of cakes, to now being available in numerous different guises in our supermarkets – be it oil, milk, yoghurt or, one of my personal favourites and one that you might not be so familiar with: coconut flour! So, what is it and, more importantly, how, where and why should you consider using it too?
Coconut flour is, quite simply, just the dried flesh of coconuts which is ground down until it’s a fine powder – but the benefits and uses of this fragrant white powder are really quite staggering!
Not only is coconut flour a handy substitute for those of us following gluten free diets, but it’s also great for the increasing number of people who are choosing to go “grain- free” or “low carb” as well as those who need to try and keep their blood sugar levels stable and without any spikes – such as those with diabetes and/or following a low glycaemic index diet as people with PCOS are often recommended to do. It’s also contains both more protein and more fibre than is found in the more common wheat based flours – and at a time when the majority of us are failing to meet the recommended target intake of 30g of fibre per day, that definitely isn’t something to ignore! And far from being something that you can only buy in specialist or health-food stores, coconut flour (and sugar!) can now be found on the shelves of most major supermarkets here in the U.K.
Now that I’ve convinced you on the numerous benefits of coconut flour – and reassured you that it’s fairly easy to find – you might be wondering how you actually use it and whether you can just use it in place of “normal” flour in recipes – so read on!
Coconut flour’s mild scent and flavour, alongside its light and airy texture means that it is ideally suited to baking and, specifically, to any recipe where a slight coconutty taste and smell won’t detract from the deliciousness of the finished dish e.g. whilst it would be perfect in a muffin mix with banana, it might be better to use a more neutral flour if you want to whip up a classic Victoria sponge.
It’s also worth being aware that this flour won’t behave in quite the same way as some of the normal grain-based flours that you might be more familiar with and so you’ll need to make a few tweaks and use some slightly different techniques.
First of all, you can’t just substitute coconut flour for other flours on a 1:1 basis (i.e. if a recipe calls for 200g of wheat flour, you can’t just use 200g coconut flour instead) and so you will need to do a little experimentation. Start by replacing no more than 20% of the flour your recipe calls for with coconut flour and be conscious that you may also need to increase the liquid content in your recipe by a similar amount as coconut flour is far more absorbent than many other flours – and you may also need to make some adjustments to the length of baking time – but persevere and you will get there!
However, if experimenting isn’t for you, then why not check out the thousands of recipes out there that call for coconut flour? And if you’re looking for somewhere to start then why not try whipping up my delicious Coconut & Courgette Loaf? It’s grain free and, unlike most other bread recipes, doesn’t require any kneading or proving -so you can have a loaf that’s ready to eat in under 2 hours!! You can find the recipe right here:
There are numerous reasons to love all that coconut flour nutrition has to offer, especially the fact that it’s high in nutrients, low in calories, high in fiber and protein and versatile in many recipes. It’s also very uncommon for coconut flour to cause any digestive or autoimmune responses like other grain flours can. Fortunately, gluten-free diets are becoming much easier to adopt thanks to the growing availability of gluten-free flours like coconut flour.