Saturday, May 16, 2015

World Baking Day with Coconut and Almond Flours

Morning Pep Coconut & Almond Flours
The folks from Morning Pep contacted me about trying out some of their new products and they sent us the following samples: Morning Pep 100 Percent Organic Coconut Flour, 1 Pound
and Morning Pep 100 Percent All Natural Blanched Almond Meal Flour, 2 Pound. I couldn't try either flour in my own kitchen because my Hubby is allergic to tree nuts and flour can become airborne very easily.Did you know that tomorrow is "World Baking Day?" I didn't either until recently. This is a great chance to share the results of Lisa's (Coconut Acolyte) tests both of these flours.  She tried them both in one of her tried and true recipes to see if either coconut or almond flour could be directly substituted. Then she tried another recipe designed for these flours.  Let's check out her results.

Whole Wheat Cupcake Cut for Comparison
For the purpose of this review, I started with a chocolate cake recipe I’ve had for a number of years and have made dozens of times.  When used with all-purpose (wheat) flour it makes a dense moist cake that doesn’t really need frosting.  I checked the company’s website to see if any adaptations need to be made when using the alternate flour.  They listed none.  I made the cake exactly as the recipe calls for, only using the alternate flour instead of AP flour.
Coconut Flour Cupcake Cut

With the coconut flour, this recipe made a thicker than normal batter when made according to directions, the coconut flour made it even thicker and more dry.  Though the texture didn’t feel exceptionally grainy, it appeared to have the texture of wet sand.  Baking it didn’t change that.  The cupcakes came out looking very much like how then went in but slightly more brown due to the baking process.  When I tried to split one open for a taste test, it crumbled in my fingers.  The taste didn’t make up for the visual.  Dry, as expected and the flavor of chocolate was almost non-existent.  
Almond Flour Cupcake Explosion

With the almond flour, the batter appeared slightly more normal in thickness but still gritty.  However, when exposed to heat, they blew up like two dozen volcanos, spreading batter all over the pans and the oven floor.  Needless to say they weren’t fit to taste. It took some effort to clean this pan as well.


Almond Flour Cupcake Cut Open

So based on my findings and backed up by a recent episode of America’s Test Kitchen, one cannot simply substitute the flour.  You have to find recipes that are specifically designed for the alternates.  This search became rather frustrating.  All the recipes I found were on or attached to Paleo Diet sites.  They called for equipment I don’t have (namely a food processor) or expensive and sometimes exotic ingredients (coconut oil, walnut oil, Grade B maple syrup, celtic sea salt, paleo chocolate, raw honey, etc.)  that I wouldn’t normally keep in my kitchen.
Coconut Flour Muffin

I chose this (Paleo-Friendly Dark Chocolate Banana Brownie Muffins) recipe for two reasons.  First, it had only two ingredients I wouldn’t normally keep on hand; coconut oil and maple syrup.  Second it said it could be used with either coconut or almond flour and made one batch each.  Neither batch rose the way I expect cupcakes to and both came out at 15 minutes like they’d only half baked.  I put them back in for an additional 15 minutes which helped solidify them but didn’t improve the overall texture much.

In both batches the chocolate was very present but I could taste the coconut oil and the flavor was even more pronounced in the batch with the coconut flour. Also the coconut oil seeped through the paper liners into my muffin tin.  Perhaps foil liners would have yielded better results. 

In short, if you absolutely must use a non-wheat flour, by all means feel free to experiment with these two.  But because of all the extra work involved, I wouldn’t recommend these for baked goods.

Morning Pep offer the Coconut Flour in two sizes -- the one pound bag linked in our first paragrph and this four pound bag: Morning Pep 100 Percent Organic Coconut Flour, 4 Pound

Morning Pep's Almond Flour also comes in two sizes -- the 2 pound bag that we linked above and this 5 pound bag: Morning Pep 100 Percent All Natural Blanched Almond Meal Flour, 5 Pound

Morning Pep sent us all the flour to test but did not otherwise pay us anything for this honest review here on The Chocolate Cult and on Amazon.com. If you clink on the clicks to their products, you will also be contributing to The Chocolate Cult via your payment to Amazon.

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