If you're like most of us, you didn't get recipes and tips passed down from Grandma that used the typical ingredients we now use in our grain-free lifestyle. In fact, the majority of us had never really heard of almond flour until a few years ago, and it is very unlikely we had ever actually used it! So we have put together this list of things we have learned that we hope you can put to good use in your own home.
Bake at Lower Temperatures - We find that setting the oven 25-50 degrees lower and a little more patience with longer baking times greatly improves results, especially balancing the browning of the tops while thoroughly cooking the item itself.
Sift or Fluff-up Nut Flours - These nut flours are denser than grain-flours, so at a minimum use a fork to fluff the dry ingredients to get more air into the flour when you are baking something you'd like to be more light and delicate.
Whip Eggs and Egg Whites - If you are baking something you'd like to be more light and delicate, really whip the eggs to once again get more air into your batter or dough. Gently fold the eggs into the dry mixture.
Let Your Cookies and Muffins Cool - We are all eager to try our latest creation, but nut flour based baked items do not handle well when they are still hot. Your patience will pay off when your cookies don't crumble by letting them cool down and "set."
Rolling Dough - Wrapping your dough in plastic and sticking it in the fridge or freezer for 15 minutes or so greatly enhances the ability of a grain-free dough to roll and fold without breaking.
Using Coconut Flour - Coconut flour quickly absorbs liquids, so it is often difficult to use as a base flour. Have the oven, pan, and everything else ready before mixing the liquids with the dry, and work quickly. You may need to add a little water during the process to keep the dough or batter moving.
Pancakes - These are perhaps the trickiest of all and our excitement can quickly turn to frustration when flipping them. Cook pancakes at a lower temperature for longer, and make them small enough so that you can get the ENTIRE spatula underneath them when flipping. There is no such thing as raising one edge and flipping it over like we would with wheat pancakes. And have the skillet completely ready before mixing the batter. Also, a flat griddle or surface makes getting the spatula underneath much easier. And the thinner the spatula the better!
When a Recipe Calls for Brown Sugar - If you are recreating a recipe that calls for brown sugar, use a teaspoon or two of syrup or molasses to impart the type of flavor that brown sugar would have provided. Just be mindful that you are adding 10-20 grams of carbs to the entire recipe. Spread over 20 cookies? No big deal. In one muffin? A big no-no for us.
Recreating a Recipe - When adapting a wheat and sugar recipe to your grain-free lifestyle, always add an egg beyond what the recipe calls for.
Using High Intensity Sweeteners - While they provide the sweetness you are looking for, they lack the baking properties of sugar especially in terms of bulk and browning. For baking, it is best to use these in blends with erythritol (like our Virtue Sweetener!).
Yes...the Microwave - The use of microwaves is a great controversy swirling with fiction mixed in with the facts. Microwaves cook at lower temperatures for shorter times which, especially for high fat content foods such as nut flours, can reduce the oxidation of the fatty acids. Often a wrap made in the microwave and then finished on the griddle or skillet is ideal. Whatever you are making will rise more, be lighter, and more moist and delicate. So it does well for breads and cakes. Of course heating anything in any way impairs nutrients to some extent. At home we gently steam our nutrient-rich vegetables, but don't hesitate to make a Flaxseed Wrap in the microwave.