Baking with Coconut Flour: 5 Tips

that's Monday's Parsnip & Walnut Cake, if you're wondering

that’s Monday’s Parsnip & Walnut Cake, if you’re wondering

Of all the comments I get on this blog*, by far the most popular goes something like this:

“X didn’t turn out as I expected, it was a bit dense…was it because of the coconut flour?”

A short answer to these queries is: “yes, probably”, but you deserve better than that.

coconut flour is the white meat of the coconut, dried and ground to a fine consistency

coconut flour is the white meat of the coconut, dried and ground to a fine consistency

The intricacies of baking with coconut flour really merits an entire post and so I have put together the following tips. If you’re new to this flour, a seasoned pro or just curious about dabbling in ‘alternative’ flours (join us! all the cool kids are doing it!), this might provide some answers.

1. Coconut flour is very dry, be careful with your batter

This is the biggest, most important, lesson to learn about coconut flour. It really does love moisture. This is why every recipe featuring this flour is usually heavy on the eggs. That freaks some people out. Not me. I love eggs and happen to think that they’re one of the most nutritious foods out there.

But I digress. The propensity of coconut flour to suck up moisture faster than my dog inhales his dinner means that you have to be very careful with the batter. In all my coconut flour recipes I advise mixing the wet ingredients into the flour gradually. By gradually I mean little by little, stirring briefly after each addition. Don’t go crazy with the wooden spoon – over stirring gives the flour more of a chance to bind with the wet stuff so you’ll end up with a clumpy batter, and that’s no fun for anyone.

batter from my lime & coconut cake

batter from my lime & coconut cake

The best test is to eyeball it. I never have a problem with my recipes coming out too dense or dry. That’s because I know from years of experience when my batter is good. If you end up over stirring just add some liquid in there to correct (milk, both dairy and non-dairy is a good idea) and proceed as instructed.

2. You cannot switch coconut flour with other flours 1:1

You have almond flour, quinoa flour, rice flour or whatever flour floats your boat in the house. It needs used up and you’ve spied a recipe that looks perfect…but wait….it’s using coconut flour. Curse you stupid recipe! Quel disaster! (I think this comes under the heading ‘First World Problem” but go with it). You decide to proceed anyway.

To quote Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman: “BIG mistake. Big.¬†Huge.”

behold! coconut flour bacon brownies!

behold! coconut flour bacon brownies!

Because of the aforementioned dryness of coconut flour, you cannot simply substitute it for another flour in any given recipe. Sadly life isn’t that kind. At the very least you need to double up on your eggs and maybe think about throwing some yoghurt or milk in there too.

3. Coconut flour can clump

I live in a warm climate so most of my flours go straight into the fridge. This keeps them fresher for longer. Unfortunately it also makes delicate flours, like coconut, clump.

When you are using it for baking, it’s important to sieve the flour beforehand.

coconut flour works for cupcakes/muffins too (these are pear & nutmeg cupcakes)

coconut flour works for cupcakes/muffins too (these are pear & nutmeg cupcakes)

4. Coconut flour has a unique nutritional profile

This is not your average flour. For a start it’s gluten and grain free. For another thing coconut flour has the highest percentage of dietary fibre of any other variety.

According to Mercola.com, it’s 58% dietary fibre and 14% coconut oil with the remaining 28% consisting of protein, water and carbs. This makes it a very good alternative to the standard refined white flour which can play havoc with your insulin response and digestion, as well as encouraging inflammation.

5. A little coconut flour goes a long way

There’s no getting around it, coconut flour is more expensive than the usual wheat variety. Believe me, I know. I live on an island in the Caribbean where only two stores stock it and they import it at huge cost…which is then passed on to the customer.

Manys the time I’ve stood in the aisle of the supermarket, staring at a bag and wondering: ‘can I really justify this?’

The answer is always yes. Not only is it an investment in my health (you are what you eat, so don’t eat the cheap stuff!) but coconut flour is extremely economical.

this banana chocolate chip bread only called for 1/2 cup

this chocolate chip banana bread only has 1/2 cup

You’ll notice that most of my recipes call for 1/2 cup for a standard loaf and no more than 3/4 cup for a large cake. I bake pretty much every week and find that my bag of flour lasts a long time. So that price tag suddenly doesn’t look so horrifying. You can always shop around on the internet too, that’s usually where you find the good deals and can buy in bulk.

NB: In case you’re interested, I use Bob’s Red Mill Organic Coconut Flour. I am not affiliated with them in any way, I only include that information here because I’ve been asked before and if you’re looking to buy some that might be a good place to start. I should stress that I only use Bob’s Red Mill because I can’t get any other brands, I don’t know what they’re like in comparison to others but they’ve always served me well.

What do you think? Did I leave anything out? Have you switched to coconut flour? What are your experiences?

*I love¬†feedback. Although I may not respond to every one, I still cherish each comment. Keep ‘em coming!

This post was also shared at Party Wave Wednesday

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74 thoughts on “Baking with Coconut Flour: 5 Tips

  1. Howdy & a big thanks for this fuller explaination to a very important change in our diets to Coconut Flour & proper use & understanding. I notice you mention you are on an island in the carribean, yet can only get ‘Bob’s”. I started buying my coconut oil from Tropical Traditions, {http://www.tropicaltraditions.com/organic_coconut_flour.htm } so was wondering if they might be an alternative source for you, depending on price to you??
    Also thank you for including pictures as i am also a visual person too & it helps !!!

    • Hi David, my ol’ facebook pal…nice to see you around the comments! I am curious about Tropical Traditions but once I pay the duty and shipping costs, it pretty much works out the same if not more :( Will keep an eye out in case there’s a good deal I can take advantage of. Thanks.

  2. Hi,my sister makes her own coconut flour by putting the coconut flakes in a blender and making it a flour,I hope this helps.

      • You have to be super careful about where you buy your coconut flakes. Most of the time they have sulphites in them, Bob’s Red Mill coconut products do not, as far as I know. It is super easy to make your own from scratch. Buy two or three coconuts, get the meat out, make coconut milk in a powerful blender, and the pulp that is left over once you have squeezed the milk out, you can dry, and then blend again to get a flour like texture. It sounds more complicated than it really is. You end up getting coconut milk, and coconut flour, and, as a bonus, when you’re making the milk in the blender, you also get coconut oil/butter! If you live somewhere you can get coconuts for free, that’s even better again! I hope you try it! I live on an island, but it’s not tropical. Coconuts run about $3 a piece, but you don’t have to worry about added chemicals in the finished products that you make from the coconut. :)

  3. Reblogged this on Primal in Poole and commented:
    I have tried using coconut flour a few times. No disasters but no memorable successes either. My overwhelming feelings have been that the results weren’t worth the effort involved. Armed with these tips I might be persuaded to explore this ingredient some more.

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  5. I make my own coconut flour, and there is a whole different curve when using the homemade flour. But I absolutely agree, to “eyeball” the batter. If you bake with any frequency at all, you know what a good batter is supposed to look like and its consistency.

  6. i had some tips i thought i would share.
    }
    i use — http://www.tropicaltraditions.com/organic_coconut_flour.htm
    instead of the popular bobs red mill brand. i honestly thought i did not like coconut flour until i tried this brand. they are two completely different products. almost like the difference between cornmeal and cornstarch in their flavor and performance.

    i have never had any success using coconut flour alone, but it is wonderful in a blend. gluten free batters in general tend to be runny and hard to work with. because coconut flour absorbs so much moisture, i often add it with the intent of “gelling up” the dough and making it easier to work with.

    on a similar note, in the blog post it was said the you need to use a ton of eggs when using coconut flour. i disagree. i actually use it in my eggless recipes as sort of binder.

    my website

    http://xwhimsybakeryx.wordpress.com/

  7. YAY! thanks for this post. I pretty much only bake with coconut flour and I know most of these tips but sometimes I still get frustrated with coconut flour… it’s always a nice reminder and I’m going to keep these tips handy!

  8. I’m a HUGE fan of coconut flour given my gluten sensitivity and a clean eating lifestyle. Thanks for all the tips for baking. I recently came across a cool flour conversion chart (which I’m sure have completely memorized by now), but is great for quick reference. Coconut isn’t included but some other helpful guys are(http://pinterest.com/pin/7318418115862255/).

    Coming over to you from Alicia at Humble Foodie. Adding you to my RSS and sticking around :) Looking forward to exploring your recipes later this weekend.

    All the best!
    Eileen

    http://leanerbythelake.com/

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  12. Hi, I just found your website and wanted to thank you for these tips using coconut flour. I do not know how to bake but, have tried to make healthy treats for my young children who have food allergies. I can only use coconut flour for them but, it has been so frustrating and discouraging to use when everything I have made has turned out too dry and chalky while following the exact recipes. Now after reading your tips I see what changes I need to make. I am so glad I found this tonight because I wanted to try again to make a birthday cake for my children coming up soon. Thanks again!

  13. great blog! I bought some coconut flour about a month ago but havent used it yet. Im so afraid to mess up but the info you gave put me a little more at ease. I want to try make scones and thought i would use the coconut flour.

  14. I think I’ve been on your blog for over an hour now… Totally enthralled. The recipes look great! Today I realized I *must* try Gluten Free… I grumbled at the thought. But this blog is so inspiring! Now coconut flour – yes! Glad I stopped by. You being so so FUNNY helps :)

  15. Hello!! Great explanations/tips, I’m new at using coconut flour (“went paleo” a few months back) and I’m havin what seems to be the strangest outcome with this flour…
    When I bake muffins/fluffy cakes thu ALWAYS turn out way too moist, and almost always omelet like at the bottom 1/4th… I’m preheating my oven, allowing the batter it sit a few minutes before cooking, adding the wet/dry ingredients slowly… Still it turns out messy. The only success I’ve had so far was a mainly dry ingredient ‘snack cake’ which was nice and firm… Help! Please?

    • Hi Tanya..sorry for the late reply (I’ve been travelling). I’ve never had that problem but, if I were you, I’d try using less eggs/less liquid. Also I’d try switching up the brand of coconut flour and seeing if that makes a difference. Sorry I can’t be more helpful – hope you get it figured out (at the very least it’s a nice excuse to keep baking!)

      • Thank you for your reply, I am going to try that! I’ve been using Bob’s Red Mill, but I’ll see if I can find something else as well… Thanks again! :-)

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  18. I’ve been baking paleo/keto for some time, but mostly with almond flour. These tips will help me have a bit more variety. Thank you so much. Your recipes are inspiring. One of my favourite zucchini bread recipes involves equal amounts of coconut flour and arrowroot – but I prefer to avoid the pure carbs in the arrowroot. I don’t understand enough about how different flours behave to know whether it’s safe to substitute coconut or almond flour for it. Any suggestions? Sadly the link above to Pinterest flour chart no longer works.

    • I am wondering if the high fibre count in the coconut flour might counter act the high carbs in arrowroot. Usually a very high fibre count will even out or at least lower the overall carb count. I hope this might help.

  19. Very interesting website. came looking for substitutuion info… got more than I bargained for.. but not the answer to my question.

  20. Haven’t played with coconut flour. I’ve been researching it and you have god info here. In your experience, do you find that recipes that already include coconut flour also include the proper liquid to flour ratio that you suggest?

    • Hi Lara. You might find recipes mix it up by using things like yoghurt in addition to milk, or extra eggs but in the main I’d say those are the standard ratios. With a reputable site, you can trust that they’ve tested the recipe and know what works.

  21. Why on earth does a Caribbean island need to import coconut flour?! Surely they grow there? Coconut plantation business opportunity perhaps…

    • Yeah, you’d think it would be a no-brainer. I think the issue is demand. There isn’t much call for it (except from finicky expats) round here as most are grain munchers and aren’t interested in alternative flours.

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  23. Although experimenting with coconut flour can be a bit of a curve, especially for those who have never used this super dense, water sucking flour before, it really does pay off in the long run, it has so much more protein and fiber than regular wheat flour.

    I know I have read a lot of people having negative experiences with coconut flour because they do not substitute it correctly or because they are expecting it to be just like other flours. All I can say is to keep experimenting and to expect it to be different. If you aren’t interested in experimenting, then use tested recipes and expect them to be different, it’s OK, you can get used to it and learn to love it!

    If you are interested in tried and true coconut flour recipes, please visit http://www.yummycoconut.com/ for recipes that use coconut flour and all the different forms of the coconut.

  24. Invaluable post. I’m in the boat with the others and might grind up my own coconut shreds/flakes to make the flour, but I’ll do a cost-benefit analysis to see which would make more sense for me :). I just used coconut oil to fry up some chicken, and I just love the way it smells and how it cooks. Never thought to use the flour to bake with, so I’m excited to experiment!

  25. I’ve recently started using coconut flour and have definitely messed up QUITE a few recipes already… :( Your tips definitely seem very helpful; I hope to be able to fix my mistakes and make those recipes better next time! Thank you!! ^-^

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  29. Have you ever made your own coconut flour with flake coconut? I live in Mauritius and we can’t get the flour but we have tons of coconut. I am going to try to make it.

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  31. Hi there. I have used coconut flour in a few recipes. Most recently a banana bread. My problem is that even following the recipe exactly….I keep getting really wet muffins or breads. Tastes great but is so soggy you could wring it out. Should I cut back the wet ingredients or increase coconut flour? Help!!

    • Hi JoJo. In this situation, you have a few options – you could certainly tweak the amount of coconut flour to try drying it out a little (or try swopping brands). I’d also look at how many eggs you’re using since too many can make baked goods squelchy and unpleasant. If I were you though, I’d start with stirring the batter very vigorously to give the flour a chance to absorb all the moisture (in my efforts, the batter always thickens the more I stir). I’d also try increasing the cooking time. Good luck!

      • Thank you! I think I will leave out an egg or two next time. The batter was no where near the consistency I have seen in other recipes. Also, and after reading your post I think the recipe called for too many eggs…lol, and I baked it to almost burning on bottom and sides. Here is the recipe, should have posted it with my question. Tastes beyond yummy, almost like candy bar yummy!
        2 bananas, mashed
        10 Tbl melted butter
        6 eggs
        7 Tbl Truvia (I am cutting that back…too sweet)
        4 1/2 Tbl coconut flour
        1 tsp baking powder
        1 tsp vanilla extract

        What do you think on ratios??

      • Sounds delicious but I reckon you’re right about the eggs. 6 is a little egg-xtreme (sorry, couldn’t resist), especially when there’s bananas in there too which typically act as a binding agent as well. Also 10 tbsps of butter?! For reals?! I love butter as much as the next foodie but that amount gives me pause. On balance, it looks like you’ve WAY too many wet ingredients to dry. A good rule of thumb that I always employ when baking is 3 (large) eggs to 1/4 cup coconut flour. That’s always served me well. Don’t give up on coconut flour! You’ll get more experienced the more you use it…which is also a good excuse for baking all the time :)

      • Haha!! Loved the egg pun….thanks so much for the advise. I love coconut flour and it is fun to work with. I will give it another go this week when my bananas are older. Happy baking to you!!

  32. I appreciate your post. What you say is indeed true! It’s nice to have it all laid out for others to read and learn from. We’ve been using a lot of almond flour because we like the texture better, but after reading your post (esp. the part about the amount of dietary fiber) I’m inspired to whip up a batch of muffins using coconut flour!

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