Better Flour = Better Baking!

When it’s cold out, it’s nice to be in a warm kitchen with something delicious baking in the oven. Cookies, muffins, cakes—everybody has a favorite recipe they like to make for family and friends. The only problem with those traditional favorites is that most of them are made with stripped-out white flour. But there is a way to make those cookies taste better and be better for you: use whole-food flours, especially nut and seed flours that fat- and protein-forward rather than just starch. (Starchy flours cause blood sugar levels to spike, and those constant up-and-down levels are what lead to diabetes, obesity, and a host of other chronic problems.)baking

And while you’re switching to better flours, why not switch from white sugar to less-refined sweeteners like sucanat and palm sugar? They’re still sugars, but they offer more nutrients—especially minerals—than white sugar does, plus natural sweeteners add welcome flavor to sweets and treats. Brownies taste even better when they have a caramel-like sweetness! If you’re making batter-based baked goods like cakes and crepes, you can use maple syrup and honey in place of white sugar, too.

But back to flours! Check out these categories of flours to see which ones you’d like to try using in your favorite recipes. You can swap out half of the all-purpose flour for better-for-you flours and still have pretty much the same final texture, or you can start using whole-food flours exclusively and enjoy a wide range of textures, from dense and moist to nutty and crunchy.

  • Nut flours include almond, hazelnut, pecan, walnut, Brazil nut, cashew, pine nut and chestnut. Most nut flours have coarse texture (coarse flour is called “meal”) and are ideal when you want chewy or crunchy baked goods. Chestnut flour, though, is mostly starch, so it’s finer and lighter-textured.
  • Seed flours include pumpkin seed, flax seed, chia seed, sunflower seed, sesame seed and poppy seed. Like nut flours, seed flours are more of a meal, and they have rich, nutty flavors. Flax seeds and chia seeds are high in anti-inflammatory omega-3 fats and also have the ability to become sticky. If your dough or batter isn’t sticking together the way you want it to, add a tablespoon of flax seed or chia seed flour!
  • Whole-grain flours include millet, sorghum, quinoa, brown rice, corn, teff, buckwheat, amaranth, oat, whole wheat, barley, spelt, rye and kamut. (The latter five flours contain gluten; the first eight do not. Oats labeled gluten-free are safe for gluten-free folks.) Grain flours are finer-textured and are ideal to use in baked goods that you want to be light and fluffy, like chiffon cakes.
  • Legume flours include chickpea, white bean, black bean and soy. These flours absorb a lot of liquid and have a decidedly savory flavor—they’re perfect for pizza crusts and other savory dishes. (Note that soy is a major allergen.) Legumes also contain high amounts of protein.
  • Root flours include potato, sweet potato, tapioca and arrowroot. Tapioca and arrowroot are mostly straight starch and therefore aren’t the best choices, but potato flour (not starch!) and sweet potato flour are great for thickening soups and sauces.
  • Miscellaneous flours include cocoa powder and coconut flour. Cocoa powder is welcome in any chocolate-themed dessert, of course, and coconut flour is great to use when you want that slightly sweet flavor of coconut. (Coconut flour is also very high in fiber.) Coconut flour absorbs a lot of liquid, so when you use it, you’ll have to add more milk/eggs/whatever liquid the recipe calls for when you make your coconut-based baked goods.

 

So give your new flours a try! Your family and friends will have even more to rave about.

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Comments

  1. Judy Matrundola says:

    What about coconut flour? Do you recommend that? I’ve already bought some, but I haven’t used it yet. I really stay away from carbs to take care of my blood sugar.

  2. Alex Kornas says:

    What flours are the best for a diabetic?

  3. Nikki Konas says:

    Now here is your next book, Sheryl. I would LOVE to understand more about what flour goes with what type recipe, and how to combine them. Everything an avid baker would want to know. Recipes and techniques.

    Thank you!

  4. Susan Emerling says:

    Keep me on your mailing list I did enjoy this Thanks

  5. Sally Seaver says:

    Today I made a bread consisting 2 flours – garbanzo bean flour & tapioca flour. It turned out great. I know tapioca flour is more starchy but it’s still good to get away from the grains occasionally. Also it’s gluten free AND the 2 flours are very inexpensive! The person who posted this recipe calls it Beans & Root Bread.

  6. Nikki Konas says:

    One more request – could you please post a few recipes that help whole on a weight loss program? Thanks much.

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