The Paleo Flours

Not all are created equal. I learned that this weekend. After indulging in a delicious chocolate banana scone from Rustic Bakery during a lovely girl-date filled morning, I was eager to do some paleo scone experimenting (you should see my kitchen after one of these experimentation sessions).  

I peeked into my fridge to see what I had available and quickly settled on some lemon-blueberry scones. 

 

Ingredients:

  • 1 3/4 cup almond flour

  • 3 tbsp coconut flour
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 almond milk (unsweetened)
  • 3 tbsp coconut oil, melted (or butter - I opted for this)
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 cup blueberries

Steps:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F
  2. Sift your almond and coconut flours directly into a stand mixer. Add honey, egg, 3 tablespoons almond milk, butter, lemon zest, baking soda, and salt to the flours. Mix until a loose dough forms. Gently fold in blueberries.
  3. Form scones. I always form scones by hand but you are welcome to use a mold if you have one. Place on baking sheet. 
  4. Brush scones with remaining 1 tablespoon almond milk.
  5. Bake for 18-20 minutes until golden brown. Allow them to cool down slightly prior to eating.

Already mid-way into preparing the recipe I realized I had far less almond flour than I thought... I had none to be exact. No big deal, I thought to myself, and added more coconut flour. I formed my scones and popped those babies into the oven. After 20 minutes my buzzer went off and I took them out. To much dismay, they were a disaster. They were shapeless and crumbled all over. 

Why you ask? I should've known better, with those hours spent in a food lab back in college. That's when I learned that the properties of almond flour and coconut flour are much different. Let's first take a look at the nutrition of 1/4 cup of each flour:

Coconut Flour:  120 calories, 4 grams of fat, 4 grams of protein, 16 grams carbs, 10 grams fiber

Almond Flour: 160 calories, 14 grams of fat, 6 grams of protein, 6 grams of carbs, 3 grams of fiber

As you can see, almond flour has a few more calories and protein, but less fat, carbs, and fiber. Fiber being the key word here. Dietary fiber is the indigestible portion that comes from plants. Soluble fiber, found in oats, barley, nuts, and seeds. It dissolves in water and forms a thick gel. Insoluble fiber, found in whole grains and vegetables does not dissolve in water but absorbs water and increases bulk. Because coconut flour has roughly 33% more fiber than almond flour, it absorbs more water. When baking with coconut flour, if you don't have enough fluid, your product will come out dry and crumbly (similar to what I saw).  

The morale of the story: while GREAT alternatives to grain flours, coconut and almond flour can't be exchanged equally. I recommend a 3:1 ratio of almond to coconut flour. Now go ahead, bake away, and let me know what you think. 

 

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