Coconut products have received a lot attention both in the media and with health experts as of late. The oil especially has been a topic of hot debate regarding its fatty acid composition and its potential health benefits (An interesting take on it here by Bill Shrapnel). Coconut flour is also starting to gain some traction in the gluten-free, grain-free baking scene. As a keen baker, I decided that I would experiment with this non-traditional ingredient and see how it turned out.
A little bit of nutrition:
Made from dried, defatted coconut flesh that has been ground into a fine powder, this low-carb flour is slightly sweet and very aromatic. As you would expect it is pretty high in fat (4g per ¼ cup) with almost all of it being saturated; not exactly a selling point. Coconut flour is exceptionally high in fibre (10g per ¼ cup) and as such recipes using it require a LOT of moisture so the end product doesn’t turn out dry and crumbly. Its high fibre content also means that you end up needing far less flour than traditional wheat flour recipes (read less total carbohydrate in your baked creation).
Recipes made solely on coconut flour, like the one I trialled, usually call for 3 to 4, sometimes up to 6 eggs! This is in addition to oil, milk, cream cheese, sour cream and other moist ingredients (like mashed banana). If your brain works any way like the way mine does, all the added ingredients, many of which are higher in energy density and fat, start to act against the “low carb” selling point of coconut flour based baked goods.
Nutrition Information per ¼ cup
Energy: 500kJ (120cal)
Saturated Fat: 4g
Iron: 4% RDI
The experiment: Raspberry Coconut Flour Muffins
After umming and ahhing over which recipe I should make, I finally settled on this one by Primally Inspired. Of course, I couldn’t help myself and tweaked a few steps here and there …
Makes: 12 muffins
- 4 eggs
- 1 medium mashed banana
- scant ¼ cup of coconut oil
- ¼ cup milk
- ¼ honey
- 1 tablespoon vanilla essence
- ½ cup coconut flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup frozen raspberries
- 1/8 cup of shredded coconut plus extra for sprinkling on top
1) Preheat oven to 175 degrees Celsius.
2) Mash banana in a mixing bowl, then combine with eggs, oil, milk, honey and vanilla until well combined.
3) Mix in coconut flour, coconut, baking powder and salt. Stir until well combined.
4) Gently fold in raspberries.
5) Fill a papered muffin tray about ¾ of the way to the top. Sprinkle shredded coconut on top.
6) Bake for 20 minutes or until golden on top and cooked through.
The muffins turned out, as expected, deliciously coconutty and the raspberries added a nice pop of tartness. They were super moist, which was great for the first day but started to sweat when left in a container on the counter. After finding a new home in the freezer, they were still great when thawed or reheated in the microwave.
I loved the flavour that the coconut flour gave but the muffins lacked that great textured bite that glutenous flours provide. In future, I might combine it with wholewheat or an all-purpose gluten-free flour to enhance the texture.