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Last Updated on October 9, 2023
Learning to bake with paleo flours like almond flour, coconut flour and tapioca flour can be intimidating. Have no fear, this paleo flour guide will help you figure out how replicate your favorite baked goods like breads, cakes and more.
While the Paleo diet advocates eating primarily grass-fed meats, vegetables, fruits, healthy fats, nuts and seeds, you can still enjoy baked treats like cookies, cakes and pies from time to time.
When you’re switching over from wheat based flours to paleo flours that fit the Paleo diet there can be a learning curve. With patience and practice you will discover your groove.
I’ve found over the years that mixing these paleo flours creates a lighter texture more similar to wheat based baked goods. Also, grinding down whole nuts works in a pinch when you are out of almond flour.
You will have to pay more attention to the texture of the dough than the measurement of the recipe since the constancy is different when you use finely ground nuts from your food processor vs. store bought.
Following are some helpful tips and information to help you get started with the 3 most popular Paleo Flours.
How to use Coconut flour:
Favorite coconut flour – Bob’s Red Mill
Coconut flour is made from the coconut meat which is left over after the milk is extracted. It is then ground up finely. This is a dense, high fiber (the highest fiber content of any flour), low carbohydrate flour(great for those of you restricting carbohydrates), which behaves differently than other flours.
It soaks up liquid like crazy so you use much less of it, which is good since it is more expensive than the common garden wheat flour. You cannot substitute one for one with wheat flour so you need a dedicated recipe.
However a rough guide is ¼ cup of coconut flour = 1 cup of wheat or rice flour.
When you measure it, scoop the flour out of the container with a measuring cup and run a knife across the top to level it out. Don’t pour it in or pack it tight. A little bit more or less makes quite a difference with this flour.
The wet ingredients in a recipe might need to be adjusted a little depending on the size of your eggs. If the mixture is too wet, add a very small quantity of extra flour (starting at 1 tsp), but if it’s too dry, add a little more oil to loosen it.
Even though it is made from the coconut, it has only a very mild coconut flavor, which, once combined with other ingredients, is hardly discernible. Coconut baked goods don’t last long and should be eaten fresh or frozen and then defrosted as needed.
Need more help with coconut flour? I highly recommend get my favorite guide that shares every tip and trick for this flour!
How to use Tapioca flour:
Favorite Tapioca Flour – Bob’s Red Mill
Tapioca is the starch which is extracted from the cassava or manioc plant. The cassava root is the main root vegetable eaten in the developing world because it is super tough and is drought resistant.
It is a very good source of carbohydrate but has no protein. It works well with coconut flour which is low in carbohydrates.
It is great for thickening sauces and stews and makes a wonderful, tasty grain-free bread. When heated with a little liquid, it thickens quickly and forms a lump of pliable goop. Add some eggs, oil and coconut flour and you have a dough to rival any wheat flour dough.
If you are making lemon curd or a non-dairy custard, a little tapioca flour will thicken it up nicely. It is not so good with dairy products and forms a rather slimy product. If used as a thickener, always dissolve it in a little cold water first.
If you add it to warm water, it will solidify and be a pest to work with. From reader experience, is a tricky beast.
A lot of my readers have issues with it so:
1) keep adding tapioca flour to a recipe until it comes out the correct consistency
2) Watch my videos to see how the dough is supposed to look and the process of making it come together
3) If the recipe still doesn’t come together try a kitchen stand mixer or food processor to get the mixture to combine.
Favorite Arrowroot flour – Bob’s Red Mill
This can be interchangeable with tapioca flour. In fact, tapioca flour is often labeled as arrowroot flour. The arrowroot tubers are beaten to a pulp so the liquid in them drains away and what is left is the pure starch content.
This is dried out to become a fine white odorless powder, just like tapioca flour. Also like tapioca flour, it swells on contact with boiling water and creates a clear jelly. It is used as a thickening agent and is wonderful for clear jellies or any food that you don’t want to become cloudy, which happens with other flours (except tapioca flour) if used to thicken.
Because the flour is so fine, it will always create a very smooth result unlike some of the grittier flours. Don’t overheat it though. Once it has done its thickening, take it off the heat or its thickening properties will break down.
How to use Almond Flour:
Favorite Almond Flour – Jk Gourmet
This is created from grinding together a bunch of almond nuts in a food processor. While it is still coarsely ground, it is called almond meal but when it becomes a fine powder (don’t grind it too far or it will become almond butter), it is called almond flour. But they are basically the same thing.
However, the texture will be different in your baked goods. Almond meal will be grittier while the flour will create a more homogenous cake batter. Unlike tapioca flour, almond flour is high in protein and will combine well with both coconut and tapioca flour depending on the recipe.
The almond flavor is still evident in the finished product so this has to be taken into account.