Which Flour to Choose for AIP Baking?
Posted on November 08 2019
Following an AIP/Paleo diet can be a challenge at times, especially if you like to create in the kitchen. Do you like to bake and miss being able to enjoy your favorite recipes? Will your favorite cakes rise like when you could use wheat flour? Will your cookies taste the same? Recreating recipes that you love without wheat flour can be a challenge, but it’s something that you can do with a little research and perseverance. There are many different flours out there that are AIP compliant so we asked Chef Ann to break them down for you, as well as, give you some AIP baking tips that she has learned over the years.
Chef Ann Says:
Any gluten-free baking, including AIP, relies on the baker’s ability to combine gluten-free flours in a blend that can mimic the attributes of wheat flour. AIP, being grain-free as well as gluten-free, creates a fairly good challenge.
The main flours used in AIP baking are as follows: Cassava flour, Tapioca Starch, Coconut Flour, Tigernut Flour, and Arrowroot Starch. There are still a few others out there that I haven’t yet tried like Plantain Flour, Water Chestnut Flour, and Sweet Potato Flour.
The “gluten-free” worlds newest flour is Tigernut Flour. It isn’t a nut as the name implies but actually a small root found in Northern Africa and the Mediteranean that has been cultivated for centuries. It’s completely gluten-free and Paleo/AIP. It also packs a little more protein than other flours. It has a slightly sweet, nutty flavor which makes it a great choice to use for treats. Using it in desserts you can actually reduce the sugars because if its sweetness. It has helped us create incredible new baked goods like our Snickerdoodles and Peachberry Cobbler.
Chef Ann Says:
Tigernut flour is an extremely light weight, airy and high fiber flour which adds a lightness and crumb to baked goods. It needs to be combined with other flours to bind it, otherwise baked goods will crumble away like dust. It is good to use in cakes, muffins, cookies and cobblers. It is a very expensive flour and requires sifting, making it a bit more labor intensive as well. But the final results are worth the trouble and expense. It is brown, so anything you bake with tigernut flour will be brown in color.
Coconut flour is actually made from the meat of the coconut which has been dried and ground into powder form. It works well in baked goods, but anything you make with it will have a coconut flavor to it.
Chef Ann Says:
Coconut flour is a heavy weight flour which absorbs a lot of moisture. It can dry out baked goods and make them very heavy. In my opinion, it should only be used as a small portion of your grain free blend. It will provide a crunch or crust effect. It does impart a strong coconut flavor as well, which is something to be aware of. I’d use it in a cookie that you wanted to be crisp, for scones, or as part of a breading. Two other positive attributes include it being high in protein and low in carbohydrates.
Tapioca Flour or Tapioca Starch come from the Cassava Root. Yes, the same place that Cassava Flour comes from. It is different than Cassava Flour because it is just the starch of the Cassava Root. While it is often used in baking because it makes soft, tender cookies, cakes and bread, some people aren’t fond of the taste.
Chef Ann Says:
Tapioca starch is similar to cornstarch in that it thickens and gelatinizes when heated. Adding a percentage of tapioca starch to your recipes can be a gluten replacement, creating chewiness and a little stretch to doughs and batters as they rise. Arrowroot can be used similarly, but I rarely do it because it has a strong chemical taste when you use it as a significant part of a baked good.
Unlike Tapioca Flour, Cassava Flour is simply the whole root, peeled dried and ground. It is often used in gluten free products because it is most like wheat flour. It has a very mild flavor and a soft and powdery texture. Some people feel fuller when eating baked goods containing more Cassava Four as it is very high in carbohydrates.
Chef Ann Says:
Cassava flour works well in pie crusts, tortillas, pressed doughs and cookies. It tends to be heavy and dense when added to a recipe which makes it work well in these applications. You can use a traditional wheat flour recipe and substitute cassava flour and AIP compliant fat.
AIP Baking Tips From Chef Ann
One other thing to keep in mind when AIP baking, is that since you aren’t able to use eggs, grass-fed beef gelatin can be a good substitute to bind cookies, breads, and cakes together. You don’t need to bloom it, just add the dry gelatin to the dry ingredients before adding the wet. Doughs containing gelatin need to rest, so that the gelatin can absorb the moisture in the dough and “set.” You’ll need to make most AIP doughs a little more wet than you want the finished result to be, and wrap and refrigerate them so that the flours and gelatin can absorb the moisture. Usually, you’ll have to take the dough out and temper it for a few hours so that it will be soft enough to be rolled, pressed or shaped.
AIP/Paleo baking powder is made by mixing together a ratio of two parts cream of tartar and one part baking soda. Then measure it out the same way you would regular baking powder. Often, a little organic apple cider vinegar will be added to the recipe along with the baking powder to activate it and give more rise to the batter.
Since we don’t use white sugar, coconut sugar can be an asset, but it does impart a darker color to the finished product that you may not want. In those cases, you can use maple syrup or honey and reduce other moisture in the recipe to accommodate the liquid sugars.
The Paleo Effect
You will need a good sense of humor and patience when baking AIP/Paleo. Sometimes a recipe just won’t work. Even one you’ve made 100 times before. I call this “the Paleo Effect.” The latest batch of flour may have a higher moisture content or be slightly coarser in grind. Maybe the shortening was a little softer than usual. With practice, you can learn to compensate for the Paleo Effect and get good results in your baked goods.