I’ve been having so much fun demonstrating gluten-free cooking in the demo kitchen at the NW Military location of Natural Grocers (San Antonio). The people who attend the classes, offered by Natural Grocers free of charge to is patrons, are interesting, engaged, well-informed, and delightful. They are also very interested in what they put into their bodies, so they are interested in eating clean as well as gluten-free. For me, the demos offer a chance to teach, which I’ve missed some since I quit teaching to start my business. I enjoy interacting with the variety of people who attend the demos, brought together by a common need or desire to eat gluten-free, and to eat well. Yesterday I demonstrated how to cook with coconut flour. I had planned to demonstrate how to use coconut flour to make crepes, and to give samples of the finished crepes to the class participants. Unfortunately, the kitchen’s stove top refused to cooperate. Several really helpful Natural Grocer’s employees did what they could to get it to work, but no go. The oven did work, thank goodness, so I was able to make the other two dishes I’d planned to demonstrate. I really wanted to demonstrate the coconut flour crepes, though. They are so uncomplicated and easy to make. To make these coconut flour crepes I simply deglutenize a crepe recipe I found on marthastewart.com. The awesome people who attended my demo yesterday missed out on the crepes; I’m posting the recipe now so they can make their own crepes at home : )
Coconut flour is a particularly tricky gluten-free flour with which to cook. The by-product of the process by which coconut milk is extracted, the flour is ground dried, defatted coconut meat. It is grain-free as well as gluten-free free. High in fiber, coconut flour is low in carbs. It is high in protein and fat. Many people mistakenly believe the coconut is a tree nut, but like the almond, the coconut is actually a drupe (a fruit in which an outer fleshy part surrounds a pit of hardened endocarp with a seed inside). Coconut flour by nature is extraordinarily absorbent; therefore, much less coconut flour than all purpose and gluten-free flours is required in a recipe. Only 1/4 to 1/3 cup coconut flour is needed to replace a cup of other flours. Additionally, recipes that call for coconut flour require more eggs than usual. When baking cakes or muffins with coconut flour, expect to use about three eggs for every 1/2 cup of coconut flour. You may also need to increase the amount of liquid required by your recipe.
Some people are intimidated by coconut flour’s unusual character. Substituting coconut flour for a portion of other flours is an easier way to incorporate coconut flour into your diet, but without having to experiment with it to learn how to use it. You can substitute coconut flour for 10-15% of other gluten-free flours in a recipe without having to adjust the amount of liquid and the amount of eggs required in the recipe. Any greater substitution of coconut flour will require adjustments. If you want to learn how to cook with coconut flour, start with recipes that are written specifically for coconut flour. Once you get the hang of using the flour, then you can start substituting it for flours in other recipes. You will also enjoy creating your own coconut flour recipes.
Most of the time, coconut flour is the only flour necessary when you use it by itself in a recipe. Even though it’s not a 1:1 replacement for all purpose wheat or gluten-free flours, it’s fiber content allows it to be used without the addition of guar and xanthan gums. In my experimentation with coconut flour, however, I have found that the addition of a little arrowroot or tapioca starch improves the texture of the baked product in which I’m using the flour. In the following crepe recipe, a tablespoon of arrowroot added to the coconut flour helps the crepes hold together really well. I chose this particular crepe recipe to deglutenize because it requires one cup of all purpose flour and four eggs: the perfect number of eggs for the 1/3 cup coconut flour substituted for the one cup of all purpose flour. It’s a very easy recipe to adapt to coconut flour, and very easy to turn these crepes into a satisfying snack or dessert.The crepes in the photos below are filled pumpkin butter, and sunflower seed butter, which are surprisingly delicious, yet simple fillings. Although home-made pumpkin butter is easy to make, Trader Joe’s pumpkin butter is even easier to use for a quick crepe filling. Trader Joe’s pumpkin butter is inexpensive yet has clean ingredients: pumpkin, sugar, honey, lemon juice concentrate, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, nutmeg. Don’t order off Amazon.com, though. It’s much less expensive in the brick and mortar Trader Joe’s stores.
Be sure to use a very good quality non-stick pan for cooking your crepes. I use a ceramic-coated pan. Ceramic-coated pans are to clean, cooks evenly, and releases food well. A good-quality Teflon pan will work, as well. Some people worry about the association of Teflon with polytetrafluoroethylene (PFOA) and it’s alleged link to cancer. If you have a Teflon pan in good condition, you can use it without worry according to the American Cancer Society. Whichever type of non-stick surface you use, before that the surface is in good condition so that the crepes easily slide right out of the pan when you turn them over and when you slide the finished crepes onto a plate. Crepes are fragile, and gluten-free crepes are by nature more fragile than those that contain gluten.
One thing to remember is that dishes made totally with coconut flour do taste somewhat like coconut. Be sure to use only flavors that complement coconut in the dishes in which you use it. The Flavor Bible, by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg, is a great resource to have in your kitchen, and can guide you to the range of sweet and savory flavors to use when you bake with coconut.
Easy Coconut Flour Crepes
40 grams coconut flour
1 tablespoon arrowroot starch
1 tablespoon organic evaporated sugar cane (omit sugar for savory crepes)
1/4 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
1 1/2 cups whole milk
4 large eggs
3-4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
With a mixer or a whisk attached to an immersion blender, mix the first six ingredients until well-blended. Add three melted butter and mix until the butter is well-blended into the crepe batter. If the batter seems a little too thick, add the fourth teaspoon of melted butter and blend well. Let the batter sit for about fifteen minutes. While the batter is resting, heat a 10 inch non-stick pan over medium heat. Melt a little butter in the pan, enough to thinly cover the bottom of the pan. Add about 1/3 cup of the crepe batter and swirl the batter to cover the bottom of the pan. Cook until the top of the crepe begins to bubble and underside of the crepe begins to brown. Shake the pan to loosen the crepe, tip the pan enough to allow the crepe to begin to slip onto a spatula, then using the spatula gently flip the crepe over in the pan. Cook the crepe for another minute or so, until it begins to brown. Slide the finished crepe out of the pan onto a plate. Continue the process with the rest of the batter. Fill with your favorite filling and drizzle with your favorite topping. Makes about one dozen crepes.