Gone are the days when flour as we know it meant all-purpose flour. From almonds to garbanzo beans, rice, and oats, flour is made of almost anything these days. I recently made pancakes with banana flour (yes, really…and they were good!) and sampled chestnut flour crackers (we liked the pancakes better 😀).
When used the right way, many of these newfound flours have the potential to work magic in the kitchen. Nothing seems amiss in a family favorite breakfast bar recipe that uses all oat flour in place of all-purpose, and I’ve recently used the more obscure teff flour in delicious apple crisp and yeasted bread recipes. If there is one flour that breaks all the traditional baking rules, however, it’s coconut flour.
Coconut flour has an uncanny ability to absorb liquid. A LOT of liquid. So when a reader occasionally asks me why a recipe didn’t work so well and mentions that she replaced all of the stated flour (be it almond or all-purpose flour, for example) in the recipe with coconut flour, I immediately know the problem.
In addition to liquids, coconut flour likes eggs. But too many eggs can make something taste, well, eggy. Even if we like eggs, that’s not necessarily what we want our pancakes or quick breads to taste like.
Ultimately, coconut flour requires a careful balance, and when the stars align and this high-fiber, low-carb flour is paired with just the right amount of liquids and proteins–not to mention small but important details like baking powder and seasonings and/or sweetener–the results can be sublime.
The following recipe for breakfast cakes is one that I’ve been making for several years now and, for some reason, I was saving it for just the right occasion. That moment came when my friends at Bob’s Red Mill were looking for recipes using this wholesome ingredient. So as I share it with them, I am sharing it with you…and I hope you enjoy having these littles cakes for breakfast as much as my family does!
Follow the basic recipe and then add extras as desired. Although I've enjoyed many of these tasty cakes with no mix-ins and just a sprinkle of coconut on top, I adore a cinnamon-raisin version and my kids swoon over a shredded coconut-mini chocolate chip mix. Cacao nibs provide crunch like nuts do, but visually they make everyone think there are extra chocolate chips in there. Win-win!
Yield: 1 breakfast cake
- 1/4 cup (60 grams) very ripe mashed banana
- 1 tablespoon almond butter*
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup (could reduce the amount if watching sugars or substitute another sweetener of choice)
- 1-1/2 tablespoons (10 grams) coconut flour** (I use Bob's Red Mill)
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt (or a scant 1/8 teaspoon regular salt)
- Optional add-ins: nuts, shredded coconut, chocolate chips, cacao nibs, raisins, or other dried fruit of choice
- In a small bowl, mash the banana and the almond butter together with fork until smooth. Whisk in the egg and the maple syrup.
- Add the coconut flour, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt. Stir to fully incorporate. Mix in any of the optional add-ins; a tablespoon of one or two of them is a good starting point.
- Scoop into a ramekin or bowl--no need to grease. (I use a dish with a diameter of 4 inches and a depth of 2 inches. You may vary the dimension but may have to alter the cooking time up or down accordingly--and to avoid overflow, don't go much smaller.) Microwave on high (100 percent power) for 2 to 2 1/2 minutes. Until you know how long this takes in your microwave, check it about 20 seconds early and then add time in 15-20 second increments until the center doesn't feel squishy when lightly pressed.
- Allow the cake to cool for a few minutes and then loosen it with a dinner knife and pop it out of the ramekin or bowl. If not eating right away, place on a cooling rack to prevent the steam form making the bottom damp. The cake may be made in advance, cooled, covered and refrigerated.
- *Nutella or another nut/seed butter of choice may be substituted. When I tried Nutella for the first time, I thought everyone would like that version better. As it turns out, mild-tasting almond butter is the preferred choice in our house. Feel free to experiment.
- **To properly measure coconut flour, fluff it up a little before measuring and make sure to level off the measuring spoons. Also, for best results, make sure to squish any lumps as you are mixing the dry ingredients.
A small amount of coconut flour goes a long way and provides a tender crumb in these high-fiber, low-carb breakfast cakes.
A single 2 tablespoon serving of coconut flour delivers 5 grams of fiber with only 8 grams of carbs and 60 calories. This makes it ideal for those following the paleo diet or who need to be carb conscious for their health. Coconut flour is also naturally gluten free.