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Cooking with almond flour

Almond flour basics

Dessert can be quite a challenge for low-carbers. Firstly, there's the sugar issue, but happily, a selection of artificial sweeteners is available. However, once you have decided on the sweetener you want to use, the next most difficult ingredient to substitute is flour — and this is not such an easy choice.

Why cook with almond flour?

Like sugar, there are several options for replacing flour, including combinations of soy or whey protein powders, ground flaxseeds and also soy flour. I prefer to use as many natural and whole ingredients in my recipes as possible. I like to use nut flours — and almond flour (or "ground almonds," as they are known in England) works excellently in many recipes. Not only is it high in protein and low in carbs, it's a good source of omega 3 essential fatty acids, shown to be essential for brain and heart health.

How to cook with almond flour

Almond flour works very well for practically all cake and muffin recipes, pancakes and some cookie recipes, too. It can also be used to make "pastry" tart shells for sweet or savory dishes. The only types of dessert which do not lend themselves well to the use of almond flour are yeasted or bread-based recipes.

Almond flour can either be bought direct from the store ready-ground or it is possible to grind your own at home from natural almonds in a coffee grinder or similar. It doesn't even matter if you don't like almonds because, strangely enough, baked goods made with almond flour do not taste of almonds unless you deliberately add almond flavoring.

How to substitute almond flour in your recipes

To convert any regular baked recipes to low-carb using almond flour, experiment by simply replacing the volume of flour in the recipe with the same volume of almond flour. Use slightly more raising agent than the recipe suggests, allowing for the heavier weight of the almond flour.

Also be sure to butter and line your pans with baking paper to help prevent sticking. After baking, recipes made with almond flour do well to be left a few minutes and loosened carefully with a knife before turning out because the texture is generally more fragile than regular recipes made with flour. Here are a few of my favorite recipes involving almond flour.

Almond flour pancakes recipe

almond flour pancakes

Photo credit: Chris Gramly/E+/Getty Images

If you're a low-carber, it is always a challenge to find a good recipe for pancakes, and there are many of them. This is my favorite recipe, using, of course, ground almonds (almond flour). They turn out very much like the American pancakes that I remember enjoying so much during my time living in the US, and can be served with any toppings you wish, just like regular pancakes. Blueberries, cream, lemon juice and a sprinkling of Splenda as a sweet topping is delicious, but they are also lovely when buttered and served with crispy bacon.

Yields 4

Ingredients:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup ground almonds (almond flour)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of heavy cream
  • Pinch of salt
  • Butter for frying

Directions:

  1. Whisk the egg in a measuring jug then mix in the almond flour and salt.
  2. Add enough cream to get a good pancake batter consistency and mix well. Heat a tablespoon of butter in a small frying pan on medium high.
  3. When the butter begins to foam, spoon about one quarter of the mixture into the center of the pan and spread out to about 4 inches diameter.
  4. Continue to cook for a minute or so until the edges look dry, then carefully flip over and cook for another minute until set. Serve with your favorite toppings, or as the mood takes you!

Up next: Almond flour apricot cream cake and almond flour blueberry muffins

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