So, you’ve decided to embark on a low carb keto diet? Well, let me be the first to congratulate you. By making the decision to lower your carb intake, I personally feel you’ve taken the first step to better overall health. With that being said, you will probably miss certain foods. Therefore, learning how to master some basic low carb keto baking tips will be very beneficial moving forward.
My number one advice is that before you try converting your favorite high carb baked goods, that you stick to recipes that have already been developed using low carb flours. Why? Because it will avoid tossing lots precious ingredients while you learn. After you’ve been eating a low carb keto diet for a length of time, and understand how low carb flours work, you may then want to start converting your old recipes.
Understanding which recipes can be converted and which ones can’t will take a little time. In the meantime, I encourage you to try a few of my easy low carb keto baked recipes. A good place to start is with my Low Carb LCHF Cream Cheese Pound Cake and my No Fuss Low Carb Quick Bread.
When it comes to baking, it’s important to realize that using low carb flours will not give you the same results as regular flour. However, you can come pretty close. Especially when you begin to learn how low carb flours work.
Wheat Flours Versus Low Carb Flours
Keep in mind that wheat flour will always be finer and lighter than any alternative low carb keto flour. This does not mean that you cannot produce delicious low carb options, it just means that you need to understand that it will never be exactly the same.
Low carb keto flours do not have gluten in them. The chewiness that a wheat flour provides will not necessarily translate in a low carb baked good because of that lack of gluten.
Choose Your Flour Wisely
This is where things can get a bit confusing. There are many low carb choices and it can get overwhelming when you are new to this way of baking. In order to keep things simple I am going to discuss only a few, and my personal go to choices. Each low carb flour acts differently and based on what you are trying to convert you will need to choose which one works best for that particular baked good.
It’s been my experience that almond flour is the easiest of all the low carb flours to work with. Generally, almond flour is my go to flour for low-carb cakes, muffin, quick breads, and cookies. I find that almond flour can usually be substituted for regular flour cup for cup.
Knowing the difference between almond flour and almond meal is key. Almond meal is made with almonds that have been ground with their skins in tack. Almond flour is made by finely grinding up almonds without their skins, using blanched skinless almonds. Almond meal will prove to be too heavy and grainy for most of your baked goods. I will use almond meal mainly for my low carb quick breads.
Another great tip is to sift your almond flour in order to make the texture finer. When I sift my almond flour, I do so after I have measured it.
Coconut flour is actually a by-product of coconut milk when it’s being produced. Once the coconut milk has been extracted, what’s left is coconut meat. The coconut meat is then dried and finely ground. This creates a fine powder that looks a lot like wheat flour.
The biggest difference between wheat flour and that of coconut flour, is how dry it is. Coconut flour needs lots of moisture in the form of liquids and eggs in order to be used as a low carb keto flour alternative. It’s for this reason that it cannot be substituted for flour cup for cup. Finding the right balance of liquid when using coconut flour can be tricky. If you use too much liquid or eggs you end up with a soggy mess, too little and it won’t come together properly.
Just because baking with coconut flour isn’t as easy as other low carb flours, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t attempt do so. For those who are allergic to nuts, coconut flour is a great option. It may require more trial and error when you first start to using coconut flour but when used properly it makes for a great substitute. If you wanting to try a recipe that uses coconut flour exclusively, I encourage you to try my Low Carb Brownie recipe and Low Carb Coconut Crust.
Golden Flax Meal
Flax meal is made by simply grinding flaxseeds to produce a flour. It can be used well in low carb keto recipes but keep in mind that it’s a heavy flour. When using golden flax meal exclusively I usually need to extend the baking time. Some people also use flax meal to substitute eggs in a recipe.
To replace 1 egg, mix 1 tablespoon of ground flax meal with 2 1/2 tablespoons of water and allow it to thicken for about 5 minutes. This mixture can be used to replace the eggs but it will not act exactly like eggs do. We know that eggs are great for binding ingredients and help baked goods to be light and rise better.
Flax eggs are a common substitution for vegan recipes or for those who are allergic to eggs. Keep in mind though that If a recipe is mainly a egg based recipe, this substitution will probably not work. Looking for a recipe that uses golden flax meal? How about you try my Low Carb Jalapeño Bacon Cheese Bread and my Low Carb Chocolate Flaxseed Flour Cake.
Made by grinding hazelnuts, hazelnut flour can be a great substitute for almond flour. Some people prefer this low carb keto flour because it tends to be less grainy and produces a finer product. It is especially nice in cookie and sponge cakes recipes. However, it can be the priciest of flours since it’s not as common.
Sunflower Seed Flour
Produced by grinding sunflower seeds finely, sunflower seeds can be a good low carb flour alternative if you are allergic to nuts. The taste of the sunflowers is pretty pronounced, so it may require using different brands to see which one you like best.
Sesame Seed Flour
Created by grinding sesame seeds finely, sesame flour is yet another great nut free option. It is a little harder to come by and may require you making your own by grinding it yourself.
Know Your Ratios When Using Low Carb Flours
Although almond flour is considered the gold standard in low carb baking, it can get pricy. Which is why replacing part of your almond flour with less expensive coconut flour makes sense. When using a combination of almond flour and other low carb flours the best ratio is 3:1 almond flour to coconut flour or other low carb flour.
Understanding Sugar Substitutes
When it comes to sugar substitutes there are many options to choose from. In the end, it will come down to personal preference and taste. Some people have no problem with artificial sweeteners like Splenda. Others may opt for natural options like erythritol, xylitol and stevia. Have fun experimenting and find out what works best for you.
Do realize that all sugar substitutes do not work the same. Some recipes require the dense properties of a bulking sweetener like in Splenda for baking or erythritol, while other recipes will do fine with liquid sweeteners like sucralose or stevia.
Gluten and Starch Alternatives
One of the things I miss most about traditional baking is how predictable gluten and starch are in a recipe. The gluten in traditional flours gives baked goods structure and it helps bind them together. Trying to replicate these qualities with flours that have no gluten can be a challenge. A solution is to add whey protein, or binders like xanthan gum, glucomannan, psyllium husk, or extra eggs. These binders can help with structure. It only takes a little of these to get some of the benefits.
Converting Your Recipes
It’s possible to convert many of your favorite traditional baked goods, with the exception of yeast bread recipes. A yeast bread rises because it combines with the gluten in the wheat. Note that none of your low carb, grain-free flours have gluten in them. Adding ¼ tsp more of baking powder can also prove useful and helps in rising the heavier low carb flours effectively. A good rule is to double the amount of eggs called when converting your traditional baked recipes.
At 12 grams of carbohydrates per cup, regular milk just isn’t low carb keto friendly. When a recipe calls for milk, your best choices are unsweetened almond or coconut milk. Alternatively, you can also use heavy whipping cream by making a mixture of half whipping cream, half water to get a milk-like consistency.
Can I encourage you not to be afraid of baking with low carb keto flours? Without a doubt, there is a bit of a learning curve when trying to convert your favorite traditional recipes. However, with so many low carb keto recipes out there you should begin with those first and then attempt to modify your own recipes.
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