While my husband took the shopping list and actually shopped, I wandered around the food coop mesmerized by the packaging (graphic design research?) and vast array of available packaged products. I can remember when going to the coop meant scooping from big bulk bins. (The memory of trying to scoop from those bins while not dumping out the baby in my backpack is particularly vivid.) I rarely bought packaged stuff; I wanted basic ingredients like dried beans and grains. We also had our own small coop where we ordered and split huge bags of beans, grains and nuts, and large tubs of tahini and peanut butter. But Ken does the shopping now, (and a lot of cooking) and he's more into cans, bags and boxes. Staring at the amazing variety of packaged flours, my eye riveted on a bag of coconut flour. Just the sound - coconut flour - intrigued me. It sounded so tropical, so beachy, so smooth. "Mmmm," I was thinking as I grabbed it and headed for the cart, "wonder what I can make?"
I had all sorts of plans for chocolate things with coconut flour, but the day I decided to use my coconut flour was more of a muffin day. It was cloudy, windy and chilly, and muffins have a sunny, warming quality about them, don't you think? Besides, if I made a lot of muffins, I could freeze a bunch and have baked goods around for a while.
Coconut flour is very high in fiber and protein, low in carbohydrates and contains no gluten. It can be part of a mix of no-gluten flours when baking gluten-free. It can be added to smoothies and baked goods in smaller amounts to increase fiber. It also adds sweetness to baked goods so you can use less sugar. When not baking gluten-free, you can replace up to 20% of wheat flour with coconut flour. Coconut flour absorbs lots of liquid so you need to add extra liquid equal to the amount of coconut flour. (eg: substitute 1/2 cup coconut flour for 1/2 cup wheat flour and add an extra 1/2 cup liquid to the recipe) It's possible to use all coconut flour in certain recipes, but this seems to require using a LOT of eggs, which doesn't fit into my vegan diet. I'm not using it for gluten-free baking, just to add some extra taste, texture and fiber.
I decided to add coconut flour to a muffin recipe — and make carrot and ginger muffins. Because the coconut flour so readily absorbs liquid, the batter will be thick, but the muffins will be light, with a moist and almost creamy texture and gentle sweetness. I couldn't taste the coconut. The muffins were small, so don't be afraid to fill the tins. The recipe made 18 muffins.
Carrot and ginger muffins Lightly grease muffin tins for 18 muffins Pre-heat oven to 350˚F
1/4 to 1/3 cup crystallized ginger, cut into small pieces
1 cup apple juice
1-1/2 cups water
1/4 cup oil
1 teaspoon vanilla
Sift the flours, baking powder, salt and sugar together into a large bowl. Stir in the carrots and ginger to coat well with flour.
Mix together the juice, water, oil, vanilla.
Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and fold in to incorporate all the flour. Do not over-mix.
Fill muffin tins nearly full.
Bake 20-25 minutes until done. (muffin tops will be springy.)
Remove muffins from pans and cool on wire rack. Can be frozen when cool.
Note: I froze the muffins and they still taste great when defrosted, but they seem to take a long time to defrost. I usually end up eating them half-frozen, and the texture is a little hard. I finally let one defrost completely, and the texture was creamy just like when it was fresh. Obviously it's best to make fresh muffins, but that's not going to happen around here as often as I'd like, so if its frozen or nothing, I'll take the frozen.