Nourishing Flourishing

The Lowdown on Almond Flour

15 Oct

Hey friends!

So, I’m later on posting than I had hoped, but for a good reason; today my husband whisked me off to the mountains for a birthday getaway! Perhaps I’ll do a little recap just because it’s been such fun already, but we’ll see. Regardless, I did promise a post today, and though I had hoped to publish the new recipe (I made three batches over the past two days and they are completely gone — also, it was what I chose to eat for my birthday “treat” — and it’s definitely not cake, or a traditional thing to celebrate with, at that!), I not only left the recipe scrawled on some paper on my counter at home, I also am seriously disappointed with the photos I took! Darn, I guess I’ll need to make them again… Heh heh. So, I thought I’d talk about something that I’m frequently asked about, just as a resource in case you were curious.

Fear not, though, if this isn’t something you’re interested in. The recipe is coming soon. SOON!

So, as you’ve probably noticed, I use blanched almond flour for the majority of my baked goods. Below are the most common questions I get. Please let me know if you have more in the comments! : )

Almond Flour FAQs

1) What is blanched almond flour? What isn’t blanched almond flour?

Blanched almond flour is essentially just almonds that have had their skins steamed or boiled off, and then been ground up into fine particles. It’s consistency would be comparable to cornmeal.

Blanched almond flour (usually just referred to as almond flour) is not the same as almond meal. Almond meal can be blanched, but most of the time it is made from almonds with the skin still on, and thus it is coarser and not as fine as blanched almond flour. This can result in a crumblier texture. Almond meal — even if blanched — is going to be a larger particle than almond flour. I can’t guarantee things will go perfectly if you substitute almond meal, though many have let me know that it worked great for them!

2) Why do you use almond flour?

I started using almond flour when I was on a grain-free eating plan (I followed it strictly for over a year, not for weight loss, but health reasons).  It is amazingly versatile — and always simple. I don’t need to have 12 different types of gums, starches, and GF flours to make one loaf of bread (that is going to be nutritionally lacking anyway). I strive to keep my ingredients minimal in recipes, and almond flour allows me to do so.

BUT. It is also the tastiest flour, and one of the most nutritious, in my opinion. Almond flour is a great option for people who need to eat grain or gluten-free, but it is also awesome for those who don’t! Whatever your dietary needs, almond flour is low-glycemic, high fiber, and high protein. It is also rich with Vitamin E and perfectly moist. You simply can’t say that about any other GF flour — most are dry, high starch, low protein, low fiber, and leave me feeling sugar buzzed and sick.

Did I mention that it’s also just plain delicious? Like buttah (…but without buttah. Which = great for vegan baking, by the way).

3) Where do you buy blanched almond flour? Isn’t it expensive?

Yes and no. If you purchase almond flour in bulk, like I do, you won’t be selling off a kidney anytime soon. I don’t use almond flour every week, either, so it’s not a huge expense. If you buy almond butter on a regular basis, you can buy almond flour — by the pound, almond flour is about the same price (~$6/lb, usually less if you purchase it like I do — see following). I buy several 5 lb bags from Honeyville (a great company; I’ve bought from them for over 3 years now) when they periodically have sales. I signed up to receive email alerts, and they usually range between 10-15%. I store mine in the freezer for months. (See #6.)

Whole Foods and other health food stores are now carrying almond flour — even if the bulk bins! Just make sure it is finely ground. And be careful about cross-contamination if you’re celiac, of course. Kind Arthur Flour used to sell almond meal that was really coarse, but recently it looks much finer and might work (though it is $$). I do not recommend Dowd & Rogers brand.

4) Can I make my own? How?

This is a great tutorial, and one that I try to link to in all my almond flour posts. You can definitely make it at home! This is an excellent option if you are just trying it out for one recipe. It can also be more cost-effective, depending on your local prices. (Honeyville is always cheaper for me though.)

5) Where did you learn to bake and cook with almond flour? Are there other resources I could use?

The first introduction I had to almond flour was through the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle, and Elana Amsterdam. If you aren’t familiar with Elana’s site Elana’s Pantry, you need to check it out. She is an almond flour goddess, and when I first found out I couldn’t eat gluten, I was lost. Her recipes and tutorials really did teach me how to cook again, when I felt like I would never be able to return to my passion of baking. Through Elana’s recipes, and a LOT of trial and error, I figured out how to bake with almond flour. I certainly owe my ability to gauge ratios (e.g., wet to dry, etc.), and other almond flour essentials, to Elana. I had the privilege of meeting her in person to thank her for all she’s done (she also lives in Boulder), and she was very gracious, and very enthusiastic about helping the GF community. If you haven’t perused her two cookbooks, I really can’t recommend them enough. Even my parents (who do not eat GF) frequently make her recipes, as my father is diabetic and most of her dishes are low glycemic and please even the pickiest eaters (that’s you, Dad).


6) How should I store almond flour?

Almond flour will go rancid much more quickly than glutenous flour. Store it in the fridge and use it up in a few months, or store it in the freezer and use it up in a year or two. Just be sure to let it thaw before baking with it! : )

Ok — that took way longer (and was way longer) than I expected! (TWSS) Anyway, I hope some of you found it helpful. My next recipe uses almond flour — in a way I have only dreamed. Ohmyword.

Have a great weekend!

Any other questions? Have you used almond flour?

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41 Responses to “The Lowdown on Almond Flour”

  1. pure2raw twins October 15, 2011 at 6:49 pm #

    almond flour is the best, we are starting to really enjoy using other nuts and seeds for our baking :)

  2. Sarena (The Non-Dairy Queen) October 15, 2011 at 7:20 pm #

    I love almond flour especially when I’m baking things that need a special richness to them. Such a great flour and so tasty! I hope you two had a great birthday celebration!

  3. Anastasia October 15, 2011 at 7:32 pm #

    I use almond pulp left over from making almond milk instead of the actual almond flour. I simply reduce the amount of liquids in the recipe by a bit and my recipes still work!

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing October 16, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

      Yes! I love this. :) Do you use blanched almonds to make your almond milk? Our favorite is adding the pulp to the base when we make homemade granola. Ah-mazing!

  4. Erick October 15, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

    Thanks for that little guide. It’s definitely something I’ve never considered using but now that I’ve checked your post out, I’ll be keeping it in mind! A very helpful, informative post :)

  5. Emma October 16, 2011 at 3:36 am #

    Interesting, thank you. I’ve used ‘almond flour’ (it’s called ground almonds here in UK stores) in baking before but not normally as a complete sub for flour. I love the flavour and butteriness it adds. I did try Rikki’s lemony almond pancakes just using homemade almond meal (not blanched)and they still worked perfectly. Definitely recommend the recipe! http://www.dietdessertndogs.com/2009/03/08/grain-free-lemony-almond-pancakes/

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing October 16, 2011 at 7:30 pm #

      Hi Emma! I think calling it “ground almonds” is a lot more straightforward. I often get strange looks when I say, “It’s made with almond flour.” They assume I mean almond-flavored wheat flour! I’ll definitely check out that recipe, it sounds delicious — perhaps even moreso with poppyseeds…! Thanks for sharing. :)

  6. Kierstan @ Life {and running} in Iowa October 16, 2011 at 5:11 am #

    This post just makes me want to ditch regular flour and start using almond flour today. I’ve been thinking about buying it for a while now, but always forget while I am at the store.

  7. Jennifer @ Peanut Butter and Peppers October 16, 2011 at 6:25 pm #

    Great post! I always wondered the difference. I will definitely give almond flour a try. I have two bags of almond meal, what do I do with it?

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing October 16, 2011 at 7:26 pm #

      Thanks Jennifer! If you have two bags of almond meal, and you don’t mind a slightly different texture, you could definitely try one of the recipes for almond flour. Just halve the recipe, just to be sure you like it with the almond meal. As I mentioned, most people don’t mind almond meal as a substitute for almond flour; I just want people to know that I don’t test or create my recipes with almond meal, so can’t make any promises. :) But generally, I think you could use it up on things like the doughball cookies with a lot of luck! Raw recipes use almond meal frequently, as do Primal and Paleo (I think), so I bet you won’t have too much hassle finding a recipe that sounds good to you to use the meal up in! If you do have a tricky time, let me know and I’ll do some digging to help you find some recipes that would be good for almond meal. xo!

  8. Lou October 16, 2011 at 8:41 pm #

    I’ve never used it as a flour on it’s own – just in combination with other flours. I think I may have to start experimenting though, you’ve inspired me! I’m going to stock up on it this afternoon when I hit the bulk foods store… love a fun new ingredient, so exciting :)

  9. Maryann October 17, 2011 at 12:57 pm #

    Going to try it out. Have to find it 1st.

  10. Karen October 17, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

    Do you have any experience with Bob Red Mill’s almond meal/flour? I have it and would like to make your pizookie with it. Also,do desserts mad with almond flour stay fresh? I know GF desserts tend to get stale quickly. I wanted to make the poozie Sat,keep it in the fridge and serve it Sun.

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing October 18, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

      Hi Karen! I can’t say I’ve tried Bob’s Red Mill brand almond flour/meal, but I do find the labeling kind of confusing… I know in the past, it was way too coarse to work in most almond flour recipes. Recently it has looked more like almond flour — blanched and fine — but I’m not sure, due to the “/meal” label. My friend has used it to make my scone recipe, and she said it worked great. I think it should be fine for the pizookie (though, like I said, I can’t make any promises, sadly).

      An excellent question about freshness! I should add that to the post. They stay fresh for a few days, though with declining vibrancy. I find they last over a week if stored in the fridge, so I think your idea of making it on Saturday, keeping it in the fridge, and serving it on Sunday is great! Just make sure to cover it up in the fridge, because almond flour tends to absorb the flavors around it much more easily than other flours. (So, for example, I try to keep it far away from onions, etc., and always put a lid on it, etc.) Let me know how it goes! :) xo.

      • Karen October 19, 2011 at 11:50 am #

        Thanks! I did read a suggestion that you can pulse Bob’s flour in the food processor a few times if it seems too course(but not to pulse to much or you’ll end up with almond butter!)

        • Karen October 19, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

          Sorry,one more question! Looking at the pizookie recipe,I see it just says to cook till it browns on top. How long do you usually cook it for?

          • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing October 22, 2011 at 10:11 am #

            Usually, in my oven, it takes about 15 minutes, sometimes a few minutes more. But, there are so many variations in altitude, oven make, etc. that I defer to visual measures of doneness ;) You basically want it to look like a lightly browned cookie — e.g., remove it when it looks like a cookie that’s done. I would start checking on it every 2-3 minutes after it’s baked 10-12 minutes, as almond flour can burn pretty quickly if overcooked. (The nice thing is, it tastes amazing even if accidentally under-cooked, and because it’s vegan you don’t have to worry about salmonella or anything from the dough! ;) )

        • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing October 22, 2011 at 10:06 am #

          Good idea! I hope it works out well :)

  11. Katie @ peacebeme October 17, 2011 at 9:33 pm #

    This post was seriously so useful!!! Since having to go GF, I have had such a mental struggle with feeling deprived all of the time because I don’t have the same foods around. There aren’t very many places to buy GF baked goods where I live and I have tried baking with Bob’s Red Mill gf flour blend and hate the taste of it! I have been curious about almond flour for awhile because I think it sounds delicious. I am going to have to get some and try baking again, I got so discouraged before but this gave me hope. ;)

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing October 18, 2011 at 7:29 pm #

      Katie, I’m so glad you found it useful! :D I can resonate with everything you are saying — and seriously, almond flour makes me feel 1000x less deprived. Keep your hope alive! <3 Let me know what you think if you try it!

  12. Katie @ peacebeme October 17, 2011 at 9:57 pm #

    oh I forgot to ask…what IS your fave brand? Can’t wait for some recipes…muffins, banana bread… ;)

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing October 18, 2011 at 7:33 pm #

      My favorite is Honeyville’s blanched almond flour. It’s the cheapest, and also the tastiest. There should be a link or two in the post, but they might be kind of hidden, so here’s the link: http://store.honeyvillegrain.com/blanchedalmondflour5lb.aspx . It is admittedly pricey, but like I said, it’s not only worth every penny, it also goes on sale frequently (though you have to sign up for their email list to get the coupons). It’s roughly the same amount (often cheaper) than buying a jar of almond butter, so I don’t stress about it. And I definitely have a banana bread recipe that I love! ;) Almond flour takes eeeverything up a notch! xo.

  13. Alissa - Not Just Apples October 18, 2011 at 3:46 am #

    This is a really helpful resource thanks! I adore almond flour in baking and cooking :)

  14. Erin @ Big Girl Feats October 18, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

    I HOPE YOUR BIRTHDAY WAS AS FABULOUS AS YOU ARE! (I didn’t mean for that to be in caps at first, but then I kept it because I feel like it’s very appropriate for you!!!) xxxoxoxoxox! Miss you!!

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing October 18, 2011 at 7:37 pm #

      Hahaha! This was a hilarious, awesome, very Erin comment. <3 <3 <3 <3 <3 Miss you TOOOOO!!! (<– intentional from the start to convey emotion)

  15. Dawn October 19, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    Katie – thanks so much for stopping by my blog! This post you have today is so appropriate, which may be why you found my post today, but who knows? Anyhow, I love your blog, love your photos, and couldn’t be happier that you found my little spot today! Keep up the good work here. :)

  16. Hayley @ Oat Couture October 21, 2011 at 11:25 am #

    Happy birthday!!! :) I have used home ground almonds in baking but never actually bought almond flour. Is there much difference?? I know I probably shouldn’t be blogging about food if I have to ask that question! Ha ;D

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing October 22, 2011 at 10:19 am #

      Thanks Hayley! :) Ha, no, no — that’s a really good question, food blogger or not! Almond flour isn’t exactly a household item yet, so it’s natural that there would be some uncertainties. I think the only potential differences would be 1) the almonds ground at home might not be blanched (have their skins removed), but that’s easy to do (see the link in the post for how to make your own at home) and 2) the almonds might not be ground as fine as blanched almond flour that you would buy at a store. If you grind your almonds and bake with them at home, I am sure that would work fine — I would just check with that DIY post and the pictures in it to see if your almonds are ground fine enough to be almond flour, and not just ground almonds. It’s a fine line, but I hope this helps! :) xo.

  17. Becky @ Pure Vitality February 28, 2012 at 11:01 am #

    I really dont know which to try first. There are so many great looking dessert recipes and the zucchini…yummy!! Needless to say, I will try them all!! thank you

  18. Karen July 31, 2012 at 12:03 pm #

    I just started baking with almond flour and using paleo foods for medical reasons . I am thrilled with the way my body is responding. I love making multigrain bread but I don’t know if I am doing something wrong. Is there a way to make a bread with almond flour that will rise like breads made with wheat flour. Mine taste great but it doesn’t rise like reg. bread. It is always about 2 in. high. I am also looking for a great granola bar recipe.I am so glad i found this site. Thanks

    • Katie @ Nourishing Flourishing August 6, 2012 at 10:24 am #

      Hi Karen! I went completely grain-free for one year and it made such a dramatic improvement in my health — I hope you continue to have success with it!

      Almond flour breads will not rise as much as grain-base breads, unfortunately. When you say it is always about 2 inches high, do you mean that the total height of the bread, or it only rises about that much? I’m assuming the latter, in which case, I must confess it’s rather typical for almond flour. If you are mainly wanting it to rise more so that you have bigger slices, I found the trick is to spread the dough on a parchment-lined cookie sheet, and press the dough with wet hands so it covers it in a uniform height — mine is usually about 1/4-1/2″ thick. When it starts to brown on the edges and top, remove it, and after some cooling, slice into slice-sized squares. It acts like a bun! Let me know if you’d like me to take some photos of the process and post it. It sure made a difference in my sandwiches! :)

      Also, here is place to start for grain-free granola bars: http://www.joyfulabode.com/2010/09/12/grain-free-granola-bars/

      Thanks for your comment!
      xo.

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