Friday, January 23, 2009

Coconut Flour Crust

I have been making a lot of desserts lately for holidays and parties and my usual low carb, Paleo-ish choice is almond meal. However almonds don't really agree with me all that well and I've never been all that crazy about how the crusts turn out. So on a whim I thought to try coconut flour, which I had bought online. The brand was "Aloha Nu". I've heard bad things about certain coconut flours which you can buy in health food, I think the brand was Bob's Red Mill. It is orange colored (from what I've heard). I can't imagine why coconut flour would be orange. Anyway, I've only used Aloha Nu and it seems to be pretty good stuff.

I have worked with coconut flour before, it is quite challenging stuff. It absorbs moisture like nothing I've ever seen and can turn into a crumbling, dry sponge that sucks all the water out of your mouth, if you're not careful. So I had my doubts about using it as a crust. However I do love to experiment!

So I experimented and I'm actually quite pleased with the result. Out of the oven it was a bit crunchy and I can only describe it as flaky, almost like a wheat crust. When I put the filling in it lost the crunchiness but still retained it's shape nicely and had a great taste and remained flaky. It's only oddness was it expands in the mouth. But I didn't mind, it just lent to that flaky texture feeling. I love the little bit of salt added, I think it makes a big difference in the taste of the crust.

Unfortunately I can't give exact measurements on some things because I just added them until the texture was right, but I think I can tell you what to look for.

1 Cup of coconut flour (Aloha Nu)
Lard -- right out of the fridge
2 Tbl Butter -- Room temperature is ok
Salt -- 1/8-1/4 tsp
Sweetener -- about 1/8 - 1/4 cup depending how sweet you like your crust

Put coconut flour, sweetener and salt in your food processor and whiz until mixed.

Now start to add lumps (roughly 2 Tbsp) of lard at a time. I also added about 2 Tbl of butter, because I love the taste. Whiz.

Continue adding the cold lard and processing until the dough just begins to look like it will soon want to clump. Don't put too much in! You really want to be able to pour it into your pan and spread it out easily and press it into place. If you add too much, the dough will be too sticky.

After placing the dough and patting it into place beat an egg white until foamy and paint the crust with it. This will help it get crisp and waterproof it a bit. Try to use the entire white.

Bake the crust at 350' for 10-15 minutes until golden brown.

I have to say Alton Brown inspired the idea to use lard instead of butter. He used it in his wheat pie crust recipe (along with butter) saying that the lard has a higher melting point and helps keep things flaky.

Update:  Be sure to bake this crust before filling, like you would a graham cracker crust.  The egg provides a kind of waterproof seal (sort of) and it should help keep the filling from soaking in too much.