The first time I baked a recipe with almond flour it was not at all what I expected. And then I discovered that almond flour can mean a lot of things: almond meal, ground almonds, and blanched almond flour.
Since then I’ve found that for many recipes, finely ground blanched almond flour works best in most cases. Blanched almond flour works especially well in recipes that are designed to produce lighter, cake-like or cookie-like results.
In comparison to blanched almond flour, almond meal works well for more rustic baked goods, when you don’t mind your result being a bit denser and slightly grainy (from the skins). It can be purchased (ground up almonds with the skins on), or you can make it yourself by grinding almonds (raw or roasted) in a food processor or other tool for creating whole grain flour.
Here are some sources for blanched almond flour:
- Hughson Nut, Inc.
- Honeyville Food Products
- Lucy’s Kitchen Shop
- SunOrganic Farm
- Digestive Wellness
- Bob’s Red Mill Almond Meal/Flour
- Benefit Your Life
- JK Gourmet
- Benefit Your Life
- Costco (the Honeyville brand in some locations)
Why use blanched almond flour? I started out using almond flour because I wanted to eliminate all wheat and gluten for a while to see if it would help my son. And then I found that it eliminated my underlying anemia I have had on and off since giving birth to my each of my sons, and gave me a good boost of essential vitamins and minerals, including iron and calcium and vitamin E. It also has a higher protein content (and lower carbohydrate content) than other flours and baked goodies. So baking with almond flour is quite healthy—a nice bonus.
What about other nut flours? There are other nuts that make great flours, such as cashew, hazelnut, peanut, and pecan. I use them sometimes, but I mainly use almond flour due to it’s mild flavor and that fact that I have it on hand. Nut butters are also good in some recipes, such as baked goods that are softer and/or denser, such as cookie bars, cakes and breads.
How do you store almond flour? When I’m using it often I store it sealed at room temperature in my pantry. If I’m not going through it quickly I store it sealed in a refrigerator for a few months at a time. I purchase 25 pounds of almond flour at a time and it lasts me about 3 months or so, but it would depend on how often you use it. It’s obviously cheaper to buy it in bulk, but you can buy it in smaller increments, such as 1 and 5 pound bags. It’s a good idea to store it sealed in the refrigerator since it does tend to absorb odors from other food. I know some folks freeze it but I haven’t found it necessary to do so. I imagine you could freeze some of it (tightly sealed) and defrost it as you use it.
Can you make your own? Yes, but I’ll admit up front that I don’t, mostly because I never get the flour as finely ground as the flour that I buy. The finer the grind of flour, the more closer your baked goods will resemble the texture of a cookie or cake.
You can use a blender or a food processor to grind the almonds into flour, but to obtain blanched almond flour you must first blanch the almonds to remove the skin. And don’t go too far when processing the almonds into flour, or you will end up with almond butter (which it not a bad thing, but not what you were after).
Another way to make a small batch of blanched almond flour is to purchase sliced blanched almonds and then process them until you have flour.
Do I need to sift the flour? I don’t go as far as sifting it but I do break up any clumps in the batter before measuring it. If you are after the finest flour possible you could sift it a bit but in general ground blanched almond flour is good to use out of the bag. And a good mixing of your batter will disperse and break up clumps as well.
Can I replace all-purpose flour (APF) with almond flour in a recipe? Possibly, but it will depend on the recipe and the other ingredients. Almond flour is denser than APF and many other baking flours and so it behaves differently in each recipe. The biggest difference is that APF contains gluten as a binding agent, and almond flour doesn’t contain gluten so it relies on other ingredients to hold it together. Almond flour also tends to burn at higher temperatures, so generally you’ll want to stay at or below 350°F (180°C, or gas mark 4) when baking recipes that call for almond flour as the main ingredient.