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Friday, September 14, 2012

Paleo Baking Hints And Tips

English: Pandebono (literally meaning ‘good br...
English: Pandebono (literally meaning ‘good bread’) is a type of bread made of corn flour, cassava starch, cheese and eggs. It is consumed with hot chocolate a few minutes after baking when is still warm. It is very popular in the Colombian department of Valle del Cauca. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
By Maria Renouf


It's highly unlikely that stone age people ever ate blueberry muffins or chocolate brownies, but such treats can fit into the guidelines of a Paleo diet. Paleo baking is gluten free, grain free and dairy free, so many commonly used ingredients are off limits. However, with a little ingenuity, it is still possible to enjoy healthier, more natural versions of breads, cakes and cookies.



The main ingredient in modern baked goods is wheat flour. Almond flour, found in many supermarkets, is usually a good substitute. Another popular alternative is coconut flour, which can be purchased in health food stores. Walnuts, hazelnuts or macadamia nuts can be roughly ground for use in baking, but due to their higher oil content, they turn to butter if over-processed.

If you have an electric coffee grinder, you can make your own almond flour. Raw almonds bought in bulk are much cheaper than ground almonds. Blanch them by dipping into boiling water for ten seconds. This loosens the skins so that they fall off easily when the nuts are rubbed between the sides of a towel. Process the almonds and sift to ensure the flour is smooth. Store in an airtight container.

The moisture in baked goods is typically supplied by vegetable oil, margarine or butter. The best low cost alternative is lard. It was commonly used in baking before the advent of shortenings made with dangerous trans fats. Coconut oil adds flavor to baked goods and has many health benefits.

Honey or maple syrup can substitute for refined sugar in cookies and cakes. These ingredients are more intensely sweet, so less is needed. A recipe which requires four teaspoons of sugar can be made using three teaspoons of honey. If using natural sweeteners in significant amounts, cut back on quantities of added liquids.

Starchy vegetables like butternut squash, yams or pumpkins give baked goods a subtle sweetness and moist texture. Puree into a smooth pulp before using. To make a basic bread use a cup of vegetable puree along with 2 cups almond flour, 2 eggs, 2 teaspoons mixed spice, 2 tablespoons honey and 2 tablespoons melted lard.

Sodium bicarbonate and other chemical leaveners are not necessary in Paleo baking. To make a loaf of vegetable bread, begin by separating the eggs. Using an electric mixer, whisk the whites into stiff peaks and set aside. Add the yolks to a bowl with the other ingredients and beat into a batter. Gently fold in the whites. Pour the mixture into a non-stick loaf pan and bake in a 350 F oven for 45 minutes. Cool before slicing.




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