The Ultimate Guide To Nut Flours

Nuts flours are an extremely versatile alternative flour. They are easy to get hold of, straightforward to use and help to produce beautifully moist and flavourful cakes. In this guide I’m going to explain everything you need to know about nut flours. Why they are brilliant in baking, how we can use them and how we can grind our own.

Gluten-Free Flours: Nut Flours

So I’m about to kick off the first chapter in my new blog series about gluten-free flours. If you haven’t read Gluten-Free Flours: An Introduction first then do head back. Don’t worry, I’ll wait. This instalment it’s all about:

  • Nut flours
  • Nut meals
  • Ground nuts

All of which can all be used as flour substitutes. To keep the conversation streamlined when I refer to nut flours below I’m pretty much heaping nut meals and ground nuts into the same category.

If you are a keen baker then there is no doubt that ground almonds have cropped up in an ingredients list somewhere in your baking history as it is a wonderful ingredient which can enhance the taste and texture of cakes when mixed with another flour and on a rare occasion stand alone in place of regular flour.

Almonds are the most prolific of the nut flours and we’ll discuss why but we’ll also chat about the role other nut flours can play in our baking and how we can make our own to keep costs a bit more manageable.

Gluten-Free Flours: Nut Flours

Why do we use nut flours?

The best reason to use a nut flour in your baking is to give your cake a moist dense crumb.

Nuts are rich in protein so are also commonly used in baked goods for nutritional reasons but they will definitely become your best friends as you rebel against the dry gluten-free cakes you may have tasted before.

Allergy Tip: Obviously nuts contain, well, nuts. So be ultra careful in asking about nut allergies when you are serving up your cake.

Fig Almond and Salted Honey Cake

How to use nut flours in cakes

Nut flours are best used in conjunction with another flour. If you are trying to convert a wheat-based cake recipe into a gluten-free alternative then I wouldn’t typically recommend using only a nut flour in straight substitution as nut flours are prone to clumping and are mostly made of fat and fibre so the results can be be quite crumbly.

One of the most common ways I use nut flour is to combine it with a ready-made gluten-free flour blend:

  • The Nut Flour will give the cake moisture and structure.
  • The Gluten-Free Flour will lighten the results and make the finished cake a little more fluffy. It will also help with binding since most blends contain tapioca flour which is an excellent binder.

Baker’s Tip: How to make cake recipes gluten-free

The best tip I have if you need to convert a cake recipe to a gluten-free version is:

Substitute the full amount of plain flour for 1/2 nut flour and 1/2 gluten-free flour

This won’t replicate the wheat version of the cake but create a completely different but just as delicious alternative. The cake will take on the flavour of the nut and be a little more dense than your usual bake.

You do have to be judicious about which recipes you convert in this way. I would recommend sturdy teatime cakes, such as:

Easiest Gluten-Free Banana Bread

Which nut flour to use?

Almonds are the most common nut flour or ground nut substitute used in baking as almonds don’t impart a huge amount of flavour to baked goods.

If you use pecan flour or pistachio flour you will be giving a very distinctive flavour profile to your baking. For example if you wanted to bake a chocolate cardamom loaf then you might choose to use pistachio flour to compliment the flavours.

The Best Gluten-Free Brownies Use Nut Flour

One of the easiest ways to make a deliciously fudgey gluten-free brownie is just to sub the amount of flour given in the recipe for an equal weight of ground almonds.

Have a look at this amazingly easy Almond Flour Brownie recipe.

A stack of almond flour brownies with a flower on top.

The taste of the almonds is almost unnoticeable behind the intense chocolate flavour.

However, you could try using a different nut flour in your brownies for a more pronounced taste. Suddenly you can have smooth and fudgey walnut or hazelnut brownies.

Baker’s Tips for Nut Flour Brownies

  • Make sure you use a recipe that uses melted chocolate and not just cocoa powder as the chocolate is needed for binding the brownie.
  • Only use a recipe where the amount of flour is 100g or less.

What is the difference between almond flour, ground almonds and almond meal?

The three ingredients are interchangeable in most recipes but will yield different results.

Gluten-Free Flour: Almond Flour

Almond Flour, Ground Almonds, Almond Meal {top to bottom}

Almond Flour

This flour is milled from skinned blanched almonds to a very fine flour and is pretty impossible to achieve in your own kitchen. It is best used where you want the results of your bake to be light and fluffy, perhaps in delicate bakes like friands or macaroons. You can buy this finely milled flour in health food shops and online.

Ground Almonds

This is the most common of the three and are easily available to buy in supermarkets. They are made from skinned and blanched almonds ground to an even consistency. They are more nubby and not as powdery than almond flour, although they will be of different consistencies across brands. Ready bought ground almonds have usually lost a lot of their flavour so if you are just using the ingredient for texture and you don’t want a pronounced almond flavour then these are the ones you need.

Almond Meal

This is really the same product as ground almonds but the key differences are:

  • they are ground with their skins on
  • they are unblanched

It isn’t a common ingredient to buy but if you have a standard food processor then you can make almond meal with ease. Almond meal ground at home will give the most rustic results. A hint of almond flavour will remain and the cake will be tastier and a little more full bodied.

Where can you buy almond flour?

You can buy finely milled almond flour from health food shops or online but it is unlikely you’ll find it in the average British supermarket so it’s definitely a more expensive product. However, if you have your heart set on the fluffy results a finely milled almond flour produces then I really love RealFoodSource Certified Organic Extra Fine High Protein Almond Flour (1KG).

Homemade Nut Flour

You can buy finely milled flours such as chestnut flour or pistachio flour but they are not always easy to get hold of. The majority of time you are using alternative nuts in lieu of flour then it’s more than likely that you’ll be using ground nuts, also known as homemade nut flour.

Gluten-Free Flours: Homemade Nut Flour

How to make your own nut flour

If you don’t bake with nut flours very often then I suggest making your nut flour on a cake by cake basis as due to the high protein content nut flours go rancid pretty quickly so it’s not an ingredient you want hanging around if you use them infrequently.

  1. Weigh out your whole nuts to the correct amount of flour you require. Handily whole nuts weigh an equal amount to ground nuts.
  2. Place the whole nuts in a food processor and switch on.
  3. Grind the nuts in 10 second bursts, scraping down and into the corners of the food processor each time. You want the nuts to be the consistency of tiny rubble.

Baker’s Tips

  • Different nuts take a longer time to grind to the correct consistency.
  • Nuts release their oils very quickly when you start to grind them. Watch to make sure the nuts are not clumping together. If they are then you are taking them too far as they are starting to release too much of their natural oils. Oily nuts will give too much moisture to your cake and cause it to sink in the oven.
  • Use freshly purchased nuts. Older nuts break down quicker.
  • Pulse the nuts in 10 second bursts.
  • Only work in batches of 150g nuts at a time so you can control the grinding process.
  • If you would like a finer ground nut flour then add in a couple of tablespoons of the sugar from your cake recipe along with the nuts. This will help absorb some of the oils.
  • Store your nut flour by keeping in an airtight container in the fridge which will prolong its life.
  • Equipment: To grind my nut flour I use my trusty Magimix 4200XL Food Processor – Satin which I have had for years and years. It produces course nut meal which suits me perfectly.
  • It’s worth noting that the nuts are often cheaper in the home baking section of the supermarket than the snack section.

overhead view of Plate of Gluten-Free Chicken Schnitzel with coleslaw and lemon

Other uses for nut flours

  • Added to pancakes, like these Banana and Walnut Pancakes for texture, taste and extra protein.
  • A delicious substitute for breadcrumbs in meatloaves or meatballs like in the below Pork Crackling Lemon Fennel Meatballs.
  • Thickener and flavour enhancer in curries.
  • Finely milled almond flour is particularly excellent as a coating in these Best Gluten-Free Chicken Schnitzel
  • To make a gluten-free cheesecake base grind your chosen nuts up with butter, sugar and some gluten-free flour then press into a springform cake tin and refrigerate to achieve a tasty base to rival digestive biscuits.
  • Nut flours are also brilliant in crumble or streusel toppings to add crunch and flavour.

How to use almond flour/meal

Ground almonds or almond flour are commonly found in recipes for macaroons, friands or financiers, frangipane, bakewell tarts and polenta cakes.

Commercially bought ground almonds can be quite tasteless so are useful when you don’t want an overpowering nut taste to your baking.

Also goes with: stone fruits, berries, lemon, orange, vanilla, pear, apples, pomegranate, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg, tahini, honey, rose, ricotta, thyme

Recipes using Almond Flour or Ground Almonds

How to use pecan meal

Wonderful in autumn baking. Pecans can be very oily so watch this one if you are blending yourself.

Gluten-Free Flour: Pecan Meal

Also goes with: apples, pears, coffee, caramel, bananas, carrots, squash, sweet potatoes, chocolate, sultanas, dates, maple, pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves, ginger, star anise, nutmeg, vanilla

This Pecan Butterscotch Latte Cake is an excellent place to start:

How to use walnut meal

Walnuts can be a little bitter so use this nut flour sparingly. Beautiful in brownies or financiers where only a little flour is needed in the recipe.

Gluten-Free Flour: Walnut Meal

Also goes with: apples, coffee, carrots, banana, chocolate, dates, squash, sweet potatoes, maple, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, goats cheese, cheddar, stilton

Try this amazing Gluten-Free Coffee and Walnut Cake which uses ground walnuts for the base of the sponge.

How to use hazelnut meal

This is a particularly distinctive flour with a rich buttery taste.

Gluten-Free Flours: Hazelnut Flour

Also goes with: chocolate, coffee, fig, blueberries, blackberries, pear, apricot, orange, cranberries, squash, beetroot, dates, maple, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, vanilla, tea, honey, goats cheese, ricotta

Try these amazing recipes which make the most of Hazelnut Flour:

Chestnut Flour

I usually buy chestnut flour rather than blending myself as it seems easier to get hold of than other nut flours. This is a soft gentle flour which is just perfect for winter baking as it pairs so well with Christmassy flavours.

Gluten-Free Flour: Chestnut Flour

Also goes with: apples, oranges, caramel, chocolate, coffee, pear, vanilla, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, cranberries, cherries, sage, squash, sweet potatoes

Pistachio Meal

Unmistakably green and vibrant flour. A very rich savoury flour which can hold up to the sweetness of white chocolate and the intensity of rose. Lovely in middle-eastern bakes.

Gluten-Free Flour: Pistachio Meal

Also goes with: cardamom, rose, cherries, orange, apricots, lemons, chocolate, cranberries, tahini, pomegranate, rhubarb, raspberries, squash, honey

One of my favourite recipes which uses pistachio flour is this Raspberry Pistachio Cake.

Of course, there are many other nuts out there which you can happily turn into flour, the above are just the ones I find the most useful in my baking.

This post is not sponsored but the links above are affiliate links which means if you decide you want to click through to buy then Amazon gives me a small commission at no cost to you whatsoever. To learn more about how the data processing works when using these Amazon affiliate links then please visit my privacy policy page.

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Raw Cranberry and Nut Energy Bars

Raw Cranberry and Nut Energy Bars are vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free. Full of protein and bursting with fruity flavour.

Raw Cranberry and Nut Energy Bars

The instructions in this recipe were updated in 2019 to make the method a little clearer

I make no bones about it, these energy bars have been shamelessly ripped from the Nakd bar. I was completely reliant on Nakd bars when I worked as a TV Producer. I was either too busy to have breakfast so I grabbed one of these, maybe I had edits that ran over lunch so I kept going by pulling one of these out of my bag, or I was working late which meant that dinner was pushed until I got home at some heinous hour and my Nakd bars would once again save the day. I always had heaps of them crammed into my desk drawer, handbag and coat pockets.

Raw Cranberry and Nut Energy Bars

Since I’ve been working from home, I haven’t found the need to rely so much on shop bought snacks, there is usually cake around or I’m recipe testing so I can munch on a bit of whatever I’m cooking or baking. Can you tell I was a bit more diet conscious when I wasn’t slouching around in tracky bums, baggy t-shirts and slippers all day.

Well, I’m upping the health factor in my life at the moment, making sure I achieve my 5-a-day, consume my 700mg of calcium and perhaps not rely on chocolate to fill the spare five minutes I have whilst waiting for the kettle to boil. With healthy eating comes healthy snacking so although I won’t rely on these bars like I used to it’s incredibly handy having something in that I can have if I need a sugar or protein hit. If I’m going for a long walk with Billy Buddy then I find that one of these is absolutely perfect for my dipping energy if I’m getting pulled around by an excitable little dog.

Raw Cranberry and Nut Energy Bars

Having exhausted all the flavours of Nakd bars during my obsession with them I always wanted to give them a go myself, after all there is only about four ingredients listed on the back of the packets. I should have carved out time to do this years ago, as they were one of the easiest things to prepare. If you own a food mixer then that’s all you need to whizz up the ingredients before you press into a tin, refrigerate and then cut into bars.

When I set about making these I didn’t have any particular plan in mind other than I wanted to use up some of my dried cranberries; I severely overestimated how many I would need over Christmas and my larder is overrun with them. I love cranberry and macadamia together and then found buried in the back the remains of a packet of macadamias which hadn’t gone out of date yet – score! There weren’t quite enough nuts so I amped up the quantity by substituting almonds. I also added dates which are the main ingredient in any Nakd bar to bind the bars together, I used plump sticky medjool dates to add juiciness and deeper flavour. There are more dates than cranberries in this recipe but the dates add the background note whilst the overriding zingy flavour is of the cranberries. I couldn’t resist adding a tablespoon of freeze dried raspberry powder either for more berry flavour.

Raw Cranberry and Nut Energy Bars

They worked out better than expected. The raspberry powder lifts the whole bar so it tastes fresher somehow. You can get raspberry powder from Father Christmas when he puts it in your stocking to open on Christmas morning or if you weren’t quite as lucky as I was then it’s easy enough to buy online.

These bars should keep for about a week in the fridge but you could also double the quantity I’ve suggested here and stick them in the freezer so you have lots to keep you going. I made mine in a smaller quantity of eight so I can move onto another flavour when these are done.

Raw Cranberry and Nut Energy Bars

Raw Cranberry and Nut Energy Bars

Raw Cranberry and Nut Energy Bars are vegan, gluten-free and sugar-free. Full of protein and bursting with fruity flavour.
Prep Time10 mins
Total Time2 hrs 10 mins
Course: Snack
Cuisine: British
Servings: 8 bars
Calories: 195

Ingredients

  • 180 g medjool dates pitted
  • 75 g dried cranberries
  • 75 g macadamia nuts
  • 50 g blanched almonds
  • 1 tablespoon freeze dried raspberry powder

Instructions

  • Line and grease a 5 x 5 x 3 inch* square baking tin with two long pieces of baking parchment so they cross in the middle and come up and over the sides of the tin.
  • Place all the ingredients in a food processor and combine for 3-5 minutes until all the components have broken down and come together into a sticky ball.
  • Tip the mixture into the baking tin, press down on top so the surface is even.
  • Place in the fridge for a couple of hours to firm up then carefully remove from the tin, using the long ends of the baking parchment as leverage and cut into 12 bars.
  • Store the bars in the fridge in between snacking for about a week.

Notes

*I originally used a different baking tin for the bars made in the photos. This tin will make slightly wider shaped bars.

Nutrition

Calories: 195kcal | Carbohydrates: 27g | Protein: 2g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 2mg | Potassium: 232mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 22g | Vitamin A: 35IU | Vitamin C: 0.1mg | Calcium: 37mg | Iron: 0.8mg

SHOP THE RECIPE

The raspberry powder I used in this recipe was Freeze Dried Raspberry Powder 150g. It’s a lovely product and I find freeze-dried raspberry powder useful in so many recipes, from buttercreams to sponge cakes and also in homemade beauty products like lip balm – basically anytime I need a hit of raspberry without using fresh fruit which isn’t always appropriate.

I would be nowhere without my Magimix 4200XL Food Processor – Satin. I have easily had it over ten years and I use it nearly every day for whipping up dips, pestos, nut butters, nut and oat flour and making my breadcrumbs. The Magixmix is an impressive piece of kit which even survived being dropped when we moved into our house (although it did have to have the motor replaced but that wasn’t too expensive). I put all the attachments in the dishwasher and they come out brilliantly clean but it also gives just great results. I love my Magimix and along with my Kitchenaid is the piece of equipment I use most often in my kitchen.

This post is not sponsored but the images above are affiliate links which means if you decide you want to use these link to make your purchases then Amazon gives me a small commission at no cost to you whatsoever. I will only recommend products I use in my kitchen and love. To learn more about how the data processing works when using these Amazon affiliate links then please visit my privacy policy page.

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