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Getting Started with Paleo Baking

Flour

Paleo baking can feel like a totally different world – recipes full of ingredients you never knew existed, substitutions for various different special diets, special instructions for managing the moisture content and texture profiles of all the new ingredients…

It is a little bit much at first. So here’s a quick-start guide to what all this stuff is, what it’s for, and how to stock up without breaking the bank.

Paleo treats are treats. They’re meant for special occasions, not for eating every day. If your food log is full of Paleo cookies and Paleo pie and Paleo brownies, then you probably need to pay a little more attention to following the spirit of Paleo.

Special Ingredients (aka What Are All These Weird Flours?)

To substitute for wheat flour and refined sugar, Paleo baking uses a variety of different ingredients. Some flours are made of nuts (e.g. almond or cashew flour); some are made of other things (e.g. coconut, sweet potato, or plantain flour). There’s also a whole array of sweeteners replacing refined sugar: honey and maple syrup are two of the most popular.

The big hurdle to experimenting with these is how expensive they all are. But you can make the cost a lot less painful by buying in waves:

Step 1: Just the Basics

Here’s a list of ingredients that will let you make most kinds of Paleo baking recipes:

You’ll also be using ingredients you already have for non-baking purposes, like eggs, coconut milk, salt, fresh fruit, and raw nuts.

A few simple recipes you can make with these ingredients:

Step 2: Get Fancier

Once you have the basics down, you can start slowly adding to your collection of baking ingredients with all the fun new things. Here are some suggestions:

If you do dairy (not everyone tolerates it), also don’t be shy about playing around with cream, butter, or cheese.

Pick these up one or two at a time as you feel like experimenting with them; it keeps the cost down and helps avoid getting stuck with a bunch of special ingredients you don’t even like and don’t know how to use.

A few recipes that use some fancier ingredients and get a little more complicated:

Tools and Equipment

You don’t need a lot of serious equipment to do Paleo baking. If you already cook, you probably have most of it already – brownie pans, cookie sheets, and all the rest of the typical baking array will work just as well with Paleo ingredients. But there are a few tools that might come in handy:

Tips and Warnings

And now for just a few do’s and don’ts when it comes to working with Paleo ingredients.

Baking is all about the chemistry. There’s a reason why professional bakers get so nit-picky about the weight of their flour: yes, it really does matter! And because everything is so chemically dependent, the rules of thumb you learned for grain-based baking might not apply. In particular…

Once you start experimenting with making recipes on your own, you’ll get a much better feel for what works and what doesn’t – you’ll even start being able to come up with your own creations!