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Keto Baking Basics
Bread, muffins, cookies, pies, cakes, brownies. An endless list of sweet carb-rich foods has invaded the Standard American Diet.
While some keto dieters mourn the loss of their favorite carb-loaded foods, others have taken up the challenge of baking without all the sugar and refined flour.
If you’re new to keto baking, don’t worry! I’m here to help you with these Keto Baking Basics prepare for the delicious world of keto-friendly baked goods.
Please let it be known that I don NOT eat keto sweets every day. However, I find that having these low carb alternatives have helped me maintain my weight loss.
The Problem with Refined White Flour
The history of refined white flour began with the industrial revolution with the invention of the roller mill in the late 19th century.
In an effort to make flour production faster and more efficient, millers began removing the bran and germ from wheat. This process created a flour that was whiter, finer, and more consistent.
However, it also removed most of the nutrients and fiber. Bakers realized that bran interfered with the rising of bread and by removing it they could create lighter, fluffier bread.
Manufacturers were happy since the absence of wheat germ (and its associated oil) meant less spoilage giving the product much longer shelf life.
White flour is bleached and chemically aged. Since all of its goodness has been removed in the processing of the grain, manufacturers need to re-add nutrients.
That’s why the label on a standard loaf in the grocery store states that it is “enriched” followed by a long list of ingredients.
Research shows that refined flour consumption results in metabolic syndrome by elevating blood sugar and insulin levels. It also inhibits the consumption of nutritious meals.
There are plenty of keto-friendly flours and you may be overwhelmed by the choices. Different low-carb flour alternatives have different behaviors.
So, if you’re attempting to translate a white flour recipe into a keto recipe, then you’ll need to pick the one that’s most effective for the baked goods you’re making.
Almond flour is the most readily available and simple to work with of all low-carb flour. It’s a popular low-carb baking alternative, and it’s what I typically use in my recipes.
Keep in mind that switching out almond flour for wheat flour does not result in an exact 1:1 ratio. The reason is that almond flour is ground from nuts that are gluten-free, high in fat, and water content compared to white flour.
In addition, because wheat flour is more finely ground and drier than almond flour, it will produce a finer and more durable dough.
If that wasn’t enough, almond flour is significantly lighter in weight than wheat flour.
Coconut flour is made from the dried and ground flesh of coconuts. It is high in fiber, low-carb, and gluten-free.
Coconut flour absorbs a great deal of moisture, so it’s important to keep in mind that the proportions will be different than most other flours.
You may have to experiment to find the right formula but coconut flour is particularly useful for people who have tree nut allergies.
It is a great source of dietary fiber and has been shown to improve blood sugar control and lower cholesterol levels. Oat fiber is also gluten-free with zero carbs.
It is important to note that oat fiber is not suitable alone and not a 1:1 ratio to regular flour. Oat fiber is a binding agent and requires another flour to work.
I recommend combining oat fiber with almond flour. It’s a fantastic keto choice but it must be part of a flour combination. I use it in my Fat Head Dough that’s a base for pizza, danishes, cinnamon rolls, and stromboli.
Golden Flax Meal
Golden flax meal is made from whole flaxseeds and is the most fiber-rich of all low-carb flour alternatives. Packaged golden flax meal is available at the store or you can make your own by grinding in a coffee grinder or blender.
Be sure to buy golden flax meal as opposed to regular flax meal since the latter is inclined to have a gluey character in baking.
Like coconut flour, golden flax meal absorbs a lot of moisture so it’s important to use less than other flours.
Hazelnut flour is made from ground hazelnuts. It’s a great low-carb, gluten-free flour that has a strong nutty flavor. Hazelnut flour is high in monounsaturated fats and vitamin E.
It can be more expensive than almond flour but it’s an excellent alternative, although I rarely use it as a Keto Baking Basic.
Hang on to your hat, because keto sweeteners are a little complicated.
FIRST….ALWAYS CHECK THE INGREDIENT LABEL OF WHAT YOU ARE USING.
Please note that the food manufacturers are constantly rebranding their keto sweeteners. Also, the nutrition labels are having some growing pains and they are not always as clear as using regular sugar.
Manufacturers will mix keto sweeteners to improve your baking experience. So it’s important to know what exactly is in the bag of keto sweetener before you use it.
Regular sugar is used in traditional baking but it’s taboo on a keto diet. Fortunately, there are a variety of great sugar substitutes, sugar alcohols, and sweet extracts in Keto Baking Basics to get the sweetness into your cookies or a low carb cake.
You can still have a sugary taste without adding calories, carbs, or spiking your insulin.
I will try to come back and revise this post often because there are so many options of keto sweeteners and brands of sweeteners emerging on to the market…and they all work a little differently.
This keto sweetener is a zero-carb, zero-calorie sweetener EXTRACT that tastes just like sugar, but does not have the bulk of sugar.
Monk fruit is an extract, so only the tiniest amount is needed to equal the sweetness of sugar. It is a natural sweetener extracted from the luo han guo fruit.
Monk Fruit is about 200 times sweeter than sugar so you only need a tiny amount to get the desired sweetness. Therefore, you just the tiniest amount of Monk Fruit to equal that same amount of sweetness.
This plant extract has no calories or carbs and does not affect blood sugar levels. It does have a bit of a bitter aftertaste.
You can purchase 100% stevia in powder or liquid form and is readily available at most supermarkets or online. Again…CHECK THE INGREDIENT LABEL.
Since stevia is an extract, many manufacturers with blend it with a sugar alcohol to add bulk and give the pre-bake texture similar to real sugar.
Erythritol is a naturally-occurring sugar alcohol that is found in small amounts in some fruits and fermented foods.
It doesn’t affect blood sugar and has a zero glycemic index. Erythritol has the bulk and texture (pre-baking) to regular sugar.
AGAIN…CHECK THE INGREDIENT LIST ON THE PACKAGING OF WHAT YOU ARE USING.
Erythritol is about 70% as sweet as sugar so you’ll need to use a bit more than other keto sweeteners to get the sweetness of sugar. However, when baking you can do a 1:1 substitution of erythritol for regular sugar.
Erythritol tends to leave a cooling effect in the mouth that some people find offensive. However, this sugar alcohol is well tolerated in digestion…meaning less stomach pain, gas, or diarrhea.
Another keto sweetener is called xylitol. Xylitol is a sugar alcohol that has a very very low glycemic index and works well to maintain a keto diet. This keto sweetener is also a 1:1 substitution for regular sugar and bakes rather nicely.
This sugar alcohol,Xylitol, is almost always used as the sweetener in sugarless gum. This keto sweetener is used in making keto ice cream and it’s a dream sweetener giving the greatest texture when making keto ice creams.
Here’s are the two major downsides of xylitol…#1 it is highly toxic for dogs. If your pets eat products with xylitol it can be fatal. BEWARE when leaving treats out on the counter. #2 Xylitol can cause MAJOR stomach upset and discomfort.
When used in tiny quantities (like a stick of gum) you can probably get away with consuming this sugar alcohol.
If you have more than one serving of a keto treat that is made with xylitol be warned now. Most people (including me) can not tolerate more than one cookie made with xylitol.
Allulose, known as the ‘rare sugar” is a relatively new keto-friendly sweetener. Pricing on Allulose is coming down but can be comparable price-wise with erythritol and the cost of stevia and monk fruit.
It’s about two-thirds as sweet as sugar, therefore most brands of allulose will blend the contents of their product with an extract like stevia or monkfruit.
AGAIN…CHECK THE INGREDIENT LISTED ON THE BACK OF THE PACKAGE.
Allulose contains only .4 calories per gram. Allulose is not broken down like other carbs so it doesn’t affect blood sugar or insulin levels. Net carbs: 0
This keto sweetener usually does not have the stomach upset that some of the other sugar alcohols (xylitol and erythritol) create.
Here’s the thing about baking with this keto sweetener…Allulose does not harden after its baked. It is my first choice when making softer keto sweets like caramel and jam.
Manufacturers are starting to blend Allulose with sugar alcohols and extracts. So I repeat again…CHECK THE INGREDIENT LIST.
Starch and Gluten Substitutes
As part of the Keto Baking Basics let’s look at gluten. Gluten is a binding agent that gives breads, cakes, and other baked goods structure and binds them together. However flours with gluten or starch are usually high in carbs.
When you take gluten out of the ingredient mix, the character of your baked goods won’t be the same as traditional baking. That leads to finding alternatives to restore the texture you’re missing.
Glucomannan is a dietary fiber usually made from the root of the konjac plant. It’s historically been used as food and medicine in Asian cultures.
I have found glucomannan in the health food aisle, as this supplement has been known as a dietary supplement known to aid constipation.
It might also slow the absorption of sugar and cholesterol in the gut, helping to control sugar levels in people with diabetes and reduce cholesterol levels.
When I started using gluccomannan I mostly found it in capsule form to be taken as a vitamin. However, for cokking I needed it in pure powder form. I found it easily on amazon.
As a thickener in Keto Baking Basics, I use roughly 1/4 tsp to 1 cup liquid to help thicken and emulsify a recipe. Use this thickener for soups, casseroles, and baked goods.
Xanthan gum comes from the fermentation of glucose, sucrose, or lactose. It is a polysaccharide (carbohydrate) that is used as a thickener and stabilizer. Use this thickener for soups, casseroles, and baked goods.
A little goes a long way and it’s one of the most popular gluten substitutes.
Psyllium Husk Powder
Psyllium husk powder is made from ground psyllium seeds. It adds great elasticity to low-carb dough so you’ll typically find it in breads, rolls, pizza crusts, and tortillas.
Psyllium fiber is very high in soluble fiber so if you are sensitive to fiber, start with a small amount and work your way up.
Cream cheese is a popular keto binder because it has a high-fat content and a low carb count. It also adds moisture and richness to baked goods.
Whey Protein Isolate
Whey protein isolate is a filtered form of whey protein. It’s typically used in keto baking to create the rise.
Baking powder is a leavening agent that is used in place of yeast. It helps baked goods to rise and gives them a fluffy texture. Be aware that baking powder contains cornstarch and starch contains carbs.
One teaspoon has 2.2g of carbs so it’s not difficult to overdo it.
You’re on Your Way to Perfect Keto Baking
Adapting to keto baking can be challenging. However, with the right substitutes for flour and sugar, you’ll have delicious treats in the oven that will satisfy your old cravings. Experiment, persevere, and you’ll succeed!
Try Keto Chocolate Zucchini Loaf, Keto Chocolate Danish, or Keto Raspberry Scones to get started. My goal is to help you make the transition as smooth as possible by providing recipes and resources galore so no one has an excuse not to try some delicious low-carb creations!
If you’re struggling with a recipe and need help along the way, get in touch with email@example.com. I’m always here to lend a helping hand.
MEDICAL AND NUTRITION DISCLAIMER…Please note that I am not a medical or nutritional professional. I am simply recounting and sharing my own experiences on this blog. Nutritional break downs are done using a commercial nutrition calculator. Nothing I express here should be taken as medical advice and you should consult with your doctorbefore starting any diet or exercise program. I provide nutritional information for my recipes simply as a courtesy to my readers, this should never be construed as medical advice.