2

I've been experimenting with almond flour for baking bread because I have a hard time digesting starches. I've progressed to the point where my bread made from 50:50 (almond:wheat flours) is almost indistinguishable from 100% wheat flour. That's a big win for me.

Almond Meal is not Almond Flour

The problem is that I have yet to find anyone actually selling actual almond flour. Most vendors only sell almond meal even though they like to call it "almond flour". Some vendors sell "fine ground almond flour" which is still just fine ground almond meal (I'm lookin' at you Bob's Red Mill). Semantics aside, I have found that the fat content of almond products I can buy is too high and the texture too gritty to make good bread dough.

Making Almond Flour from Almond Meal

I've had great success separating the oily and gritty parts of almond meal from the almond flour. With the right pitch of sieve you end up with surprisingly smooth and dry flour and a yield of between 65% and 80%.

I'm fine with the yield. The sifting process, however, is terribly slow. Making 50 grams of flour with a plain-old dome-shaped sieve takes about 5 minutes of labour. That's just too time consuming to become a regular part of my meals.

Is there a better way?

  1. Is there a method or device that will separate more flour from almond meal with less manual labour?

  2. Is there some source of actual almond flour hidden away by food distributors somewhere?


Note: I am perfectly tolerant of gluten. I am also tolerant to minimal amounts of starches over time. Please keep that in mind if you are inclined to suggest alternative strategies.

3

Any good hardware store will sell screen in a variety of mesh sizes. Pick one out that matches your dome-sieve, and buy a couple square feet. Make a wooden frame with say six inch sides, and tack the screen solidly to the bottom. Sieve into a clean dishpan. Your sifting rate will increase substantially over what you're getting now.

For really fine flour, head to the fabric store, or buy a pair of nylons, and frame as I've already described.

  • For the really-fine option you could try a nut milk bag or something similar. More expensive than a DIY option but probably more durable. – logophobe Nov 6 '15 at 14:13
1

The main differences between almond meal and almond flour are that almond meal is generally more coarsely ground and more likely be made from the whole almond with its skin (the brown flecks you see in the meal), while almond flour is almost always made from blanched almonds and is ground more finely. Both contain the whole almond (except the flour will never contain the skin), so both should have pretty much the same oil level. There's a limit to how finely you can grind the almonds before they release all their oil and turn into paste/butter, so I don't think you will find almond flours that are as fine as the finer wheat flours.

The coarse grind of almond meal and the almond skin contributes to the grittiness. I don't think it would affect the fat content, though, unless the oil that is released tends to be absorbed in the skins and come out with them when you sift.

Have you considered making your own almond flour? If you grind your own you can control how finely you grind it, although if you grind it too much you will end up with an oily paste (almond butter, essentially), so this is definitely something that takes some attention and care. You may need to sift it partway through and continue grinding only the parts that are still too coarse.

BTW, the Bob's Red Mill brand claims their "almond meal/flour" is from blanched almonds and "finely ground", so technically I do think it qualifies as almond flour, at least by the definitions I have found. Perhaps you could simply dry-grind it further to get it to a consistency that works for you. Sift with a regular sieve (your current process), then grind the part that gets held back, repeat.

King Arthur Flour also sells an "almond flour" that is from blanched almonds and "very finely ground". It's been a while since I used it, but I think it is actually finer than the bob's mill, but also pricier and not as easy to find in stores, so shipping makes it pricier. (It looks like they offer a toasted almond flour, too, now, but of course that's not the same thing.)

I've also seen almond flour at some Indian markets, but that would vary in texture from store to store (they were pretty much bulk-packaged things, non-branded).

As a non-almond alternative, you might try coconut flour, or perhaps mixing it in with your almond flour. The ones I've tried do have a bit of a toasted-coconut flavor but I think at a 50-50 ratio it should be reasonably masked by the wheat. The texture is dryer and I don't find it to be gritty. (It does absorb a lot of liquid, though.) I believe it is lower in starch than almond flour.

  • 1
    also, you could try mixing the almond meal/flour with the wheat flour and then grinding it. I'm not sure if it will help or hinder, so I'm leaving it out of the answer; perhaps someone else knows for sure. My theory is that the wheat would pick up the oil that is released and help to prevent forming a paste, but my worry is that it might just make the paste form more quickly. – NadjaCS Nov 5 '15 at 21:57
  • 1
    "Sift with a regular sieve (your current process), then grind the part that gets held back, repeat." Have you tried this? When I do that the part that is left back gets progressively oilier. It looks very much like the oily bits stick together and don't go through the sieve. Sifting really seems to separate the oil from whatever the other stuff is. – alx9r Nov 5 '15 at 22:06
  • 2
    I've experimented quite a bit with Coconut flour, with pretty poor results. Coconout flour has a strong flavour compared with almond flour. Coconut flour absorbs and re-releases water in an unpredicable manner. Gluten doesn't seem to bind to coconut flour. As you increase the proportion of coconut flour above about 20% the dough gets strongly flavored, crumbly, and with unmanageable moisture. The water re-release part is totally bizarre. I've walked away from a nice looking ball of dough in the mixer and found it a sloppy wet mess minutes later. Coconut flour is a total troll. – alx9r Nov 5 '15 at 22:17
  • I do this when I'm making nut meal from whole nuts. I don't work with more than about a cup of nuts at a time and work in batches if I need more than that. Work with a small amount and pulse in the food processor, sift, pulse the larger parts that get caught. But yes, it will get oily if you over-process. – NadjaCS Nov 5 '15 at 22:18
  • I mix coconut, chickpea and rice flours when I'm baking for gluten-intolerant folks at my SF office. Xanthan gum helps with the texture a lot. I would have suggested chickpea flour but I think its starch level might be higher than wheat flour. It's nice and smooth, though. ;-) I wouldn't recommend rice flour on its own even if it weren't high starch. It's quite gritty. – NadjaCS Nov 5 '15 at 22:20
-1

Buy the almond flour from Safeway goes through my sift like confectioners' sugar. I do this thing where I keep my almond flour in the freezer; i feel like it prevents the almonds from turning into an oily paste if you need to keep processing it because of the bigger chunks.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.