Baking with almond flour: try a little tenderness

Almond flour: it’s one of the newest darlings in foodie world, appearing in everything from Paleo chicken parmesan to classic/retro Wedding Cookies. Chances are, if you’re a dedicated baker, you’ve purchased almond flour — or are considering it. So let’s take a look at the various ways baking with almond flour is different than baking with all-purpose flour — and exactly which types of baked treats really shine with almond flour.

Almond flour yields tender treats — learn how and when to use it in your baking. Click To Tweet

Like any nut, almonds are high in fat; and fat helps make baked treats moist and tender. This can be a good thing: think pancakes. Or not: think crusty artisan bread, whose texture veers towards chewy rather than tender.

Once you’ve decided if added tenderness is your goal, here are some rules of the road, gleaned over many hours of test baking:

  • For yeast dough of all kinds (bread, rolls, pizza), add up to 1/3 cup almond flour per cup of wheat flour (all-purpose, bread, whole wheat, etc.)
  • For non-yeast treats (cookies, scones, cake, biscuits, muffins, etc.), substitute almond flour for 1/4 (25%) of the flour in the recipe.

Note: Feel free to substitute by either weight or volume; the guidelines above work either way. Substituting by weight will add a greater volume of almond flour to your recipe, since almond flour weighs less per cup (3 3/8 ounces) than all-purpose flour (4 1/4 ounces) or whole wheat flour (4 ounces).

Ready to start baking with almond flour? Let’s look at a variety of recipes and see how this works out.

Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

Simply Perfect Pancakes

Looking for a “basic is beautiful” pancake recipe? Simply Perfect Pancakes — made from just eggs, milk, butter, flour, baking powder, sugar, and salt — fit the bill.

Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

The recipe calls for 1 1/2 cups of King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour, so I use 3/8 cup (6 tablespoons) almond flour (25% of 1 1/2 cups), and 1 1/8 cups all-purpose.

That’s the standard recipe pancake on the left, the almond flour pancake on the right. No difference in spread or browning.Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

Almond flour pancake on top, standard recipe below. The almond flour pancake rose a tiny bit more. Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

Tasting notes

I find the almond flour pancakes slightly richer tasting, and noticeably more tender than the standard pancakes. In fact pancakes, whose chief attributes are moistness and tenderness, are the perfect candidate for almond flour.

Bonus for gluten-free bakers: almond flour is the chief ingredient in our superb gluten-free Almond Flour Pancakes.

Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Are chocolate chip cookies the most-baked recipe ever — or does it just feel that way? Everyone bakes this iconic cookie at some point. My favorite recipe (the cookies pictured above) includes both brown and white sugar, plus an over-the-top amount of chips.

Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

Sue Gray, my King Arthur Flour test kitchen buddy for the past 20+ years, is one of the savviest baking scientists I know. She recently said she’d like to experiment with 100% almond flour chocolate chip cookies.

Sue, this one’s for you.

Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

Tasting notes

At left, the standard recipe (A); in the center, the standard with a 25% almond flour substitution (B); at right, 100% almond flour chocolate chip cookies (C).

Cookie A and cookie B are very similar; cookie B is marginally less crisp, and some of the batch spread a bit more. But I’d enjoy either one without hesitation.

Cookie C, the 100% almond flour cookie, spreads like cold butter on a hot skillet, yielding cookies a mere 1/8″ thick. With chocolate chips swimming in a “puddle” of cookie, these aren’t the most attractive treat — and they’re very fragile. But flavor? Delicious!

Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

Doughnut Muffins

I’ve loved these tender, high-rising muffins since forever. With their strong nutmeg/cinnamon flavor, they taste like nothing so much as a hot-from-the-fryer cake doughnut.

Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

The almond flour version, at right, shows the graininess of ground nuts in a somewhat darker-colored batter.

Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

Once baked, the almond flour muffins definitely show more browning, the result of their extra fat from the almonds. Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

Tasting notes

Equally tender right out of the oven, the 25% almond flour muffins have greater staying power: they remain soft and moist after 3 days, while the standard muffins start to dry out.

The almond flour muffins also have slightly richer flavor — one tester said they tasted “buttery.”

I’m starting to see a trend here that will continue through several other recipes: a muffin made with almond flour doesn’t rise as high as its all-purpose flour counterpart.

Which makes sense: Gluten is the protein-based structural element in all-purpose flour that allows baked goods to rise. Replacing all-purpose with almond flour eliminates some of this structure.

Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

Hot Milk Cake

Best yellow cake of all time? My vote goes to hot milk cake, an old-fashioned, butter-rich cake with medium-fine grain, superior moistness, and wonderful flavor. Our version comes courtesy of Chef Zeb Stevenson of Atlanta’s Watershed on Peachtree restaurant.

Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

I wonder, will the 25% almond flour cake brown more than the all-purpose flour cake?

Perhaps very, very slightly (that’s the almond flour cake at right), but not significantly.

Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

Tasting notes

Like the Doughnut Muffins, the 25% almond flour cake is slightly more moist and a bit more tender than the standard cake. Where a fork slides through the almond flour cake like a hot knife through butter, the standard cake shows just the tiniest bit of springy resistance.

As you can see, the almond flour cake also rises slightly less — continuing the trend started with the Doughnut Muffins.

Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

Scones

Great Britain’s classic teatime treat has transitioned to America with all kinds of fanciful mix-ins, from dried cranberries and diced apricots to toasted pecans and chocolate chips. And let’s not forget the sugar or glaze on top!

Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

Scone dough made with 25% almond flour (right) is noticeably softer than standard scone dough. While shapeable, it’s sticky and very soft.

Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

Tasting notes

Almond-flour scones are, not surprisingly, all of the following:

• More tender
• More richly flavored
• Lower-rising

I find the almond flour scones almost too tender and moist; a traditional scone is somewhat dry and a bit crumbly, perfect with clotted cream or butter. Adding a topping to these rich almond flour scones feels like overkill.

Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

Baking Powder Biscuits

Biscuits: a point of pride for Southern bakers, baking a tender biscuit can prove quite a challenge for many of us. This particular biscuit recipe produces reliably tender, high-rising biscuits — even for us biscuit beginners!

Biscuit dough made with 100% all-purpose flour (left) is the texture of mildly firm clay: it’s easy to handle, and molds nicely.

Biscuit dough made with 25% almond flour is noticeably softer and stickier.

Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

While both doughs are easy to pat into a round, the almond flour biscuits require dipping the cutter in flour before each cut, to avoid sticking.Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

Reversing a previous trend, almond flour biscuits (on the right) don’t bake up any browner than standard biscuits. This is most likely because both versions are already high in fat, minimizing the effect almond flour’s extra fat has on browning.

Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

Almond flour biscuits do, however, spread more/rise less.

Light-bulb moment: almond flour biscuits, with their greater surface area/lower rise, would make delightful shortcakes.

Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

Tasting notes

Almond flour’s rich flavor is even more apparent in a plain baked good like biscuits: almond flour biscuits (above, right) have a touch of sweetness and rich nuttiness that standard biscuits don’t exhibit.

Standard biscuits, though, are more sturdy, and thus more suited to sandwiches or sliders. The standard biscuit (above, left) easily breaks into two halves around the equator; while trying to break an almond flour biscuit in half results in some major crumbling. If you’re making shortcake from almond-flour biscuits, you’ll want to cut (rather than break) them apart.

Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

Golden Pull-Apart Butter Buns

Everyone has a favorite soft dinner roll recipe; this is mine. In this era of trendy artisan breads, “squishy white rolls” definitely still have their place at my table.

Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

Since this is a yeast recipe, the rules have changed: instead of substituting almond flour for all-purpose (and negatively affecting rise), I’m going to add 1/3 cup almond flour for each cup of all-purpose flour in the recipe.

The recipe calls for 3 1/2 cups of AP flour, so I add 1 cup + 2 1/2 tablespoons almond flour, in addition to the AP.

Upon completion, the rolls including almond flour have a slightly speckled appearance. Their rise is about equal, but they’re a bit more tender, with somewhat extended shelf life.

Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

Tasting notes

Soft, tender, moist… check, check, check. Both versions of this recipe produce a successful roll, with the almond flour roll (cut open, in the center) marginally more tender, with more nuanced flavor.

Again, almond flour extends shelf life; after a couple of days in the bread box, the almond flour rolls remain a bit moister.

Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

100% Whole Wheat Sandwich Bread

Many bakers’ first foray into whole wheat baking is 100% whole wheat sandwich bread — arguably one of the most challenging tests to which you can put a whole grain! This recipe, however, produces a fine-textured, fairly moist loaf with good flavor — and without a lot of effort.

I’m wondering what the addition of almond flour to a whole wheat recipe will do. Whole wheat flour, which includes oily wheat germ, is already fairly high-fat; will the fat in almond flour push this loaf over the top?

Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

My almond flour loaf definitely starts with an odd-textured dough. It’s somewhat clay-like, not exhibiting the elasticity of dough made completely from whole wheat flour. See the rather lumpy texture of the shaped almond flour loaf?Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

Tasting notes

Despite its “obstinate” feel, the loaf made with almond flour rises noticeably higher than the standard loaf. Does the extra fat “grease” the gluten (or increase moisture), loosening up the dough and allowing it to rise more easily? I’ll have to do more research on this.

The texture of the almond flour bread is more tender and cake-like, compared to the slightly chewy whole wheat loaf. In addition, the loaf with almond flour is a touch sweeter.

Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

No-Knead Crusty White Bread

Our 2016 Recipe of the Year is the beginner’s way to crusty artisan bread. With no kneading required — a rest in the fridge develops the dough just fine — this is the easiest introduction to yeast bread you’ll ever enjoy.

Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

A = almond: and though you can’t see it, my almond flour loaf has risen higher than the loaf made with all-purpose flour. Both loaves are ready to pop into the oven.

Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

Check out the slashes: once baked, the almond flour loaf (right) has expanded just slightly less than the loaf made with all-purpose flour.

Baking with Almond Flour via @kingarthurflour

Tasting notes

You can see the added expansion of the standard loaf (left), as evidenced in its more open crumb. What you can’t see is its chewiness: the standard loaf has some real bite. The almond flour loaf is more tender, breaking apart in your mouth without much resistance. As far as flavor, the standard loaf has more tang, more yeasty character.

In this recipe, I’d stick with the original 100% all-purpose flour version. Almond flour’s chief strength (tenderness) simply isn’t a good fit in this crusty/chewy bread.

In addition, the oil in the almond flour deteriorates over the course of the dough’s long, cool fermentation in the fridge, lending any bread made after about the third or fourth day odd-tasting.

Baking with almond flour: conclusions

Let’s summarize what we’ve learned here, shall we?

  • When you replace some of the all-purpose flour with almond flour in non-yeast recipes, you’ll probably notice a difference in how your baked goods either rise, or spread. Cookies and scones may spread more; cake, biscuits, and muffins may rise less.
  • When you add almond flour to yeast-based recipes, bread or rolls will be moister and more tender — good if you’re talking soft dinner rolls, not so good for crusty/chewy breads or pizza crust. Rise may or may not be affected. Note: The addition of almond flour won’t necessitate a change in pan size.
  • Almond flour adds flavor in the form of very mild sweetness (not enough to negatively affect savory recipes), and a certain richness.
  • Baking with almond flour extends the shelf life of baked goods by adding fat, which helps retain moisture.

Baking with almond flour: we’re not done yet

Stay tuned for more posts focusing on baking with almond flour — including when to add almond flour vs. substituting it; and what treats thrive on a 100% almond flour substitution (making them gluten free in the process).

What have you learned from baking with almond flour? What are your favorite almond flour recipes? Please tell us in comments, below.

PJ Hamel
About

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!

comments

  1. Geei

    I’m curious about amount of carbs added to breads when using the Multipurpose flour containiNguyen rice and wouldn’t that cause glucose to rise.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi there, Geei. We’re happy to provide the nutritional information of our products and most of our recipes. To view the ingredients and nutritional facts about a product, click on the “Nutrition and Ingredients” link below the Add to Cart button on the product page. When viewing a recipe of ours, scroll down to the Ingredients section. On the right-hand side you’ll see a box titled “At A Glance,” at the bottom of which will often be an orange link that will display the nutrition information for the recipe. If the recipe you’re interested in doesn’t have nutrition information available at this time, a resource you might consider exploring is free nutrition analysis calculators, which are made available online for general, non-medical use. Two such calculators we like are this one from Spark Recipes, and this one from Verywell. We hope this helps you find the nutritional information you’re looking for. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

  2. Trish Parnell

    Hi, do you find when baking with Almond meal (Almond flour) that you require more eggs in the recipe.
    I make a delicious lemon and almond cake, no standard flour at all, but it calls for 6 eggs..

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi Trish. Most recipes using only almond flour do call for a fair amount of eggs, yes. Mainly because the almond flour gives zero structure so it needs the protein from the eggs to give your baked goods some strength. For example, our Strawberry Almond Flour Cake calls for four eggs. Annabelle@KAF

  3. T Innes

    Have you tried baking with any other nut flours? Hazelnut? Brazilnut? would love to see how those turned out!

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hi T! We haven’t tried using other nut flours, but we encourage you to experiment because it sounds like you could make some very tasty things. It might take trial and error replacing almond flour with other nut flours because different nuts absorb varying amounts of moisture. It would help if you were to make the recipe once as written so you know what to look for, then experiment with different nut flours. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

  4. J. Adams

    How about cooking with 100% almond flour? I have eliminated most grains (flours & starches) and looking for almond flour baking recipes. I have made a few attempts at ‘bread’ but it has turned out very dense (pound cake dense). I found this post thinking I need to try adding yeast to my recipes.
    You definitely have the experimentation and knowledge to know how different ingredients affect the finished product. Curious for your thoughts.
    Thanks. Enjoying the blog posts.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Baking recipes with 100% almond flour can be tricky because it’s naturally gluten-free, meaning it doesn’t have the proteins that give support to dough or batter. That being said, we do have a few recipes that only use almond flour that you might want to consider. Check out this selection of recipes that includes crackers, brownies, pizza crust, cookies, and even pancakes. If you’re looking to make gluten-free bread, then we recommend using a recipe like this one for best results. Happy GF baking! Kye@KAF

  5. Ramona Weber

    Is there any possible way to completely replace the ap flour with almond flour in yeast dough? I have a sweet yeast dough braid recipe (Easter bread) that I’d like to bake, but I’m following a ketogenic diet and can’t have all the carbs from the wheat flour. Any advice?

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Great question, Ramona. You can easily replace 1/3 of the flour in your Easter Bread recipe with almond flour. Anymore than that, and you’ll want to find a bread recipe that’s specifically calling for only almond flour, like this one from Allrecipes, for the best results. Happy baking! Annabelle@KAF

  6. Kari White

    I have been trying to bake with almond flour but it seems everything is very dry yet from everything I am reading it should be moist because of the higher fat content. Any ideas why? I am wondering if I am over cooking but I am following the directions.

    Reply
    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hmm we’d love to be able to chat through a couple of the recipes you’ve tried, Kari. We encourage you to reach out to our friendly Baker’s Hotline staff to help troubleshoot at 855-371-BAKE (2253). Annabelle@KAF

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