Cake

Um, Tiger Nut Flour? Yes, Tiger Nut Flour!

February 27, 2017

Tiger nuts are not nuts. Nor do they have anything to do tigers. Tiger nuts are actually crunchy tubers that taste sweet and nutty.

I bought a bag of tiger nut flour out of curiosity—not because it’s loaded with nutrition, gluten-free, grain-free, nut-free, paleo-friendly, and a resistant starch (prebiotic). I just wondered what the heck it was and whether it would make a delicious cake or cookie.

Tiger nut flour is edible without cooking or baking. You can put it in a smoothie, for example. Based on its edibility right out of the bag, flavor, fat content, and texture, I thought it might behave like a cross between ground nuts and flavorful cracker or cookie crumbs—maybe it could even replace matzoth meal! I decided to find out.

But first I made a genoise—my standard get-acquainted test for new flours—just to experience the flour in a simple cake. Actually I made a rich brown butter genoise, knowing the nutty brown butter would play well with tiger nut’s nutty flavor and that the butter’s richness would enhance the flour’s resemblance to ground nuts in the cake. The result was faintly crunchy and unusual. But I loved it. It had a beautiful speckled golden brown crumb and unique nutty flavor with notes of vanilla, butterscotch, and perhaps even banana. I accidentally under-beat the eggs and sugar, but later learned my mistake gave the cake its nice level (rather than concave) silhouette. With a couple of adjustments, and a toasted pecan variation, I had a rich and sophisticated cake that reminded me of financiers.

Here are a few ways to get started with tiger nut flour:

  • Sables/butter cookies: Replace one quarter of the flour in your recipe with twice the volume of tiger nut flour, or 1.35% of the weight. (Example: Replace 1/2 cup (70 grams) all purpose flour with 1 cup (95g) tiger nut flour.

  • Banana bread: Make banana bread, replacing 1/2 cup (70 grams) all-purpose flour with 3/4 cup (70 grams) tiger nut flour. Reduce sugar to 3/4 cup.

  • Meringues (the dry crunchy type) for cookies or dacquois layers: Fold 1 to 2 tablespoons (6-12 grams) tiger nut flour per egg white into stiff whipped meringue.

  • Chocolate chip cookies: Based on my recipe in Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt in Your Mouth Cookies, replace about 1/3 cup 45 grams) of the flour with 3/4 cup (70 grams) tiger nut flour. Reduce the amount of brown and white sugar each to 2/3 cup. (Next time I plan to replace 1/2 to 2/3 cup of the flour!)

  • Whole-grain chocolate chip cookies: Based on my gluten-free recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies in Flavor Flours, replace 40 grams of oat flour and 40 grams of brown rice flour with a total of 100 grams of tiger nut flour and reduce the amount of white and brown sugar each to 2/3 cup.

  • Crumb Crust for cheesecake or cream pie: Use your favorite graham cracker crust recipe, replacing the graham cracker crumbs with an equal weight of tiger nut flour. If necessary, adjust the amount of butter or tiger nut flour until the mixture feels right—just buttery enough to stick together when you press it. Press in pan and bake until nicely browned.

  • Passover sponge cake: This is a work in progress, but I’m excited about it. I started with a fairly typical Passover sponge (8 separated eggs, 3/4 cup matzoth cake meal, 1/4 cup potato starch, and some orange juice and zest), but substituted 3/4 cup (70 grams) tiger nut flour for the cake meal. Results were almost stellar: exquisitely light and moist and delicious, but a tad too sweet and slightly too moist. Next time I will try 1 cup (92 grams) tiger nut flour and less sugar. I have very high hopes for this one.

Tell us: Have you tried tiger nut flour before?

Alice Medrich is a Berkeley, California-based pastry chef, chocolatier, and cookbook author. You can read more about what she's up to here.

8 Comments

ninastrauss April 10, 2017
i live in barcelona and tiger nuts (chufa) are best known as the main ingredient in horchata. great to know now that it can be used during passover baking.<br />http://culinarybackstreets.com/cities-category/barcelona/2012/horchateria-sirvent/
 
Author Comment
Alice M. May 26, 2017
I was in Barcelona last spring and wish I had thought to taste the real horchata...
 
Martin101 February 28, 2017
Looks tasty, I would add some ginger.
 
Smaug February 27, 2017
Tiger nuts (aka earth almonds) are the tuber of cyperus esculentus, a noxious weed in much of the world. A particular pest in (by a strange coincidence) Berkeley.
 
Author Comment
Alice M. May 26, 2017
I'm slow on the response, but where exactly are they growing in Berkeley? <br />
 
Smaug August 17, 2018
They're a very common lawn weed, but are likely to pop up anywhere. They like wet areas, but are by no means limited to them.
 
daniel J. February 27, 2017
When I started reading this article, I immediatly started thinking of the cookbook that I've been obsessed with lately, Flavor Flours. I was happily surprised to see the by-line on this article was from Alice Medrich, the author of Flavor Flours. I've made many of the recipes form that book, and all have come out great. It's become my favorite gluten-free cookbook - it's got a wealth of information, and goes far beyond the typical GF cookbook methods of making an all-purpose flour blend and using it in everything. It's well written, informative, and the recipes are excellent.<br /><br />I guess I got a bit over-excited about this, but just wanted to say 'thanks!' for putting together such a great cookbook.<br /><br />-Daniel, also in Berkeley
 
Author Comment
Alice M. May 26, 2017
A belated thanks for this kind and over-excited message. I love to hear it. <br />Alice, also over-excited