What is Oat Flour?
Changing trends in the way we eat mean that oat flour is making a comeback. Made by grinding whole oat groats into powder, this gluten-free flour can be purchased pre-ground or made right at home. Oats are full of nutrients like magnesium and zinc, and have other healthy plant compounds that deliver high levels of antioxidants. Since oat flour is gluten-free, it can’t always be used in place of all-purpose flour, but you can substitute it for other gluten-free flours like almond flour. Or, swap it for up to ¼ of the flour in a bread recipe – just make sure to increase the yeast a little to help it rise.
How is Oat Flour Different from Oatmeal?
Oatmeal and oat flour are identical in nutritional makeup and flavor because they’re made from the same initial ingredient: whole oat groats. The main difference between meal and flour, though, is how finely the original ingredient has been ground. Meal is coarser and has more texture, while flour is pure powder. If you put steel cut oats next to oat flour, you’ll be able to see this difference clearly.
How to Bake with Oat Flour
Oat flour can be used in place of other flours in a lot of recipes, but as each flour has its own set of characteristics there are some helpful tips to ensure you get the most out of each. Here’s how to best use oat flour:
In traditional baking, a little oat flour can be useful when kneading whole wheat bread dough. It will prevent sticking, like regular flour does, but unlike regular flour it won’t make the dough hard if you accidentally add too much.
To lighten the texture of notoriously heavy baked goods like zucchini bread and bran muffins, reduce your main flour by 25% and add oat flour in its place. This works whether your primary flour is traditional or gluten-free.
Use oat flour in gluten-free white or yellow cake. Doing so will help you achieve that light, fluffy texture that makes cake so irresistible.
Make oatmeal cookies with some oat flour thrown in. This will increase the chewy, thick texture that makes them so distinctive.
How to Cook Whole Oat Groats
If you have whole oat groats, you have a couple of options on how to use them. First, you can make them into oat flour, with these simple steps:
Put groats into a blender or food processor.
Blend or process until you’ve achieved your desired texture. (You could also make oatmeal this way).
Store the flour in the refrigerator or freezer. The higher fat content of oat flour makes it susceptible to going rancid.
Bring the flour to room temperature before you use it.
The other option is to cook whole oat groats as its own meal. Cooked oat groats can make a lovely rice substitute or, more traditionally, can be eaten as a delicious and nutrient-dense breakfast dish. Here’s how to cook them:
Bring all ingredients to a boil.
Cover the pot.
Turn heat down to a simmer (medium-low) for 50 minutes to an hour.
Remove from heat and allow to cool 10 minutes before serving.
Health Benefits of Oat Flour
Not only is oat flour packed with antioxidants, it also has more protein and fat than most traditional flours, and up to 8g of fiber per half-cup serving. One half-cup serving of oat flour contains:
191% of the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI) of manganese
41% of the RDI of phosphorus
20% of the RDI of zinc
34% of the RDI of magnesium
B-vitamins such as B1, B5, B6, and B3
Given that all this goodness comes in at just 303 calories, oat flour is one of the most nutrient-dense foods you can consume.
Oat Flour Recipes
Below are some recipes that are perfect for oat flour. Some specifically call for oat flour, while others call for almond flour, but substitution shouldn’t be a problem.