There’s a reason humans have been making bread with wheat flour for more than 10,000 years — it’s easy and delicious. But modern man is not only concerned with simplicity and taste. Some of us have gluten sensitivity, concerns about sustainability, and a baffling desire to eat like a caveman. So modern men are reinventing bread by developing novel types of flour made from a whole host of sources, insects included. Some of these flours depend on the traditional stuff to provide baked goods with the texture you’re used to, while one new breed of flour modifies wheat with mushrooms to remove gluten. Baking just got a lot more complicated.
Coffee flour: Coffee beans aren’t really beans at all. They’re seeds, and when plucked off a plant they’re covered by a pulpy red cherry. Most of the time, that cherry is discarded, resulting in heaps of waste. But Dan Belliveau, a former Starbucks engineer, figured out how to turn coffee’s waste material into flour. Not only is he making use of a waste product, but Belliveau says coffee flour is exceedingly healthy, with three times the protein of fresh kale, five times the fiber of whole-wheat flour, and three times the iron of fresh spinach. The bad news is that coffee flour doesn’t pack much of a punch and still needs to be used with traditional flour — at least if you want “a palatable consistency and texture.”
Mushroom flour: It’s not made with mushrooms, but the flour recently developed by MycoTechnology depends on fungi. The Denver-based company has a process, described on Vice, that uses “mushroom technology” to remove gluten from strains of wheat. In the end, they’re left with wheat that can produce a familiar-tasting flour without the gluten that vexes so many people today.
Nut flours: Cashew, pecan, macadamia, almond — all of these nuts can be purchased in flour form and used as a gluten-free substitute for wheat flour. The flour comes from “the cake that remains after oils are pressed from nuts.” Nut flours are especially popular with those adhering to a Paleo diet, as is coconut flour. Produced from a coconut’s dried meat, the fluffy flour was first produced in the '90s in the Philippines and has since exploded in popularity in the West.
Cricket flour: The benefits of bug eating are well known. They’re high in protein and teeming with healthy amino acids, and they don’t ravage the environment like other protein sources. Getting people to choke down a handful of insects has proven more difficult than convincing them of the benefits though. That’s where cricket flour comes in. When it’s mixed into an energy bar or baked into a cake, cricket flour delivers all the benefits of munching on an insect without the potential of a leg getting stuck between your teeth. It’s worth noting that cricket flour is just ground-up crickets. It won’t replace flour in a cookie recipe. But this proprietary blend of cricket flour, cassava flour, and coconut flour will.
Banana flour: A group of Swedish students tasked with making a banana-based product invented banana flour earlier this year. Their simple process involves chopping a banana, peel and all, drying it out, and milling it into a flour. In addition being gluten free, the flour is sweet, reducing the need for sugar in baked goods. Combine this with coffee flour, and you've got yourself a whole different type of coffee and banana bread. You can even still add chocolate chips.