Making low-carb bread is actually easier than making traditional bread with wheat and yeast. (There are many benefits to avoiding wheat – carb content is just one of the reasons.)
I wish I could also tell you that it will be just as nice, but unfortunately, I can’t do that. Texture will be different – you won’t be able to recreate the white fluffiness of a baguette. Having said that, low-carb bread can be quite nice in its own way. You can certainly use it for toasting, sandwiches and all those other times when you need to feel the void left by the absence of wheat-based bread.
We cannot use any of the traditional grains-based flours, as they are all high in carbs. The solution is to use nut and seed-based flours. They work surprisingly well (and don’t actually taste of nuts).
The most common types are almond, coconut and hazelnut flours, but you can use pretty much any nuts or seeds. You can buy them already ground, or just buy the nuts and grind them yourself at home in a food processor. Flaxseed is another common ingredient. Nuts are obviously more expensive that grains, but you can save a lot of money if you buy them online in bulk (rather than those tiny packets from supermarkets).
As with traditional bread-making, you need to add some moisture to the mixture. All the traditional ingredients work equally well with nut flours – eggs, butter, vegetable oils, milk and cream. Bread recipes will provide a guideline amount you need to include, but there can be a lot of variance depending on how dry your nut flour is (it tends to dry out as it gets older), and how moist are other ingredients. So sometimes you might need to experiment with recipes to establish the correct amount of wet ingredients.
Leavening and thickening agents
Baking powder tends to work better than baking soda in most low-carb bread recipes. You can buy it in most shops or make your own by mixing 2 parts cream tartar with 1 part baking soda.
Xanthan gum or guar gum can be added to gluten-free recipes to thicken and stabilise the mixture. You don’t have to add them, but they do help to make the bread less crumbly.
Where to buy low-carb baking supplies
We now stock some popular low-carb baking supplies in our online shop (delivering to UK and EU). You can also buy similar products in health food shops. Some mainstream supermarkets are also beginning to stock gluten-free and low-carb supplies.
There are lots of other ingredients you can add to your bread to make it a bit more fun. Vegetables work well – try cauliflower and courgettes – but please note these do add extra moisture to the mix, so adjust your dry/wet ingredients accordingly. You can add whole seeds and nuts – for example, sunflower, pumpkin, sesame seeds, pistachio and pine nuts. Chopped bacon and cheese also work well. Don’t be afraid to experiment!
Basic low-carb bread recipe
Here’s a basic recipe for almond-flour low-carb bread – try adding other ingredients as described above to make it more interesting.
- 2 cups of almond flour
- 1/2 cup of ground flaxseeds
- ¼ cup of sunflower seeds
- 4 large eggs
- 2 tbsp olive oil (or other vegetable oil)
- 2 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp xantham gum (optional)
- ½ tsp salt
- Combine all dry ingredients and mix well
- Lightly beat the eggs and mix with oil
- Combine dry and wet ingredients
- Spoon the mixture into a greased loaf tin
- Bake at 190C/375F/Gas Mark 5 for about 45 minutes (or until toothpick comes out clean)
Assuming 10 slices are made from the amounts above, per slice:
211 cals, 2g net carbs, 18g fat, 10g protein
Low-carb bread mix
Although it is always better to bake your own bread from scratch, not everyone has the time – or energy – to do this. Some companies produce ready-made low-carb bread mixes. Be very careful when choosing such products – make sure the manufacturing company is reputable, and check the list of ingredients to ensure low-carb claims are not exaggerated.
In Europe, we recommend Sukrin brand – a well-known company offering a range of low-carb products, including low-carb bread and low-carb cake mixes.
If your diet phase does not allow nuts
If you have just started Akins or Dukan, you won’t be able to have any nuts in the first phase. Flax is allowed on Atkins Induction, so you can bake bread using just flax. Another famous induction recipe is cream cheese oopsie rolls. On Dukan Attack, your best bet is using your oat bran to make pancakes or galettes, and use those instead of bread.
If you are planning to do more low-carb baking, check out this excellent primer on baking with almond flour at All Day I Dream About Food blog
I also recommend “The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking” cookbook by Peter Reinhart:
Read my review of the book | Buy this book on Amazon (UK) | Buy this book on Amazon (US)