CASSAVA FLOUR vs. TAPIOCA FLOUR
Which one is right for you?
Recently, some of my followers have been asking me questions regarding an ingredient that is ever-growing in popularity for gluten-free baking: cassava flour. Now, you might be thinking, since tapioca is sourced from cassava root, that you already know all about what it is and how to use it.
Well, you would be right about the fact that tapioca does come from cassava. But another fact is that they are used differently in gluten-free baking!
To begin, let’s take a look at tapioca. One of the number one asked questions I’ve been asked from all time about regarding tapioca is, “What is the difference between tapioca starch and tapioca flour?” Drum roll please…THEY’RE THE SAME!!!
Yes, that’s right, tapioca starch and tapioca flour are the exact same thing. Just don’t ask me who named them differently or why. Maybe it began as a marketing scheme, or possibly two rival companies trying to differ from one another. It doesn’t really matter though, what matters is knowing when and why you use what we will refer to from now on as tapioca flour.
So how do you use tapioca flour?
Since tapioca flour is a starch, it is best used as a thickener and ideally used along with other gluten-free flours to add a better texture and stability to your baked goods.
How is it sourced, you may ask…
Tapioca flour is created through a process which makes a pulp out of the cassava root. Then the pulp is “washed” and the liquid is dried out from the pulp. You are then left with a beautiful white starch, known as tapioca.
So now we get to answer the question, what is cassava flour?
To begin with, cassava flour is made of the cassava root, which is highly rich in fiber. Baking with cassava flour adds a thicker texture, meaning you’ll need to use less thickening agents than you normally would in gluten-free baking.
Another plus to cassava flour, is the texture it creates. Some gluten-free flours are gritty and grainy, leaving your baked goods with a less-than-desirable texture. Cassava has a soft, powdery texture that helps your gluten-free baked goods to be light and airy, more like the traditional naughty treats that we are used to eating.
An added benefit is the flavor. Unlike a lot of bean flours that are used in gluten-free baking, which can lead to an off-taste if you don’t “over-flavor” you baked goods, cassava has a milder taste which some people might find easier to work with when trying to get the flavor just right.
I can honestly say that I haven’t used it enough as the only flour, to be able to give you my opinion on how it’s best used, in what ratios. I personally prefer to use a blend of flours to achieve the flavor and textures I’m looking for. However, I did want to supply you with some facts about the differences between cassava and tapioca, so now you will be able to make more informed choices about which will be best for you.
Cassava is not a new ingredient in baking! It’s been used for thousands of years and is still used in traditional baking in some south American, European and Asian nations.
What’s another name for cassava that you might know? Yuca!