Thursday, August 29, 2013

La Loca Tapioca

Oh man.

I learn something new everyday.  For sure.

A dear reader submitted a gluten-free recipe for cheese buns, or cheese puffs, or gluten-free Red Lobster garlic-cheese biscuit knock offs. 

2 cups tapioca flour
2 teaspoons of baking soda
4 eggs
4 cups shredded cheese (I used a simple straight-up sharp cheddar)

I also added 2 teaspoons of garlic salt to the other dry ingredients.  I added and incorporated the eggs, then the cheese.  Then I "rolled" in into 15 balls, which I baked at 350 for about 18 minutes.

Before today's adventure, what I knew about tapioca was limited to a pudding that not many people like.  What I gathered from my dear reader, however, was that tapioca flour had nothing to do with pudding (unless you use it to thicken tapioca pudding...whoa), and everything to do with being gluten-free.

Upon further research, tapioca flour also happens to be a very efficient thickener.  Depending on the website, tapioca flour is actually better than cornstarch! 

Anyway, back to the story.  I mixed all the ingredients as I was instructed, and I was struck by how slack my batter/dough was.  So...without even researching the properties of this new flour I was using, I dumped in another cup of flour and added another egg.  Because, you know, that's what I would do were I using wheat flour.

Something weird then happened.  The dough got all...ooblicky on me. know?  That stuff you make when you mix a lot of cornstarch with a little water?  You could squeeze it through your fingers, even though its texture was still somewhat liquidy?  That's what I had.  Definitely NOT something I could then "roll into balls".

Yep.  I started over.  I figured that there was some strange property behind the tapioca that caused a thickening, gelatinizing or whatever.  And well, for a reason I don't know, the next dough "took".  Once I added the cheese, the feel reminded me greatly of play-doh.  In fact, that's very much what it felt like once I began to scale the rolls off. 

These gluten-free gems baked off rather nicely, although next time, I think I'll scale back on the baking soda because I want the rise more than I want the spread (personal preference here).  Also, more garlic salt for taste. 

I suppose, due to the elastic nature of the tapioca, there's no way to change the chewiness of the rolls.  While not unpleasant, the texture was certainly different, and anyone looking for melt-in-your-mouth or flaky or crumbly may have to look elsewhere.

1 comment:

  1. Yay! I'm glad you gave them a try. You're right though - working with gluten free flours such as the tapioca and the like have a totally different consistency to the regular flours. I still get thrown by it, it just doesn't look or feel like it's "supposed" to.

    I did start laughing over the ooblicky dough though. Sorry.

    Tapioca flour, one thing to watch out for is the sliminess if you get it TOO wet. If you use it as a thickener, less is more and more is slime in a pot.

    When I made the buns, they were pefectly okay when they were first out of the oven, but the leftovers a few hours later started drying out fairly quickly. The one I saved for the next day was terribly dry, and needed a few seconds in the microwave. But I suppose with so few ingredients there's not a lot of moisture in there.

    Thanks for giving these a try, and thanks for updating about it!