Tapioca is a by-product of manioc flour made from the starch extracted from the South American cassava root. I must say that as the well educated Brazilian girl that I am, I praise upon manioc and its varieties. For it’s naturally gluten free and the fact that’s quite popular among paleo diet adepts, cassava flour is getting easier and easier to be found in stores all over the world and I’m filled with joy to be able to share this beauty with you. Besides that, I must admit that’s a bit weird to place such a Brazilian word – tapioca – into a muffin recipe. But that’s also part of the magic, right?
They look super cute, right? And the story behind them is just to most popular cliché known to cooking. Last year when I was in Brazil with unlimited amounts of cassava flour in all its kinds, I started some tests based on my great aunt’s simplified blender pão de queijo (Brazilian cheese bread) recipe. I was looking to make a Brazilian cheese bread pie because I needed quick and easy meals.
It was a huge success! All it took was different kinds of fillings (with loads of veggies) to collect fans. My friends loved it. My mom got addicted to it. My sister in law and my niece more than approved it.
Back to Paris, thanks to my dear friend whose as crazy as I am for manioc and its derivatives, I kept testing and I decided to try and replace the cassava flour for some tapioca flour. In Brazil you can find tapioca flour everywhere. It’s a bit thicker than the natural cassava flour. But fear not because if you don’t have tapioca flour on you supermarket I already taught a super simple way of making it right here – all you have to do is hydrate some cassada flour.
There’s no harm (and I’ll even encourage you to test) in using natural plain cassava flour, but I think it gets a more muffin/pie texture with the hydrated version of it. At first I would use a blender to mix it all but, with time, I got the courage to try using a simple fork/spoon or fouet because I always insist on making things simpler and to gather as less dishes to wash as possible. Tried a cheesy version, a cream cheese version, with filling, without filling… up to the day that the cliché came upon myself: I messed up the recipe! I forgot to add oil to the mixture and only realized it when the pie was already in the oven and I was doing the dishes that were less oily and easier to clean than I expected.
Pretentious in my middle name. Once the smell of Brazilian cheese bread (everything I bake using cassava flour or similar I find to smell like pão de queijo) invaded my kitchen I soon thought to myself that I was about to conclude that the low fat version of it would totally work out.
I want to make it clear that I’m not here to turn fat into any kind of villain. Our body needs a certain amount of fat to function and there’s nothing wrong with that. The thing is that, some times I see recipes here and there that uses much more fat than actually needed and it’s always nice to be able to talk about, think and review certain issues.
Anyhow, the low fact aspect is juts a minor detail. The important thing here is that tapioca (cassava) flour is an excellent source of energy and as I said before, because is made from manioc, it’s naturally gluten free (suitable for celiacs and gluten free adepts in general) and it’s more than welcome into a balanced diet.
With no further ado, I’ll be sharing the recipe because it’s delicious, super easy to make, you can freeze it and, mainly because the next time my mom asks me for this recipe I’ll just send her the link to the blog.
1 cup tapioca* flour
1/2 cup milk
1 table spoon of ricotta or low fat cream cheese (optional)
1/2 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
oregano (or any other spice) to taste
*if you choose to use ordinary plain cassava flour just do the same amount
While the oven pre-heats (350°F) get a large bowl, crack the eggs and beat them vigorously with a fork ou a fouet.
Let me stop right here to talk about the fouet or egg beater (I think you also call it egg beater – please do correct me if I’m wrong). Well, if you don’t have one I must insist you get one. It’s so worth the “investment”. They’re super versatile, cheap and you can easily buy them anywhere. You can have a stainless simple one or get a cute fancy silicon one. I have a few (you know I love kitchenware) but you only need one to help you gain some time while making those simple pies, cakes or even while whisking eggs to make an omelette. I swear I’m not fouet sponsored!
Back to the recipe. Add the milk and whisk some more. Finally, add the rest of the ingredients and keep beating until the flour is completely incorporated and the mixture is smooth.
Throw the batter into individual muffin tins (I use silicone ones and you don’t even need to grease them) and place them in the oven for about 30 minutes (or util they grow and are golden brown).
And do you remember we didn’t use no oil in the recipe? So, here, if you wish, you can sprinkle some grated parmesan on top of the muffins before putting them in the oven.
Here I’m giving you a base recipe with no filling or so that’s why I used the ricotta (and you can use cream cheese) and I strongly advise you to add some oregano, fine herbs, basil or whatever spice you might enjoy. But the fun part of it is that you can, and must, try out different flavours with this recipe and you can easily turn into a nice yummy filled pie. You can add fresh mozzarella, tomato, grated zucchini, carrots, spinach, or even that chicken leftover that you have hanging in the fridge and don’t know what to do with it. Everything(s allowed! In this case, all you have to do is fill half the tin with the batter, add the filling, and complete with the rest of the mixture.
Let’s get some creativity work and enjoy.
Oh! I almost forgot. After they muffins are baked they can be frozen using freezing bags or appropriated Tupperwares. And they could not be easier to defrost. Just get them from the freezer, to the oven and voilà.