Normally I would try to have something poetic, elegant and subtle in this part of the blog post….but that’s just not happening today. Today I’m just going to lay it all out in plain speech because I’ve got a ton of things going on but I don’t want you to have to wait any longer for this amazing recipe.
But before we go there, I just have to pause and announce: we got our book, My Paleo Patisserie back from the printers. YES, it’s really here! If you don’t already know what I am talking about, follow the link…you won’t be sorry, I promise. It is soooo beautiful and I am super thrilled with how it turned out. My Paleo Patisserie will be rolling out onto the bookshelves and into your homes (if you pre-ordered on Amazon) on April 7th. I will be posting a little “look into the book” in the next week or so.
Now on to the nitty-gritty of the recipe:
The flour of the hour is…. Otto’s Naturals Cassava flour. I will say a few things about this little treasure, but I encourage to check out their site to get more information on their amazing product. But in short, cassava (also known as yucca) is a root vegetable that when dried and ground (in this case using Otto’s proprietary preparation) becomes a delicious, gluten and grain-free wheat alternative. It is wonderfully versatile and can often be used to as a 1:1 substitute for wheat flour in recipes. Sometimes cassava flour is thought of and even labeled tapioca flour and vice versa, and even though they do come from the same plant, they are processed and behave very differently in cooking and baking. You can read more about this on Otto’s site.
- Is Cassava Flour for Everyone?
Because cassava flour is new to many people, I often get asked what my thoughts are on it. I am always thrilled to add a new grain-free flour to my baking options. Not only does it help reach a wider range of dietary needs, it also gives me more options and versatility for getting creative in the kitchen. I like to mix my cassava flour with other grain free flours to get amazing textures and flavors, but it is also delicious used on it’s own in recipes.
Obviously no food is perfect for everyone. People who are already sensitive to tapioca starch may find that they are sensitive to this as well. And remember, this is not a low starch food. So moderation is good, unless you are very active. Meaning, don’t eat a whole 2lb bag of it in 1 day like we did… whoops.
Here are a few things I truly love about cassava flour:
- It’s nut free, which is great for all the nut free folks out there who need more options.
- It works much better and produces a far less “gummy’ product when making egg free baked goods.
- It acts much more like traditional wheat flour than any other grain free flour, which translates into delicious fluffy cakes, breads and even bagels, yes bagels! And as you will see here…traditional stye flour tortillas.
Also, I would be a bad friend if I didn’t tell you about the Yiddish Kitchen written by the “Yuca Queens” themselves Jennifer and Simone. And that amazing bagel I talked about earlier…yea, thats all them.
So without further ado…here’s a few working tips and the recipe. Enjoy!
A few tips for getting started on building your own recipes with cassava flour:
- Cassava flour weighs more than traditional wheat flour. It does sub 1:1 well in many cases IF you are talking in terms of weight. But when using measuring cups (by volume instead of weight) there can be a significant weight difference from 1 cup of wheat flour to 1 cup of cassava flour. It is always my preference to weigh my ingredients when working with flour substitutions for this reason.
- 1 cup of wheat flour weighs about 120 grams, while 1 cup of cassava flour weighs about 140 grams. This variation can make a big difference in a recipe. If you choose not to weigh your ingredients I recommend using about 3/4 cup plus 1 tablespoon of cassava flour in place of 1 cup of wheat flour when converting recipes.
- When measuring by volume, don’t pack the flour in. Use the scoop and sweep method for best results. Simply scoop up a rounded cup of loose flour, then sweep over the top with a butter knife or a flat edge. But really….just weigh it, it’s so easy!
- Because cassava flour doesn’t contain gluten, just like other gluten-free flours such as rice, millet, buckwheat etc…it lacks “stretchability”, which can make it delicate to work with (though I find it much easier to work with than rice flour”). This isn’t really a problem per-se, but something to be aware of if using it in a roll out dough, like the tortillas below. So take extra care when working with it in this way. I like to add golden flax seed to my cassava flour both to refine the working texture and to give it a delicious mellow, bready flavor. But there are endless ways to mix it up and make your own delicious recipe variations that suit your dietary needs and tastes. You can read more on that in the recipe.
- Now on to the recipe…..
Grain Free Cassava Tortillas
100 grams (3/4 cups) Ottos Naturals Cassava Flour (Get it here)
3 tablespoons arrowroot flour (Get it here)
1 tablespoon whole golden flax, finely ground*
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt (to taste)
3 tablespoons fat of choice (palm shortening, lard, ghee)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons (150ml) lukewarm water
Note: *Or 2 tablespoons pre-ground golden flax meal. The flax used in this recipe is used as a flavor and texture enhancer, not an egg replacement. Use the golden flax for best flavor as brown flax can be quite nutty and dark.
Method: (If you like a thicker tortilla, just don’t roll them as thin. Burritos tend to best with a thinner version.)
In a medium-sized bowl whisk together the flours, ground flax, and salt until well combined.
Add the fat and use your fingers to rub it into the flour until a crumbly mixture is formed.
Add the water, then using a wooden spoon or spatula, stir the mixture together till it forms a smooth ball of dough (You can also do this in a KitchenAid style mixer with the paddle attachment). The dough will be quite sticky at first, you will even think “this is all wrong”. Keep stirring till it comes together and becomes a smooth ball. Avoid the urge to add more flour. If the water was too hot, the dough will need to rest for a few minutes and cool, or it could be too sticky Let it rest if needed. Dust your hands with flour to prevent sticking. This dough is intended to be quite soft. This is what makes it soooo good and stretchy when it’s cooked.
Separate into 9-10 balls (about 30 grams each) for 6-inch tortillas. Roll or dust them in flour and keep them covered with plastic wrap or a flour sack towel till ready to roll. This way they will not dry out and form a crust.
Preheat a cast iron flat griddle or pan over medium-low or medium heat for a few minutes, or until evenly heated.
Rolling by hand:
Lay down a large piece of parchment paper or a silicone baking mat on your surface. Generously dust the surface with cassava flour, then place a round of dough at the center of the surface. Gently press the dough down with your palm to flatten just slightly. Dust the top lightly with flour, then using a small rolling pin, carefully roll the dough into about a 6 inch round. Note: Depending on your comfort with this, you may want a layer of parchment or plastic wrap on the top of the dough as well. I have a tiny roller that is very light so I don’t need to use a barrier on top to prevent sticking.
Carefully lift the parchment paper and hold at an angle. The tortilla will start to fall off into your hand. From there you can peel it off. Be sure to support it with your hand or it may tear. If using a silicone baking mat, I just use a thin metal spatula and loosen the tortilla with quick strokes under it, all the way around. Lift it off with the spatula and flip into my hand.
Rolling TIPS: Evenly rolled tortillas can take some practice and are easiest to achieve with a soft dough, not stiff. A softer dough also sticks less to the surface and rolling pin. This is because it’s easier to shape, but also because you can use more dusting (bench) flour without comprising the tortilla texture. But if the dough is too wet, just add a bit more flour, or if it is to still, add a touch of water. Using a light touch and small rolling pin is helpful. Thinner cassava tortillas will bubble more and be less dense and more light and flakey.
Using a tortilla press:
Alternatively, you can use a tortilla press, To use a press, you need to dust the dough and line both sides of it with plastic wrap, or you can flatten them between parchment paper. If the press doesn’t get them as thin as you like, simply roll them out a little thinner from there. If I’m making thick tortillas, like for my puffy tacos, I actually don’t use a barrier here and just dust with flour, press lightly and then use a thin metal spatula (like in the ‘rolling method’ above) to remove the tortilla from the press. Eventually, you find the method that works best for you and your process.
Cooking the tortilla:
Flip the tortilla onto the hot griddle. Let it cook on one side for about 15-20 seconds, or until the dough just starts to form a few bubbles. You don’t want to overcook at this point, or you won’t get good a good puff. For best results, move the tortilla around the pan a few times while it cooks for more even cooking. Flip over and cook on the other side for another 15 seconds or so and let the tortilla puff up some more. Usually, at this point, I flip it 1 more time on each side for 5 seconds or so to get the most “puff”. But cooking times will vary depending on your pan and heat level.
Do not overcook or the tortillas will be crisp and dry. Adjust the heat as needed. Repeat with each ball of dough.
Serving and storing: Best served immediately, though they need to be kept covered with plastic wrap till ready to use. The dough can be made ahead of time and be stored, covered, at room temp for a few hours or in the fridge for a few days. Bring almost to room temp before rolling. If I do cook the tortillas ahead of time, I store them, covered in the fridge and let them come to room temp before serving. Or I throw them on a warm griddle just till softened.
10 Small (30g) tortillas: 1 tortilla = 83 calories, 12g carb (11 net carbs), 4g fat