Good news to those who have gluten sensitivity or celiac disease: they can use cassava flour as a substitute to regular flour!
Cassava flour comes from cassava, which is a root vegetable. When it undergoes a certain process, it turns into cassava flour. The good thing about cassava flour is that it is gluten-free. But is it really that good? What other benefits does it offer besides being gluten-free? Know more about it below.
Cassava Flour, Gluten-Free
Your doctor fiercely recommended that you should avoid eating food with gluten in it. However, you love baked goods. The smell of a glutinous cake morsel triggers your craving pangs. You are not alone in this dilemma. You can have a gobble with your delicious bread, but a gluten-free bread is not enjoyable at all. Gone is the richness, creaminess, fullness, and fluffiness a real bread offers exchanged by a coarse and tasteless gluten-free food.
The worst thing is if you are allergic to nuts and you need to veer away from authentic loaves of bread and have to endure gluten-free baked goodies instead. Gluten-free bread is usually nut-based meaning they get their floury taste from nuts. It is a hard life to restrict something that you are generally fond of eating or doing.
Cassava Flour for Gluten-Free Baked Goods
For gluten-free baked goods though there is an alternative flour, which you might want to try. This alternative flour is called cassava.
Yes, you have heard that right. You can now enjoy the real goodness of pastry by using cassava as the alternative flour. Cassava flour is a root vegetable and undergoes a process to make it into dry flour. You might have heard of the tapioca starch which is extracted from cassava. This is a form of gluten-free flour too. However, tapioca starch is a mere filler and is not used really used for baking. The cassava does otherwise. It can be used as a remaining flour for the baking process.
Having cassava flour in your baking goods means there are absolutely no nuts to spare with. This is a piece of excellent news for people who are allergic to nuts. Another plus factor is that fewer eggs are used to come up with the perfect bread with the use of cassava. This might even mean to entirely exclude eggs from the baking process with cassava flour as one of the baking ingredients.
If you are a fan of baking, you must know that to bake bread, and you usually would use the xanthan gum to add to the perfect consistency of the bread. With cassava flour at your toe, you might not need the xanthan gum eventually.
Nutritional Benefits of Cassava Flour
The other good news in using cassava as your bread flour is, it has minerals and nutrients that are reasonably good for your health. It has soluble and insoluble fibers, protein, and even vitamin C (although vitamin C is eventually destroyed in the cooking process). Cassava flour has a sound mixing performance with water. It dissolves well with water and might be able to absorb more water than regular flour.
The greatest perk of the cassava flour so far is how it greatly mimics the regular flour an at times (depending on the baker) it might be more exceptional in texture and consistency. The cassava flour also gives out a fluffy feel that a gluten-free bread might not give you. Now that we know the positive characteristics of the cassava flour for baking, let us get to know its downsides.
Disadvantages of Cassava Flour
The Raw Cassava Root Have Cyanide Compounds
Be cautious in purchasing raw cassava roots. They are not usually obtained fresh due to the naturally occurring cyanide compounds in the cassava root itself. You should buy commercially produced cassava flours from trusted brands and stores. These products are safe and are rid of cyanide compounds. These cyanide compounds are eliminated during the process of refining the cassava, so processed cassava flour is generally safe.
Cassava Flour are Often Exploited in the Market
When purchasing cassava flour, you should always be mindful of the brand and the type of product that you are buying. Some brands who sell cassava flour products exploit the convenience of the cassava flour for gluten-free eaters. With the increase in demand, they tend to be careless in terms of quality and mostly wants to profit more on the quantity side of the bargain. If quality is compromised, some cassava flour products might develop molds, fungi and another organism. Worse, it might get contaminated with toxic products or any other non-edible chemical.
The Cassava Flour is High in Carb (Carbohydrates) and Has Poor Nutrition
The cassava flour is indeed a brilliant alternative for a loaf of gluten-free bread. However, it is high in carb. If you are somebody that is not suitable for high-carb food, then the cassava flour made bread might not be right for you. Another downside to cassava flour is the poor nutrient it only has.
Sure it has few minerals in it, fiber and some vitamin C. But as healthy food goes, cassava flour has poor nutrition. However, you can always remedy this problem with a few tricks. For example, you can add cashew nuts or any available fruits or vegetables that you can infuse in your bread. This technique augments the loss of flour nutrition in your bread.
Uses of Cassava Flour
Cassava flour is a must flour if you are trying the gluten-free diet or a doctor recommended you to do so. If you are a baker, chances are you would want to know how to use cassava flour. The rule of the thumb is, always use the cassava flour like how you use your regular meal. The only difference is that the cassava flour has a more airy and fluffy texture, so you might want to adjust a little in terms of quantity of both the flour and water.
To know more tips and tricks about the usage of cassava flour for your gluten-free pastry creations, you can check it all out on the internet. You can also steal recipes from pastry making books as well as tutorials and content ideas in youtube.
The cassava flour is only as healthy and as safe as how you purchase them. Always get cassava flour products from trusted brands and not from shady ones.
By Mascha Davis, R.D., MPH