Gluten free bread puffs that are loosely based on pan de yuca, except these are healthier and vegan.
Let me tell you the story behind this recipe.
As I mentioned a while back, I impulsively bought a giant bag of tapioca flour (as you do). I had virtually no idea what to do with it, other than adding a little to gluten-free flour mixes. So, I did what nearly anyone would do in this situation, and asked Google for help.
Google, please tell me what the heck am I supposed to do with all this tapioca flour!?
That’s when I discovered pan de yuca, a Columbian bread made from yuca – or tapioca – flour. There are variations of this bread all over Latin and South America, including Brazilian pão de queijo (or ‘cheese bread’).
Cheese was the problem here. Pan de yuca are traditionally made with a ton of cheese. Call me crazy, but I’m just not that into cheese. A little parmesan is nice in my risotto, and occasionally I’m feeling adventurous enough to try mozzarella, but most of the time my feelings towards cheese fall somewhere between ‘meh’ and ‘ugh, what’s that smell?’.
Many recipes for pan de yuca and pão de queijo call for a lot of oil too, which I wasn’t wild about.
Regardless, I was excited that I’d come closer to working out how to use up my soon-to-expire tapioca flour.
So, how was I going to make a cheeseless, oil-free version of something often referred to as ‘cheese bread’? For me, it seemed only one ingredient was up to the task of replacing all that cheese and oil. The magical ingredient that I use to replace butter in cakes, add creaminess to yogurt-free overnight oats and roast at least once a week. Pumpkin to the rescue!
To add flavor, I decided to add some pesto. In most cases, pesto has parmesan cheese in it. But as you’ve probably guessed by now, I usually make my pesto cheeseless. My go-to pesto is just basil, pine nuts, salt and pepper, and a little olive oil (or try a nut oil!). At the bottom of this post I’ve also included a recipe for a vegan Basil and Leek Pesto, because one can never have too many pesto recipes.
Pan de yuca (and variations of it) aren’t like regular bread. Pan de yuca are a little crispy on the outside, and soft and chewy on the inside. And traditionally, very cheesy.
So regardless of whether you’re biting into regular yuca bread or my cheeseless version, don’t expect them to be like mini bread rolls – or else you may end up feeling confused (which is why some people refer to tapioca flour breads as ‘puffs’ or ‘buns’ instead).
One very important thing about all types of tapioca flour bread: they absolutely must be eaten warm! Fresh is best (as always), but they can also be reheated in the oven for 5 – 10 minutes.
I have to admit, the first time I made my version of pan de yuca, I was convinced they would be a massive fail. I mean, cheeseless cheese bread – what was I thinking? But they turned out to be crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside and surprisingly tasty. Hooray!
Of course, being me, I didn’t believe it worked and had to immediately make them again. Or maybe I just wanted more pesto-swirled bread puffs.
(By the way, the next recipe I post will involve chocolate. Just a heads up.)
- 1 cup (130g) tapioca flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup (125g) fresh pumpkin puree
- 1 - 2 tablespoons vegan-friendly pesto
- Preheat the oven to 350°F (180°C). Line a baking tray with non-stick paper.
- In a large bowl, combine the tapioca flour, baking powder and salt.
- Add the pumpkin puree, and use your hands to mix until completely incorporated. The mixture should form a smooth – but not sticky – dough. If the dough is too dry, add some almond milk or water (a tablespoon at a time). If it is too wet, add some tapioca flour.
- Carefully fold the pesto into the dough (or just dot the dough with little bits of pesto). Don’t mix it in too well, or else the dough will turn green.
- Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a ball, and place on the prepared baking tray. Each ball of dough should be slightly smaller than a golf ball.
- Bake for 13 -15 minutes, or until the tops are a pale gold (not brown). Transfer to a cooling rack, and serve warm.
To make fresh pumpkin puree, blend some roasted (or otherwise cooked) pumpkin. You can also puree it in a food processor.
Recipe inspired by: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/ingrid-hoffmann/yucca-buns-pan-de-yucca-recipe.html
- 2 - 3 teaspoons olive oil
- ¼ cup chopped leeks
- Salt and pepper
- 2 cups fresh basil leaves
- ¼ cup chopped walnuts
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a skillet over low heat. Add the chopped leeks and a pinch of salt.
- Sauté the leeks for 5 minutes, or until soft and fragrant.
- In a blender, combine the sautéed leeks, basil leaves, walnuts, lemon juice, 1 teaspoon of olive oil and salt and pepper. Blend until combined, adding more olive oil if necessary.
- Store the pesto in the fridge until ready to use.