All Cassava Flour Brands Not Equal
Cassava flour is one of the most popular grain-free flours. It probably comes in a close second to almond flour because of it’s versatility and likeness to wheat flour. It is a little on the pricey side so my first attempt at trying it out was with an economical brand. I followed a recipe for cassava tortillas and was utterly dismayed when my dough was more of a loose batter than a dough. I frantically added coconut flour to soak up the moisture. I was dumbfounded that my recipe went so sideways. I was certain I put the correct amount, but I have to admit, I triple checked my measuring cup to make sure I used the right one. After a second attempt, I knew this had to be the brand of cassava flour that I was using. I decided this was the perfect opportunity to test the leading brands against the more economical brands to see what the differences were. I tested four types of cassava flour to see how they stacked up.
See the Difference
Economical Brand 1: This brand has a grainier texture. You can see larger pieces mixed into a fine powder. The color is an off white color.
Economical Brand 2: This one is so finely ground that you have to be careful when opening the bag so you’re not engulfed a puff of cassava flour. It also has a slightly beige color.
Leading Brand 1: This one is also finely ground but has a white color, close to unbleached flour.
Leading Brand 2: This one is also finely ground and white. This one resembles leading brand 1 and there’s no noticeable difference in terms of how it looks.
Smell the Difference
There is a noticeable difference in smell between the different brands. They all have a distinct yuca/cassava smell. One of the economical brands and one of the leading brands had a more pronounced yuca smell but one of the economical brands and one of the leading brands did not. It seems that price is not the determining factor and that it just depends on the brand. However, after baking, the smell isn’t noticeable in any of the brands.
I tested one of the economical brands against one of the leading brands with a grain-free bread recipe, keeping all other factors exactly the same.
Once the dough was made, the leading cassava flour had a traditional dough like consistency where you could pick it up and form the loaf. The economical brand was like a pancake batter and did not absorb the wet ingredients in the same way. Both loaves rose about the same amount. See video below on the difference in consistency.
Both loaves were baked at 400 F/204 C for 30 minutes but the economical loaf needed more time due to the moisture. The economical loaf fell in the middle when I opened the oven to take the leading brand loaf out of the loaf pan to finish on the rack. See photos below. In a separate test with a nonstick loaf pan, I didn’t have the problem of the loaf falling with the economical brand. I also only had one loaf in the oven for that test.
The leading brand had a smoother finish on top with some cracking throughout. The economical brand had a crumbly texture on top that made it a little more difficult to slice.
The leading cassava brand baked like a traditional loaf of bread and had a slightly springy consistency, close to a white french bread. The economical brand had a more chewy mochi-like consistency. Although the loaf fell during this test, in another test where the loaf was baked in a non-stick pan for 45 minutes, there was no issue with under baking and falling.
I also did another test with the economical brand in the glass loaf pan as the only loaf in the oven and baked it for longer before opening the oven. Unfortunately, it still fell in the middle. It didn’t, however, fall as much as the first loaf that had to share the oven with another loaf. It appears that the biggest factor is the glass loaf pan vs the non-stick loaf pan.
Which Is Better?
It really depends on what you’re making and what your preferences are for the final product. I enjoyed both loaves of bread but the leading brand gave a more full-proof loaf with less inconsistencies. The final product was closer to a french bread loaf so if that’s what you want, then use the leading brands. While the loaf was moist and springy when fresh out of the oven, it was a lot drier the following day. However, like any fresh bread, toasting brought it back to life.
The economical loaf was also very delicious and my family preferred that one when it was baked in the non-stick pan and baked for longer. It had a nice chewy texture that was very delicious. The chewy texture could also have been because of the arrowroot starch in this recipe however the leading brand loaf did not have a chewy consistency despite having the same amount of arrowroot starch. The following day, it also needed to be toasted but didn’t dry out as much as the other loaf. This is most likely because it retained more moisture than the other loaf.
In recipes where you’re looking for a dough consistency or for it to act as a firm binder, I recommend going with the leading brands. An example would be cassava tortillas. I tried several cassava tortilla recipes that would be better off using the leading brands. Most recipe developers tend to use the leading brands for their recipes. The economical brand doesn’t absorb enough of the liquids to create a dough for tortillas but the recipes could be adjusted by reducing the wet ingredients or increasing the cassava flour. If you’re following a recipe for the first time, I strongly suggest, going with a leading brand of cassava flour.
If you’re looking for a chewy or lighter consistency, try using the economical brands. I go back and forth using the leading brands and the economical brands in my bread and pancake recipes. I have both in my pantry and use them for different purposes.
Whatever you’re making, make note that there are big differences between the different brands especially when it comes to the flour to liquid ratio and the texture of the final product.