Friday, April 2, 2010

(Experimental) Chebe Bread Recreation Recipe

I just love a chance to reverse engineer a packaged food. Sometimes (okay, a lot of times), like today, it turns out even better than the mix.

Dave likes the Chebe bread mixes. [Actually, we all like them, but they require eggs and are super high oxalate, so the kids and I are avoiding for now.] The only problem is, the mixes are pretty pricey for the amount of product you actually get. The cheapest I can find them are $2.32/package - and that is when you buy a pack of 8, on amazon. At our local co-op, I think the price is more in the $3.50- $4.00 range. Each bag has 7.5oz of mix, which includes tapioca starch, "modified" tapioca starch, baking soda, salt, cream of tartar & spices. For comparison's sake, I can get 10lbs of tapioca starch for $9ish at a local Health Food Store [Earth's Garden in Kalkaska, for you locals. Neat lady, interesting selection of foods - definitely some stuff there you can't find at Oryana or Edson Farms.]

I started with the ingredients. I figured the baking soda, salt, cream of tartar & spices didn't weigh all that much, so I weighed out roughly 7.5oz of tapioca starch. I'm not sure what the difference between tapioca starch and "modified" tapioca starch is, but it's potentially the reason my recreation attempt turned into an impromptu polymers lesson. I did make the over-exuberant mistake of substituting an ingredient right off the bat. Instead of cream of tartar, I decided to use balsamic vinegar. No reason, really, as I had the cream of tartar sitting right there. I had my eggs, oil, and water all ready to go. Well... I actually had a teeny bit of leftover raw shredded zucchini that I buzzed up with water to get the appropriate amount of liquid needed. So, two substitutions technically.

I put the eggs in the stand mixer and started mixing with the paddle, then added the oil. So far, I'm using the identical process to when I make the mix. In a separate bowl, I mixed the tapioca starch, salt, baking soda, and spices. At this point, I decided to use vinegar instead of cream of tartar, so I added the vinegar to the eggs & oil. Poured the tapioca mixture into the eggs/oil/vinegar. It started clumping up just like when I make the mix. So, I poured in the zucchini/water and instead of making a goopy ball I could knead (expected result), it turned to a liquid-y, THICK soup.

I admit, at this point, I started to panic a bit. Our car is in the shop. I have very little food in the house that Dave will eat. I don't have anymore ingredients for a do-over. In my panic, I decided to add more tapioca starch. Approximately 1.5C of starch yielded the required 7.5oz (by weight). I added another 1/2 C. It thickened things up alright, but in a very bizarre way. It made it look solid in the bowl. And when I poked it, it was really hard. I thought I might be able to pick it up and knead it, like you do the mix. However, when I tried to scoop it up, it immediately started to liquify and ooze everywhere. I thought perhaps it needed to be mixed better, so I stirred it up and tried again. Same result. The only way to keep it from oozing between my fingers was to toss it back and forth from hand to hand, or to roll it on the counter. I decided just to put it in the oiled pan and toss it in the oven and see what happens.

When I poured it into the pan, it was liquid while it was pouring, but solidified in the pan before it reached the edges. I had to scoop up parts and sort of plop them down where I wanted to go. As soon as some batter was scooped up, it liquified and as soon as it hit the pan, solidified again. I know there is a scientific answer for this. I sent a message to my friend who teaches HS Chemistry and see if she can explain it to me.

I poked holes in the top and rubbed it with oil. It baked for maybe 10 minutes at 375*F and it was fabulous. A little chewy but maybe not in a bad way. I'll try again with less starch next time and see what happens. I will also recreate with cream of tartar instead of vinegar and see if that makes a difference. Ah, science geekery. Too much fun. And it's edible and tasty. Double-win!

Without much further ado, here is the recipe, as I made it today:

Italian Herb Focaccia

2C tapioca starch
1/2tsp sea salt
1tsp baking soda
pinches each of: rosemary, basil, oregano & thyme.
sprinkle of black pepper
2tbsp grapeseed oil
2 eggs
5tbsp of "zucchini milk": shredded zucchini mixed with water in the mini food processor
2tsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 375*F. Oil your pan now, so you don't forget and then have to do it while juggling dough, like I did. Also, I used a rectangle cake pan. I'm sure other shapes and sizes would work fine, too.

* Mix eggs, oil & vinegar.

* In a separate bowl, mix tapioca starch, salt, baking soda, spices.

* Pour tapioca mixture into egg mixture. The tapioca starts to suck up the eggs quickly.

* Add 5tbsp of "zucchini milk" (or real milk, or another milk sub, or water, whatever) to the batter.

* Pour batter into oiled pan. Do the gloppy redistribution thing if necessary. Rub oil on top and poke holes all over.

* Bake for roughly 10 minutes. Keep an eye on it though, when it's done, it will start to brown around the edges and on top.

Let me know if you try it how it turns out. Remember, when I made it, I used 1.5C of tapioca starch first and then added another .5C at the very end. I don't actually know how it will go, mixer-wise, if you do all the tapioca starch at the beginning.

I had a small piece (the size of my hand counts as small, right? Compared to the huge pan-full it yielded...) that I dipped in oil & balsamic vinegar. Very good. Very very good. The outside edges were yummy and crispy. The inside was chewy. I'm very curious as to maybe longer baking at a lower temperature would do. Or if I did less starch. Or more eggs. Thankfully Dave liked it, and tolerates not having something turn out the same way twice, since I am always experimenting.


  1. Wow, I don't think I would have actually baked it, awesome that it turned out!

    I boil some of the tapioca to get the 'modified' starch, and that helps it all stay in a ball.

  2. Ahhh. That's where the "like BWPete" part comes in. I guess I have lots more experimenting ahead of me. :)

  3. Oh and Dave just reminded me what the scientific explanation of this phenomenon is: non-newtonian fluids.

  4. Yeah I was totally thinking of corn starch and middle school science when I was reading this. I would not have come up with non-newtonian physics though. :)


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