Once upon a time, a long time ago, when I thought I would never be able to bake well, someone told me that making "biscoitos de polvilho" was a impossible mission. One of my grandma's friends told me that I had to have lots of patience and time. And sometimes even some good luck.
On a wet Tuesday afternoon that seemed to be what I had: Time, patience, tapioca flour (from Bob's Mill) and luck to be in the mood to bake. I thought that maybe the four boys would get interested to play with the supposed to be very gooey mix - something like white glue papier machê- and make shapes with them while squeezing the dough out of the bag.
It didn't happen. But the three of them couldn't stop eating the crunchy, savory and irresistible sticks as they came straight from the oven. Darienne was the perfect partner to make those crazy shapes.
This recipe is adapted from the original by Dona Maria José da Silva, a Brazilian wise lady who specializes on making all sorts of baked goods, from crackers to cookies.
During the whole process I was puzzled by the texture of the batter, and even dared to play with some ingredients, adding less milk than recommended and jazzing it up with some spices. The result was great. On the next day, best friends arrived from Brazil for a short visit - and were happy to try those, which were served as a starter for a very long and delicious lunch.
Tapioca Flour Sticks (Biscoito de Polvilho Seco)
You can store in a sealed plastic bag for about a couple of days. This recipe makes about 100 sticks or less, depending on how wide is the cut you make on the tip of the plastic bag.
4 1/2 to 6 cups tapioca flour
1 cup canola oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 cup boiling water
1 large egg, beaten
3 to 4 cups of milk
1 teaspoon garlic (optional)
1 cup Parmesan cheese (optional)
Pre-heat oven to 390 F. In a very large bowl, mix tapioca flour, salt, oil and cover the ingredients with boiling water. Stir with a wooden spoon. When cool enough to the touch, start kneading the mix with your hands. When the mix is looking even - but coarse - add egg and then milk little by little, using your hands to mix. If it gets too liquid, keep adding more flour up to when it looks like it's going to keep a texture to be squeezed from bag.You can add the garlic and the Parmesan after baking half of a batch without them, so to taste the whole tapioca as it is. Transfer fair amounts of batter to a plastic bag and make a small hole in it. Line baking sheets with silicone liner and distribute the stripes of dough in the manner you wish. Bake the sticks for about 20 minutes or more, up to when golden. Let them cool down for a while and enjoy!