In Portuguese, the name is pão de queijo. I had heard a lot about this authentic Brazilian cheese bread from an American friend who eats gluten-free. She doesn’t do this by choice, as she clearly points out. She is a celiac, and therefore cannot tolerate wheat products. I have always been intrigued with this gluten-free bread for a long time.
I recently met a lady from Brazil at a conference where she was a speaker. Her name is Claudia, and she runs a hip and successful lifestyle blog called Trendy Latina. She covers topics from movies to recipes to travel and beauty. I encourage you to check it out. Needless to say, we got to talking about food, and I asked her if I could share her recipe for authentic Brazilian cheese bread – pāo de queijo on this blog. She readily agreed. I am now very excited to share it with you.
One of the pluses of this recipe is that it’s gluten-free which is good news for people who follow this dietary norm. This bread is made with tapioca flour which according to Claudia is a popular baking ingredient throughout Brazil. I wondered out loud if it was because at one point in time, there was no wheat flour available. She said “No, this is just the way it’s always been.”She also told me about a cake she makes with tapioca flour. Yes, the recipe will appear on this blog at a later date.
The use of tapioca doesn’t come as a surprise, since yuca, where tapioca flour is extracted from grows abundantly in Brazil. Basically, yuca is a tuber. Don’t confuse it with yucca, the dessert plant. They are not botanically related. Anyhow, this tasty tuber can be prepared in many different ways. The outer covering is not edible, so it needs to be removed before eating. The inside has a center that is fibrous, and also needs to be removed once cooked.
Authentic Brazilian cheese bread – pão de queijo is so easy to make, especially because you don’t even have to worry about it rising, or flopping. Claudia even told me that you can freeze the bread once it is formed into balls. Do not freeze after baking! To me anything that you can make ahead of time is a plus. You can form the balls using a cookie scoop.
Although these are normally eaten as a snack, feel free to eat them any time you like.
So, where in Brazil do these little cheesy gems come from? Well, from the Minas Gerais, a state in the west of Brazil. During colonial times this area was known for its large deposits of diamonds, gems, and gold. The traditional cheese used to make this cheese bread is Minas cheese, a local cheese that has been produced in the region since the 18th century. Claudia told me that the closest thing in the US is Parmesan.
I hope you get to try thi recipe soon, and also check out the Trendy Latina blog.
If you want to check out some other Latin baked items that are easy to make, here are a few to try or bookmark for later. Pastelitos de guava are a simple puff pastry filled with guava and cream cheese and are so good with a nice cup of coffee! Mini beef empanadas are a meat filled dough that I have adapted the recipe to be baked instead of fried; and you can use store bought pie crust if you are short on time. Pastelitos de pollo are a puff pastry with a savory shredded chicken filling that have a great Latin flavor. Enjoy!
Authentic Brazilian Cheese Bread
A tasty treat made with tapioca flour, and Parmesan cheese. Authentic Brazilian cheese bread is just what you and your family needs for a weekday snack.
Preheat oven to 400'F.
In a saucepan mix milk, oil, and salt on medium heat until the mixture starts to gently bubble. Remove from stove.
Slowly add the flour in 1/4 increments until the mixture comes together like a ball. The mixture will be somewhat shiny.
Transfer the dough to the bowl of a stand up mixer, and using a paddle attachment beat on medium until the dough becomes smooths and cools down a bit.
Add the beaten egg slowly, and continue to beat until well combined.
Next, add the cheese and beat until the mixture is fully combined.
The dough will be a bit sticky, an similar to the consistency of batter.
Using a cookie scoop, make balls and place them about 1 " apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. *
Bake for about 20 minutes, or until they begin to turn golden.
Remove from oven. Enjoy while they are still warm.