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Saturday, August 22, 2020

Eggless Brazilian Pao de queijo (Cheese Bread from Brazil)

Pão de queijo (Portuguese pronunciation: "cheese bread" in Portuguese) or Brazilian cheese bread is a small, baked cheese roll or cheese bun, a popular snack and breakfast food in Brazil. It is a traditional Brazilian recipe, originating in the state of Minas Gerais. Pão de queijo originated from African slaves like many other Brazilian foods. Slaves would soak and peel the cassava root and make bread rolls from it.At this time, there was no cheese in the rolls. At the end of the 19th century, more ingredients became available to the Afro-Brazilian community such as milk and cheese.

They added milk and cheese to the tapioca roll making what we now know as Pão de queijo.   It is also widely eaten in northern Argentina and is inexpensive and often sold from steetside stands  by vendors carrying a heat-preserving container. In Brazil, it is also very commonly found in groceries, supermarkets and bakeries, industrialized or freshly made. Despite being referred to as "bread", the cheese bread is basically a type of starch tart cookie or sweet plus eggs, salt, vegetable oil, and cheese, with soft and elastic consistency and with a few variations. In Brazil, pão de queijo is a popular breakfast dish and snack. It continues to be widely sold at snack and bakeries and it can also be bought frozen to bake at home. 
In Brazil, cheese puff mix packages are easily found in most supermarkets.  Given its growing popularity in the US, the frozen packages of pao de queijo can now be found in some American grocery stores such as Costco,  World Market and Whole Foods.
Let me tell you a little about history of this bread: With the discovery of mines near Ouro Preto  around 1700, 1/5 of the Brazilian population, mainly enslaved people, occupied a vast territory, moving from the Northeast and shifting the economic hub of the colony towards the Southeast.The mining cycle caused a huge impact and stimulus to the production of staple foods and this is when cheese bread was created. The Northeast and the nearest regions obtained beans, rice, corn and its cornmeal, pork and lard, milk and cheese. More distant areas such as the gaucho pampa, began to offer kind of beef meat. It is said that the cheese bread was offered by slave women to the farmers. At the time, wheat flour, the raw material of classical baking, was hard to find. Typical of temperate regions, the ancient cereal never combined with the warmth of the Brazilian Northeast, and was then imported from Europe to Brazil to serve the King's noblemen.Creatively, Minas Gerais cooks replaced the non-existent wheat with starch derived from cassava tuber with tupiniquis origins. Added the mass cured cheese chips, hardened and grated, and taken to the oven, turned out to like being called "bread".
There are several different recipes of Brazilian cheese bread where the ingredients and the type of cheese vary widely - as well as the final result. Some of them use sweet starch, other sour, or even both. But what gives it its main feature is that it is based on starch cassava and some kind of cheese.
Vegetbale oil, butter or margarine - acts as a molecular lubricant,  contributing to the elastic texture of the dough.The egg   gives colour and flavour to the recipe. Some recipes use potatoes. The type of cheese varies according to preference or availability. The most used are mozzarella, parmesan, and (more traditionally) Minas cheese (either in its "ripened" or "standard" version).  The cheese gives the typical flavor of the cheese bread, hence its name. Minas cheese is not available in US. Mexican queso fresco can be used since it is very similar to Minas cheese.  Pães de queijo are formed into small balls, around 3-5 centimeters in diameter (though they may be larger) and about 50 calories in each roll. The cassava flour is a powerful starch which is key to the texture of the pão de queijo; unlike other types of bread, pão de queijo is not leavened. Small pockets of air within the dough expand during baking and are contained by the elasticity of the starch paste.

The tapioca starch used in pão de queijo makes this snack gluten free. Varieties of stuffed pães de queijo with catupiry hot and melted goiabada, doce de leite   and other variations can be found in Brazil.  I used Queso blanco instead of Minas cheese.   You filled each roll with cube of pepper jack cheese but you can omit this step and just make without the filled cheese. I really had fun with this recipe, some I topped cheddar cheese and some with cheddar cheese and Jalapenos. Can not go wrong with cheese right ?  I also put garlic and fresh Jalapenos in the dough, you can omit this step if you are not fan of garlic and jalapenos.

  • 4 cups of Tapioca flour
  • 2 packets of yeast
  • 1 cup of milk (you can use full fat, or even evaporated milk, I used 1%)
  • 1/3 cup of vegetable oil (plus some extra to grease your hands make the balls of dough, as the dough is really sticky) 
  • 1 and 1/2  teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/2 cup crumbled queso blanco
  • 1/2 cup of Mozzarella
  • 1-2 table spoon of Parmesan cheese (optional, I am not a fan of parm so I did not use) 
  • 2 medium potatoes boiled
  • 1-2 fresh Jalapeno (amount can vary on desired heat)

  • 8-10 cloves of garlic (amount can vary on desired garlicky taste)
  • 6 oz of pepper-jack cheese  or cheddar cheese cut in to small cubes if desire to fill the buns with these cubes.
  • Some cheddar cheese to sprinkle on bun if desired
  • Sliced pickled Jalapenos if desire to top the sprinkled cheese on buns

  • Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  • Preheat oven to 400F degrees with a rack in the middle.
  • Boil potatoes, make a mashed paste in food processore. Chop jalapenos and garlic and add this to food processor and give a another grind.
  • Set aside. 
  • Place tapioca flour in the stand mixer bowl.
  • Add two packets of yeast and sugar.
  • Combine the milk, oil and salt in a microwave safe  bowl and bring to a boil in microwave. Or you can boil it on stove top in a sauce pan.
  • Add the oil mixture to the tapioca flour to the bowl of a stand mixer. 
  • Turn the mixer on and mix it well. The texture will be fondant-like, really white and sticky.
  • With the mixer still on, add the sour cream, mozarella cheese and patato mix, one at a time. 

  • Once the everything  are incorporated, add the crumbled queso blanco cheese, a little at a time, until fully incorporated. You can add parmasean cheese at this time if using it.  I did not.
  • The dough is supposed to be soft and sticky. However, if you're worried it's too liquidy, add some more tapioca flour. Just don't over do it or your cheese bread will be tough and not too gooey.
  • Cut the pepper jack cheese in small thin cubes.
    • Take the bowl out of mixer, put a little oil on you dough scraper and bring it together. 
    • Cover with plastic wrap and place in warm place for 2-3 hours.
    • The dough will rise due to yeast. 
    • To shape the balls, wet your hands with cold water and, using a spoon, scoop some of the 
    • dough to shape balls that are a little smaller than golf-sized.
    • Place the cubed pepper jack cheese in between each ball and roll it to round shape again.


  • If desired sprinkle shredded cheddar cheese and top with pickled jalapeno slice on each bun (this is an optional step)
  • Place the balls on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and bring it to the preheated oven at 400 degrees .
  • Bake for  22-24 minutes or until they are golden and puffed. The top of the bun should not to be brown at all, but you will see the bottom would be golden brown. You can lift one to check.
  • Serve them warm  :)
  • This recipe yields ~30 cheese rolls. As you can see I baked 15 at a time, don't overcrown the baking sheet.
  • Some I made plane and some topped with cheddar only and some with cheddar and  Jalapenos.





    This recipe yields ~30 rolls...One thing about these rolls is that  you have to serve them warm right out of oven, you can freeze the left over baked rolls and to reheat warm them in oven at 350 dgrees for 8-10 min or you can reheat heat them in microwave for 15-20 seconds, however the microwave will not make them crisp.
    One other thing you can do is you can make the dough balls ahead of time  and put them in freezer.  To freeze them, shape the balls, place them on the baking sheet and bring to the freezer. Once they are frozen, transfer to a zip lock bag and keep them in the freezer up to 3 months.
    Once you're ready to use them, preheat the oven to 400 F as usual and bake the frozen balls for 25 to 30 minutes or until golden and puffy!

    This recipe sounds complicated but believe me, it is  very easy to make and end result is delicious !! Took me back to Brazil !!
    Enjoy these hot rolls with wine, soup or with coffee as they serve it in Brazil, but I don't get how it goes with coffee. I loved them with soup and wine...

     Pan de queijo information source:
    Recipe and Photographs by Surekha.

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