I am baaaaaack with one more recipe in our yuca series to show you how to make cheese bread, or how we say in Portuguese pão de queijo. Woot wootttt!!! So, to catch you up, so far we’ve talked about how to work with whole yuca, and how to make yuca fries and yuca purée. Then, we talked about yuca flour and how to make Farofa, one of the most important side dishes in Brazil.
This time, our main ingredient is the yuca starch.
So, let’s talk pão de queijo, shall we?
Ok, so, as most Brazilian things, the real origin of these yummy cheese puffs is unknown. It’s believed that they became a thing around the 18th century in the state of Minas Gerais, which totally makes sense, since production of milk and cheese is higher in that state. Anyway, the other important thing to note is, at that time, Brazilians had long mastered processing yuca into different forms, including flour, while processing wheat flour in the other hand wasn’t a thing then.
It looks like wheat flour wasn’t really produced locally until the beginning of the 20th century. So, if wheat flour was even to be considered for making these cheese breads, people at the time would have had to rely on flour imported from Europe. And in 18th century Minas Gerais that would have been… complicated. Also, appaaaarently, the quality of the wheat flour coming from Portugal wasn’t the best to begin with, so, that didn’t really play in favor of the wheat as a first option anyway. Too hard to get, too shitty.
With that, Minas’ savvy locals, decided to do the logical thing and stick to the better, local ingredient *drum rolls*, yuca starch. Yuca startch is what we call, polvilho, which you might know as, wait for it…. tapioca flour! And just like that, with a little bit of milk, a little old/hardened cheese, and some eggs the pão de queijo was born.
Our main ingredient in this recipe is yuca starch, or polvilho (aka tapioca flour). If you are curious about the difference between yuca flour and yuca starch check out this post.
Pão de queijo is definitely a Brazilian treasure every Brazilian I know loves and cherishes. There are many fun ways to eat a good pão de queijo these days; stuffed with savory or sweet (yes, SWEET!) goodies; as sliders; all different types of cheeses in the batter itself… really, the possibilities are endless here! So stick around and register to the blog to see what more you can do!
Brazilian Cheese Bread | Pão de Queijo Step by Step
Good News Alert!!! You can buy tapioca flour like pretty much anywhere. I usually buy mine at Whole Foods, but I have seen it in other grocery stores in LA as well. And remember, when in doubt, Amazon!
Soooo go ahead and preheat your oven to 375F.
To start, just dump all the tapioca flour from the package into a large bowl. Add in the salt, give it a little whisk to combine and set aside.
Add all the cheeses, and the egg to another bowl.
Mix it all to combine.
Now, go ahead and add the milk and oil to a small sauce pan.
Bring it to a simmer on stove top, over medium heat.
Ok so, at this point you need to be quick. Yuca starch when in contact with moisture turns into a gum, and unless you work quickly, things can get a little too sticky.
You have a few options at this point. Work quickly by hand using a wooden spoon. Or use the batter or bread hook attachment of your stand-up mixer. Or some people just dump everything in a blender. I never tried the blender, but it should work.
So, when the liquids are simmering, remove the pan from heat and quickly mix the cheese mixture with the tapioca. Then, immediately start to slowly add in the hot liquid, and continue to mix to combine.
The below image shows the result of mixing by hand. As you can see, there are a few little white tapioca clusters that I couldn’t mix in more than that. That is normal and doesn’t affect the end result at all. When you use the mixer or the blender, the dough looks a little more smooth and homogeneous.
Brazilian Cheese Bread | Freeze or Bake
Now that the dough is all mixed up, it’s time to roll it into little balls and either freeze or bake them.
To freeze just add the baking sheet to the freezer, so the cheese breads can start to hold their shape. After 10-15 minutes you can just place them into ziplock bags and freeze to bake later.
Brazilian Cheese Bread
There are so many ways to enjoy pão de queijo. I love mine with butter or with a dollop of dulce de leche.
Make it, take a picture and share with me on Instagram by tagging me or using #cookingwithaline