Easy Brazilian Cheese Bread
Our tour of Brazil continues. After posting the moqueca recipe, several of you asked if I had a recipe for Pão de Queijo, or Brazilian cheese bread, sort of like a chewy cheese puff made with tapioca flour. As a matter of fact, I do. My friend Bill gave me this recipe years ago, a favorite from his Brazilian wife Silvia.
I’ve made it several times, each time with different cheeses. Talk about addictive! I’ve cut Bill’s original recipe down to just a third, because if I actually made a full batch (48) I could conceivably eat them all.
There are several ways to make Pão de Queijo. One method includes cooked potatoes. One method is sort of like a pâte a choux in which you cook the dough first. The quickest, easiest, short-cut method is what I describe here (and the only way some of my Brazilian friends make it). You put the ingredients in a blender. Pour them out into a mini-muffin tin, and bake.
The beauty of this recipe is that you can make a big batch of batter and just store it in the refrigerator (for up to a week), pouring out just as many mini-muffins as you want to eat. You can even cook them in a toaster oven.
The only weird ingredient is tapioca flour. Bob’s Red Mill makes it, and you can find it at Whole Foods. Tapioca flour is gluten-free, so this cheese bread is great for gluten-free eaters.
The recipe as presented is fairly basic. Feel free to dress it up a bit with herbs or spices of your choice.
- 1 egg*
- 1/3 cup olive oil
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1 1/2 cups (170 grams) tapioca flour
- 1/2 cup (packed, about 66 grams) grated cheese, your preference, we get good results with feta cheese (no need to grate), or fresh farmer's cheese (if using fresh farmer's cheese, you may want to add another 1/2 teaspoon of salt)
- 1 teaspoon of salt (or more to taste)
Special equipment recommended:
- One or two mini muffin tins. Mini muffin tins are about half the size of a regular muffin pan. The muffin openings are about 1-inch deep, and 1 3/4 inch wide at the top.
*It helps when baking with eggs to start with eggs at room temperature. If you don't plan ahead (that would be me, usually) you can put the egg in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes to gently take off the chill of the fridge.
1 Preheat oven to 400°F. Spread a little olive oil around the insides of each well of a mini-muffin tin.
2 Put all of the ingredients into a blender and pulse until smooth. You may need to use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the blender so that everything gets blended well. At this point you can store the batter in the refrigerator for up to a week.
3 Pour batter into prepared mini-muffin tin, not quite to the top; leave about 1/8 inch from the top.
4 Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until all puffy and just lightly browned. Remove from oven and let cool on a rack for a few minutes.
Eat while warm or save to reheat later.
Note that Brazilian cheese bread is very chewy, a lot like Japanese mochi.