Authentic Brazilian Pao de Queijo Cheese Bread

by | Bread Muffins & Crackers, World Cuisine

Authentic Brazilian Pao de Queijo - cheese bread
Authentic Brazilian Pao de Queijo – Cheese Bread

Authentic Brazilian Cheese Bread, Pao de Queijo, is simply the best gluten free bread on the planet!

Brazilian Cheese Bread

If you’ve ever been to a Brazilian Churrascaria (barbecue), for the ‘All-You-Can-Eat’ meat, you’ve had this bread.

Those cheesy little round balls of bread, with a little crunch on the outside and gooey cheese deliciousness inside, is what you possibly remembered most about your Brazilian dining experience!

How many bread lovers out there, who grew up looking forward to a Sunday trip to your local bakery for the intoxicating scent of bread baking?

A bag full of loaves to take home that would calculatingly last the week. Now, though, you’ve stopped because it has gluten in it?

Well, do I have good news for you! Pao de Queijo, Brazilian cheese bread will fast become your new bread addiction!

Authentic Brazilian Cheese Bread has no gluten, naturally. Why? Because it has no wheat. It also is made without yeast, and yet these little golden balls of cheesy bread, puff up as though air was blown into them. 

Pao de Queijo

Pao de Queijo. What is it you ask? Pao, is the Portuguese word for bread, ‘de’ is the word for of, and queijo is the word for cheese; bread of cheese.

Pao de Queijo, though, does not have its roots in Portugal. It is, or should be, the national bread of Brazil, which has much of its culinary roots from Africa. 

Gluten-free Flour

Cassava Flour. The flour used to make this cheese bread is cassava flour, or tapioca flour (as Americans like to call it). Silly though because there is no such plant called a tapioca.

Cassava is also known as yuca, manioc, and mandioca; a root plant primarily native to Brazil, parts of Africa and South America. 

yucca plant in Brazil
Yuca Plant In Brazil

While yuca is boiled and then incorporated into dozens of Brazilian recipes, it is most commonly marketed for its flour, which is also exported world-wide.

I have very special memories of this plant, while I lived in Brazil. Not so much because of its recipe usage, but for the African and Afro-Brazilian history I learned about the plant:

  • How it kept a massive number of people alive while they were taken into slavery from Africa to Brazil.
  • The ingenious ways these brilliant people made machinery out of mud and stone, in order to process the plant into flour.
  • Baking ovens they built, also out of mud, to bake the bread. 

No, I didn’t learn about the history of these things from a book, or a museum. I went deep into the interior of central Brazil, (before my Portuguese speaking skills had been honed).

I visit three of the Quilombo communities (Run Away Slave Communities), of which there are thousands throughout Brazil, and discovered this history for myself. A truly humbling experience. 

Interior Brazil
Interior Brazil

Had cell phones, with their amazing photography abilities, been what they are now, back in 2007, I would have taken way more photos.

Suffice it say, I got what I could and feel honored to be able to share some of them here with you. Just imagine grinding your flour, as I often do with oats or nuts in my food processor, with this piece of machinery!

grinding yuca root to flour by the Quilombo communities
Grinding Yuca Root To Flour By The Quilombo Communities
Mud ovens for baking bread or drying large bundles of roots.
Mud Ovens For Baking Bread Or Drying Large Bundles Of Roots

Yuca or Cassava

Yucca. Once the yucca had been dried and ground, it needed to be sifted and sifted over and over again by scraping the flour with a stone and stick made device, against the hard mud surface of the grain processor. Talk about a week of work, just for a loaf of bread!

Grain grinder for flour
Grain Grinder For Flour

History Of Brazil

Quilombo Communities. These beautiful people, with some of the most amazing recipes, live a quiet peaceful life without electricity or running water.

Their days, are an endless activity of work that makes daily life and survival, possible. And please, y’all, never again complain about all the dishes you have to wash after spending hours in your air conditioned kitchens!

Quilombo Community - Interior Brazil
Quilombo Community – Interior Brazil

Pao de Queijo – Brazilian Cheese Bread recipe was most difficult to make in these communities simply because even the cheese needed to be made by hand, after the cow had been milked.

Imagine all that work! But, these delicious cheesy, tapioca (mandioca), flour bread was the most, if not the only, bread these communities would eat.

There were no stores  nearby to buy wheat flour and yeast. There were, however, lots and lots of these tubular roots growing on their property, and tapioca, gluten-free (though I’m sure they did not care about gluten), cheese bread was a special treat that required an incredible amount of work, before that first bite could be taken. 

Brazilian Cheese Bread - Pao de Queijo
Brazilian Cheese Bread – Pao de Queijo

How To Make Pao de Queijo – Brazilian Cheese Bread

Ready for this easy to bake recipe? Let’s get started!

First, Let’s gather the ingredients, and be sure to always keep several bags of cassava flour on hand.

Cassava flour, by the way, has several brands sold here in America: Amafil, Yoki, Goya and a few others. It is easy to find in the international section or Latino grocery section of most grocery stores.

Sometimes it just says Tapioca flour or Polvilho. Also, you will notice that some say Doce (sweet) while others say Azedo (sour). I use either, because the sweet one really isn’t very sweet nor the sour, very sour. Once you’ve decided on the type of flour you want, the rest is easy.

Second step is to simply mix all the ingredients together into a batter. Roll into balls or scoop into a muffin tin and these bake quick and are cheesy delicious!

Ingredients Needed

  • Tapioca flour
  • Corn flour
  • Egg
  • Olive oil
  • Milk
  • Grated cheese
  • Salt

Equipment Needed

  • Mixing bowl
  • Whisk
  • Small ice cream scooper or spoon
  • Measuring cup
  • Measuring spoons
  • Baking sheet pan
  • Parchment paper
  • Oven

Authentic Brazilian Pao de Queijo Cheese Bread

Recipe by Robin DaumitCourse: BreadCuisine: BrazilianDifficulty: Easy
Servings

12

servings

Brazilian Pao de Queijo, gluten-free, cheese bread recipe from Brazil, made with gluten-free tapioca flour and grated cheese.

Ingredients

  • Tapioca flour (Polvilho) – 2 cups, a little more as needed

  • Corn flour – 2 tablespoons

  • Egg – 1

  • Olive oil – 1/2 cup

  • Milk – 1 cup

  • Grated cheese – 1 cup parmesan or any hard cheese grated

  • Salt – 1/2 teaspoon

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 400
  • Place the egg, oil and milk in a large bowl. Mix well. Add cheese. Mix.
  • In a separate bowl, mix the dry ingredients. Slowly add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients. Mix well until the dough comes together. If too sticky, just sprinkle a little more tapioca flour until the dough is no longer sticky.
  • With a small ice cream scooper, place small rounds of bread dough onto parchment paper lined cookie sheets, or larger balls can be placed in muffin tins.
  • Bake for about 15 – 20 minutes until tops begin to look golden and crack.
  • note about making large batches for future use; once the balls are formed and placed on a baking sheet, place the baking sheet in the freezer for a few hours until they freeze firm enough to pick up. Transfer to a zip bag and freeze until ready to bake. Place back onto baking sheets (as above), let thaw, and bake as instructed above.
  • While recipes may vary from one cook to another, this recipe was given to me by a friend in Brazil from the region of Minas Gerais, right in the middle of Brazil, where Pao de Quijo was said to come from, perhaps because the state of Minas Gerais is where Brazil’s most loved cheese ‘Quijo Minais’, is from. Goias, were I lived for a year, is said to be the second state in which the recipe was created, a state loaded with cattle ranches. None the less, the bread is amazing and its history even more amazing!
Homemade Brazilian Pao de Queijo - Cheese Bread
Homemade Brazilian Pao de Queijo – Cheese Bread
 

My Muffin Madness

 

In my family, I’ve always been known as the ‘Muffin Queen’. Out of necessity, I created muffins for breakfast, lunch, on the go snacks, sometimes dinner and a sweet yet healthyish treat for dessert!

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Hadia
1 year ago

What a great blog post, Robin. I could see you had such a great time in Brazil, thanks for sharing this with the world, and those cheese bread sound phenomenal. Interesting to know they are made with tapioca flour.

 

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