Authentic Brazilian Pao de Queijo cheese bread is a gluten-free, tapioca flour bread, loaded with cheese, a recipe taught to me while living in Brazil.
What Is Pao de Queijo 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!
My Authentic Brazilian Cheese Bread Recipe
How many bread lovers are there 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! Pão 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 is also made without yeast, and yet these little golden balls of cheesy bread, puff up as though air was blown into them.
What Is Pao?
What is Pao, 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/cheese bread.
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.
Almost every Brazilian gathering will have a large bowl of pao de queijo on the table.
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.
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.
Afro-Brazilian Contribution To Cooking
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).
Quilombo Communities Of Brazil Contribute A Richness To The Brazilian Culture
I visited three of the Quilombo communities (Runaway Slave Communities), of which there are thousands throughout Brazil.
It was there, with these beautiful, resilient people that I discovered this history for myself. A truly humbling experience.
If cell phones, with their amazing photography abilities, had 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!
What Makes Brazilian Cheese Bread Gluten-free?
Yuca. Once the yuca has been dried and ground, it needed to be sifted and sifted over and over again by scraping the flour with a stone.
The yucca was then pressed hard against the hard mud surface of the grain processor. Talk about a week of work, just for a loaf of bread!
Brazilian Culture and Cuisine
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!
Pao de Queijo The Brazilian Cheese Bread
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.
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 that is neither sticky nor dry.
Roll into balls or scoop into a muffin tin and these bake quick and ready to serve within minutes.
A Word About The Authenticity Of This Recipe
While recipes may vary from one cook to another, this recipe was given to me by a friend in Brazil while I was living there.
He was from the region of Minas Gerais, right in the middle of Brazil, where Pao de Queijo was said to come from.
Perhaps because the state of Minas Gerais is where Brazil’s most loved cheese ‘Quijo Minais’, is from.
The state of 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.
Nonetheless, this bread is amazing and its history even more amazing!
For my Gluten-free friends and family… THIS is for you, Bread with No Gluten!
- Tapioca flour – know as Polvilho – usually a 2 pound bag is good for several batches.
- Corn flour
- Olive oil
- Grated cheese
- Mixing bowl
- Small ice cream scooper or spoon
- Measuring cup
- Measuring spoons
- Baking sheet pan
- Parchment paper
Great Recipes To Serve With Pao de Queijo
While I have lots of recipes I learned to make from Brazilian families while I was living there, I haven’t posted many here on my blog.
However, I did have the amazing opportunity to prepare both my Pao de Queijo Bread and Moqueca Brazilian Fish Stew on national television here in America!
It was Season 1 of The Great American Recipe PBS, Episode 6 when the challenge was called ‘Melting Pot’ in which we were asked to prepare a dish that influence aspect of your unique personal cooking style, I prepared these and told the stories.
Aspects of my living in Brazil, continue to be exampled in many of my recipes simply because the focus on healthy food was much more advanced when I lived there than it was here, at that time.
For example, smoothies were not yet heard of here! Imagine that, and yet on every corner throughout Brazil was a kiosk making smoothies from health ingredients.
One last recipe and story (that can be found in the recipe page), is my American Banana Muffins To To Brazil!
With a gazillion types of bananas there, it took me time to find the right banana for my muffins, only to discover Brazil had never heard of Muffins!
You can’t imagine how many times I was asked to open a chain of muffin shops throughout Brazil, so instead, I published a cookbook dedicated to 52 fabulous and unusual Muffins!
Authentic Brazilian Pao de Queijo Cheese Bread
- Muffin tin or cookie sheet with parchment paper
- Ice Cream Scooper optional
- 2 cups Tapioca flour (Polvilho) more as needed
- 2 tbsp Corn flour
- 1 Egg
- 1/2 cup Olive oil
- 1 cup Milk
- 1 cup Grated cheese parmesan or any hard cheese grated
- 1/2 tsp Salt
- 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.