Originally from the region of Minas Gerais in Brazil, the traditional recipe uses a local cheese called “queijo minas” which is a mild white cheese with a medium consistency. When hard to find, most people substitute queijo minas with parmesan cheese which has a stronger flavor and harder consistency, while some also add mozzarella for the string cheese effect. I tried different combinations and I prefer to use feta cheese and either pecorino or parmesan for a stronger cheese flavor.These little “breads” are easy to make and naturally gluten-free since tapioca flour is used instead of wheat. The dough usually keeps well in the fridge for about a week (mine has never lasted that long). You can also freeze the dough (see note below) but I prefer not to freeze them and make a fresh batch.
The traditional recipe uses oil (or butter), water and milk. I decreased the amount of oil and did not add milk. These are lighter in taste and fat content than most recipes. You can try different types of cheese and even add herbs and create your own version of pão de queijo!Famous Brazilian “Pão de Queijo” (Gluten-Free Cheese Puff Bread) – Light Recipe
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10-12 minutes
Ingredients (approximately 50 small units)
- 250g (approx 2 cups) tapioca flour (“polvilho”)
- 60g (2oz) feta cheese
- 60g (2oz) freshly grated parmesan* or pecorino cheese (or both)
- 30ml (a little less than 4 TBL) vegetable oil (I use canola)
- 160ml (3/4 cup) water
- ¼ tsp salt (less if you use pecorino)
- 1 egg, beaten
- *NOTE: do not use store-bought packaged grated parmesan outside the refrigerated section of the supermarket as that is not fresh cheese and will alter the consistency.
- Mix the tapioca flour, cheese, and salt and set aside. The feta will easily crumble by hand once mixed into the tapioca flour.
- In a small sauce pan, boil the water and the oil. Carefully pour over the tapioca and cheese mixture and let the dry ingredients absorb the hot liquid for a few minutes. Then use a wooden spoon to mix until a dough is formed (it will become slightly cool to handle with your hands if you prefer to knead by hand, otherwise continue mixing with wooden spoon).
- Once the dough is cool, add the beaten egg and mix the dough with the wooden spoon (or by hand) until the egg is incorporated into the dough.
- You can either use the dough right away and spoon the mixture onto a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicone mat; or once the dough is cool, you can store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use. After a few hours (I prefer to leave it overnight) you can then shape the dough into small balls and bake.
- Freezing the dough: Once you make the dough into balls, you can place them on a baking sheet and put in the freezer for about 20-30 minutes. When completely frozen, you can then place them in a freezer bag to store until ready to bake. If using frozen pão de queijo, be sure to increase the baking time.
- Bake at 400◦F (1200◦C) for 10-12 minutes (if using frozen dough, bake for 15-18 minutes. Keep an eye on the pão de queijo while in the oven, depending on the size you make them and your oven, you may need to adjust temperature and time. Be careful not to overcook them to “golden” or they will become dry.
I hope you enjoy this delicious and popular Brazilian snack as much as we do!