Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Pao de Queijo - (Brazilian Cheese Bread)

This time last year I was lucky enough to spend some time travelling around South America. My travels finished in the colourful country of Brazil where I enjoyed beautiful weather amongst beautiful people, and discovered the joy of samba dancing, caipirinhas….and pao de queijo! My first encounter with these little doughy cheese balls was actually in Sao Paulo bus station but they can be found across the country with bakeries dedicated to their production. Best served straight from the oven the warm pao de queijo have a moist, chewy texture. This is down to the main ingredient…tapioca flour, which is also known as ground cassava. I actually had a bit of trouble getting hold of the appropriate tapioca flour locally (I think I need to hunt through my local ethic food shops a bit more thoroughly) but fortunately one of my colleagues is Portuguese and she was kind enough to bring some flour back from Portugal when she was visiting family at Christmas. So although I am in the midst of a rather grey northern winter I was able to inject just a tiny little bit of that Brazilian sunshine into my kitchen when I got around to making these cheese balls at the weekend. And because tapioca flour is used this recipe is naturally gluten free!!


½ cup water
½ cup milk
½ cup vegetable oil
½ teaspoon salt
250g tapioca flour

2 eggs
½ cup finely grated parmesan
½ cup finely grated mature cheddar

Makes 18-20

Pre-heat the oven to 220degC/450degF

Put the water, milk and oil into a saucepan and place over a medium heat until the mixture begins to boil.

Once boiling remove from the heat and add the flour and salt, stirring with a wooden spoon until the ingredients are well combined and the mixture forms a sticky ball.

Allow the mixture to cool slightly, and in the meantime grate the cheese using the finest holes on your grater producing very finely grated cheese.

Add the cheese and eggs to the mixture in the saucepan and work all of the ingredients together, again mixing with a wooden spoon. Don’t worry if the mixture seems quite wet, this is what you want.

Lightly oil your hands to prevent the mixture sticking to your fingers and then shape small quantities of the mixture into little balls (I made mine slightly smaller than the size of a ping pong ball). Place these balls onto a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, leaving space between the balls as they pretty much double in size when you cook them.

Then place the baking tray in the oven and bake for 20/25 minutes until lightly golden.

Remove from the oven and leave to cool slightly…but don’t leave it too long before you sample your pao de queijo as these little stodgy treats are best eaten warm!

This recipe was adapted from the instructions on the back of the tapioca flour packet as brought back from Portugal by Jonana….thanks Jo!

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