Back in the summer, my daughter’s class at school chose a mini project on Brazil, and I was asked if I could bring in some food for them to taste.
Of all the dishes I prepared, Brigadeiros were naturally the overwhelming favourite. However, these little cheese breads were also a great hit, with many pupils coming back for seconds and thirds.
In essence, they are a Brazilian version of Gougères, but differ in that they are made with gluten-free tapioca flour. If you’re at all apprehensive about tackling Gougères or even choux paste in general, then these little cheese breads – or pão de queijo to give them their proper name – are an ideal place to start.
They don’t require as much cooking as Gougères, and since there is no gluten to develop, the mixture is much more straight forward. The crisp outsides contrast deliciously well with the soft, stretchy insides (the stretch being provided by the cheese).
I’ve baked mine a little longer than is traditional, because I do love some crunch, but you can take them out earlier if you prefer them pale and interesting. I’ve also baked them in mini-muffin tins to give them a nice shape – gluten free bakes generally need a little help to ‘get it together’.
These are delicious straight from the oven, but will also keep a few days in an airtight container. Warm in a gentle (150°C, 130°C Fan) oven for 10 minutes.
I bought my tapioca flour here
Brazilian Cheese Bread
Makes approx. 24 mini-muffin-sized breads.
125ml whole milk
60ml vegetable oil
½ teaspoon salt
140g tapioca flour
1 large egg
extra egg-whites (maybe)
125g strong cheddar or fresh Parmesan – grated
- Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
- Heat the milk, oil and salt in a pan until just below boiling.
- Remove from the heat and add the tapioca flour.
- Stir vigorously until no dry flour is visible.
- Tip the paste into a bowl and beat with a mixer (stand or hand) until cooled enough that no steam is visible rising from the bowl.
- Add the egg and beat thoroughly until fully combined.
- If the mixture seems a little tight, add a little extra egg white. It’s better for the dough to be a little too soft than too firm.
- Add the cheese and mix thoroughly.
- Grease a mini muffin tin.
- Use an ice-cream scoop to portion out the dough into the prepared mini-muffin tin. Don’t fill the cups more than 2/3 full.
- Bake for 10 minutes, then turn the heat down to 180°C, 160°C Fan for a further 15-20 minutes.
- Cool on a wire rack.