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.
Here’s something I created following on from the post about Fat-Free Crispy Oven Chips a few weeks ago.
I wanted to see if it would work with something sweet and after a bit of trial and error, found the perfect pairing: Bramley Apples.
Bramley Apples are native to the UK and are the most popular choice for a cooking apple, because when cooked, they fluff up into a froth of apple puree without releasing too much juice – ideal for baking pies and for this recipe! The coating of spices and egg-white emerges from the oven deliciously crisp, yet as you bite into them, the apple inside collapses in a puff of froth.
Delicious as a dessert or a snack, they’re fat-free, wheat-free, gluten-free, sugar-free and paleo friendly – and ready in just 20 minutes!
I like them plain, but then I’m especially fond of sharp-flavoured apples. You could always add a sprinkle of sugar or some cream for dipping if you wanted to be indulgent, but the dazzle on your halo after eating such a healthy dish is almost as delicious as the fries themselves!
2 large Bramley Apples
3 large egg-whites
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
1½ tsp ground nutmeg
- Preheat the oven to 200°C, 180°C Fan.
- Line a baking sheet with baking parchment.
- Add the spices to the egg-whites and whisk in thoroughly. This might seem a lot of spice for the mixture, but the blast in the oven will eliminate much of their strength.
- Peel the apples and cut into quarters.
- Remove the cores and, depending on the size, cut each quarter into 3 or 4 wedges. Don’t cut them too thin – ideally, you want them to be thick enough to be able to ‘stand upright’ on the baking sheet on their curved outside edge, for maximum crisping.
- Toss the apple slices in the egg-white mixture and stand them upright on the prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 20-25 minutes until crisped. NB: these wont be as crisp as the potato wedges. Try a taste test after 20 minutes to decide if they need a little longer.
- Although they are still nice once cooled, these are best enjoyed straight from the oven.
I’m on a bit of a using-up-egg-whites roll at the moment, having made a lot of egg-yolk-heavy recipes recently, and so here is a variation on meringue that is ideal for lunchboxes, mid-morning snack or afternoon energy boost.
They’re gluten-free and, although they contain sugar, the amount-per-biscuit is really quite low (about 5g), so they can also sneak in as a Paleo treat.
They’re packed with nuts and seeds for all those beneficial vitamins and minerals. You can also choose to make them even more substantial by replacing the flaked almonds with some toasted oats (steel-rolled for preference – less dust, more crunch!) if you like. Don’t feel obliged to stick rigidly to the ingredients below, just make up the overall weight with your own mix of nutty goodness: sesame seeds, poppy seeds, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, etc.
Short and sweet (and crunchy!) this week. 😀
70g egg-white (2 large)
pinch of salt
70g caster sugar (or the same weight as the egg-whites)
60g flaked almonds
50g sunflower seeds
50g pumpkin seeds
30g pecans – chopped
20g flax seeds
- Preheat the oven to 100°C, 80°C Fan – although no-fan is preferable if you want to keep the biscuits pearly-white.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add the salt to the egg-whites.
- Whisk the egg-whites on medium speed until frothy, then gradually whisk in the caster sugar, a spoonful at a time (to allow it time to dissolve before the next spoonful). You can test whether the sugar has dissolved by rubbing a little of the egg-white between finger and thumb – you shouldn’t feel any graininess.
- Increase the speed of whisking as you add the sugar until full speed by the time the last of the sugar is added.
- Continue whisking until the sugar is fully dissolved and the meringue is thick and glossy.
- Fold in the nuts and seeds.
- Drop the mixture onto the baking sheets in whatever size you desire, but bear in mind, the larger the diameter, the longer it will take to dry out. I used a heaped tablespoon and a small round cutter to give the biscuits an even and consistent shape.
- Dry the biscuits slowly in the oven for 1-1.5 hours.
- Allow to cool completely before removing from the paper. Use a thin spatula in case the middle is still a little sticky.
- Store in an airtight container.
Here’s a life-altering post *she claims, modestly* in that it is for crispy, oven-baked chips. Chips, not fries (which are too thin to enjoy, in my opinion), although the term ‘wedges’ would also be permissible.
The main difference between these and other oven-baked chips is that they’re fat-free.
Not, as many another oven-baked recipe turns out, oven-baked in oil – but completely fat free.
The secret is egg-white. Add your favourite spices and flavourings to some egg-whites and whisk until frothy – although frothiness isn’t compulsory, a light whisking that just loosens the egg-white is perfectly sufficient. Toss parboiled potatoes in the mixture, lay on parchment and bake in the oven and Tadaah!
It’s that simple. No need to sigh at the prospect of having to make yet more meringues/macaroons when faced with leftover egg-whites, THIS is the new way to use them up.
Infinitely customisable, I’ve made several batches, trying different flavourings, and each one has turned out dry and crisp and fluffy inside and deliciously fat-free.
- The suggestions below are just that – suggestions only. Feel free to mix up your own combinations. If you like things spicy, add some chilli flakes, if cheese is your passion, some grated parmesan could be just the thing, caraway seeds, fennel, tarragon, cajun spices, tandoori spices, onion or garlic powder, etc.
- Now I’m also well aware that sometimes your taste-bids crave the oil/fat associated with chips, so if you have a go at the recipe below and it’s not quite doing it for you, try mixing in just 1 tablespoon of oil with the egg-white and spices, just before coating the chips. This small addition can, of course, be any oil you like – as well as all of the plain oils, infused oils would add an extra flavour dimension: garlic, herb, even truffle-oil – the possibilities are endless. Do let me know your own combinations!
Enough chat, on with the recipe!
Crisp Oven-Baked Chips
The following quantities are sufficient for 2 generous adult helpings. Scale up for larger quantities.
60ml egg-whites (2 large)
- Suggestion 1 – Herby: 2tsp mixed, dried herbs (I used ½tsp each of dried thyme, rosemary, oregano, marjoram), ¼tsp salt, ½tsp coarse-ground black pepper
- Suggestion 2 – Spicy: 2tsp mixed ground spices (½tsp each of coriander, cumin, garam masala, smoked paprika) ¼tsp salt, ½tsp coarse-ground black pepper,
- Peel the potatoes and cut them into chunky chips or wedges. They should be at least as thick as your finger, to ensure a nice contrast between crispy outsides and fluffy insides.
- Rinse the raw chips in cold water, to get rid of some of the starch and then keep them immersed in water until ready to parboil.
- Heat a pan of water. When the water is boiling, drain the raw chips from the cold water and tip them into the pan. This will cool the water down and take it off the boil.
- Bring the water back to a rolling boil and let the chips cook for a further 2 minutes. This will take about 7-8 minutes from the time you tip in the potatoes.
- Remove the chips from the water and drain in a sieve. Set aside to cool. They don’t have to be completely cold before you coat them, just not hot enough to cook the egg-white before you’ve got them coated.
- Heat the oven to 220°C, 200°C Fan.
- Line a baking sheet with non-stick baking parchment. This is important. Foil will not do, nor will greaseproof paper, as the chips will stick.
- Whisk together the egg-white and flavourings.
- Gently toss the par-boiled chips in the flavourings. Work in 2 or 3 batches, to ensure they get evenly coated and don’t break apart.
- Lay the chips onto the parchment-lined baking sheet. If there’s any egg-white left over, use a pastry brush to dab it over the chips if liked – a thicker layer makes for more crunch.
- Bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and turn the chips over. Bake for another 10-15 minutes.
- Serve with your favourite dips, sauces and relishes.