This part of my life began when my very sick partner was diagnosed with Celiac. Even the slightest exposure to gluten can make him very ill for several days, so I have pursued gluten-free options with thorough aggression. In the U.S. a recent surge of gluten awareness means we have more choices than ever, but it still means hunting and analyzing and tracking down parent companies. After several years now of doing so, I want to share my tricks and tips with others who are still struggling.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Recipe Box: Traditional Pão de Queijo (Brazilian Cheese Bread)

The best part about this recipe is that it comes gluten-free straight out of the box, no adaptation necessary.  These are made with tapioca flour, and so have a chewy texture (like mochi) that not everyone will love.  If you do, however, then your dinner roll problem is solved forever!

I posted another recipe earlier for a quick Pão made in the blender. This version is infinitely tastier, but it does take quite a bit longer.

This recipe makes about 2-3 dozen depending on how large you make them.  The larger the roll, the chewier the texture.  They do fridge well, but you'll want to re-heat them in the oven or toaster oven. You will want a stand mixer for this, or really impressive biceps.  I've included directions for hand-mixing.  As the dough gets really thick, it could burn out a cheap mixer.  My heavy duty Kitchenaid even groans a bit and slows down. 

Tapioca flour is also sold as tapioca starch.  Bob's Red Mill makes a certified gluten-free starch.  We use Erawan brand from the local Korean grocery, which is half the price.  It isn't certified gluten-free, but my partner is sensitive below 20ppm and we have not yet had a problem.  You'll want to do your own risk assessment.

Adapted from a recipe at

 1 cup whole milk
1/2 cup butter, cut into chunks
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 cups tapioca flour (also sold as tapioca starch)
2 cups shredded or grated cheese *
*(I use mozzerella or colby, any semi-firm to firm cheese will do.  You could even make it really interesting with cheddar or gorgonzola!)
  1.  Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.  
  2. Prep:  
    • Put milk and butter in a saucepan.  
    • Set up tapioca starch, eggs, and cheese in separate bowls, as they will need to be added quickly in their turn. 
    • Set out two ungreased baking sheets (I line with parchment paper, but it isn't necessary) and a small bowl of cold water to keep your fingers wet. 
    • Set up a stand mixer with a dough hook (use the standard paddle on a Kitchenaid)
  3. Bring the milk and butter to a boil over medium heat, stirring
  4. As soon as it is at a rolling boil, add the tapioca starch all at once and stir until it is all moistened.
  5. Add to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix on low speed for at least two minutes, or until you can leave your finger against the dough for 10 seconds without discomfort.  
  6. Add half the eggs.  Once the first half is incorporated, add the second half.
  7.  Add the cheese, then turn up to medium speed and beat for two minutes or until the dough is even.
    • If you don't have a mixer, beat the dough with a wooden spoon in the pot until it is just cool enough to handle.   Beat in the eggs a little at a time, then add the cheese.  At this point it might be most effective to just knead with your hands until it is smooth, but it will be really sticky.
  8. Dip your fingers in water and tear out a small amount of dough (approximately 1 tablespoon).  Roll it into a ball and place on the baking sheet.  Repeat until all the dough is used up, leaving at least half an inch between balls.
  9. Put in the oven and immediately turn the oven down to 350 degrees
  10. Bake 15 minutes, switch sheet positions, then bake another 10-15 minutes until just starting to color.  
  11. Serve warm!