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! Unfortunately, I cannot imagine any way to make these dairy-free or vegan. The cheese and egg are pretty essential binders.
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, not the microwave. 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 http://www.thekitchn.com
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 melting cheese (mozzarella, cheddar, queso fresco, etc.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
- 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)
- Bring the milk and butter to a boil over medium heat, stirring
- As soon as it is at a rolling boil, add the tapioca starch all at once and stir until it is all moistened.
- 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.
- Add half the beaten eggs. Once the first half is incorporated, add the second.
- 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.
- 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. These will puff up considerably.
- Put in the oven and immediately turn the oven down to 350 degrees
- Bake 20 minutes, switch sheet positions, then bake another 5-10 minutes until just starting to color.
- Serve warm!