Looking to bake something new with your kids, that they are guaranteed to love? Try this simple recipe for pão de queijo, a delicious Brazilian, gluten-free cheese bread with a unique, chewy texture that is made from tapioca flour. In fact, it is believed this starchy root (called cassava, yuca, tapioca, or manioc) was originally domesticated in Brazil more than 10,000 years ago! In the 16th century when Portuguese explorers came to Brazil, they brought back the cassava plant to western Africa. It spread throughout the continent, growing successfully in poor soil and drought-ridden areas, and since has become a staple in many countries.
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The original name for this bread is “chipá,” which comes from Guarani, a language spoken in Paraguay and southwestern Brazil. The Guarani people originally made chipá with only tapioca and water, but when the Jesuit missionaries brought dairy and eggs, the popular recipe evolved to what it is today.
These gluten-free puffs are easy to make, and perfect when eaten right out of the oven while they are still warm. Though originally from the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais, pão de queijo is eaten as a snack throughout Brazil, Bolivia, and parts of Argentina. This recipe was given to me by my dear friend Dani, from Campinas, Sao Paulo. Thank you Dani- we LOVED them!!!!
24 oz of tapioca flour
(also called cassava flour)
16 oz of shredded mozzarella
8 oz of parmesan cheese
1 cup of milk
½ cup of oil
4 or 5 eggs
Pour the tapioca flour into a big bowl. Boil milk and oil together and pour into the tapioca flour. Knead well.
Add the other ingredients and knead until a smooth dough. It is a very starchy dough, that might be hard for kids to knead. I had my kids start it so they could feel the stickiness between their little fingers, and then I kneaded it by hand until it was completely mixed. I have heard others say that it is easier to do by machine (mixer), but I don’t own one:).
Here is where the kids get to help! Make balls (the size of a ping-pong ball) and bake in the oven (350F) for about 25 minutes or until crust is golden. This makes a LOT of small cheese balls, so the more hand you have rolling, the better. I oiled up their hand first to avoid getting them sticky and it really helped.
Pão de queijo tastes best when it is fresh from the oven. Many in Brazil freeze the rolls before cooking them so they always have them ready when guests drop by. When you want to bake the frozen dough, just put them directly into the oven!