Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Daring Bakers’ May, 2014 Challenge: Pão de Queijo

 This month's Daring Bakers' Challenge took us on a trip to beautiful Brazil! 
Renata of "Testado, Provado & Aprovado!" taught us how to make Pao De Queijo, tasty cheese buns that make the perfect snack or treat, and that will make your taste buds samba! The challenge this month was so fun and easy. I love all things cheese and that is exactly what this challenge delivered.
This time of year pulls me in all directions. I want to be in my basement studio creating sugar flowers. I want to be outside planting real flowers. I want to do it all. The Pao De Queijo did not tie me to the kitchen and made a quick delicious snack/meal if you could not eating them as I found out. I also found them yummy during cocktail hour with a  glass of Josh Cabernet Sauvignon.

On to the recipe. I am including a blurb about the Pao De Queijo from Renata for background information. She was very thorough in her explanations and I encourage you to visit her blog!! I used her traditional recipe and I loved it. Tapioca Starch was easy to find at my grocer as  gluten free choices become more mainstream.

Pão de Queijo ( Pão = Bread; Queijo = Cheese) is a non-yeasted bread, the main ingredient is not 
wheat flour instead it uses tapioca starch, but it is referred to as "bread". It dates back to the 
eighteenth century (I had to research that!) it became popular in the 1950's in Minas Gerais (a state of Brazil). You can find Pão de Queijo everywhere now in Brazil, from specialized snack bars that sell them hot out of the oven, to packages of frozen dough balls, sold in supermarkets, ready to bake at any minute in the comfort of your home. However, most Brazilians who like baking have a favorite recipe to make from scratch. I have tried a few dozen different recipes. Even if you stick to the same recipe, your Pão de Queijo may turn out slightly different each time, but always delicious! This is due to the quality of ingredients (tapioca starch varies from brand to brand) and type of cheese you use, don't be too concerned 'cause most cheeses will work fine.

Yields about 80 small balls 


500 gm (4 cups) tapioca starch (If you have access to sour tapioca, you can use 250gm (2 cups) of 
1 cup (250 ml) whole milk 
2-3/4 tablespoons (40 ml) (1½ oz) (40 gm) butter 
1 teaspoon (5 ml) (3 gm) salt (or to taste depending on how salty your cheese is) 
3 cups (750 ml) (9 oz) (250gm) Monterey Jack Cheese (or another cheese of your liking, or a mix of 
cheeses), coarsely grated I used Pepper Jack cheese- made it a bit spicy!
1 to 3 large eggs 


Heat milk, butter, and salt in a small sauce pan until it comes to a boil. Watch closely as it may boil over. Remove from heat and set aside. 
Sift tapioca starch into a large bowl. 
Pour the boiled (hot) mixture over the tapioca and start stirring with a fork. The milk mixture will not be enough to form a dough yet. You will have a lumpy mixture, that's what it is supposed to be. 
Keep stirring with the fork, breaking down the lumps as much as you can, until the mixture cools down to warm. 
At this point, preheat your oven to moderately hot 400° F/200° C/gs mark 6 
Add the grated cheese to the tapioca mixture and mix well, now using your hands. 
Add one egg at a time, mix with your hands until dough comes together. Renata suggests you lightly beat the egg with a fork and add little bits until the dough comes together into a soft but pliable dough. 
You only have to knead it a bit, not as much as you knead a yeasted bread. It´s OK if it is slightly sticky. I found that 2 eggs worked for me.
Form balls with the dough and place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or silicon mat or lightly greased with vegetable oil. If necessary, you can oil your hands to make shaping easier.
The size of the balls may vary from small bite-sized balls to the size of ping pong balls. They will puff up quite a bit after baking. I made them on the small size, about 12 grams each.
Bake for about 25 minutes or until they just start to brown on the bottom. You may have golden spots of cheese on the crust. Don´t over-bake as they will get hard and bitter. 
NOTE: If your dough gets too soft and sticky to shape balls, you can always add a bit more tapioca 
starch or pop the dough into a piping bag and pipe the dough on a baking sheet. 
Serve hot or warm.