Pão de queijo is a traditional Brazilian snack bread. It is made with Brazilian sour cassava (tapioca) flour, which makes it gluten-free. After it bakes, it forms a crisp crust and a crumb which, if you don’t expect it, can be a bit of a surprise – it is gummy and elastic, almost like Japanese mochi. Allow the buns cool slightly, however, and the texture will firm up while still remaining springy, with a web of air pockets inside.

Pão de Queijo

The crumb of pão de queijo is airy and squishy.

I have used ordinary tapioca flour that is commonly found here. I was told by a Brazilian lady that it works as well as the Brazilian variety. She used to live in South Korea and had to use the local tapioca flour there and her pão de queijo turned out well. Another tip she gave me was not to bake the little buns for too long. They should just be turning brown, but still be a little pale when they are pulled out of the oven.

The unbaked buns can also be frozen and baked in a toaster oven. See instructions below.

Serving

4

Ingredients

125ml milk
1 tbsp coconut oil or 20g butter
½ tsp salt
250g tapioca flour (tepung ubi kayu)
125g cheese (eg. Monterey Jack, Parmesan, Cheddar), coarsely grated
1-2 medium eggs, beaten

Method

Preheat the oven to 200°C.

In a small saucepan, heat the milk, coconut oil and salt until small bubbles start to appear around the edge of the milk (if using butter, it should have melted). Do not allow it to come to a full boil.

Sift the flour into a large bowl and pour in the hot milk. The flour will immediately take on a gelatinous texture. Mix with a fork until the mixture is combined. There may be a few clumps, but at the next step it will be fixed.

When the mixture is cool enough to handle, rub it with your fingertips until it becomes crumbly. Stir in the cheese.

Mix in 1 egg. Stir with the fork until the mixture is hydrated and starts coming together. Add more egg until the mixture comes together into a sticky dough. You may not need to use all the egg.

Drop small spoonfuls (or use a small ice cream scoop) of the dough on a parchment-lined baking tray about 3cm apart.*

Bake the buns for about 25 minutes, or until puffed and just starting to brown in a few spots. They may flatten slightly at first, but will puff up towards the end of baking time.

Remove from oven and serve them immediately.

* The unbaked buns can also be frozen. Place the balls on a tray lined with cling film or food-grade plastic and place in the freezer until hardened. Remove the balls from pan and place in a plastic bag, seal and store in the freezer. Bake them from frozen for about 5 minutes longer.

The frozen buns can also be cooked in a toaster oven. Set the oven to HIGH and cook the buns for 20-25 minutes.