Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Pão de Queijo recipe - simple and authentic Brazilian cheese bread

So far this is the best recipe I tried, and I added some comments based on the confusion I had in the process the first few times. It takes just like the ones in Brazil. :)

Ingredients - makes around 24 ping ping size balls:
- 2 1/4 cups of tapioca flour, aka tapioca starch (usually can be found in international supermarkets. I bought a cheap one from Thailand.)
- 1/4 cup (57g) of butter
- 1/2 cup of whole milk
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 1 cup of freshly grated Parmesan/ mix of Parmesan & Mozarella or other white cheese. (Can use packaged shredded ones. Look for "Italian mix" if available.)
- 1 tsp of sea salt

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
2. Pour butter, milk, and salt into a saucepan, and place over high heat. When the mixture comes to a boil, remove from heat immediately, and pour into a big bowl with tapioca flour already in it.
3. Use wooden spoon to mix well (it will be quite dry), and use hands to help knead.
4. When it finally becomes a dough, use the wooden spoon to roughly separate into smaller proportions (basically to just create some space in the dough), to help it cool down. Set aside for 10 to 15 minutes.
5. Stir the beaten eggs into the tapioca mixture and use your hands to help mix it up. It will become very sticky and mushy. Then add in the cheese and keep using your hands to mix/ knead well. It's okay that it's not a smooth mix, but make sure it's well mixed. [At this stage, if the mix is far too moist like pancake batter, then you have two options: try mixing in some more tapioca flour, or put the batter in the fridge for another 15 mins to try to make it easier to handle.]
6. Oil your hands or keep your hands moist, use an oiled spoon to get a spoonful of the mix to roll into ping pong size balls (or smaller if you prefer) with your hands. Place on baking sheet, no need to leave too much space between balls. The balls don't need to be smooth an perfect.
7. Bake in preheated oven until the tops are lightly browned, 15 to 20 minutes. (The center is meant to be a soft and chewy, like mochi.)
8. Serve hot. Can eat as is, or cut open and butter the center, or cut open and butter the center + sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon powder.
For unused dough, roll into ping pong balls, place on a plate (I use cling wrap to wrap the plate first so they don't get stuck) to freeze until hard - about an hour or two. Then remove from plate and store in freezer bag in freezer. Takes around 3-5 extra minutes to bake frozen ones.