Pão De Queijo – Gluten Free Brazilian Cheese Bun

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Pão De Queijo – Brazilian Cheese Buns are naturally gluten free, as the typical access to wheat flour was next to nil in the area. Instead tapioca flour (starch) or cassava flour, how its known more locally, is the ground root of the Manioc plant. Like many Brazilian foods, this cheese bread originated from peeling, mashing and soaking the cassava root before making the bread. The original bread also wasn't made with milk or cheese, so would be friendly to lactose intolerant people as well. My sister in law has full on Celiac's, and subsequently cannot have gluten or lactose, so these would be perfect for those on restricted diets. You could even substitute lactose free cheese in this recipe as the lovely chewy centers are not from the cheese, but from the tapioca flour used. Milk could be swapped out for unsweetened almond milk, soya milk or even just plain old water. These come together in a snap with just a wooden spoon. You'll find recipes for these all using mixers and scales and other accoutrements, but really, back in the day they used a bowl, a spoon and human muscle. I think using a mixer would result in easily over beating them anyway, which leads to tough buns. Not as good as it sounds...

They also freeze well! Once formed in balls, freeze them on a cookie sheet and pop them in a bag in the freezer for up to a month. When needed, bake from frozen - Ta-Da!

They are so crispy on the outside and cheesy chewy good on the inside. If you can wait for them to cool a little, say 15 minutes, the cheese factor seems to magnify. So good!

Step 1: Ingredients

The following is based on making fresh farmers cheese as one of the ingredients. It is to replace the authentically used, but hard to find in Northern British Columbia, Canada (Near Alaska) - Brazilian cheese Queijo Minas. Using Fresh farmers cheese in conjunction with Parmesan and Havarti provide a close second to flavour and texture.

If you want to skip on the farmers cheese, you can substitute with shredded mozzarella or to add more of a moist cheese, either use a dry cottage cheese or ricotta that has been strained through a fine mesh strainer. The Farmers cheese ingredients will be listed below the primary ingredients.

Primary Ingredients

  • ½ cup whole milk

  • ¼ cup (½ stick) salted butter

  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt

  • 2 cups tapioca flour

  • 2 large eggs

  • 1 cup fresh farmer's cheese, crumbled

  • 1/2 cup crumbled/grated Parmesan

  • 1/2 cup grated Havarti

Farmers Cheese Ingredients - makes about a cup

  • 2 cups of milk - 3.25 homogenized yields the most product
  • 1/8 cup of lemon juice or white vinegar. Lemon tastes best
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • A thermometer, or your best guess-o-rama at 190 degrees - just before it boils, little bubbles start to rise in large amounts.

Step 2: Farmers Cheese - Skip If You Are Subsituting Other Cheese

  1. Measure out your 2 cups of milk into a small pot and heat to 190 degrees. If you don't have a thermometer, stop heating once lots of little bubbles begin to form and pop, as you are almost at boiling temperature - which is a no-no.
  2. Remove the pot from the heat and add you 1/8th of a cup of acid (lemon juice or vinegar).
  3. Kick back for about 15 minutes and allow the curd to form.
  4. Mix in your salt and strain into several layers of cheese cloth or a clean fine weave tea towel and allow to drain for several minutes over a strainer.
  5. Gather the corners of the cloth and slowly squeeze out the whey for several minutes. Don't squeeze too hard or the curd will begin to squish out through the weave of the fabric.
  6. Once no more liquid comes out you are left over with your fresh cheese. It should be able to crumble.
  7. This keeps for about a week in the fridge, and can be used like cream cheese. You can even press it under a weight in the fridge for a couple hours and you have fresh Panneer. Yum!

Step 3: Make Your Dough

  1. Gently melt your butter into the milk. No need to boil it
  2. Add your 2 cups of tapioca flour all at once. Kind of like making dough for eclairs, just no nasty gluten flour!
  3. Stir it about and you will have a shaggy mess, you'll think you've failed... but press on.

Step 4: Egg and Cheese!

  1. Transfer the mess to a large bowl. You could use a mixer, but honestly its not worth the mess and the makers of this traditional dish didn't have access to one.
  2. Next beat in your two eggs, one at at time until you have a loosely held dough.
  3. Now add your cheese and beat in a bit more. You dont want to over do the mixing or your dough will yield tough buns. Not a good thing.

Step 5:

  1. You can use a ice-cream scoop if you like, but not really traditional once again. Instead, pinch off balls about the size of a ping pong ball and roll into little rounds.
  2. Place them on a parchment lined cookie sheet.
  3. Pop into your preheated oven at 400 degrees. After 5 minutes, turn down to 350 and cook for another 15 minutes.
  4. The should be just barely golden brown, with little flecks of caramelized cheese browning darker on the edges.
  5. These are best eaten when warm, but even after a day they make tasty snack served with soup or even as mini sandwiches - Cheese bun sliders anyone...mmmmm. Nom-nom-nom!

Step 6: Eat Them How You Will!

They taste great along some hot soup on a cold day, or serve along side some fresh grilled meat as impromptu sandwich buns. Seriously, so easy.

  • Bonus - once formed before baking, they can be popped in the freezer for up to a month. Then pop them into a hot oven straight from the freezer. Take an extra 5 minutes or so from frozen
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    9 Discussions


    1 year ago

    Can't wait to make these myself. Because I'm not in the bathroom!

    1 reply

    1 year ago

    Hummm.... Cheese buns. I love them. Here in Brazil everybody likes it. This receipt is really great. I usually boil the milk with oil (corn, sunflower or canola) instead of butter. When adding the tapioca flour, make shure that all flour be humid after mixing, with no dry grains or dry powder otherwise then buns will not cook correctly. Add more hot milk or butter if needed. Other tip is to wait the dough reaching the normal ambient temperature before adding the eggs to avoid "cooking" them. You can freeze the buns before cooking, but you can also freeze them after cooking. They last up to 5 months in freezer, and can be easily reprepared in the oven or microwave.

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    Wow, thanks for the technical tips. I have gotten lucky with the tapioca starch being quite dry and free of lumps


    1 year ago

    Thank you for this recipe! I spent a couple of months as an exchange student in Brasil (Niteroi) back in 1974, and when we took the ferry to Rio (that was the fastest way to get there from Niteroi at that time, now there is a bridge!), there was a cheese bread stand as we got off the ferry. I think I gained 20 lbs eating the tasty rolls (not to mention the feijoada, i.e. black bean stew)! Sadly, when I returned 30 years later, we took the bridge to Rio, and thus no cheese bread. :-( Can't wait to try out your recipe and rekindle my love for these yummy rolls!

    1 reply

    1 year ago

    Hello Iminthebathroom, my name is Victor and was born and raised in Minas Gerais, the land of Pão de queijo, i'm flattered to read something about my culture in a place so far away from here. If you want to know more about the way that we cook, send me a message, will be a honor. Thanks for the instructable and have a nice day!

    1 reply

    Reply 1 year ago

    That is so cool, just might take you up on that, love new ideas


    Tip 1 year ago

    I use half queso fresco with a quarter parmesan and a quarter mozzarella it works fairly well too.