Tuesday, May 27, 2014

May Daring Bakers' Challenge - Pao 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!

I don't know a lot about Brazilian food. I mean, aside from the feijoada challenge from a year and a half ago, I've never specifically had Brazilian food.

But when the awesome Renata introduced these little cheese breads to us as this month's challenge, I couldn't wait to try them.

The recipe looked super simple, but the main ingredients was something that I have never used before - tapioca starch (flour).  But I knew just where to find it, and was soon ready to rock.

The other main ingredient in these buns, as their name (and translation) would suggest, is cheese. I chose Monteray Jack. Lots of it, all shredded up.

The dough actually comes together pretty easily, and soon turns from this dry mix...

...into an almost-dough.

Now, you are not supposed to over-work the dough, because you don't want the finished buns to be too heavy or dense.  So for me, it was still a little shaggy. I was a little worried about whether my little buns would hold their shapes.

But guess what happened when I started rolling it into balls?

It smoothed out beautifully and I had no problem at all!

Now, with little man's milk allergy, I didn't want to make too many of these - I didn't think it would be fair. So I froze half of the shaped balls right away, seeing as Renata told us that they bake up straight out of the freezer really well.

Then the other half went into the oven.

And they puffed and baked up beautifully!

These little buns are so delightful and so amazingly easy to eat, they're almost dangerous.  Little miss wasn't a huge fan, but I think it's just because she knew there was cheese in them (she doesn't like cheese except on pizza and in macaroni and cheese... I don't get it...). But I loved them. And so did my neighbor, who happened to stop by a few minutes after these came out of the oven. I can't wait to bake up the second half of these.

Oh, and Renata graciously found a dairy-free version of these treats which I had every intention of trying, but time totally ran away from me this month. But I still plan to try them at some point, and will definitely share the results here when I do.

Renata, thank you for this amazing challenge - I can't wait for my next taste of Brazil!

To see the challenge as Renata presented it to us, check it out here.

And to see the other awesome results this month, check them here.

Pao De Queijo
(from the Daring Bakers' Challenge)

500 grams tapioca starch
1 cup whole milk
2 3/4 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon salt (or to taste depending on how salty your cheese is)
3 cups Monterey Jack Cheese (or another cheese of your liking, or a mix of cheeses), coarsely grated
1 to 3 large eggs (I needed all 3)

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. The mixture will be lumpy and that is okay.
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 the oven to 400 degrees.
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 suggested that we lightly beat the egg(s) with a fork and add little bits until the dough comes together into a soft but pliable dough.  This worked out really well for me. 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.
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.
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.
They are delicious served warm, soon out of the oven, or room temperature.



  1. Shelley, thanks so much for all your support along the way! Your pão de queijo looks very Brazilian, exactly like it should be! A great job on the challenge! I'm so glad to enjoyed them!

  2. Your Pao de Queijo look just wonderful!! I wish very much I could try the recipe with the sour tapioca starch, but in Canada it seems very difficult to find. It is a very different texture of bread....but I like them and I see why they are so popular:) Great job with the challenge!

  3. These were dangerous, weren't they? I think I ate 5 of them in 2 minutes.... Yours look great!


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