Pão de Queijo – an Easy Recipe for a Difficult Addiction

Pao de queijo, cheese buns, brazilian food, food cultureFor over 8 years, I’ve battled with an addiction.  But no worries, I view it as a healthy addiction. 

From time to time, the urge comes and I must give in to – a soft in the center, crunchy on the outside, cheesy bun made with cassava flour…mmmm…

Today I am going to show you what Pão de Queijo is all about, where it comes from and how you can very easily make your own!

It all started when…

My so called Pão de Queijo addiction started 8 years back at home in the USA, I had been introduced to a group of really awesome Brazilians who wanted to show me a good time.

They invited me to spend a weekend at a little cabin in the mountains where we would partake in tons of tasty homemade Brazilian food, dance to lot’s of Brazilian music and just have a good time.

And as the food lover I am, I hung out in the kitchen pretty much the entire time looking, observing and trying to gain an understanding of the Brazilian food culture.

One of the first things that went into the oven at that party was one of the things I grew to love the most – the coveted Pão de queijo.

Sinking my teeth into the cheesy, crunchy outer and meeting a soft, cheesy and doughy center was just heavenly….I was sold!

Hopefully if you haven’t tried it before you are sold, but if you have, then you know what I’m talking about 😉

What Does Pão de Queijo Mean to Brazilians?

It is said that Pao de Queijo is traditionally eaten hot because it tastes so good that one can’t stop (agreed)!

This ball of goodness originated in the state of around 300 years ago and has it’s roots in the “Mineiro” (the label for people that come from there) culture.

People would gather around in the traditional “” kitchen, mix readily available farm ingredients together and bake it in a traditional wood oven.

It symbolizes togetherness, fellowship, enjoyment and acknowledging tradition.

And then it spread to the rest of Brazil…



Around ca. 1950, the rest of Brazil got whim of the tastiness of Pão de Quiejo, it spread like wildfire throughout the country and now can be found everywhere.

Bakeries have it, supermarkets have it, café’s have it – heck, there is even a chain of restaurants called the “” (the Cheese Bun House) throughout Brazil offering this lovely bun!

I personally believe that this chain of Restaurants is one of the key reasons that it became so popular.

You can check out their website (has an English version) .

Here is a picture I took of a Casa do Pão de Queijo

 

What is better than going out and buying some Pão de Queijo?

Answer: making it yourself!  I’ll show you how.

How to make Pão de Queijo

Making a fresh batch of warm Pão de Queijo is actually easier than you would think, the list of ingredients is short but it creates a symphony of tastes and textures that is quite pleasing.

There are many types of recipes floating around on the Internet, but in general, there are some elementary ingredients that must be present, and a couple you can mess with if you are feeling creative.

Buying and Sourcing the Ingredients



Since Pão de Queijo is made from 2 special types of starches called fermented and normal (povilho Azedo and Povilho Doce in Portuguese), you will have to go to a specialty store to get these – but don’t worry, it’s not that difficult!

I recommend going half and half of each type of starches in the recipe, but if you can only find the one type but not the other, then that’s fine.

The starch is made from the , has a baking soda like consistency and is very finely milled.

Where to get cassava starch (sometimes called tapioca flour):

  • Asian food markets
  • Brazilian food markets
  • Latin American food markets (especially Colombian)
  • Specialty food markets
  • African food markets
  • Your local supermarket (if you are in Brazil)

Purchase about 500g or a little over a pound.

The rest of the ingredients you will need for this recipe are:

  • 100ml / .5 cup canola oil
  • 400ml / 2 cups milk
  • 500g / 1 lb. of Parmesan and/or Mozzarella cheese (It’s really up to you what kind of cheese you would like to go with!)
  • 500g / 1 lb cassava starch
  • 3 medium eggs
  • 1 tsp. salt

The Recipe to Make Pão de Queijo

Now that you have all of your ingredients and the measurements from above, it’s time to make these little balls of joy!

1. Blend dry Ingredients



Sift the cassava flour into a large mixing bowl (just use a large colander) and add the salt.

2. Boil the Liquids

In order for the cassava flour to get the right consistency, it must be “shocked” with boiling ingredients.

Pour the oil and milk into a pan and heat them up until they boil (wait with the eggs and milk!).

Be careful not to let it boil over or foam up.

3. Mix Liquids with Dry Ingredients

Pour the boiling liquids into the mixing bowl with the cassava flour and begin mixing right away.

You will notice that it hardens and turns very firm, this is ok and part of the plan.  Keep working at it until all of the flour is blended in – this is usually done by mixing it with fork or the like, and then your hands after it has cooled a little.

Let it sit for about 15 minutes in order to cool down.

4. Add Cheese and Eggs

Now beat the eggs and then add them together with the cheese into the mixture, mix well until they are well distributed throughout the dough.

You are now ready to continue to the funnest part.

5. Forming and baking

Preheat oven to 190C/375F.

After the dough has cooled down enough, form it into small balls about the size of a golf ball onto a baking sheet. Give a bit of spacing so that they don’t touch each other.

Place them into the oven and bake for about 12-15 minutes (keep an eye on them if you have a convection oven!).

They should be done and can be enjoyed on the spot!

A fresh batch of clumpy Pão de Queijo I just made – yummm….

But be careful, they are addictive and you could end up like me!

Enjoy That and Want More?

Brazil is a very diverse country with a huge food culture, figuring out what foods come from what region, what you can make at home etc, can be a daunting task.

If you are interested in learning more recipes like this one and gaining a better understanding of the Brazilian food culture, I stumbled across a book not too long ago that makes this easy.

In this book, it has Brazil’s most authentic and traditional dishes, where they come from, and step-by-step instructions on how to make them.

And even more, all of the recipes are side-by-side in Portuguese and English! (A great help for learning Portuguese).

This book is called (Amazon link) and is the best cookbook out there representing Brazil’s amazing food culture in a foreigner friendly way.

If that’s you, then head over to Amazon, take a look at it (they let your preview a sample) and

Final Word

The Brazilian food culture is a lot of fun and worth getting to know if you don’t already.

My intention in this post was to share a bit more about this Brazilian food culture and to help you gain a hands on experience of it as well.

Do you have a favorite Brazilian recipe?

Valeu – cheers!

Kevin

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