Pão de Queijo is Brazilian cheese bread made with tapioca or cassava flour, milk, eggs, olive oil, and cheese. It is a very popular breakfast food and snack in South American countries.It is inexpensive and often sold from street side stands by vendors carrying a heat-preserving container and in Brazil, it’s very commonly found in supermarkets and bakeries, or in special little “Pao de Queijo” stores.
The cassava root produces a very powerful starch which is key to the size and texture of the pão de queijo and unlike other types of bread, the recipe calls for no leavening of any kind. Small pockets of air within the dough expand during baking and are contained by the powerful elasticity of the starch paste.
You can knead pão de queijo in a mixer with a hook attachment or do it manually by hand. Once the mixture reaches a doughy consistency , it’s vital to roll it into a ball and either bake immediately or freeze it for later use. If left to rest, the dough will virtually liquify. Regardless of whether the bread is made from freshly made dough, or with frozen dough prepared at a prior cooking session, the final pão de queijo will be the same size and texture.
When we first got to Brazil we would see the pao de queijo stand at the supermarket, actually you could smell the cheese in the freshly baked little breads and David used to hate the smell. After a while we decided to try them. They are delicious little treats and you have to be REALLY careful not to eat too many of them! It is always a stop for us now when we go to the supermarket.