Recipe: Brazilian Cheese Bread (Pao de Queijo)
Serves: approximately 24 rolls
Coffee: Pure Black, over ice

Although we are constantly experimenting with savory breads and rolls (including other varieties made with cheese, from gougere to southern style ham and cheddar biscuits), Brazilian cheese bread remains a passion of ours. From a baker’s point of view, we find it fascinating in its versatility. Brazilian cheese bread doesn’t have the consistency of actual bread, but is airy and slightly gooey inside, more like a popover or profiterole, and it’s this lightness that makes it so insanely popular in Brazil with its huge heat. You can find the cheese breads everywhere, from the airport to the side of the road, and in every lanchonete.

2¾ Queso fresco, grated (or Brazilian: Queijo canastra), about 10.5 ounces
Fresh white cheeses, soft and moist (like feta), which make them perfect for warm weather.
1 cup finely grated Spanish Manchego (sheep cheese), loosely packed (about 4 ounces)
A sheep milk (ranging from semi aged to aged, picking up more piquancy along the way) with a nutty flavor needed to give depth to the mildness of the fresh cheese.
2 cups tapioca starch
Also known as tapioca flour, these silky granules are made from the ground roots of cassava root and so gluten free. A good brand is Bob’s Red Mill.
1 teaspoon smoked sweet Spanish paprika (not the hot version)
1 teaspoon sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, melted
1 extra large egg
½ cup milk

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line several baking pans with parchment paper (prevents the rolls from coming in direct contact with the hot pan so they won’t stick).

Place ingredients (less the milk) in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix on medium low speed until combined (approximately 1 minute), and then drizzle in the milk until dough forms (if necessary, add a bit more milk sparingly until the dough has a smooth, ball-like shape).

Mix the dough for 5 minutes on medium-low speed to incorporate as much air as possible so the breads puff up during baking. Remove the bowl from the mixing stand. With lightly oiled hands, form the dough into 1 ½-inch balls (rolling between slightly flattened palms), and place 3-inches apart on prepared baking pans.

Bake preheat oven for 15 minutes, rotate cookie sheets, and continue baking until the breads are lightly golden brown, about another 15 minutes.

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