The Origin Of Brazilian Cheese Bread Or Pão De Queijo
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Pão de queijo is Portuguese for ‘cheese bread’. The story of its invention involves 17th-century African slave communities who used powdered cassava or starch, which they rolled into balls and baked. Experts believe that these communities collected the grainy tapioca flour which was produced during the processing of cassava plants to supplement their scanty daily rations.

Versions that were made before the modern pão de queijo lasted for a while before regional influences modified the recipe. Cheese was added in the early 20th century, when slavery was ablolished and Minas Gerais, the Southeastern Brazilian state, came to be well-known for dairy products. These products included Minas cheese: a salty cheese made with cow’s milk. Similar to soft parmesan or cheddar, Minas comes in different varieties, but ‘curado’ is now used by bakers.

Making pão de queijo isn’t too complicated. The recipe uses water, oil or butter, salt, milk, cheese, and eggs. Fermented tapioca flour is the secret to the bread’s slightly tartness, and adds a soft, airy quality. The water, oil or butter and milk are first brought to a boil in a saucepan and then mixed with tapioca flour, after which the dough is allowed to cool. The dough is then blended with eggs, salt, and cheese. It is rolled into balls and placed on a baking sheet. The balls of cheesy dough take around 20 minutes to fluff up and turn golden-brown in the oven.