Brixton Recipes: Brazilian Cheese Bread

pao de queijo


More authentically known as pão de queijo in Brazil, these wheat and gluten free breads use cassava flour to create their delicious chewy texture. I made a batch and ate the first few warm from the oven in the sun with a cold beer to hand, but with Brixton weather being less predictable than that of Brazil, the rest were eaten with a bowl of soup.

Cassava flour (also known as manioc or tapioca flour) is easy to find in Brixton. Either the Nour Cash and Carry or any African grocer will stock it. The only issue is getting a small enough bag since most places favour bulk in Brixton. Luckily the breads are so easy they only take 30 minutes from start to finish and you could whip them up any time to use up a big bag.

I used parmesan to make mine but if you’re veggie, use Sainsbury’s Basics hard cheese which doesn’t have animal rennet. I also used some nutritional yeast to add a rich cheesy flavour to complement the salty cheese. Double it to subsitute the cheese and go lactose free. I got mine in Brixton Wholefoods under the Marigold Engevita brand.

Pão de Queijo (makes approx 20)

  • 250ml milk (dairy free ones work fine)
  • 60ml vegetable oil
  • generous pinch sea salt
  • 200g cassava or tapioca flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 100g finely grated parmesan
  • 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast

Preheat the oven to 175℃ and line two baking trays with greaseproof paper.

Pour the milk into a large saucepan and add the vegetable oil and sea salt and heat until the milk is just starting to bubble round the edges.

Take off the heat and add in the cassava flour, beating well with a wooden spoon until you can’t see any uncombined flour. This will be pretty hard work as the dough will look strangely grey and gelatinous. Don’t panic and just keep beating it. It will suddenly look crumbly and yellow and much more appetising.

Squeeze the dough together a little with your hands and then beat in the eggs half at a time. This is much easier with an electric hand whisk, but a bit of elbow grease with a wooden spoon will work fine. The dough will become glossy and springy. Add the parmesan and nutritional yeast and mix in well.

Use a dessertspoon dipped in warm water to scoop out a ball of the dough onto the lined baking tray. I made roughly 20 rough balls and went back when they’d cooled a bit to roll them in my hands to make them look nice and smooth (and photo ready). Bake the rolls for 20-25 minutes until golden brown on top.

They are best warm straight from the oven when the middle is still slightly soft and the texture is chewy. Excellent for breakfast, they do keep fresh for up to two days in a sealed container. I doubt you will have many left as they are so popular.