*Note: If you Googled dairy free Brazilian Cheese Bread you came to the right place. There are notes in the recipe on how to adapt it for dairy free results!
School is back. I absolutely can’t believe Aiden is a first grader now; and away at school for a full day! It’s so strange not having him around all the time. Plus, Tristan totally misses his favorite playmate. But, we’re adjusting.
Despite school being in session it’s still feeling very summer like around here. We’ve still been having wether in the upper 90°s punctuated by the occasional 70° day. There’s something about that kind of weather that just makes you want to do vacation-y things. Don’t you think? In the spirit of that, we’ve been taking mini vacations on the weekends.
It started the weekend before school started. We got up that Saturday morning (bright and early as always because of the boys) and my husband said, “We need to do something different this weekend. How about we go up to the mountains?” You know, we always have nice weekends, but they are often predictable. We often end up grabbing a bite at the same place, taking the kids to play at the same place, doing the same errands… you get the idea. And despite the fact that we live in Colorado, not but a few hours drive away from the heart of the glorious Rocky Mountains, we rarely make it up. So, even a day trip to the mountains really does feel like something totally different.
We scrambled around the house packing up diapers, sunscreen, water bottles, bandaids, extra clothes, cameras, and all the other accouterments it takes to take to kids and their parents out to the mountains for the day. Then we hopped in the car and we just went.
And it was glorious.
We took a leisurely drive to Vail, stopping at lake Dillion on the way. The boys waded in lake Dillion (and by waded I mean tossed themselves entirely into the lake), they climbed (a little ways up) a BIG MOUNTAIN, and we walked around Vail Village for a while. We grabbed snacks, dinner, and gelato, as we decided we were hungry. And we had a leisurely drive home, during which we happened to see the most vivid an beautiful rainbow ever. And we were still home in time for a slightly late bed time for the kids.
(Yes, that’s for real. Amazing, right?)
Despite the fact that we still came home to go to bed it really did feel like a mini vacation. It was great to be unplugged for the day, to not rush anywhere, and just spend time together playing.
We were talking on the drive and Charlie and I definitely realized that we put the things we want to do, like taking a family vacation, off too much. We wait to be less busy, for a better time, to or to have more money to do something bigger, or for this that and the other thing. And then the thing is, you never really get less busy and have enough time, or have just the right amount of money, or whatever. And so you never do some of the things that make living fun. Now, I’m not advocating being financially irresponsible, or blowing off important commitments. But, if you don’t carve out time, and a little bit of your resources to do things, you never do them.
We came to the conclusion that it’s perfectly ok to do vacation and other daydream type things in smaller ways. They don’t have to be done perfectly, at just the right time, in the just the right place. We can set the bar so high sometimes that we never do anything. And probably, there is no perfect moment. There is no perfect place. So then, really, all that matters is to stop wasting time and just start now.
We really want to hold on to this little bit of wisdom. It certainly inspired us to plan another mini trip, this time an inexpensive overnight in Vail, and our reservations are already made!
Next time we’ll be there for a food festival, we’re planning to take the boys up the ski lift to the top of the BIG MOUNTAIN, and we’re thinking to try some zip lining! Waaay too fun.
So, finally on to today’s recipe: Copycat Chebe Cheese Bread, also known as Brazilian Cheese Bread! (Forgive me, I just could not for the life of me think of a good way to transition between seizing the day, the mountains, and cheese bread.)
Brazilian Cheese Bread or Pão de Queijo, are little balls, made primarily of tapioca flour and cheese, making them a great grain free bread for those with suffering with Celiac, allergies, or intolerance to gluten. Unlike some gluten free breads they have a magnificent texture. They are light and airy inside, somewhat resembling the inside of a croissant with big beautiful holes; but the outside still has enough of a crust to hold up to dipping or stuffing with plenty of sandwich filling. Plus, they have a great flavor and are delightfully cheesy! When they are made in the traditional ball size they make a great snack or chic appetizer. Made in a larger roll shape (like the Chebe Cheese Rolls you find in the grocery store) they make for a great sandwich roll, dinner roll, or even burger bun!
As I always say about gluten free or other allergy friendly food, the ideal is a recipe that is so good everyone will want to eat it; not just the people who are stuck having to. And Brazilian Cheese Bread definitely fits the bill.
I tried Brazilian Cheese Bread for the first time when my mother in law made them as rolls for a family dinner. I enjoyed the rolls, but didn’t think about them a ton until I had them again at a Latin American restaurant in their more tractional small ball shape. Maybe it was the smaller size that cued me, but this time they reminded me immediately of Gougères, or French Cheese Puffs, which I adore. At this point I was hooked!
My mother in law was kind enough to come over and teach me her recipe. And in fact, I discovered the method to make Brazilian Cheese Bread is very similar in a lot of ways to making Gougères. When making Gougères you cook your dough on the stove making a pâte a choux, which is then blended with the rest of your ingredients until they are all dissolved together. Similarly when making Pão de Queijo, you cook your tapioca flour and milk together stove top forming a sticky dough which is then blended with your cheese and other ingredients until a smooth sticky dough is formed.
This may sound a little different then the bread recipes you’re used to making, but don’t intimidated, it’s actually a pretty quick and painless process! I will mention that most of us aren’t accustomed to working with tapioca flour, and it definitely behaves differently then most other flour, but if you know a few tricks (which my mother in law taught me, and I’m going to pass on to you right along with the recipe) you won’t have any problems at all. And once you have this recipe down I think you’ll find yourself turning to it as a go to that both grain free eaters and everyone else will love!
PS If you’ve been reading for a while, you probably know that my younger son Tristan is allergic to dairy. Since we hate to leave him out, we ended up coming up with a dairy free version of this bread, that came out pretty darn well! I’ve included a note that explains the substitutions needed to make the recipe entirely dairy free!
Copycat Chebe Cheese Bread (Grain Free Brazilian Cheese Bread)– Yields 6 generous sized rolls or about 24 smaller traditional sized balls. Recipe courtesy of my mother in law Kathy!
- 1 cup milk
- 2 cups tapioca flour
- 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 3 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 large eggs
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
- Stand Mixer
- For Chebe style cheese rolls you will need a baking sheet with parchment paper. For traditional sized Pão de Queijo you may want to use a mini muffin pan, though you can also use a parchment paper lined baking sheet. When cooked in a muffin pan, the Pão de Queijo will somewhat resemble mini muffins, when cooked on a baking sheet they will closer resemble Gougère. I personally prefer the baking sheet.
- Preheat the oven to 350° and depending on your preference grease a mini muffin tin with oil, or line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- In a medium sized pot heat the milk over medium high heat to a steady simmer, or just before boiling. Meanwhile in the bowl of a stand mixer add the mozzarella cheese, baking soda, canola oil, eggs, and salt.
- Once the milk is holding steady at a simmer add the tapioca flour to the pot and use a wooden spoon to stir until a sticky wet dough forms and scrapes away from the edges of the pot. As soon as the dough begins to form remove the pot from the heat.
Pro Tip: Some brands of tapioca flour may at first produce a runny mixture that does not seem to be producing a dough. Don’t panic. Keep the pot on the heat and stir continuously. As the mixture continues to heat a dough will begin to form. Once the dough is pulling away from the sides of the pot remove it from the heat.
- Use the wooden spoon to scrape the dough into the bowl of the stand mixer where the other ingredients are waiting. On medium low speed mix together all the ingredients. Mix until the cheese is fully blended into the dough and no longer visible. If needed stop the mixer and use a rubber spatula to scrape down the side of the mixing bowl to ensure all ingredients are well blended.
- For larger rolls: Use wet hands to divide the dough into six even parts. Form a tall disk shape and set on the prepared baking sheet about 2 inches apart. For smaller balls: Use wet hands roll dough into small balls. Use about two generous tablespoons of dough to form each ball. Drop each ball into a muffin tin slot or on the prepared baking sheet about an inch apart.
Pro Tip: This dough is very sticky. Shape the rolls or balls near a sink with gently running water. Wet your hands in-between each roll or ball you shape. The dough will not stick to wet hands. Shake off any excess water from the dough before setting on the baking sheet or in the muffin tin.
- Bake the bread on the center oven rack at 350°. Large rolls should bake for 28-32 minutes and the smaller balls should bake for 22-27 minutes. Both the rolls and balls should be a light golden brown when removed from the oven. Cool on a wire rack for a few minutes before serving. The bread also tastes great served cool, and the rolls toast very well!
To Make The Recipe Dairy Free: Substitute unsweetened almond milk in place of the milk. Substitute Almond Mozzarella Cheese in place of the regular cheese. Follow all the directions as is EXCEPT when shaping the rolls, divide the dough into 12 equal parts, or when shaping the balls, use only a generous tablespoon of dough for each ball. The dairy free version rises substantially more then the version with diary, so less dough is required for each roll/ball to make the same sized ball. This recipe will yield 12 dairy free rolls or 48 dairy free balls. Also note: The dairy free version will not brown much compared to the dairy version. Follow the time guidelines and look for a very pale brown color when done.
Variations: Substitute pretty much any cheese you like, it will taste great! 1/2 Parmesan half mozzarella is particularly nice. Also try sprinkling parmesan or another hard grated cheese over the tops of the rolls before baking.
Pro Tip: EnerG Pure Tapioca Flour is the best behaving tapioca flour we’ve found. However, you’re most likely to find Bob’s Red Mill Tapioca Flour to be readily available at your local grocery store, it works just fine!