Best Brazilian Cheesy Bread

Oba, oba, oba!

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I’m trying to reconcile my early recollections of Sergio Mendes and Brasil ‘66 with the wonderful cheese bread that is popularized by the sword wielding/meat coma Brazilian restaurants popping up in most major US cities now.  To get the full effect of this nostalgic vision, you must sit in your living room and listen to old LPs while drinking boxed wine, enjoying a rare T-bone steak, and eating hot cheesy bread slathered with butter. Well, if you cannot do that, just eat this bread—hot with lots of butter—anywhere, anytime.   And it is gluten free.  Oba, oba, oba!

Ingredients (makes 24 little balls)

• 10 ounces tapioca flour/starch (about 2 C, likely a tad more to get the right texture)
• 1 tsp kosher salt
• 2 T nutritional yeast
• 1/2 cup olive oil
• 1 cup whole goat milk
• 2 large eggs
• 1 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (think micro plane)
• ½ C shredded Jarlsberg or Gouda cheese (or some other high fat, melty cheese)
• Coconut oil spray
• Lots of butter

Method

(Note: I am using the imperative, so each bullet is a complete sentence, thus necessitating a period at the end. 🙂 )

• Preheat oven to 450 F.
• Measure flour, salt and nutritional yeast into bowl of the KitchenAid.
• Heat oil and milk in saucepan until bubbles begin to form and it is very hot.
• Pour oil/milk mixture into flour mixture.
• Mix to combine for 1 minute or more.
• When cooled somewhat, add eggs one at a time and mix to combine completely.
• Add cheeses and mix thoroughly.
• This should be thicker than pancake batter, but not as firm as bread dough. Feel free to add a tablespoon or so of extra flour if you like.
• Let set for 5 minutes or more.
• Spray a mini muffin pan with coconut oil spray.
• Using a spoon, put the batter into the muffin holes (full or over full).
• Plop into the oven and immediately turn down to 350 F.
• Bake for 12 minutes. (I used my convection oven. If you use a regular oven, you may want to cook for 14-15 minutes.) In any event, check at 10 to see what’s happening.
• Remove and drop onto your cutting board.
• Serve piping hot with lots of butter.

Helpful Hints:

I have been trying many different recipes and making my own adaptations. Most were too gummy. I think I finally hit the Mother Lode with this one. A couple notes:

• If you can, please weigh the tapioca flour. The measurements are not exact enough without weighing.
• Use a KitchenAid with a paddle attachment. You need to beat some air into the batter, and this is the best way. Don’t have one? Well, use your great upper body strength to whip some air into the batter.
• A combination of cheeses works well. Parmesan is the main cheese. To get it all infused and entwined (Wayne’s World reference), use your micro planer for the Parmesan. Use your regular grater for the other ½ C of Jarlsberg or other melty cheese. This last ½ C of cheese is best if especially flavorful and melty. I have seen recipes that call for mozzarella, and I’ve done those. However, they are too bland. Better to use smoked provolone, Jarlsberg or Gouda—cheeses that have some flavor.
• Speaking of flavor: the nutritional yeast was the game changer. Vegan friends add this to all manner of food to amp up the umami. It’s also nutritious (duh). So use with abandon.
• How to form: I experimented with several formations, such as lumps from my handy-dandy ice cream scooper, firm balls rolled and placed, and plops into a mini muffin pan. All are baked similarly. Which do I like best? Well, the muffin tin plops have it! Although, I do have to say that the lumps turned out surprisingly un-lumpy.  I’ve discovered that if you make them firm enough to hand roll into balls that they are usually too dense.

Stay briny,

–Stacey

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