Pão (de Queijo) Dairy-Free Variations Part I: The Savory (GF/DF)

PaoDeQueijo

Dairy-free Garlic and Herb “Pão”

I am obsessed with Pão de Queijo, small Brazilian cheese bread puffs which are traditionally made with gluten-free cassava (a.k.a. manioc, a.k.a tapioca) flour.  I find gluten-free “bread” to be something of an oxymoron, so finding a traditional, bread-like recipe that has always been gluten-free instead of settling for sad, gluten-free shadows of originals is pure delight.  These little rolls have an addictive texture, crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside.

CassavaFlour

Alas, indulging in authentic Pão de Queijo means a tumble off the dairy-free wagon, which is something I try to do only occasionally.  So, after trying the traditional recipe with cheese a few times, I’ve spent the past few months experimenting with all manner of sweet and savory versions of nontraditional “pão,” all of them dairy free.  The base recipe is so versatile, I really believe it lends itself to endless variation!

While these recipes will work with a fine-textured tapioca starch like Bob’s Red Mill brand, I think they come out noticeably  better when I use Ola Ola brand cassava flour from my local ethnic food market.  The Bob’s Red Mill tapioca flour has such a very fine texture that the pão don’t puff up as round and full as they do when using the slightly coarser cassava flour, and they don’t seem to crisp up as much on the outside, either.

The basic recipe for traditional Pão de Queijo follows this ratio (which can easily be doubled or tripled):

1 cup cassava flour

1/2 cup milk

1/4 cup oil

1/2 tsp salt

1 egg

1/2 cup hard, grated cheese (such as a parmesan)

The technique is similar — though not quite the same — to making the French pastry dough pâte à choux, in which the dough is cooked and stirred until it pulls away from the sides of the saucepan.  For Pão de Queijo, heat the milk and oil in a saucepan just until bubbles appear, then pour over the dry ingredients in a heat-proof bowl.  Beat by hand or with a mixer until the flour has absorbed all of the wet ingredients and the dough is cool enough to touch comfortably.  Then add the egg (if scaling the recipe up, beat in eggs one at a time) and beat dough until smooth.  Fold in the shredded cheese or any other add-ins.  Scoop tablespoon-sized dollops onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake at 375 F for 25-30 minutes, or until crisp to the touch and fluffy and chewy on the inside.

Dairy-Free Pão de “Queijo”

1 cup cassava flour

1/2 tsp salt

***

1/2 cup almond milk

1/4 cup olive oil

***

1 egg

***

1/3 cup nutritional yeast

Mix according to the technique described above, adding the nutritional yeast last in lieu of the grated cheese.  Bake at 375 F for 25-30 minutes.

Garlic-Herb Pão

1 cup cassava flour

1/2 tsp salt

1 Tbsp dried herbs or 2 Tbsp fresh herbs, minced

***

1/2 cup almond milk

1/4 cup olive oil or vegan buttery spread

2 cloves garlic, minced

***

1 egg

Mix according to the technique described above, adding the herbs to the dry ingredients and the garlic to the wet ingredients before heating.  Bake at 375 F for 25-30 minutes.

Savory pumpkin pão with spicy black bean chili.

Savory Pumpkin Pão with spicy black bean chili.

Savory or Sweet Pumpkin Pão

1 cup cassava flour

For Savory: 1/2 tsp salt + 1/4 tsp cumin + 1/4 tsp smoked paprika

For Sweet: 2 tsp sugar + pinch salt + 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice

***

1/2 cup almond milk

For Savory: 1/4 cup olive oil

For Sweet: 1/4 cup vegan buttery spread

***

1 egg

***

1/2 cup pureed pumpkin or cooked, mashed sweet potato

The pumpkin in this recipe adds fiber, important nutrients like beta carotene, and a brilliant hue to these little puffs of delight.  The pumpkin also adds extra moisture, so expect to cook these for a little longer, about 35 – 40 minutes.  They will have a very light, tender texture, and they will be soft throughout, rather than crispy on the outside.  If you don’t have pumpkin on hand, mashed sweet potatoes would be a good substitute.  To mix, use the technique described above.  Add the spices to the dry ingredients, and fold in the pumpkin at the end, in lieu of the grated cheese.

SweetPumpkinPao

Sweet Spiced Pumpkin Pão with homemade apple butter

I hope you enjoy trying these different flavors of pão as much as I did!  I’ll be back next week with three sweet versions that I find satisfy my sweet tooth without breaking my low-sugar dessert budget.

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This entry was posted in alliums (garlic/onions), Anti-Inflammatory Ingredients, Appetizers, Breakfast, Dairy-free, Gluten-free, herbs, pumpkin/squash/gourds, Recipes, Snacks, spices, Vegetarian. Bookmark the permalink.

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