Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Pan de Yuca

Back when we still lived in New York's Hudson Valley, Kelli and I would occasionally take trips into New York City, which was just a train ride—or a 1.5-hour drive—to our south. One such trip was a "date night" to see the band Chicago at the Beacon Theatre.

We started off the evening with dinner at Calle Ocho, a well-reviewed Cuban restaurant on Manhattan's upper west side. After we were seated, one of the restaurant's runners brought over glasses of water and a bread basket. Reflexively, we sent the bread basket back, explaining that we couldn't eat it.

A short time later our server appeared at our table to take our order. He glanced down at the table, and noting something missing, asked, "Where is your bread?"

"We sent it back," I said. "I have celiac and can't eat wheat."

"You know the bread is gluten-free, right? It's made with tapioca."

Our ears perked up. The bread returned to the table, and I'd be lying if I said anything other than that we devoured it. It was amazing. (It turns out that Calle Ocho's was previously named one of New York City's best bread baskets by Serious Eats.)

And what was this incredible and naturally gluten-free bread? Pan de yuca.

It has many variants throughout Latin America, but they all share common elements. The base is tapioca flour (some versions also add a bit of corn meal) and queso fresco or a similar farmer's-style cheese (some people use mozzarella as well). From country to country, it may be known as pan de bono, pan de queso, pao de queijo, and a handful of other names. All translate to one word: delicious.

The bread is best served warm from the oven.

Pan de Yuca
Makes 10 rolls

100 g shredded mozzarella (about 1 cup)
144 g cubed queso fresco (about 1 cup)
120 g tapioca flour (1 cup)
1 tsp GF baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
3 tbsp milk

1. Preheat the oven to 350 deg F.
2. Put the cheeses in a food processor and pulse until crumbly.
3. Add the tapioca flour, baking powder, salt, and blend to combine, about 30 seconds.
4. Add the egg, and pulse to combine.
5. Add the milk, and mix until a sticky dough forms.
6. Scrape the dough out of the food processor onto your work surface. Use your hands to mold it into a dough ball. The dough will be slightly sticky.
7. Roll the dough into 10 balls and place evenly spaced on an ungreased cookie sheet or baking pan.
8. Place the pan in the freezer for five minutes.
9. Transfer directly to the preheated oven, and bake for 15 minutes.
10. Switch the oven to broil, and leave in just until the tops of the rolls are golden brown.

1. If you're measuring the cheeses by weight, you don't need to shred and/or cube them. Let the food processor do the work for you!
2. While the bread is best served warm, it's also quite tasty at room temp. Or, you can place it in the microwave for a few seconds to re-warm and return to its just-out-of-the-oven goodness.

Degrees of Free-dom
This recipe is: gluten-free, peanut-free, tree-nut-free, fish-free, shellfish-free, soy-free, corn-free, grain-free, vegetarian.


–Pete and Kelli


Rochelle @ WheatlessRochelle.com said...

Those rolls look great! I've made pao de queijo before but mine did not come out looking at nice as yours. The recipe I tried was slightly different than the one you have posted here, so I'll try yours next time. Thanks!

Erin Smith said...

These look amazing! I've had these before but never made my own.

charissa (zest bakery) said...

looks helllllla good. :) Saving this recipe!

OPG724 said...

these look amazing! Any chance they can be made dairy free by omitting the cheeses?

kellibronski said...

OPG724 - Unfortunately, this bread cannot be made without the cheese. We tried decreasing the amount of cheese in the recipe and the bread became hard and dry. You could try substituting dairy-free cheese, but I am not sure how the results would be.


angie m said...

These are delicious! I made them dairy-free by using Daiya cheese--mozzarella and cheddar-style. I also added some garlic salt, dried basil, and a dash of italian seasoning.....inspired by the biscuits at Red Lobster. They were great!

Jeanette said...

I used goat cheese as I couldn't find the other, they turned out fabulous. Thanks. A good alternative for those that can't have gluten!

kellibronski said...

Angie M - Thanks for letting us know they work with dairy free cheese. It sounds like a great combo with the additional seasoning!

Jeanette - Thanks for the tip about the goat cheese!


Elaine Suderman said...

I made these last night. They were fantastic! Do you happen to have nutritional info on them? i.e. calories.

Fran Timme said...

These look great. I'm going to give them a try. I did run the ingredients through my recipe program (MacGourmet) and this is what I came up with:

Per roll:

104 calories
3.33 grams of fat
30 mg of cholesterol
299 mg sodium
11.26 grams of carbs
.18 grams of fiber
.5 grams of sugar
6.59 grams of protein

Hope that helps!

Melissa Smith said...

I'm wondering if you could freeze until ready to bake?? (instead of just leaving in the freezer for 5 min) and how long to leave them out before baking when taking out of the freezer! These look yummy!