Pão de queijo is a Brazillian cheese bread which is naturally gluten free. On the TAM flight out to Argentina, the Brazilian air stewardess who delivered my gluten free meal told me she suffered with a gluten intolerance and helpfully told me I should look out for the naturally gluten free Pão de queijo. She said it would be available all over Brazil.
Pão de queijo is made from tapioca flour, milk, cheese, eggs, butter or oil. The dough is then baked in the over in small balls. It’s eaten as an appetiser or as a snack.
The little balls look a bit like cheesey profiteroles!
It’s different to other breads in that it doesn’t require leavening. Instead, small pockets of air form in the little balls as they are baked in the oven.
So how does it taste? Well, the ones I tried were seriously cheesey. Think very strong Parmesan and you’re in the right region. I liked the texture and taste very much, especially with a glass of red wine.
Although the Pão de queijo was available all over Brazil, I was quite cautious in trying it. I didn’t want to take any chances and used my Coeliac Travel cards to check if it was gluten free. Unfortunately using the cards and asking if the bread contains ‘flour’ was always met with a confirmation it did. It was only at the end of the holiday while at Rio airport did I find someone who spoke excellent English and he confirmed that yes it contained flour, but it was the gluten free tapioca flour. The Portuguese for tapioca flour is “polvilho”. If I go back to Brazil, I would be more specific and ask if it only contained this type of flour.