Cheese bread is a Brazilian type of roll essentially made with cheese, tapioca starch, eggs, milk and oil. These little beauties are originally from the state of Minas Gerais located in the south-eastern part of Brazil. Minas Gerais is one of the leading producers of cheese in the country and is where many of the typical Brazilian cheeses were invented. For example, Minas cheese is a type of fresh cheese with mild and salty taste, and a rubbery texture. It is appreciated in the morning with some fresh bread or as dessert with either guava paste (which is called Romeo and Juliet) or with dollops of dulce de leche. Prato cheese, which is yellow and sharp in taste, was created in the 20s and its recipe is inspired in the Danish cheeses Dambo and Tybo and the Dutch Gouda and is commonly sold in brick shapes. The production of the soft Catupiry started in 1911 and is a cheese that is added to many popular recipes like ‘prawns in tomato sauce with catupiry‘, ‘chicken with catupiry‘, ‘catupiry pizza’ or ‘catupiry and chicken fritter’ (coxinha).
The cheese culture of the estate of Minas Gerais resulted in the creation of many recipes with cheese including these rolls. They are extremely popular in Brazil and eaten any time of the day: for breakfast with a cup of coffee, as a mid-morning or afternon tea snack. In many restaurants it is served as an appetiser with dips. Cheese bread rolls are also found anywhere you go in Brazil. In bakeries they are freshly baked on a daily basis and usually it is possible to find more than one type of cheese bread. In the supermarkets many types of cheese bread are sold frozen or as a bread mix in packs.
Recipes vary quite extensively. Sometimes the tapioca starch is cooked in a mixture of boiling milk and oil before cheese and eggs are added. In other instances more liquid is added making the mixture very runny and resulting in a more chewy and soft bread. Some recipes are very cheesy, others have less cheese. Although Minas and parmesan cheeses are amongst the most common in recipes different types of cheese may also be used like mozzarella, prato, blue cheese, etc or a combination of cheeses. Cheese bread sandwiches are also a hit and can be served cold or hot (pressed). Some examples of fillings are: ham with tomato, mozzarella with dried tomatoes, guava paste or chicken and salad.
It is not easy to find a good cheese bread recipe. To me was specially difficult because I had to adapt this recipe to incorporate cheeses available in Australia while at the same time getting as close as possible to the ideal consistency. After many attempts my conclusion is that the secret to a good cheese bread is to add lots of cheese to the recipe so the bread gets fluffy and knead the dough for several minutes.
My cheese bread dough is not very easy to knead because of the low moisture content, but it is guaranteed to be good exercise for the arm! Serve your cheese bread warm preferably straight out of the oven. Perfect with a cup of coffee or cappuccino and it is gluten-free!
Re-heats well in the microwave, heat for a few minutes or seconds (depending on the quantity) otherwise they will go tough. They also freeze well, freeze them raw in one layer in a large airtight container and bake in a pre-heated oven as you would for the non-frozen version.
Recipe updated on 20/11/2014
250 g sour tapioca starch*
250g sweet tapioca starch*
Pinch of salt
120ml extra-virgin olive oil
3 eggs, beaten
180g haloumi cheese, freshly grated
120g extra-sharp parmesan cheese, freshly grated
200g cheddar cheese, freshly grated
1. Pre-heat the oven 180oC, fan-forced and line a large baking tray with baking paper. Pour the tapioca starch and salt in a bowl and stir to combine. Pour all the remaining ingredients and mix well with your hands to form dough. Knead the dough for 10 minutes.
2. Make balls of the size of a ping-pong ball and place onto the prepared tray.
3. Bake for approximately 30 minutes or until it starts to get golden. Take care not to over bake to avoid bread getting tough.
Makes: about 35
* Available from South American grocers or online. ** At this stage, athe rolls can be put in airtight container to be frozen. Label and freeze for up to 6 months.