These cheesy bread puffs were inspired by Pao de Queijo or Brazilian Cheese Bread. And "inspired by" is the key phrase here, because these aren't true Pao de Queijo. They're Gluten-Free Cheddar Cheese Breads -- something you can mix up quickly when you have a lot of shredded cheddar cheese. They originated from a need to use up a blend of three different shredded cheddars. I liked the cheesy little puffs so much I started making them often. Now I sometimes throw in an "accent cheese" like Black Truffle Cheddar or something interesting. My white whale cheese is this apple sage onion cheese from an Aldi cheese advent tower. I can't find it anywhere, but that's another story. Anyway....
These are not ordinary cheddar cheese breads. The texture is stretchy and a bit chewy, but in a pleasant way. They taste good fresh, but I also throw them in a zipper bag, keep them in the refrigerator and let them get hard. At lunch time or wine o'clock, I'll airfry a couple for protein. It might be my imagination but they're almost a little better after sitting in the refrigerator for a day and being reheated.
Like true Brazilian Cheese Bread, Gluten-Free Cheddar Cheese Breads are made with tapioca flour. Tapioca flour, also known as tapioca starch, used to be a specialty ingredient but seems to be pretty mainstream now. You can do a lot with it. If you buy it to make gluten-free cheese breads, you can also use it for Tapioca Flour Brownies and as a thickener for fruit pies. I'm also looking forward to trying in these gluten-free pretzels.
Muffin Pan Size and Type
Traditional Brazilian cheese bread can be made with or without a muffin pan because the batter is much thicker. This batter is kind of loose and does better in metal or silicone muffin tins. These are ideal for mini muffin pans that measure about 1.75 inches across and are about 1 inch deep. I don't recommend the smaller, shallower ones. You can also just use a standard metal muffin pan, in which case you won't fill the cavities as high and you'll get about 8 cheese breads.
Gluten-Free Cheddar Cheese Breads
- 1 silicone mini muffin tin or metal
- ½ cup whole milk, scant, so almost to the top (100 grams)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (28 grams)
- 1 large egg
- 1 cup tapioca flour (120 grams)
- ¼ teaspoon salt plus a pinch
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne
- 1 cup mixed shredded cheddar and/or provolone plus extra if desired (120 grams)
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. for a mini silicone muffin pan or 450 F. if using a metal pan. If using metal, grease generously. If using silicone you don't have to.
- I usually use a 12 portion silicone mini muffin pan with cavities that measure about 1.75 inches across and are 1 inch deep.
- In a small saucepan, heat the milk and butter until the butter melts. Set aside and let cool for about 10 minutes.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk the egg to blend the yolk and white, then whisk the milk mixture into the egg. Whisk in the salt, cayenne and sugar. Add the tapioca flour and stir with a rubber scraper until smooth, then stir in the cheese.
- Spoon the mixture into the muffin tin. It should come up almost to the top. Sprinkle on more cheese if you need to.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, though the time may vary by a couple of minutes depending on the pan size. Remove from oven and let cool for about 10 minutes, then use a knife to pop each cheese puff out of its little hole. Serve warm.
- Store any leftovers in the refrigerator and reheat in a toaster oven or air fryer.