Pan de Yuca
Though I’d love to have homemade rolls every day, I stay away from bread recipes for first thing. They never seem to rise and bulk up in the time promised. I wake up early and spend the morning nervously peeking at the dough I lovingly covered in its blanky and placed in a draft free place to no avail. One hour becomes two and there’s no breakfast in sight. By the time it’s done, I’m too cranky to really enjoy it. I didn’t get to sleep in yet the dough enjoyed a leisurely rise. When I came across pan de yuca or yuca bread in a Miami, I was curious. A combination of yuca flour (also known as tapioca starch) and cheese, it can be mixed and rolled as quickly as arepas then baked off.
Searching for online recipes, I was surprised that I hadn’t heard of them before. Popular at snack stands throughout Latin America, they’re known as pan de queso in Colombia, pão de queijo in Brazil, and chipas in Argentina while a popular food chain sells them with yogurt throughout Ecuador. Though the dough can be made ahead of time, I started them this morning to see if they were as straightforward as they seemed. I combined the dry ingredients and added grated mozzarella and two yolks. Expecting something to go wrong, the mass of crumbly powdered cheese didn’t look like it could ever become a smooth mass. I considered transferring it to a food processor or starting over, but after adding a little cream and kneading it a few minutes, it quickly took form. In about twenty minutes, I had warm rolls, crumbly like bread but creamy like cheese. Mostly, I loved that I could decide to make them in the haze of the early morning then have them right away, no rest required.
Pan de Yuca
Recipe from Ingrid Hoffman for her show Simply Delicioso.
Though I used mozzarella this time, similar recipes also suggest Oaxaca, queso blanco, Parmesan, or Cotija. While they’re great for breakfast, they’re a perfect any time snack to have with coffee, tea, hot chooclate or as a side dish for lunch or dinner.
1 cup yuca harina*
1 teaspoon baking powder
2 cups fresh white cheese (Oaxaca, Mozzarella or Queso Blanco), finely grated
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2-3 tablespoons heavy cream, as needed
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil, coat with cooking spray and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the yuca harina and baking powder. Stir in the grated cheese and eggs. Mix well until a ball forms. Turn out onto a floured board and knead with your hands until smooth. If the dough still appears too dry, add cream one tablespoon at a time as needed.
Divide into 10 even pieces and roll into balls. Place at least 1″ apart on prepared baking sheet. Bake 15-20 minutes until golden.** Cool on wire rack for 5-10 minutes. Serve warm.
*Also known as tapioca starch/almidon de yuca/manioc starch, it’s widely available online or in Latin American markets. It should not be confused with manioc flour used for farofa which is darker and has a grainier texture.
**I placed them under the broiler for an additional minute to brown evenly. They will darken quickly under the broiler and should be checked frequently.