South American breads

Posted on: January 15th, 2014 by Isabels Free From

Some South American countries are known for their breads made with cheese, eggs, and cassava flour (also known as tapioca starch). In Brazil, there’s the famous pão de queijo. Colombians have pandebono. Paraguayans enjoy a similar bread called chipa.

The unifying ingredient in these breads is the cassava starch, which gives them their special texture and makes them gluten-free.
As well as the cassava starch, the Colombians and Paraguayans also add fine corn flour and a variety of cheeses to their breads.

The corn meal used in the Colombian pandebono is called masarepa, which is a precooked corn meal, I’m not sure how easy is to get hold of masarepa in the UK, so I just used normal fine corn meal, added  a bit of water and placed in the microwave for a few minutes – it worked well.

These breads can be shaped as buns or bagels and the recipe can be adapted quite easily with a variety of flavours or add fillings savoury or sweet.

I found them very ease to make and enjoyed the lovely crust which the corn meal helped to create. They are soft inside and a bit chewy when they are warm from the oven. I noticed that the children enjoyed them a lot.


South American breads


250g Isabel’s dough balls or kids’ cheesebread mix

125g fine corn meal, plus extra for dusting

50g unsalted butter, cubed or 50ml oil of your choice

2 Tbsp natural yoghurt

3 eggs

2 tsp baking powder

100g grated cheddar

200ml water

1 tsp anise seeds, lightly toasted (optional)


Pre-heat the oven at 180ᴼC and line two large rimmed baking sheets with parchment and dust lightly with coarse cornmeal.

Place the dough balls mix, baking powder and anise seeds in a large bowl and mix well. Add the butter and rub in using your fingers until it is all combined. Place the fine corn meal flour in another bowl and pour the water over it and mix well, then place in the microwave on high for about 2 minutes.

Remove the corn meal from the microwave stir the cooked flour crumbling it into small bits with the help of a wooden spoon- allow it to cool a little. Take the bowl containing the dough balls mix and baking powder mixture and make a well in the middle. Then add the cooked corn meal flour, the cheese, eggs and yoghurt.

If you have a food processor the mixing of the dough is much quicker, but if not, then mix all the ingredients together by hand and knead until it forms a soft and pliable dough. If required add a little more flour and mix well.

Lightly flour your hands and a clean work surface with cassava flour, divide dough into quarters, then divide each quarter into 4 equal sized balls. Shape each piece into a flattish ball, then make a hole in the middle of each ball.

Place your finger into the hole and shape the bagel around making a hole about 3cm wide. If making buns shaped breads, roll the dough into flattish shapes of approx. 3cm high.

Place the breads on the prepared baking sheets 3cm apart. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until lightly golden and crusty. Leave to cool on a wire rack.


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