Little Gluten-free Corn and Tapioca Breads (Broazinhas)

Gluten-free cornmeal and tapioca breads When I lived in the USA I didn’t really eat much cornbread, it’s not that I don’t like it, I just never really found a good way to eat it. I have always found that it was a little too sweet to eat with a meal and I never really thought to eat it as a snack. So, I pretty much didn’t eat cornbread!

But when I moved to Brazil, my husband introduced me to a very common cornbread that is called broa and I completely fell in love with it. Since first eating it I try to always have some in the house as I can’t go too long without it. Broa is a sweet cornbread seasoned with a little bit of fennel seed and is shaped into little or big rolls!

There are many different kinds of broa, some are more fluffy and others are much more dense. Usually, broa is made with cornflour and a little bit of white flour, but there are some recipes that don’t use white flour and others that substitute the white flour for tapioca flour.

Gluten-free cornmeal and tapioca breadsSince moving to Brazil and first trying broa I only bought it and never really took the time to learn how to make it at home. Fifteen minutes from my farm there is a really good bakery and they make the best broa I have ever had. Because their broa is so good, I never wanted to make it at home, and just kept buying it! But, the other day I decided to finally give it a shot and make my own. I found a wonderful recipe that was super simple and gluten-free. Within about 40 minutes I had piping hot, fluffy, broas out of the oven and ready to be consumed. They were so good that a few days later I made another batch, which was devoured quickly!

This recipe is wonderful. It is super easy. It is gluten-free. And, once you try these little Brazilian Cornbreads, you will want to have them for breakfast everyday or every afternoon with your coffee or tea!


Gluten-free cornmeal and tapioca breadsIngredients
makes 20

1 cup of corn flour
¾ cup of tapioca flour (polvilho doce)
1 ¾ cup of water
½ cup of white sugar
1 tsp of salt
1 tsp of fennel seeds
2 large eggs (or 3 small)
1 tsp baking powder
Butter and corn flour to grease tray

Mix the cornmeal and tapioca flour together in a bowl and set aside.

In a medium pan, mix the water, oil, sugar, salt and fennel seeds. Bring to a boil. As soon as the mixture begins to boil, turn off the heat and add the cornmeal and tapioca flour, all at once. Using a metal whisk, mix very fast until the mixture forms a ball and does not stick to the sides of the pan. Transfer the mixture to a standing mix bowl (I use a kitchen aid) and leave to cool for 10 minutes.

While the mixture is cooling, grease one large or two small cookie trays and lightly cover with cornmeal. Preheat the oven to 200C or 390F.

Once the mixture has cooled a little, begin whisking and add one egg, mix until fully incorporated. Add the second egg and fully incorporate. Lastly, add the baking powder making sure to mix in well. The mixture should be smooth, but slightly sticky.

Gluten-free cornmeal and tapioca breadsTo make the little balls, put some cornmeal into a teacup, take a spoonful of the mixture and place into the teacup, swirl the mixture around in the teacup, forming a nice little ball, and pop out onto the prepared cookie sheet. This method makes it much easier to make the little balls as the mixture is very sticky and is almost impossible to roll by hand. Additionally, each ball will have a nice light covering of extra cornmeal.

Bake for approximately 25 minutes, or until they have risen and are a little hard on the outside. Do not let them brown too much!

Eat these right out of the oven with butter, cream cheese or Brazilian requeijão!


Revisiting Manioc (yuca or cassava) Flours

Many of you will remember that a while back I did a post on what tapioca flour is (take a look HERE if you haven’t read this post yet) and tried to go into some detail about the different types of manioc flours that you can find in Brazil. I thought it was time to revisit these flours and to give a bit of a briefer explanation of the different types of flours and starches that you can find in Brazil.

I have found that many people get confused about the different manioc flours (myself included) and since gluten-free products are pretty popular at the moment, I thought it would be fitting to do another post on this topic. I hope that this is helpful and clears up any doubts people have!

What is Manioc, Cassava or Yuca?

imagesDepending on where you are from you may call this root manioc, yuca or cassava. Here in Brazil it is known either as mandioca or aipim, for simplicity’s sake I will use manioc here. Manioc is a starchy root that is native to South America, it is rich in carbohydrates, calcium and vitamin C. The manioc root is not meant to be eaten raw and in order to be consumed, must be properly cooked or processed.

To cook the manioc root, peel the brown outer skin and place in a pan of water, boil until the white flesh becomes soft. Once slightly cooled remove the woody inner center (this woody center looks like a thick piece of string).

The manioc root is the basis for the many different types of ‘mandioca flours‘ you can find in Brazil and is an important part of the Brazilian diet.

1. Farinha de Mandioca/Manioc Flour
images (1)Manioc flour, known as farinha de mandioca in Brazil, is a very coarse flour and is primarily used to make farofa, pirão, and tutu among many other dishes. There are many different types of manioc flour, all with varying degrees of coarseness. Since this flour is toasted you also find different toasts in the flour, the more toasted the more nutty the flavor. This flour is almost only used in savory dishes and, as far as I know, not at all in baking. You can buy it HERE on

2. Polvilho Azedo/Sour Starch
polvilho azedoThis flour is fermented and has a slightly sour taste. It is a little bit coarser than the tapioca flour (polivilho azedo). It is commonly used to make pão de queijo and when hydrated with water it is used to make tapioca pancakes. It is a great flour for savory recipes! You can buy it HERE on

3. Polvilho Doce/Tapioca Flour
Polvilho DoceThis is the regular tapioca flour that you can find relatively easily in the USA. This manioc starch is not fermented, is a little finer than the sour starch (polivilho azedo) and has a slightly sweeter flavor. It is commonly used in sweet recipes, but can be used in savory recipes and substituted for the sour starch (polivilho azedo). You can buy it HERE on

Goma de tapioca4. Goma de Tapioca/Hydrated Tapioca Flour
This is a hydrated tapioca flour used in making tapioca pancake from the north of Brazil. The hydrated starch is made by adding water to tapioca flour (or polivilho azedo or polvilho doce) and passing it through a sieve to remove the lumps. Take a look HERE to read more about the tapioca pancakes.

5. Tapioca Pearls
Tapioca Pearls
This is what everyone in the USA will know as tapioca and is used to make the traditional tapioca pudding, it is used in bubble tea and in Brazil it is used to make a pudding called sagú that is made with the tapioca pearls and red wine. Tapioca pearls can be found in different sizes from about 1mm to 8mm. You can purchase tapioca pearls at any supermarket. Here is a link to buy the SMALL PEARLS. And here is a link to buy the BIG PEARLS.

6. Coarse or Granulated Tapioca
Granulated Tapioca
This is a very coarse tapioca and is very irregular in size. It is used in both savory and sweet dishes and is usually soaked in milk before being cooked. I have used this a lot to make a simple cake; because the tapioca is somewhat gooey the texture of the cake is more like a hardened tapioca pudding (doesn’t sound too appetizing, but trust me, it is delicious)! You can buy it HERE on

Photo Credits:

Thanks to From Brazil to You for some great information about manioc


Easy Blender Cheese Breads (Pão de Queijo)

pão de queijoAnyone who has tried the Brazilian pão de queijo (cheese breads) loves them and knows that once you eat one you will probably eat another five…or all that are on the plate in front of you! Since the first time I tried pão de queijo I absolutely loved them and they have always been my favorite snack with a good cup of coffee.

Since learning to make pão de queijo at home I have made a lot and usually make a large recipe and freeze about 3/4 so that whenever I feel like eating one I can just pop a few in the oven and in 15 minutes I have piping hot homemade pão de queijo. Yummmmm!

When I started making pão de queijo at home I did pretty well with keeping my freezer supply fully stocked, but in the last half a year I have slacked and we haven’t had any pão de queijo at home in the freezer. So, the other day I was craving some homemade pão de queijo but I wanted to make some pretty quickly. I had heard a lot of people talking about making a pão de queijo batter in the blender and baking the pão de queijo in muffin tins. I was always pretty skeptical about this and really didn’t think that they would work or that the taste would be good. But, since I wanted quick pão de queijo I decided to give this recipe a go!

With few expectations, partly because I was using tapioca flour that was almost two years out of date (I didn’t have any newer flour in the house), I was completely surprised when my pão de queijo rose beautifully in the oven and tasted amazing. They actually tasted like the real deal. They were nice and gooey in the middle and they had a good cheese taste (although I did decide that next time I make these I would increase the amount of cheese).

pão de queijoThis recipe is wonderful because it is so easy and 100% fool proof. My previous pão de queijo recipe (you can find it HERE) is the ‘real deal’, but it is a little bit more challenging, has more room for errors and does take longer to make, but you can freeze the pão de queijo for later consumption which is one big bonus about the recipe. If you are completely new to making pão de queijo I would recommend trying these, it will be difficult to have a batch that goes wrong. This recipe is also great for if you are pressed for time and want to quickly whip-up some pão de queijo. It takes about 10 minutes to make the batter and 15-20 minutes cooking time. If you want to make pão de queijo for freezing stick to my other recipe, you will be unable to freeze these pão de queijos as the batter is completely liquid.

Happy baking and I hope you all try this recipe! Happy Eating:)!

makes 30

100 – 150g grated parmesan cheese (or meia cura)
1 egg
3/4 cup sunflower or vegetable oil
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cup tapioca flour (or polvilho azedo)
A pinch of salt
Oil and white flour to grease the muffin tins

Preheat the oven to 180C or 355F. Using mini muffin tins (diameter of approx. 6cm), oil each tin well and lightly flour.

Put all of the ingredients into a blender and mix until well incorporated and you have a smooth batter. Pour the batter into the prepared muffin tins to about 3/4 full.

Bake in the preheated oven for approximately 15 minutes or until golden brown on top. When baked, remove from the oven and take out of the muffin tins immediately. Serve warm!

pão de queijo

Tapioca Flour: What is it really?

Ever since I tried Tapioca (a type of pancake made from tapioca flour, typically found in the north of Brazil) I have been constantly thinking about tapioca flour. In Brazil there is not just one type of tapioca flour, instead there seems to be a gazillion different types (well that isn’t quite true, but it seems that way to me) and each one is used for making a specific dish or to suit different taste buds. Recently I have been thinking more about the advantages of using tapioca flour, one being that it is GLUTEN FREE, and how fun it is to bake with. The part that I like best is that tapioca flour becomes gooey (if you have tried pão de queijo you know what I mean). So, before I dive into tons of recipes that take tapioca flour I’m going to tell you a little bit about what it is and the different flours that you can find in Brazil.

Sagu or tapioca pearls image from

Sagu or tapioca pearls
image from

Tapioca flour, or manioc flour, is made from a woody shrub known as cassava, manioc, or yuca; a native shrub of South America. In Brazil, the cassava plant and the root that is commonly eaten is called “mandioca”, while the starch is called “tapioca”! The name tapioca is derived from the word tipi’oka which is the name for this starch in the Tupi language that was spoken by the natives when the Portuguese first arrived in the Northeast of Brazil. The Tupi word, tipi’oka, refers to the process by which the starch is made edible. The word has been adopted and is now used to refer to the flour in the northeast of the country. In the north and central west it is more commonly referred to as mandioca, and in the southeast and south as aipim.

Polvilho Doce image from

Polvilho Doce
image from

As I learned today from my mother-in-law and husband, tapioca flour is the primary flour that is used for baking in the northern areas of Brazil. Due to an inability to grow wheat, tapioca has been adopted as the primary flour. Breads, cakes, buns, and pancakes are all made with tapioca flour. I haven’t tried tapioca bread or cake yet, but I know that I will have to.

Brazilians use two types of tapioca flour: a fine flour that is used in cakes and cookies, and a course flour that is used for frying. Obviously, this is not where the story ends. Yes, there are two main types of tapioca flour, but the tree keeps on branching out. The fine flour, referred to as “polvilho” in Brazil has two different types, a sweet and a sour. The course flour, referred to as “farinha de mandioca” also has various types! Let me start by explaining a little bit more about “polivilho”!

Polvilho Azedo

Polvilho Azedo
image from

Polvilho – This is the fine-white tapioca flour. This is the basic tapioca flour you will find. In Brazil there are two different types, the sweet and the sour. So, what is the difference? Well basically one flour is more sour and the other is more sweet. Tasting them side-by-side you can really taste the difference. “Polvilho Doce”, the sweet tapioca flour is more commonly used for baking cakes or cookies. If you are baking anything sweet you will probably want to go with the sweet tapioca flour! “Polvilho Azedo” is fermented cassava pulp that is then made into flour. This flour is sour and is used in recipes like pão de queijo. More commonly used in savory recipes, the sour tapioca flour has a stronger flavor!

Farinha de Mandioca

Farinha de Mandioca
image from

Farinha de Mandioca – This is the course manioc flour that is used for frying and is commonly used in the side dish farofa (farinha de mandioca fried with butter, onions, bacon/jerked beef, and parsley). I still have no idea how many different varieties of this flour there are in Brazil, but it seems like a lot. Some flours are very course, others toasted for a more nutty flavor, and others have large flakes. Generally it is up to the preference of those cooking or eating the dishes made with farinha de mandioca. They all do the same thing, they just have slightly different textures and flavors!

Besides the tapioca flour you find in Brazil, Brazilians are also very fond of “sagu” or what is actually known in the USA as tapioca: the tapioca pearls. A delicious dessert “sagu” is usually made with grape juice, but you can find almost any flavor.

If you do not live in Brazil it is likely that you will not have access to the endless variety of tapioca flours that you can find here. Instead, you will be able to find the basic tapioca flour, this is probably the “polvilho doce” that we find in Brazil, but can really be used for any type of baking (pão de queijo made with polvilho doce is still a bite of heaven). Finding the “farinha de mandioca” will be much more of a challenge. I have seen it in some supermarkets in the international section, but this was only in the Boston area where there is a large Brazilian population. (Take a look at my links for ordering Brazilian Food online, there are some great places to buy farinha de mandioca!)

Pão de Queijo – Brazilian Cheese Bread, yum!!!!!!

Brazilian Cheese BreadIf you have visited Brazil you are likely to have tried these tasty morsels known as pão de queijo, or literally translated, cheese bread. Pão de queijo is a popular snack all over Brazil, but especially in the states of São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Rio de Janeiro, and Espirito Santo. Found in any coffee shop, lanchonete, or padaria, these are the perfect treat with coffee, for when you are feeling peckish, just want a little something to keep you going, or in my case can’t get enough of them.

On my first trip to Brazil in 2005 I, of course, ate my fair share of pão de queijo, and I have been addicted to them ever since. Not being in Brazil can be a big challenge when you crave these tasty morsels on a daily basis. Every time I visited Brazil I would bring packets of quick and simple pão de queijo mix back to the the USA. Brazilian Cheese BreadUnfortunately these never lasted long enough and I didn’t make the effort to learn how to make them from scratch myself (everyone had told me that they were very difficult, and silly-me, I believed them). So, I was usually without them for many months and had to manage my cravings!

Most Brazilians do not make pão de queijo from scratch. Instead, they either get them from their local padaria (bakery), or buy it frozen from the supermarket. Although buying them frozen is the quick and easy solution to making pão de queijo at home, I knew that I could make these scrumptious treats from scratch and meet the padaria quality.

Now, making pão de queijo in Brazil is easy because all of the ingredients are easy to find. Unfortunately, it is much more of a challenge in the USA. First, the recipe calls for polvilho azedo, which is a sour manioc starch, that is almost impossible to find. The best substitute that I have found for this in the USA is tapioca flour, or you can try searching for it in latin markets where it is sold as almidón agrio. The other ingredient problem you have out of Brazil is the cheese. The cheese that is used for pão de queijo is a half-cured cheese that is tangy and flavorful. Finding a substitute for the cheese is a challenge and I have usually resorted to a mix of parmesan and mozzarella.

Brazilian Cheese BreadNevertheless, you can make these tasty morsels in your own home. And, I can guarantee that once you have tried these you will want to run back to the kitchen, make a huge batch, and store them in the freezer so you never run out!!!!

Anyway, I won’t keep you from these goodies anymore. Here is the recipe for the pão de queijo that I made this weekend. They turned out amazing as you can see from the pictures. Hopefully they work out for you as well as they did for me. If they don’t work the first time don’t give up! Remember, if the mixture is too runny just add some more flour until you can roll the mixture into small balls that will keep their shape on the tray.

I look forward to hearing and seeing pictures from your pão de queijo!


makes approx. 30

320g (or slightly more than 2 cups) polvilho azedo or tapioca flour
1/2 cup vegetable, canola, or sunflower oil
1 cup milk
2 tsp salt
2 cups finely grate queijo minas (or you can try a mix of 1 part mozzarella and 2 parts parmesan cheese)

Brazilian Cheese BreadHeat the oil and milk together in the microwave or stove. Do not bring to a boil. Mix the oil and milk with the polvilho azedo and salt until fully combined. Put in the fridge to cool to room temperature. Finely grate the cheese. When the mixture has cooled mix a little and then add the cheese. Make sure mixture is combined well. If mixture is too runny add more polvilho azedo until mixture is slightly firm and when rolled into a small ball it holds. Preheat oven to 375F or 180C. Cover hands with oil and roll balls approximately 2.5cm or 1inch (make sure not to make the balls too big, otherwise they will not rise). Place on a baking tray or cookie sheet. Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, or until tops are slightly golden.

If freezing, place rolled balls onto wax paper and put in the freezer for approximately 8 hours, or until well frozen. Transfer to ziploc bag. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375F or 180C, when oven is hot retrieve pão de queijo from the freezer, place on baking tray or cookie sheet and bake for approximately 20 minutes or until tops are slightly golden. It is important to remember to bake when still frozen.

Serve immediately. Pão de Queijo is best eaten straight out of the oven.

For a PDF of this Recipe CLICK HERE!

Brazilian Cheese Bread