Cheese bread is a typical food in Minas Gerais, but your origins are uncertain. Some people say, this amazing food was eaten for farm owners, and it was accompanied by good coffee!
Pão de queijo started to be "famous" in 1950, and some legends talk about 'the best and original pão de queijo' these legends said, such bread is the mineiro.
Today, this bread is known in many parts around the world, and Minas Gerais export for countries like Portugal, USA, Italy and Japan.
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups whole milk
2 tsp salt (more or less, depending on the cheese mixture you're going to use)
1 lb (500 g) polvilho azedo (Brazilian sour manioc starch)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup shredded queijo da canastra (or you can try a mix of 2 parts sharp cheddar cheese and 1 part mozzarella, or 1 part mozzarella and 2 parts parmesan cheese, or any other mix of melting, strong-flavored cheeses you like)
Step by step:
1. Combine oil, milk and salt in a sauce pan. Heat to just below boiling point (watch closely - when the mixture starts to rise, remove immediately from heat and use mixture in step 3).
2. Place the polvilho azedo in a large bowl.
3. Pour boiling mixture all over the polvilho azedo and, using a wooden spoon, start stirring the dough.
4. When the dough is cold enough to be kneaded by hand (but still hot), add eggs and cheese and knead until it is very sticky and elastic, about 15 minutes (you will need a spoon or scraper to get it off your hands).
5. Let the dough rest while you preheat the oven to 450oF (it is very important that the oven is at high temperature when you bake the pães-de-queijo; if they start to get too brown on the bottom before getting golden brown on top, reduce the temperature a little bit).
6. Oil two large baking pans. Oil your hands with vegetable oil and form golf-sized balls with the dough (40-45). Place them 2-3 in apart in the pan, as they grow considerably when baked. (You can, at this point, freeze the balls and then store them in zip lock bags to bake them straight from the freezer at your convenience - they will take a little longer to get ready, though.)
7. Bake until puffed and golden brown (about 15 minutes). Serve hot.
Cheese bread with accomplishment
For suggestion, you can eat with some ham, cheese and typical sweet desserts, like: goiabada and doce de leite. By the way, you can make your cheese bread stuffed! It's really delicious!