Brazilian Breads Makes Gluten-Free Cheese Bread

Known as pão de queijo, these puffy cheese rolls are made from tapioca flour.


Photo by Lori Eanes

Before opening Brazilian Breads on Solano Avenue in February, Delvina Rodrigues popularized the puffy, palm-sized cheese rolls known as pão de queijo at Oakland’s Eat Real Festival and catered events.

Made with tapioca flour — which renders them gluten-free and which is why cafes such as Rodrigues’ that sell them are traditionally called tapiocarias — these chewy-inside, golden-outside puffs are obligingly adaptable.

“In Brazil, we usually have just the original cheese bread, which we eat with all meals or as a snack,” said Rodrigues, who makes plain rolls along with several sweet and savory versions.

“I like to serve our garlic-and-rosemary cheese bread at barbecue parties. Jalapeño cheese bread is very good with soup. Guava-jelly cheese bread is an amazing dessert; bacon you can have all day long; and four-cheese cheese bread is especially cheesy.”

As for pairings, the version made with creamy Catupiry-brand processed cheese “goes great with coffee. I also recommend trying any of the flavors with a wine-and-cheese plate,” Rodrigues said.

“Otherwise, I love using cheese bread to make picanha” — aka rump cap — “sandwiches, because they really bring out the flavor of the meat.

“Once a year throughout my childhood, we would drive over 14 hours to my mom’s family farm” — in Brazil’s Minas Gerais state and renowned since the 18th century as pão de queijo’s birthplace.

The main event of those farm trips was baking, so “you could say cheese bread is in my blood. While growing up and right through to today, I have cheese bread in my daily meals as well as at celebrations, birthdays, and meetings,” said Rodrigues, who earned degrees in education and computer science before baking professionally.

After arriving in San Francisco in 2009, Rodrigues came to love jalapeño peppers. It’s her favorite pão de queijo filling, “because it mixes my Brazilian and Northern California cultures.”


Brazilian Bread, 1707 Solano Ave., Berkeley, 510-647-8894,

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