In Brazil, pao is made from cassava flour, which has a little bit of funk to it. You may be able to find a bag at an Asian or Latin American market, but if you don’t have that sort of hookup, tapioca flour (which is made from the cassava root) is the next best thing. A warning: The batter will be gummier and stickier than any you’ve likely worked with, but do not fear it—your unease is merely a gut reaction to being in unfamiliar territory. You are not in Kansas anymore, where the wheat is plentiful and white bread is more than just food. You are in Brazil, where things are acceptable to everyone and life is meant to be lived to the fullest. Trust that their bread meets those standards.
- Preheat oven to 425°F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats.
- Combine milk and oil in a saucepan and bring to a rolling boil. While mixture comes to a boil, combine tapioca flour, salt, and garlic powder in the bowl of a stand mixer. Once boiling, pour liquid over the flour mixture. Beat on high for five minutes, occasionally scraping down sides.
- Alternately, you can do this in a large bowl and beat with a sturdy wooden spoon until it stops steaming, about 5 minutes.
- Add eggs one at a time, then add cheese and continue to beat for one minute.
- Using an ice cream scoop or two tablespoons, scoop dough into 12 evenly sized mounds, 6 on each sheet pan. The dough will be very sticky, so if you find it tough to handle, dip your fingertips in cold water and gently shape the bread.
- Bake for 20-22 minutes until golden, rotating once at midway point. Serve immediately. Will keep for 2 days.
Allison Robicelli is a D-list celebrity-chef chef, author, humorist, entrepreneur, general polymath, and all-around good time. You may remember her from such places as Food52, Eater, Food Network, VH1, and many other quirky corners of the food Internet. She is the author of the critically acclaimed cookbook/memoir Robicelli's: A Love Story, With Cupcakes, which has been called one of the funniest food-related books of all time. You should buy it.