RECIPE: Brazil and Italy’s Love Child is a Pão de Quiejo Pizza

pizza

When my poor, sad, gluten-free self discovered pão de queijo, I was elated. A cross between cheesy, chewy, and crispy, these Brazilian treats are the best stand in for regular gluten-filled bread that I’ve been able to find. Finding good gluten-free bread is worth big bucks, but at my nearest cafe, $2 a pop for only one pão de queijo is a little too pricey for my addiction to handle. I’ve been on the hunt for the perfect recipe, but to no avail.

Recently, I stumbled across a recipe involving potatoes, which I thought might be the key to the perfect pão – but what seemed to be the pão de quiejo recipe of my dreams left me with a seemingly endless pile of let-me-down dough that churned out dry-ish, mediocre balls. No one wants mediocre balls! No one wants to waste something they worked all afternoon on either, so I took the only logical step I could think of – spread the dough on a pan, dump tomato sauce, cheese, and meat on top, and pop it in the oven. What emerged from the oven was not just the best gluten-free crust I’ve ever had, but one of the best pizza crusts I’ve ever had, ever – the combination of cheesy breadsticks, pizza, and baked potatoes, all in one.

Ingredients

2 lbs tapioca flour 
2 lbs potatoes, boiled and mashed
1 cup whole milk at room temperature
1 cup vegetable oil
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 lb grated queso fresco
6 eggs at room temperature

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, with your hands, mash the potatoes and tapioca flour together while still hot. Add the whole milk and vegetable, and continue to mix the dough thoroughly with your hands. Slowly add the salt, cornstarch, queso fresco, and then the eggs, all while still mashing with your hands. For personal pizzas, separate the dough into balls that are slightly large than the size of your fist, then flatten out in a round circle to make a pizza on a sheet pan, preferably with a baking sheet (I like to use a Silpat liner). Top accordingly with your desired toppings (above is tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, soppressata, cherry tomatoes and a bit of crushed black pepper), then pop into the oven for approximately 20 minutes or until the crust is your desired shade of golden.