Welcome to my blog, through which I hope to be able to share my experiences of gluten free cooking, baking, experimenting and eating.
When my daughter was diagnosed (age 6) with Coeliac Disease, our world of eating changed overnight. From breads, pastry and pasta to cakes, biscuits and puddings.......... suddenly most of what we knew was 'off the menu'. I think I must have tested every available gluten free product on the market, seeking out replacements to try and keep things as normal as possible. I was disappointed to find that what was available was often dry, crumbly and flavourless.
Not one to shy away from a challenge, I decided to turn my kitchen into a laboratory, turn all I knew about cooking on its head and start creating!

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Pandebonos (South American Cheese Bread) - UK style

I recently discovered Pandebonos - an amazing South American cheese bread which goes by many alternative names and which is entirely gluten free - made using cassava / tapioca flour, cornmeal and cheese. It's good. REALLY good................... Cheesy, slightly chewy, soft, moist and delicious. It needs no butter or spread (although is happy to have the indulgence), is wonderful warm or cold, and ripped open and stuffed with salami, ham, coleslaw, houmous, tomatoes or even spinach, makes a wonderful snack or light lunch.


And (just in case you missed it the first time), Pandebonos is entirely (and naturally) gluten free!!

Apparently, the Colombians/South Americans eat it freshly made for breakfast with real hot chocolate. Sounds like my sort of breakfast.........

The first time I had Pandebonos, I knew I just HAD to learn how to make it. So I went on a lengthy internet search to find a good, straight forward, authentic recipe. The problem was finding one which suited UK ingredients. Once I started looking into it, I found it virtually impossible to source the 'required' South American cheeses and extremely difficult (and quite expensive) to obtain Masarepa, the South American cornmeal which appeared to be essential to the qualities of the dough. Apart from the authentic, local recipes, most of the adaptations come from the US which evidently has access to ingredients simply not available over here.


The most frequently suggested alternative cheese is Greek Feta, which I tried on its own in the bread mix, but found it a little too sour for my taste-buds. And although I tried using Masa Harina in place of Masarepa (as suggested in some recipes), this seemed to result in a solid roll which would be better suited to warfare!

And so.............. I have been on a lengthy quest to create a cheese bread, as close to Pandebonos as possible, but which is made using easy to source ingredients from UK supermarkets and still tastes fantastic.


You would not believe how many batches and variants I have subjected my family to, in order to get to this recipe. It has honestly been an obsession! Fortunately, even when the trials have gone hideously wrong (mostly flat and squidgy), they still taste deliciously cheesy and are very edible, otherwise I would have been forced to abandon my quest weeks ago. You have no idea how excited I am to be able to reach a recipe that I am willing (even happy) to share.

I have 'toned down' the sharpness of the Feta with some Mozzarella cheese (the drier grated variety) and as a substitute to the Masarepa, I have (after much experimentation) found that a small amount of pre-cooked polenta (the wet variety) appears to work well alongside the tapioca flour.


Some recipes for Pandebonos contain no raising agent and some contain baking powder. I tried to avoid using anything and to rely on heat to push them upwards. However, after this proved very unreliable and after one too many completely flat results I resorted to using a little baking powder assistance, and the results became more consistent. Getting the ratios of wet to dry ingredients right also seems to be critical to a bread-like result, although if the dough is very slightly over sticky (or over worked) the resulting rolls are still delicious, but have a more spongy quality, which for some may be preferable. The photographs show both results, - the darker, flatter rolls had slightly more polenta (about 20g more).


I confess............... it has not been an easy journey. But fortunately, very few ingredients have been wasted, as all disasters have been good enough to be happily eaten.

The process for making these cheese rolls is really simple. You can blitz all the ingredients in a food processor to form a wet dough, or I have found that using a potato masher and/or my hands works equally well. Good luck and enjoy shamelessly!



Pandebonos (UK Style)

Ingredients                            

160g Mozzarella cheese (the drier grated pizza variety)
160g Feta cheese
180g tapioca flour
30g cooked polenta (wet variety)
2 ¼ teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs

Update : 5.9.15
If you don't have polenta, you can leave it out all together and sub with extra tapioca flour as follows :
160g Mozzarella cheese (the drier grated pizza variety)
160g Feta cheese
190g tapioca flour
¼ teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs

Amendment : At 5 below - I have discovered that you can use a combination of electric mixer with a dough hook and mashing with a potato masher to mix the dough and make it really smooth. This takes much of the hard work out of the mashing process and makes it faster, but also allows full control for judging the dough consistency, so that it becomes really smooth, but not over 'pulped'.

Method

  1. Pre-heat the oven to 220⁰ C / 425⁰ F / Gas 7.
  2. Line 2 baking trays with baking paper.
  3. Crack the eggs into a small bowl and beat with a fork until well blended.
  4. Weigh all the ingredients into either a large bowl (if you are mixing by hand / potato masher) or a food processor and add the beaten egg.
  5. Mash, mix or food process or squish all the ingredients together until you have a well blended, smooth, sticky dough.
  6. Rub a little oil onto your hands and hand-roll the dough into about 15 balls. Place these on the baking trays with space between them.
  7. Place in the pre-heated oven and bake for 5 minutes, then turn the oven down to 200⁰ C / 400⁰ F / Gas 6.
  8. Cook for a further 10 minutes until the rolls are risen and golden brown.
  9. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the trays.
  10. Best eaten fresh either warm or cold. Rolls can be 'refreshed' in the microwave on high for a few seconds only if necessary. Freeze fresh.

Gluten Free Alchemist © 2013 unless otherwise indicated

4 comments:

  1. Wow these look really interesting and you've done such a lot of development work. When you say 'wet' polenta, do you mean the home cooked kind that's like mashed potato, or the pre-cooked kind you can buy in a block from the shops?

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  2. Hi Katie. Sorry for the delay in response..... I have been in Crete for the last week and a half and tried to respond to your query from there..... unsuccessfully! Yes, the polenta is the pre-packed block variety that you find in the supermarket. I use Sunita Organic Polenta. If you need to tweak the recipe at all for your own preference of texture, just add/remove a little polenta or feta and that should do the trick. Well worth the effort! Good luck..

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  3. Mmm, these sound divine! I've made a version before using just tapioca, parmesan and milk (loved it) but yours sounds much more interesting and delicious. I think I will give it a go :-)

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  4. Parmesan? I love Parmesan! I thought it may be a little dry for these, but maybe I should give it a go? I am really hooked on Pandebonos now and think I am ready to try a few variants. Would you suggest any particular proportions?

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