Ecuadorian pan de yuca are small cheesy breads made with yuca flour (cassava/tapioca starch) and cheese. There are variations of these delicious breads in many Latin countries. They are known as chipas in Paraguay/Argentina, pan de queso in Colombia, cuñape in Bolivia, and pao de queijo in Brazil. The variations and exact ingredients vary from one place to another, my recipe for pan de yuca is made with yuca starch, cheese, butter and eggs.
Yuca bread makes a delicious warm appetizer and the breads can be made in advance and baked minutes before serving. Leftover breads will get hard when they get cold, but can be reheated in the microwave (great for breakfast the day after). The flour is made from yuca root, and is also known as cassava or tapioca starch, the flour can be found in most supermarkets, in Latin grocery stores, or online.
Pan de yuca or cheese bread
- 2 ½ cups yuca or cassava starch - sometimes also called yuca flour or tapioca starch/flour
- 4 cups grated mozzarella cheese can also use half mozzarella & half queso fresco or quesillo
- 1 tsp baking powder
- Pinch of salt
- 1 stick of butter 4 oz or 113 grams, room temperature, cut into 8 pieces
- 2 large eggs
- 2-4 tablespoons of water or milk, add more if the dough is dry
- Combine the yuca starch or flour, cheese, baking powder and salt in a food processor, blend to mix well.
- Add the butter and eggs.
- Mix until small dough balls begin to form, if it's too dry add 1-2 tablespoons of water or milk. Add more if needed.
- Remove the dough from the food processor and roll into a ball, you can make the dough ahead and store in the refrigerator for up to a day.
- To make the dough by hand, combine all the ingredients in large bowl, using melted (cooled down) butter, and mix until you have a smooth dough. It's actually very easy to prepare by hand.
- Pre-heat the oven to 500 F.
- Make small round shaped breads with the dough and place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
- Bake immediately or store in the fridge until ready to bake. I find that they turn out best if you do let them chill in the fridge for about 30 minutes before baking.
- Once the oven reaches 500F, turn on broiler, place the breads on the middle rack and bake until the breads are golden, about 5-7 minutes. Another option is to pre-heat the oven to 400F and bake at 400F for about 5 minutes and then turn on the broiler.
- Serve immediately, can be served alone or with tree tomato aji.
In Ecuador, pan de yuca is usually served with yogurt smoothies and there are several restaurants whose specialty is yuca bread with yogurt. I usually serve yuca bread as an appetizer, with tree tomato aji, but they are also great for breakfast or with an afternoon coffee or tea. My kids love yuca bread and I always let them have some dough so they can make their own shapes: ovals, triangles, spirals, etc. They get very excited as they watch the oven and wait for their bread to be ready.
I used to make yuca bread by hand, and it is probably one of the easiest breads to make by hand, the ingredients are easy to mix, but it is a little bit sticky, so I tried using the food processor instead and it works great. If you don’t have a food processor or prefer to make it by hand, just melt the butter to make it easier to mix the ingredients.
Notes, tips, ideas & variations for making yuca cheese breads:
I’ve been making these delicious cheesy breads for so long, and in different places when we travel. I am constantly finding that the yuca bread dough is so flexible and can be used in many different ways. Here’s a quick compilation of some of the variations, tips, and ideas that I’ve tried over the years:
– The texture of the yuca breads will vary based on the type of the cheese you use, this recipe uses mozzarella (not fresh, but the grated harder type) and I sometimes mix it with queso fresco. This results in very soft and smooth tasting breads which my family loves. For a cheese bread with a crunchier texture and stronger cheese flavor, you can use a harder more aged cheese: parmesan, gruyere, emmental, etc. When we visit my in-laws in France I usually take the tapioca flour from the US and use local cheese (usually the grated emmental they sell at most grocery stores there). When making these with dryer aged cheese you will need to add more liquid (water or milk) to the dough to get it to the right consistency.
– If you want the yuca breads to have a perfect uniform shape or if they tend to fall flat after baking (this tends to happen more if they didn’t have time in the fridge before or if the oven isn’t pre-heated/very hot when baking them) – you can use a small muffin tin to keep them in place.
– To freeze the unbaked yuca bread rolls, place them on a baking sheet with wax paper, place in the freezer. As soon as the breads are frozen, transfer them to a Ziploc bag and save in the freezer until needed. To bake them from frozen, pre-heat the oven to 400-425F, place the frozen yuca breads on a baking sheet lined with parchment, and bake until golden on top.
– Grilled yuca cheese breads: You can also grill the yuca breads, this works best on a pizza stone. Make sure your grill is very hot and the pizza stone is pre-heated, then place the breads on the stone and let them cook until golden. They tend to have a crunchier outer texture when grilled.
– Yuca cheese griddle tortillas: You can also flatten them into thick tortilla shapes and cook them in a grill or in a stovetop pan.
– Yuca bread waffles: Another idea is to cook them in a waffle maker. Simply form the dough into a thicker patty (slightly smaller than your waffle maker), and place it in the waffle maker, cook until crispy on both sides.
– Yuca bread pizzas: You can flatten the dough as thin as you would like, add a light layer of sauce (tomato, pesto, etc), your favorite toppings, and bake at 450F until crispy.
– Stuffed yuca cheese breads: Make the breads as usual, but put a piece of guava paste in the middle of each one, seal, and bake for a sweet & savory variation. Other filling ideas include cooked chorizo, cooked bacon, a piece of a different type of cheese, etc.
– Yuca bread empanadas: Use the yuca bread dough to make gluten free empanada discs, just be warned that the dough is very fragile, fill it with you favorite savory or sweet filling, and bake or fry.
– Fun holiday shaped yuca bread treats: For holidays you can use cookie cutters to cut the dough into different shapes and decorate them with olives, pimento peppers, etc. For Halloween, I used a ghost cookie cutter to make these cute little yuca cheese ghosts with pimento pepper eyes.
Photos of yuca bread or pan de yuca preparation: