Happy Beignet Accident: Pao, or Portuguese Breakfast Rolls

Clearly, I like to try new foods. I mean, duh…why else would I be doing this?

However, when it comes to breakfast, I prefer to stick with what I like: oatmeal or granola, fruit and yogurt during the week, coconut/pumpkin/banana bread on Saturday, pancakes on Sunday. Yup, I’m that regimented. While I am usually a bit more free flow on the weekend, when it comes to my weekday routine, I rarely stray from the norm.  First thing on a Monday morning is not the time to be adventurous.

However, one way to get me to ditch the cereal is to wave some bread in my face. Or, in the case, some rolls.

I’ve mentioned that East Timor’s cuisine was heavily influenced by the Portuguese, and this is evidenced by the fact that breakfast usually consists of a Portuguese roll, called pao, served alongside eggs and bacon or merely coffee (for which East Timor is apparently famous).  Typically savory and containing cheese or garlic, these rolls span the meals and are also eaten at dinner.

Besides that fact that it’s bread, the other reason that the pao intrigued me was that it used tapioca flour (a.k.a. tapioca starch a.k.a ground cassava).  I’ve been experimenting with various flours recently for kicks (oat, brown rice, glutinous rice…), so I was happy to introduce another into the lab.  I had planned to bypass the eggs and therefore tweaked the original recipe I found to make it more of a sweet bread of sorts.  Also, it gave me a reason to use up some jam, which I hoard for reasons unknown.  The result?

Pretty magnificent thanks to my substitution of flavored blood orange oil for regular butter or oil. I’ve mentioned flavored oils before, and this is just further evidence that they are worth their hefty price tag. The subtle yet distinct taste was a heavenly side to my café au lait.

pao2

As I was eating them, I also realized that the crispy outside and…I don’t want to say gooey, but stretchy? That’s not right either…anyway, what I realized is that they taste ridiculously similar to beignets, delicious, fried balls of dough, dusted in powdered sugar and served 24/7 at Café du Monde in the French Quarter in New Orleans. Only these weren’t fried.  So, with this in my head, I ran to the pantry to grab the powdered sugar.

Yup, homemade beignets.  Sort of. Close enough.

The ONLY thing that I didn’t like about these is that they are extremely heavy and a bit greasy, typical of Portuguese breads, atypical for my breakfast. I wonder if this could be remedied by reducing the oil…something to test out later.  In any case, smashing, smashing hit. Out of the park. INTO THE STRATOSPHERE.

Makes 6 fist-size rolls

Ingredients

¼ cup blood orange olive oil

¼ cup coconut oil**

1/3 cup milk

1/3 cup water

1 tsp salt

2 cups tapioca flour

2 eggs, beaten

Powdered sugar, for dusting

**If you can’t find flavored oils, or just dont’ want to use them, use regular oil and/or butter.**

Directions

1. Heat the oils, water, milk and salt in a saucepan.   Once it comes to a boil, add the tapioca flour. Let sit 15 minutes.

2.  Preheat the oven to 375F.

3.  After the flour has sat, add the eggs and mix well. The dough will look like lumpy cottage cheese. It’s okay, don’t freak out.

raw pao

4.  Drop dough by the ¼ cup on a cookie sheet lined with parchment.

5.  Bake 20-25 minutes until golden.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar, serve with jam.

pao

Ugh. The lighting in my kitchen is just crap. I will remedy this soon…


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