Pandebono is a delicious cheese bread, perfect for breakfast or an afternoon snack with coffee. It's a simple recipe made with cheese and two kinds of flour - tapioca flour (cassava or yuca starch) and cornmeal. The precooked cornmeal used to make arepas called (masarepa) works well, as does regular cornmeal. You can even order a special mix for making these rolls: harina de pandebono. The cheesiness comes from salty farmer's cheese, or any mild, firm cheese that melts well - quesillo, Monterey jack, mozzarella, or a mixture of these cheeses with a bit of cheddar and/or Parmesan.
The dough is shaped into balls or bagels, which puff up nicely in the oven even though there's no leavening ingredient. They're best when they're warm from the oven (and still soft), and they reheat very well in the oven.
- 1 cup yellow mas arepa (pre-cooked cornmeal)
- 1/2 cup tapioca (cassava, yuca) flour
- 2 cups grated farmer's cheese, monterey jack, or mozzarella
- 2 eggs
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- Mix the two flours and the sugar in a bowl.
- Stir in the grated cheese and the eggs. Mix well with a wooden spoon. Taste for salt, and add salt as needed.
- Knead dough until smooth. If the dough seems too dry, add a few teaspoons of milk or buttermilk. The dough should be soft and pliable. Let dough rest for about 10 minutes, covered with plastic wrap.
- Roll dough into balls that are slightly larger than golf balls. To shape the dough into rings (rosquillas), first roll a piece of dough into a cylinder, then join the ends together to form a circle. The rolls do not have to be perfectly smooth - they will puff up in the last several minutes of baking.
- Place rolls on a greased cookie sheet and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden in color and puffed.
- Serve warm.
Makes 15 small rolls
Cooking Tips and Ingredient Substitutions
Traditionally, Pandebono or pan de bono is consumed while still warm with hot chocolate a few minutes after baking. The best entrees to eat with pandebono are savory foods like meats and other protein-rich foods. The balance of protein, with the starchy bread is satiating and will leave you wanting more. So you know, each baker has their own special recipe for pandebono, with their own combination of ingredients. I found some with a sweet, subtle flavor and some with so much cheese I could smell them baking from down the block. Whatever you choose to make your pandebono, own it and let the accompanying entree pair well with it.