Pan de yuca is a little crescent-shaped bread that I enjoyed while living in Colombia. The bread, which is also common in other Andean countries, has fresh cheese and yuca flour as the main ingredients. The flour comes from the root of the cassava plant and has a texture very much like cornstarch. It is completely gluten free, making this a great bread for gluten-free gourmets.
Goya brand yuca flour is available in 24 ounce bags, so look for it in your grocer’s Hispanic foods section. If you cannot find it locally, you can order yuca flour directly from Goya. The cheese is a type called queso fresco, or fresh cheese, a crumbly white cheese with high liquid content. I found the queso at Costco as well as a local grocer, so depending on where you live you might be able to find it easily.
The amount of flour required will depend on the freshness of your cheese and the size of the eggs. Fresher cheese will have more liquid content, and larger eggs will have more yolk and white, so add more flour if the dough is very wet. The bread is very easy to make and only requires a few steps. I mix it in my food processor then shape the rolls and let them rise before baking. My boys have fun helping make the crescents because they think it’s like playing with Play Dough, but the part they love most is eating the bread. It’s soft and chewy at the same time, and has a nice aroma. The bread tends to get tough after 24 hours, so enjoy it fresh and warm.
sheet pan, lined with parchment or lightly coated with butter
1 cup yuca flour, plus more for dusting
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
2 large eggs
10 ounces queso fresco, crumbled
milk, as necessary
1. Add 1 cup yuca flour plus the baking powder to the food processor bowl. Pulse a few times.
2. Add the eggs and crumbled cheese and process until the dough forms a ball. If the dough is too wet, sprinkle in a little more flour a tablespoon at a time; if it is too dry, add a teaspoon or two of milk.
3. Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and divide into four equal pieces. Lightly shape the first piece with your hands and then cut into four pieces. Roll each small piece into a small rope and then shape into a crescent. Place the crescents on the prepared pan. Continue with the remaining dough. You will have 16 crescents on the pan.
4. Cover with a flour sack towel and allow to rest in a warm place for 30 minutes.
5. While the dough is resting, preheat the oven to 375 F.
6. Bake the rolls on the top rack for about 20 minutes, until lightly browned. Serve warm.
Source: adapted from The South American Table, by Maria Baez Kijac