Friday, December 2, 2011

Of your dreams

After my last post on moving to Argentina, Felipe was offended that I hadn't written anything on moving to Colombia, so I suppose that will be forthcoming (with his help, of course). Meanwhile, though, I have something up my sleeve on Colombia that Argentina has no chance at competing with: pandebono, aka hot salty cheesy bread paradise, minus the gluten.

Colombia is a celiac's paradise; typical meals rarely include gluten, relying on rice, corn and yuca as the stable starches. As for morning and merienda (afternoon snack), a bevy of warm, cheesy gluten-free breads are continuously coming out of the ovens at the neighborhood bakeries to be consumed hot, most often with a cup of coffee. They even let you know in the supermarket that the bakery has hot pandebono fresh out of the oven by announcing it over the loud speakers. That´s dedication for you. Your typical Colombian bakery will have fresh pandeyuca, almojabanas, pandebonos, buñuelos and arepas, all of which are made from some combination of cheese and yuca flour and/or corn flour. Colombian bakeries also sell your typical white (wheat flour) bread as well as pan queso, which are sweet white rolls with a cheese filling, but I always stick to the non-wheat based options, in my case not because of gluten concerns but because I (and I think most Americans/Europeans) find them about a bazillion times more appealing.

The typical breakfast for many caleños is cafe con leche and two pandebonos, which looks surprisingly similar to your American coffee and donuts breakfast, though anyone expecting a sweet Krispy Kreme is in for a big, savory surprise. Pandebono are made from yuca flour, areparina (a pre-cooked corn flour), and queso costeño, a very salty cheese from, you guessed it, the coast. The yuca flour and cheese make them delightfully spongy, and they are addictively salty and just a little bit sweet. Nobody really makes pandebono at home, and I tried lots of unreliable internet recipes until I made friends with a baker from the panaderia down the street. He scribbled down the recipe for me, and it is 100% right on. If you've ever been to Cali and tried (and loved) pandebono, this is the pandebono of your dreams.

The ingredients here are important, as is the temperature of the oven. If the oven isn't hot enough, the pandebono won't puff up and you will be left with a dense yuca-cheese brick. If you can track down queso costeño in a Latin market it's really preferable here, although I've seen drained feta used as a replacement. Yuca flour is sometimes found as tapioca starch (there are several widely carried Thai brands in the U.S.), and areparina, the flour used to make arepas (harina means flour, arepa + harina=areparina) can be found in most Latin markets. One more thing: these really are best hot out of the oven; things made from yuca flour tend to get stiff as they age. 

     adapted from the neighborhood baker guy in Cali

4 oz. yuca flour
4 oz. queso costeño, finely grated, or feta*, well drained and crumbled (in Brazil I've had success with queijo minas semi-curado; you want a dry, very salty cheese)
3 Tbsp. (1.5 oz.) butter
1.5 oz. areparina (look for it in Latin grocery stores; not the same as cornmeal)
1 Tbsp. sugar or panela
1/2 c. (4 oz.) milk

Preheat the oven to 600ºF or as high as your oven goes. In a food processor pulse the yuca flour and queso costeño together until completely incorporated, then add the butter, areparina and sugar and pulse again to combine well. Add in the milk and pulse until you have a homogenous mass. (You can also do this by rubbing the ingredients together with your fingers.)
Separate the dough into 12 balls, then form doughnuts (if the dough breaks don´t worry, just form a rough circle, it´ll get smoothed out in the heat of the oven). Bake on the upper rack of the oven until well risen with golden spots on top; watch out that the bottoms don´t burn. Eat hot (don´t burn your mouth). Makes 12.

*If you use feta-- and I haven't ever, so it's just my best guess, I would think that you would want to up the cheese to 5 oz. and only using 3 oz. of milk to adjust for the added moisture in the feta. You may also need to add salt-- if these taste boring, that is most likely what they are missing.

El panadero de la panaderia de mi barrio de Cali me paso ésta receta. Experimenté con muchas recetas pero ninguna fue realmente buena, hasta que consegui ésta...y ésta es la que realmente sirve. El resultado es tal cual los pandebonos de las panaderias de las esquinas de Cali.


115 g. (4 oz.) de almidon de yuca (en Cali compralo en La Galeria, es mucho más barato allí; a veces se llama almidon de yuca agrio)
115 g. (4 oz.) de queso costeño, rallado (en Brasil uso queijo minhas semi-curado y funciona bastante bien, aunque hay que echarle una pizca de sal a la masa para compensar)
45 g. (1.5 oz.) de mantequilla sin sal
45 g. (1.5 oz.) de areparina
1 cucharada de azúcar o panela rallada
1/2 taza (4 oz.) de leche (yo uso entera)

Precalienta el horno a 300ºC (normalmente lo más caliente posible en los hornos domesticos). Es muy importante precalentar el horno porque los pandebonos no van a crecer bien si el horno no está bien caliente. En una procesadora o con las manos mezcla el almidon de yuca con el queso hasta que estén totalmente integrados (en la procesadora logras ésta textura a través de entre 5-10 pulsadas), después agrega la mantequilla, areparina y azúcar para incorporarlas completamente también. Agrega la leche y mezcla hasta que tengas una masa uniforme. Forma roscones-- no te preocupes si la masa se parta un poco, trata de formar el roscon lo mejor que puedes y en el calor del horno se arregla-- y hornea hasta que haya subido mucho y estén dorados. Fijate que no se quemen por debajo. Comelos calientes.
Rinde 12.


  1. I had no idea Colombia was a celiac's paradise. Cool! And that adaptation line on your recipe is quite amusing. :)

  2. I mean you have to give credit where credit is due (but I can´t remember the dude´s name!) Thanks for your comment, and oddly enough most people in Colombia have never even heard of celiac disease!

  3. Thanks for this fabulous recipe! The texture and flavor were awesome.

    I made it with 3 oz queso blanco and 2 oz. feta and a couple of pinches of salt. Is hook a little extra yuca starch on the dough as it was a touch too sticky.

    I had my oven at 550° and almost burned them after 10 minutes. Next time I will go with 425°.

    I made my rings 3" in diameter and the hole completely closed up, so next time I will make my ropes longer and thinner in hopes of preserving the "hueco".

  4. If you don't have a scale, 4 oz yuca starch is 1 cup, 1.5 oz. areparina is 1/4 cup.