A new stand at the Dallas Farmers Market brings something that seems sure to succeed: a delicacy called pão de queijo, also known as Brazilian cheese bread.
Ipanema Cheese Bread opened in late June in Shed No. 2, and it will tempt not only gourmands, but also gluten-free fanatics. Instead of wheat flour, Brazilian cheese bread is made with cassava or tapioca flour, plus milk, eggs, olive oil and cheese.
Ipanema Cheese Bread comes from Hortencia Dunaway, a chef and native of Brazil who has been doing catering on a small scale for many years.
"I've been eating cheese bread since I was a little girl," she says. "You have a meal, you have cheese bread. I was cooking for my neighbors, and they said, 'What is that cheese ball?' They would always ask for it.
"Then I found out about the benefits of gluten-free, because my friend's daughter was suffering from celiac disease. It was hard to find things for her to eat, so I began to make them for her."
Cheese bread is more like a cheesy popover or a cream puff than conventional bread. It's usually baked in muffin tins into rounds, with a crusty exterior and a light, airy center. But it still has the contrast of crust and center that makes bread bread.
Dunaway first began marketing her bread to local Brazilian restaurants such as Villa's Grill in Irving. Then she began selling it at area farmers markets and health-food stores where they scored with the gluten-free crowd.
She offers six flavors: original, basil, bacon, jalapeño, sun-dried tomato and "Romeo and Juliet" (filled with jam). She sells it in one-pound bags for $6 to $7, containing 9 to 12 frozen rolls, which you bake at home.
But at the Dallas Farmers Market, where she is open Friday through Sunday, you can get the cheese bread five to an order for $4, along with another hometown specialty: a cup of strong Brazilian coffee.
"I know the market is growing, and I wanted to be at a place where people could find them," she says.