Pan de Almidon – Ecuadorian Yuca Bread

Two years ago my best friend Mercy invited me down to Ecuador for a month long visit.  It was one of the most amazing trips I’ve ever experienced.  We stayed with her family in Porto Viejo but traveled the whole country to places like Guayaquil, Cotacachi, Puyo, Quito, Salinas, and Riobamba, and saw breath taking sites from the Pacific Ocean to the Amazon rainforest and even erupting volcanoes.  I truly believe in experiencing different cultures through their food and I ate many different things during my stay, such as cow udder and guinea pig.  I also had the opportunity to participate in many activities that I will never forget, such as zip lining across rainforests, singing with her uncle’s mariachi band called Mexico Lindo, and bungee jumping off a bridge down 350 feet over a rocky ravine.  But the best part of the trip was spending time with a beautiful family and sharing in their culture.

While we were in Ecuador we ate a ton of Pan de Almidon, or Yuca Bread (gluten free!).  It is made with yuca flour and fresh Oaxaca cheese.  I have not found Oaxaca cheese in upstate NY but it tastes like a cross between fresh mozzarella and feta cheese, which can be used as substitutes.  Mercy’s aunt, who we lovingly call Mami Maria, was kind enough to bring me cheese and coffee on her trip up to NY.  She has also provided me with an authentic Ecuadorian recipe for Pan de Almidon.  Pan de Almidon is great for anytime of the day, and when paired with Ecuadorian coffee it makes it a delightful treat.  I want to sincerely thank Mami Maria and Mercy for sending me these goodies, you two are wonderful and I love you both!

1 cup yuca flour (tapioca flour is the same thing)
1 tsp baking powder
2 cups Oaxaca cheese, crumbled (or feta cheese)
2 egg yolks
2-3 tbs half-and-half, if needed

Look at this cheese, doesn’t it look incredible?!  I have missed it so much.

Crumble the cheese, beat the egg yolks, and measure out the flour and baking powder.

Stir together the flour and baking powder.  Then mix in the cheese and egg yolks.

If the dough feels dry add half-and-half 1 tablespoon at a time.  The dough should be a little sticky.

Line a baking sheet with tinfoil and spray the foil with pam.  Form the dough into small balls and place them on the baking sheet about 1 inch apart.  Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

Sit on the kitchen floor in front of your oven and stare at the bread impatiently as it bakes.

If you can manage to pull yourself away from staring into the oven, prepare some coffee or juice to accompany your Pan de Almidon.  I made a delicious cup of Ecuadorian coffee, as well as some mango nectar.  The box Mercy sent these goodies in was a box for Pulpa Nectar, which is the type of juice they drink in Ecuador, and it got me craving some.  It is different from fruit juice because it is thicker and sweeter, and in my opinion much more delicious.  Goya makes fruit nectar and I often find myself buying liters of the stuff.

The bread should be lightly golden when done, not browned.  If you want you can put it under the broiler to toast the tops slightly – but watch carefully as they can easily burn in seconds.

Let them cool for 5 minutes on a cooling rack before sinking your teeth into hot gooey cheese.

¡Que rico!  I feel like I’m in Ecuador again.  Thank you again Mami Maria and Mercy!!!


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