Recently my uncle met a woman whose family used to own a very popular bakery in his hometown of Cali, Colombia. He became good friends with her and she eventually shared her family’s secret recipe for Pan de Queso. I have to share this recipe as it is a big deal for my family because we all LOVE Pan de Queso, but I also want to share a story that shows what a small world we live in.
The woman my uncle met had inherited the bakery from her family but decided to sell it as she had no interest in baking. Instead, she was interested in business and eventually started her own a hotel in Cali. But after a long series of unfortunate events, she found herself in the United States trying to make a better life for herself and her son. Its amazing that she and my uncle came from the same town. My uncle had told me that back in the day, this bakery was very popular and well known for its Pan de Queso (or cheese rolls). People used to stand in long lines just to get a batch, but there was never enough Pan de Queso to go around. My uncle distinctly remembered that he and a family friend used to sneak to the back of the bakery to purchase their bag of Pan de Queso. At that time, people with money would sneak to the back of the bakery to by pass the line—they of course were able to pay a little extra for their batch of Pan de Queso. Who would have thought that they would meet someday and fall in love.
In the pictures below is my mother showing me how to make Pan de Queso based on what my uncle's friend showed her. This recipes however came from her memory and uses Colombian ingredients and in European measurements. We did our best to make the measurements more American friendly.
Take all the ingredients and mix them in a large bowl. Let mixture sit in bowl for 20-30 minutes.
Below is my mother's little helper.
Dust yucca harina over a flat surface. Pour the batter over the floured surface and kneed until all the ingredients are mixed well and dough is soft.
Create the circular shapes as seen in the picture and place over a greased cookie sheet.
Bake at 350 degrees F for 15 minutes. Reduce the temperature to 300 degrees and allow to bake for 5 more minutes.
Pan de Queso (Cheese Rolls)
2 lbs Queso Cotija
1 lb Yucca Harina
2 tablespoons sour cream
¾ cup Arepa Harina (Venezuelen)
¼ tablespoons butter
¼ cup milk