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How to Make Homemade Brazilian Pastries

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Janisa is an expat in Brazil. She enjoys trying new foods, learning about the culture, and practicing Portuguese.

"Pastelaria Setti"

"Pastelarias", as they're called in Portuguese, are a very common site in Brazil. Some of them only open in the evenings, while others stay open throughout the day. The best ones have one thing in common: the HUGE selection of pastries, made fresh.

"Pastelarias", as they're called in Portuguese, are a very common site in Brazil. Some of them only open in the evenings, while others stay open throughout the day. The best ones have one thing in common: the HUGE selection of pastries, made fresh.

What do you think?

My Pastry Experience in Brazil

One thing you probably realized about me by now, especially if you've read my other recipe articles, is that I really enjoy food. I love all sorts of foods, and one of my favorite hobbies is trying new dishes. After arriving in Brazil, the majority of things I ate were new to me, and the products I knew were prepared in different ways.

I soon realized that I really like pastries, especially those filled with cheese. Finding places that sell "pastéis" is simple; what proved to be a challenge was finding pastries that only had cheese inside them. And when I did find one that I decided I'd like to try, there was always something I'd complain about. The first one I tried had too many olives, in addition to the cheese. Apart from that, it was cold by the time I ate it, so the cheese turned into a solidified lump. Another pastry I ate was rather hot, but practically without any cheese inside. I also discovered that the ready-made pastries tend to contain quite a lot of margarine, which takes away from the taste.

A week or so ago, I decided to try out "Pastel Setti," a prestigious-looking little pastry café. As always, I opted for the pure cheese with oregano pastry. Surprisingly, it wasn't even that expensive, and the size was good. It was also generously filled with cheese and oregano. Despite also containing margarine, that cheese pastry is my favorite to date. However, I don't want to spend R$4 (approx. 1USD) every time I want to eat a cheese pastry. Besides, that pastry café only opens in the evening, and I like to eat pastries in the morning as well.

Saving Money by Making Pastries at Home

Well, my first plan was to learn how to make pastry dough, then stuff it with some cheese and spices and threw it in the oven or frying pan. However, I was told that everyone uses ready-made dough, even pastry cafés. So, that's what I did as well. My pastries tasted quite good and the amount of time I was able to save by using ready-made dough was astonishing. Below is the homemade version of the pastries that are so loved in Brazil. I will teach you to make these with cheese and oregano, but any filling can be used. Cheese and ham pastries are also very popular.

Pastry Dough

Since pastries are so popular in Brazil, here it is possible to find all sorts of pastry dough and in different shapes. I used circular pastry dough to simplify the process. However, you can make your pastries of whichever shape you prefer. Or, you can cut the dough into your desired shape. This can be done by using a circular dough/cookie cutter.

Convenient Circular Dough in Brazil

Since pastries are so common here, it is easy to find dough made especially for pastries in supermarkets. If you can find them, circular pastry sheets work best.

Since pastries are so common here, it is easy to find dough made especially for pastries in supermarkets. If you can find them, circular pastry sheets work best.

On to the Recipe

Prep time: 7 mins

(option 1) Frying time: 3 mins per side

(option 2) Baking time: 15 minutes at 350F (180C)

Makes: 5 pastries (easily make more by using more pastry sheets and filling!)

Frying or Baking?

There are two ways to make pastries, and both are used when preparing pastries commercially.

Frying is much faster, but to do this, you'll have to soak your pastries in oil. Even if you dry out the pastries after, a bit of oil will remain on them. Some people mind this, while others don't. Also, depending on the pan you use, you will only be able to make 1 or 2 pastries at a time.

Baking doesn't require oil. However, it requires some additional preparation prior to putting them into the oven. Baked pastries are seen as healthier by people wishing to lose weight.

My personal favorites are baked pastries, but when I'm in a hurry to eat (which is almost always), I prefer to fry them.

Required Ingredients

These are the ingredients you need to make cheese and spice pastries. The same basic ingredients are required for both versions of the recipe. Additional ingredients that you may need, depending on how you decide to prepare your pastries, will be listed below.

  • 5 circular baking sheets 15–20 cm in diameter (either buy circular pastry dough or cut out the shapes using pastry cutters or your amazing art skills)
  • 1 cup of grated cheese: mozzarella is abundant here, but you can choose to use any other cheese you like or even a mix of cheeses! Just make sure it's a cheese that will melt.

Optional Herbs:

Herbs add to the pastries' taste and scent, but of course, it depends on your own preferences.

  • Oregano — I really like the combination of melted cheese with this herb. Also gives it a delicious scent. Add around one pinch of oregano to each pastry if you choose to use it. Of course, if you prefer, you can add more.
  • Green onion — Also goes well with melted cheese, but that is just my own preference. I haven't seen any pastries with green onion and cheese for sale yet. If you choose to use green onion, chop it into tiny pieces and add it to taste, I use around 1 tbsp of green onion per pastry.
  • Dill — Ever heard of cheese with dill? Adding chopped dill to your pastry will give it a more aromatic taste.
  • Garlic — I wouldn't make garlic and cheese pastries for breakfast because I also like to eat some dairy products at the time. But for an evening snack, the mix of cheese and garlic is delicious!

Pastries in a Frying Pan

Other required ingredients:

  • Around ½ cup of oil, the pastry will need to be floating in oil, but there is no need to cover it completely.

Preparing the Pastries

  1. Heat up the oil in a frying pan with high sides.
  2. Get five circular pastry sheets (or cut them out to measure around 15-20 cm in diameter. Use more if you want to make more pastries.
  3. Grate the cheese. You could also cut it into very small pieces.
  4. Prepare the optional herbs.
  5. Place the filling in the center of the pastry sheet.
  6. Fold the pastry in half and press it closed. Use a fork to glue the edges closed. Make sure the edges are well closed because the worst thing that could happen is for your pastry to explode.
  7. Place the pastries into the heated oil. Do not place them one on top of the other. If there isn't enough space, it's better to fry your pastries one by one.
  8. Fry for 3 minutes on one side and then turn over. Fry for three more minutes on the other side.
  9. Next, transfer your pastry to a plate lined with paper towel. The paper towel serves to absorb the excess oil. After a minute or two, most of the oil will have drained from the pastry.
  10. Now, you can enjoy your pastry as a side or as a light meal!

Breakfast Is Ready!

Fried pastries with a cup of tea.

Fried pastries with a cup of tea.

Pastries in the Oven

The instructions for preparing the pastries are fairly similar.

  1. First, preheat your oven to 350F (180C). All ovens are different and you may find it better to use a lower temperature.
  2. Get the baking sheet you intend to use and grease it with butter or margarine.
  3. Then, follow the same steps as when preparing the pastries for frying: get five circular pastry sheets (or cut them out to measure around 15–20 cm in diameter.) Use more if you want to make more pastries.
  4. Grate the cheese. You could also cut it into very small pieces.
  5. Prepare the optional herbs.
  6. Place the filling in the center of the pastry sheet.
  7. Fold the pastry in half and press it closed. Use a fork to glue the edges closed. Make sure the edges are well closed.
  8. You want your pastries to be golden once they come out of the oven, don't you? In order for this to happen, get a raw egg and whisk it in a small cup with a spoon. Next, brush the tops of your pastries with the egg, using a pastry brush.
  9. Place your pastries onto the baking sheet and bake them for around 15 minutes. Just make sure to not over bake them! Over baking causes the pastries to harden and I'm sure you don't want to eat something that tastes like crackers with half-evaporated cheese!
  10. Let your pastries cool for a bit and then enjoy.

Fried or Baked?

Other Fillings

© 2018 Janisa

Leave Your Comments and Suggestions Below!

Janisa (author) from Earth on June 05, 2018:

Liz, the best way to combat hunger is by eating and we all know that :D So, make something to satisfy your craving :D

Liz Westwood from UK on June 05, 2018:

This article is making me feel hungry. It gives a very clear and detailed explanation.