tastes just like the 90's.

{ bolo de arroz: portuguese rice cake }

Bolos de Arroz, literally "rice cakes", are traditional Portuguese cupcakes, widely acknowledged as  a snack and not as a dessert. In Portugal, coffee is a formality after each and every single meal and it is drunk like a shot. The actual portuguese expression for drinking coffee is even - literally - 'taking coffee'. Yet the portuguese have a thing for coveting pastry trays while ordering their coffees, and when they lend more than two minutes to the act of washing them down, they might very well lower their voice a notch, gulp the guilt and order a Pastel de Nata or a Bolo de Arroz.
Usually served at breakfast and any time in the morning, while going out for an espresso after lunch, as an afternoon snack after school, but mostly appropriate for any occasion when hunger or a sweet tooth strike, these are nowadays probably one of the most simple, common and underrated cakes in the whole country.
I was curious to see if the batter would do well as a normal cake for slicing, so I decided to pour it into a loaf pan - and I have to say it worked just perfect. It is so simple to make it like this, that if you love Bolos de Arroz, or if you have never had one, you must try this recipe!

One of the beauties of eating is how a single bite or the lightest trace of a scent may suffice for one to be abruply taken back to another place and time.

The perfectly cilindrical shape with a popped top. The lovely crust of caramelized sugar on top that polarized opinions and lead to lifelong arguments on what part of the cake was to be eaten first. The paper that wrapped the cake like a crayon, which I liked to unroll first and never failed to make me wonder. "Bolo de Arroz", rice cake... rice cake? The mistery: did it really have rice in it? How was that even possible!? Its thick yellow section. Yes, with two younger brothers, diplomatic young me liked them cut like any other cake, to make sure everybody would get a fair share of crust. The unmistakable aroma: of what, I could never grasp. I guess many people still believe the rice is just a name and there is no rice in these cakes at all. Funny thing.

This recipe takes me back to my 90's childhood, to a time that knew no salted caramel muffins, no frosted vanilla cupcakes, no triple chocolate cookies - no globalized snacks, no ready-made recipes, just the simplicity of a yellow cake with a familiar taste and an ever exciting sugar top.

Bolo de Arroz
(receita tradicional adaptada por mim, em forma de bolo inglês)

150g de açúcar + cerca de 3 colheres de sopa para polvilhar
100g de manteiga (ou margarina)
3 ovos
50ml de leite
50g de farinha de trigo
150g de farinha de arroz
2 colheres de chá de fermento em pó
raspa fina de 1 limão ou 1 laranja

Começar com todos os ingredientes à temperatura ambiente.
Pré-aquecer o forno a 180ºC. Untar uma forma de bolo inglês com manteiga ou margarina.
Numa taça, bater bem a manteiga com o açúcar durante cerca de 5 minutos, até obter uma mistura cremosa.
Juntar os ovos um a um, batendo bem entre adições. Para evitar ao máximo que a mistura coalhe, recomendo sempre adicionar uma colher de sopa de farinha de trigo juntamente com cada ovo.
Juntar o leite e a casca da fruta da mesma forma.
Adicionar aos poucos as farinhas e o fermento, batendo sempre.
Verter a massa dentro da forma previamente untada, espalhar bem com uma espátula para nivelar e polvilhar generosamente com açúcar, que deve formar uma boa camada branca sobre o topo.
Levar ao forno cerca de 30 minutos, ou até que o topo esteja dourado.
Desenformar cuidadosamente e servir morno ou frio como desejado.


Portuguese Rice Cake
(traditional recipe, adapted by me and baked in a loaf cake pan)

150g sugar + about 3 tbsp to sprinkle
100g butter (or margarine)
3 eggs
50ml milk
50g all-purpose flour
150g rice flour
2 tsp baking powder
zest of 1 lemon or 1 orange

Start with all ingredients at room temperature.
Pre-heat oven at 180ºC. Grease a loaf cake pan with butter or margarine.
In a bowl, cream butter with sugar, beating for about 5 minutes until obtaining a creamy mixture.
Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. To avoid separation, I always recommend you add a spoonful of flour with each egg.
Beat in milk and fruit zest the same way.
Gradually incorporate flour and baking powder, beating until smooth.
Pour the batter into the cake pan, level the top with a spatula and sprinkle a generous amount of sugar on top - the sugar layer should be thick enough to look white.
Bake for about 30 minutes or until golden.
Carefully remove the cake from the pan and serve warm or let cool before serving as you wish.


have a beautiful Christmas time!

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