Saturday, October 6, 2012


We just got back from a visit from mi tierrita (aka the U.S.) this week, which for some reason makes me want to clear out some odds and ends of drafts I have laying around in the blogger account. It's also been pretty dead around here lately so I can't think it will be a bad thing.

The following two recipes came into my possession shortly after arriving in Rio de Janeiro, and I've made both of them on multiple occasions ever since. Both are cakes, aka bolos (after much grilling of Brazilian friends, the difference between a bolo and a torta is that a torta has frosting and a bolo doesn't...except for when it does), and though these two bolos quite different than one another, to me they are quite characteristically Brazilian. First off is a cake that uses grated yuca that my friend Jenny, who is from Brasilia, showed me how to make. It's probably not like anything you've had before, and it uses not only yuca but also coconut and cheese; all three are common ingredients in desserts here. It's also delicious and filling in a way cakes normally aren't, something I attribute to the fact that it has a lot more stuff in it than your typical butter-sugar-flour cake. I know that "filling" is probably not a quality that most people look for in a cake, but if you think about it, isn't it strange how 2 tons of butter and sugar can be whipped into fluffy, ethereal cake, none of which will fill you up, not even in a million years? A piece of this cake, alongside a strong cup of coffee with sweetened condensed milk (not Brazilian, just my current preference), will tide you over perfectly until dinner.

The second cake that I'd like to introduce you to today, ahem, is a cornmeal cake with cheese; in fact, it's make with fubá, the cornmeal that I couldn't distinguish from farinha de milho (corn flour) when I had just recently arrived here. Fubá is finely-ground cornmeal. It lacks the nubbiness that medium-ground American cornmeal provides; texture-wise it's much smoother, similar to masa harina, a substitute used by some Brazilians living in the states. This cake (and it is a sweet cake, don't let the cheese fool you) happens to be gluten free, and though it's dense in its own way it's not at all heavy, which as far as I'm concerned also makes it an excellent breakfast cake. It's also mixed entirely in the blender, which seems to be a thing here, and makes for very quick clean up. The woman who gave me the recipe said that the milk and cheese can be substituted for coconut milk, which I haven't gotten around to trying but I think sounds lovely (and dairy free if we're counting). You can also add chunks of guava paste to the batter if you like (in the picture below I added fresh guava chunks, but I think the more traditional guava paste is a better fit as the raw chunks are a bit acidic). The combination of cheese and guava paste is considered a perfect combination and known as Romeu e Julieta.

Bolo de Fubá com Queijo (Cornmeal Cake with Cheese)

1 c. whole milk
1 c. white sugar
¾ c. vegetable oil
3 eggs
5 oz. fresh cheese (Mexican queso fresco or even well-washed feta would work here; if you have access to Colombian queso cuajada or Brazilian queijo minas that would be ideal)
2 c. finely ground cornmeal (blitz normal cornmeal in a food processor until very fine, or you can use masa harina*)
1 Tbsp. baking powder
A pinch of salt-- if you're using feta or another salty cheese, a very small one as fresh cheese tends to be less salty

Preheat the oven to 360ºF. Butter two 8 in. round cake pans or two loaf pans (9x5 in. will work as will 8x4 in.) Add the milk, sugar, oil, eggs and cheese to a blender. Blend for a minute or two until the mixture is more or less homogenous (you're not looking to create an emulsion, just that everything is more or less broken up and well dispersed). Add in the flour, baking powder and salt, and pulse just until everything looks well blended, then pour directly into the two greased pans. Bake for ~ 35 minutes, until a knife slipped into the center comes out clean and the cake has begun to pull away from the sides.
Let the cakes cool in the pans, then turn them out. I think you could certainly do a lemony cream cheese frosting here if you wanted to, though I like the cake plain as a more everyday sort of thing.
Leftovers should be covered with plastic so they don't dry out.

*Masa harina (which can be found in Latin markets) is treated with lime, but it doesn't seem to make a difference here in the flavor.

Bolo de Mandioca e Coco (Yuca and Coconut Cake)

1 lb. fresh yuca, peeled so you're left with pure white flesh (remove the purple layer too) (~2.5 c. grated)
5 oz. fresh cheese (Mexican queso fresco or even well-washed feta would work here; if you have access to Colombian queso cuajada or Brazilian queijo minas that would be ideal)
3.5 oz. (1 c.) sweetened grated coconut
3 eggs
2/3 c. white sugar
1/2 c. vegetable oil
1/2 c. whole milk
1/2 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 Tbsp. baking powder

Preheat the oven to 350F. Oil and flour a 9 in. round cake pan or a 9 x 5 in. loaf pan.
Grate the yuca on a box grater into a large bowl. Grate the cheese into the same bowl as the yuca. Add the coconut and stir to mix and evenly distribute the ingredients. In a separate large bowl, whisk the eggs to break them up. Add in the sugar and continue to whisk until well combined, then whisk in the oil and milk. Place a sifter over the bowl and sift the flour and baking powder directly into the wet mixture. Use a spatula to fold the flour and baking powder in just until combined, then use the spatula to fold in the yuca-cheese-coconut mixture into the batter.
Scrape the batter into the pan and bake until golden on top and beginning to pull away from the side, ~30 min.

Bolo de Fubá com Queijo (Torta de Maíz con Queso)

1 taza de leche entera
1 taza de azúcar blanca
¾ taza de aceite vegetal (canola, girasol o soja)
3 huevos
150 g. de queso fresco (queso cuajada colombiano por ejemplo)
2 tazas de harina de maíz fina (se puede sustituir masa harina* o tal vez hasta areparina, aunque sinceramente no he probado con areparina)
1 cucharada de polvo de hornear
Una pizca de sal-- dependiendo del nivel de salado que sea el queso, si es un queso muy salado entonces una pizquita nomás

Precalienta el horno a 180ºC. Amanteca 2 moldes redondos de 20 cm., o 2 moldes de pan rectangulares de 20 cm. x 10 cm. Echa la leche, azúcar, aceite, huevos y queso a la licuadora. Licua por un minuto o dos hasta que la mezcla esté más o menos homogenea. Echa la harina, polvo de hornear y sal y pulsa solo hasta que todo parezca estar bien incorporado, después echa la mezcla directamente a los dos moldes amantecados. Hornea durante ~ 35 minutos, hasta un cuchillo metido en el centro salga limpo y la torta haya encogido de los lados del molde.
Quita las tortas del horno y dejalas enfriar en los moldes, después voltealas sobre dos platos. Pienso que se podría hacer una cobertura de queso crema con limón si uno quisiera, pero a mi me gusta así, simple, como una torta para el consumo diario.
Tapa las sobras con plástico para que no se sequen.

*Masa harina es tratada con cal pero al parecer no cambia el sabor aquí.

Bolo de Mandioca e Coco (Torta de Yuca y Coco)

1 libra de yuca fresca, pelada (~2.5 tazas rallada)
150 g. de queso fresco (tipo queso cuajada colombiano)
100 g. (1 taza) de coco rallado seco y endulzado
3 huevos
2/3 taza de azúcar blanca
1/2 taza de aceite vegetal
1/2 taza de leche entera
1/2 taza de harina de trigo blanca (tipo 000)
1/2 cucharada de polvo de hornear

Precalienta el horno a 175ºC. Aceita y enharina un molde redondo de 23 cm., o un molde de pan de 23 cm. x 13 cm.
Ralla la yuca con una ralladora de caja en un bol grande. Ralla el queso en el mismo bol Echa el coco y revuelve para distribuir bien los ingredientes. En otro bol grande, bate los huevos con el azúcar hasta bien combinados, después echa el aceite y la leche y bate bien. Coloca un tamizador directamente sobre el bol de los liquidos y tamiza la harina y el polvo de hornear, dejandolos caer en el bol abajo. Con una espatula mezcla ligeramente la harina y polvo de honear justamente hasta que estén incorporados, después usa la espatula para incorporar la mezcla de yuca a la masa.
Echa la masa al molde y hornea hasta que esté dorada encima y ya quitandose de los lados del molde, ~30 min. Sacala del horno y dejala enfriar en el molde.

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