Oh joy and (slightly nerdy) delight~! One of our worlds is expanding again! With the new chapter of the ever-evolving Living World of Guild Wars 2 coming this week (actually.. yesterday! Guess, what I’m doing right now~) Hubby and I treated ourselves, our Asura Necromancers and our Mighty Minion Mob with an extensive trip through the Desert of Elona, across the Southern Isles and up to the Far Shiverpeak Mountains of the main continent of Tyria in preparation of whatever the currently most wanted Elder Dragon might be sending our way in the next couple of weeks.
By some stroke of “luck” this past weekend was a somewhat icky, soggy and cold one making the great outdoors extremely unappealing to Hubby and his light case of the sniffles and to me and my inner debate about whether to have a big kitchen showdown during gaming-breaks or not – the solution to which came in the form of a sudden downpour just while I was trying to figure out my “if I cook big, then…”-grocery-shopping route through the city. Perfect! Staying in, thank you! Uninterrupted nerding-out for the whole weekend~! Of course, at some point, the audible need for sustenance cut through the veil between game- and real world but, thanks to a subtle prod of the Culinary Guild of Lion’s Arch, I was able to think fast, flick my wrist a couple of times and spice up this particularly busy, exciting and all in all superbly PJ-rocking Gaming Spree with a fitting snack/light meal sort of treat that, next to being absolutely fuss-free and 100% pantry-based, connects two dots on my map of favorite sources of recipes: The wonderful world of GW2 and my favorite place on Earth, Madeira.
Dot Number One, found in Central Tyria:
(Loving the bread to garlic ratio in this one~ Reminds me of the Hummus with 1 Head of Garlic, 1 Chickpea and 1 Sesame Seed that inspired me to whip up my GW2 Baharat Chicken & Tomato Hummus Wraps and my GW2 Jalapeno Hummus & Tomato Flatbreads)
Dot Number Two, found in the stunningly beautiful areas surrounding 32° 40′ 0.959” N 16° 55′ 26.598” W on Planet Earth: The Island’s famed Bolo do Caco!
Simple, crispy on the outside, fluffy and warm on the inside. Simply as is or generously slathered in herb-and-garlic butter with yumtastic emphasis on the garlic. Sometimes buttered and covered with knee-bucklingly delicious, oozy cheese. Sometimes buttered and topped with thinly sliced freshly grilled ribbons of beef. A lot of restaurants, often trialed and judged by their house-version of the Bolo, make a habit of setting down a basket of the freshly made morsels on your table as soon as you sit down. Why the excitement if it’s such a common thing, you might wonder. Well, first off, I think everybody enjoys the smell of freshly baked bread. If you count yourself into that category of human being, you’ll know the urge to bite into whatever smells THAT delicious, allergies and diets be damned! Second of all… a Bolo takes that irresistible aroma one step further since it dot’s the I on the “freshly baked” with a charry hint of “piping hot stone”, much like a really mind-blowing Italian stone-oven baked pizza. While the “stone” part is actually involved in making Madeira’s signature bread in a way, the “oven” part isn’t (imagine my cartwheeling and backflipping frenzy when I found out that Bolos don’t require an oven~! I’m still yaying in my head about that every time I whip up a couple of these yummies) See, the Bolo – Cake, actually, referring to its round and flat shape – is traditionally baked on a basalt tile (very traditional) or a concrete slab (more modern) sitting directly on a tub of hot embers or, if you’re really lucky, in the center of a wood burning fire. That tile/slab, no matter which stoney material it’s made from, is called “Caco”. Hence the name. Of course, like all traditions go, they evolve and change and, unless you just happen to have a hunk of basalt and a roaring fire at hand, a stovetop and a heavy cast iron pan will do just fine… for the time being~
The delicious line connecting the two dots: The Garlic Butter
Well, like I said, Bolos come in many colors on the island but, at least to Hubby and me, the only “real” way is the Herb & Garlic Butter Way. The first thing we ate just after our arrival on our first trip to the “Floating Garden” that is Madeira was one of those – insanely delicious butter oozing out of the spongy yet crispy wedge… it was like that fluffy piece of bread you mop up a really intense broth or sauce with, just better! Ooooh great, all that talk about the stuff made me hungry again… So, without further ado…
Just one more afterthought kind of thing or rather… postscript-gone-rogue: I just realized this is a particularly long post, but believe me, once you’ve read it, you’ll basically be done as soon as you’re done rolling up your sleeves, it’s a breeze~!
The Madeiran Bolo do Caco
200g Sweet Potatoes, roughly chopped, cooked soft in salted water and cooled – or oven-baked, see below for more info~
500g Wholegrain- or Plain Wheat Bread Flour Type 1050 (or Type 1150 for Rye) or, for more fluffyness, go 50/50 Bread Flour/Self-Raising Flour
Note: After all my experiments I can safely say: You can play around with flours, baking powder/soda, herby additions and such to your hearts content – skip ready-made “bread” mixtures, though – the results will be delicious even if they’re not the “classic” version. Do not, however, change the potato – flour ratio. A bucketful of glue and a couple of granite bricks in my kitchen are (living?) proof of that.
7g/1 Pk of Dry Yeast
½ Tsp Brown Sugar
1-2 Tsp Fine Sea Salt – start with 1 generous Tsp on your first batch and take it from there
½ Tsp Freshly Ground Pepper
2 Dried Bay Leaves, ground up with a pinch of coarse sea salt and a couple of peppercorns – a Chef on the island told me he cleans out his Bolo rings and tiles with a bundle of bay leaves dipped in salt water – once I remembered that, I worked some bay leaves into the dough and voilá, there it was, that special something taking the bread one step ahead~
150 – 350ml of Warm Water, depending on the type and mood of your flour. Start with 150’ish ml and add more as needed
Thanks to my extensive ah… research (with edible results~!) of the classic Bolo, here are some more things and hints you might find useful before getting started:
♥ If your sweet potato is a bit on the firm side after cooking, coarsely crumble the pieces into the dry ingredients and “rub” them into the flour/spice mix with your hands. This will help break down the bits and incorporate them into the mixture more quickly – add the warm water afterwards.
♥ Regular potatoes work too – floury ones, that is. While also quite delicious, they don’t bring the signature flavors to the table though.
♥ Before the first Rest-and-Rise period, you’ll be looking at a very wet dough, so keep dusting your hands while handling it and don’t squish it too much. You’ll never see the end of it otherwise.
♥ To shape it into it’s classic form, use a cake ring set into your lightly oiled pan (don’t forget to oil the inside of the ring as well). Under normal circumstances I use my 18cm DIA cake ring and 4 6cm DIA dessert rings in order to get everything done in one go/pan. Using a ring that size as “tin” and skipping the smaller ones, you’ll get 2-3 very large Bolos out of the listed ingredients – The classic Bolo you get on Madeira is a bit smaller, but… this is the smallest cake ring I could get my hands on. Anyways, if you’ve got smaller rings or if you’re skipping them altogether, these amounts will net you 4 Bolos of “classic” size.
♥ Bake the Bolo with the lid closed and only open it briefly to wipe off the gathering moisture from time to time.
1) First off, take care of your potatoes. The best results will be heading towards your tastebuds if you oven-roast the sweet potatoes in their skin at → 400°F ← for 45-60 mins until they’re juicy and tender. Just scrub the skin clean, give it a bit of an oil-rub and loosely wrap the spud into a sheet of tinfoil for the gig. If you’re short on time or an oven, clean, peel and dice the potato and simmer them to tenderness in lightly salted water.
2) Once the potato is taken care of and cooled down, it’s time to roll up your sleeves!
3) Pour 150ml of the warm water into a smaller bowl and stir in both the yeast and the sugar.
4) Allow the sugar to revive the yeast for 5 mins before moving on – Set the remaining water aside for the time being and keep it warm.
5) In the meantime, have a look-see at the sweet potato – if it’s soft enough, work it into a sort-of mash with a fork – don’t overwork it at this point though. If it doesn’t look like it’s going to merge into a dough without putting up a lumpy fight, remember my tip at the beginning of the recipe~
6) Pick up a large mixing bowl, sift in the flour and combine it with the remaining dry ingredients.
7) Work in the sweet potato and the yeast-and-sugar spiked water with a wooden spoon.
8) Once the dough starts coming together in a slightly elastic manner, loose the spoon and switch to handy-work.
9) If necessary, add just enough of the waiting warm water in small increments to create a soft and kind-of wet dough that’s still managable without crawling up your arm as a second skin. This is kind of hard to explain but you’ll know what I mean once you’ve reached this point. Too wet to ball up completely, dry enough to stop sticking to your hands. And don’t forget to dust your hands with flour from time to time to counteract any excess of stickyness.
10) On that note: Keep one hand on the outside of the bowl while the other one does the dough-work unless you know exactly what you’re doing, how your flour reacts to moisture, warmth and all that. Or unless you have someone close by to release you once you got yourself well and truly stuck *cough*
11) If all goes according to plan, your dough will be done, sitting in your bowl in an innocent-looking dome shape after 8-12 mins of elbow grease.
12) Cover the bowl with a dry and clean kitchen towel, place it in a warm spot of your kitchen and let the yeast do its thing for 30-40 mins.
While the yeast is working its magic, you could take care of the buttery business if you haven’t done so already~
Once the Rise of the Dough is over…
13) Line a baking tray or large cutting board with a sheet of baking parchment once the break is coming to an end and lightly dust the sheet with flour.
14) Rub your hands with a bit of olive oil, gently lift the dough out of the bowl, divide it into four equally sized blobs and gently wriggle each blob into a smooth ball – feel free to set them on a lightly flour-dusted work surface other than the waiting tray/board to shape them. It’s still a wet’ish dough and you don’t want to knead all the fluffyness out of it again at this point, so use any means necessary to get them into a disk’ish shape without having to apply a lot of pressure.
15) Set the balls onto the tray and lightly press them down to turn them into evenly thick disks.
16) Make sure to keep some space in between the disks – and the edges of your board/tray as well – since they will rise and grow a bit more during the next phase.
17) Apply a hint of flour to each proto-bolo, just enough to “dry” the surface.
18) Of course, if you’re using cake rings, simply place each ball of dough in an individual ring, gently wriggle it into the shape of the ring, flatten out the surface and dust the lot with a bit of flour.
19) No matter which path you’ve walked with or without shaping-tools, cover the bolos up with another kitchen towel and give the lot another 30-40min rest.
20) Place a (or more, depending on the size of the waiting bolos, the pans and/or your time management) heavy-based pan on medium-low heat and pop on the lid. Just for the record: a cast-iron pan with a fitting glass lid works best for this kind of thing since the heat is distributed evenly and kept steadily even while you lift the lid to dry off the droplets of moisture visibly gathering on the glassy dome.
21) Allow the pan to heat up for 5 mins.
22) Brush the pan with a bit of butter and a hint of olive oil before gently setting the first Bolo down onto the surface.
23) Close the lid and let the heat do its job for 8-10 mins.
24) Have a look at your lid every now and then and, if there’s drops of water clinging to it, threatening to drop down onto the bread and ruin your crisp, quickly yet carefully lift it away from the pan and its inhabitants, keep it steady and wipe off the water with a kitchen towel before placing it back on the pan.
25) After about 8 mins, flip the bolo over to the other side and have a good look at the side now facing up. It should be an irresistible light golden-brown color if perfectly done. If it’s not, well, use that info for the second side accordingly.
♥ In case side#1 is a bit on the pale side of things, keep side#2 facing down a bit longer and, once that’s done perfectly, flip it over once more until both sides look absolutely yumtastic.
♥ In case side#1 is a bit… more browned than “golden” implies, turn down the heat a bit for side#2, otherwise the inside might not cook through before both sides take on too much of a char.
♥ In case side#1 isn’t even close to golden and the whole thing is still too wobbly to turn without making a mess, turn up the heat and try again. And feel free to blame your stove.
26) Either way, 8-10 mins per side should do the delicious trick if everything follows the rules and regs.
27) As you move through the doughlings, rest the ones you’ve finished already on a cooling rack to maintain the crisp… or have everyone involved in your mral plans gather around the pan and eat them right away. Well, maybe allow the outside cool off enough to avoid blistered paws~ Just… maybe. They really are best when they’re still warm! And even better if they’re still hot enough on the inside to make a knob of herby garlic butter melt upon contact!
Which brings me tooooooo…
The Herby Butter Trio
Well, what can I say. You guys know I don’t use a lot of butter in my everyday cooking, but I do use it as an additional seasoning from time to time. Like… a spoonful of garlic butter on the end of a steak’s very short journey through my pan, a bit of tarragon butter on a pan-seared slice of salmon or a hint of brown butter to dot the I on a creamy soup. I actually have a bit of a herb-butter-collection going on in my freezer since, at least to me, making herb butters and freezing them is one fantastic way to preserve fresh herbs and the inescapable “why the fudge do they only sell butter in blocks of 250g”-excess amounts of fresh butter. I do however have a couple of variants I actually make on purpose from time to time, and here are the three Hubby and I picked as “Best Served On Hot Bolos”. Since they’re all prepped the same, non-fussy way, I’ll list the ingredients for all first, and then wrap up the “instructions” below~
Madeira-Style Garlic & Parsley Butter
This is as close as I could get to that “First Bite” butter without simply calling the restaurant and bugging the chef about his recipes… again.
½ Bunch of Parsley
½ Bunch Chives or randomly mixed Herbs you’ve got on hand – preferably peppery or oniony ones, nothing “soapy” like tarragon, dill or coriander, think mediterranean or garden-variety instead
2 Large Dried Bay Leaves, very finely ground – pinch of salt, peppercorn, pestle & mortar…
4 Cloves of Garlic, very finely chopped or tossed into the mortar with the bay leaves and their friends
1 generous Pinch of Freshly Cracked Pepper
1 Tsp Fleur de Sel
Spicy Garlic, Orange & Herb Butter
If you feel like adding a bit of Spanish fuel to your Portugese fire.
1 Sprig of Rosemary
1 Sprig of Thyme
1 Sprig of Parsley
1Tsp Pimenton Forte – balance around with chipotle, cayenne and sweet paprika to get that smoky-spicy thing of the Pimenton going if you cant get the real stuff (I’d advise you to hunt for it online though)
2 Tsp Orange Zest
3 Cloves of Garlic, very finely chopped
1 Tsp Fleur de Sel
I mentioned the delicious Portugese Chorizo we always packed for picnics while on the trails before – in my Herby Lamb Gyoza & Nasci Pear and Leek Salad post – which would be the perfect match for the Bolo if you’re putting this butter on the table. (You could use Spanish Chorizo too, but don’t tell anyone~)
Lemon & Herb Butter
Aaaand for those of you not in the mood for garlic:
1 Unwaxed Lemon, Zest
1 Tbsp Mixed Garden Herbs, finely chopped
1 Tsp Preserved Green Peppercorns, rinsed, dried and finely chopped
Opt: 2-3 Drops of Lemon Extract to boost the Lemon without adding acidity
1 Tsp Fleur de Sel
Assembling the Butters
1) Pop the butter into a small mixing bowl, cover it with clingfilm and allow it to soften and warm up to room temperature. If you’re in a bit of a hurry, dice the butter before spreading the cubes out in the bowl to speed up the process.
2) Once the butter is managable, add the remaining ingredients and work the mixture over with a fork until all of the ingredients are well combined.
3) Transfer the soft butter into sealable containers.
4) Or, for a convenient way to preserve and easily portion the butter later on, place the butter ona double-layer of clingfilm in a tightly packed blob, then cover it with one side of the clingfilm, twist up the ends and roll the blob into a ball or log-shape. I usually go with the log-shape since a warmed-up blade can easily cut convenient one-portion disks off of the frozen log.
5) If you’re going to freeze the butter, poke 2-3 tiny (!) holes into the clingfilm skin with the tip of a very sharp knife to release the air trapped inside, then wrap the whole thing up in another layer of clingfilm before popping it into the freezer.
6) Place the butter in the fridge for later use.
7) Or: Freeze the butter for much later use.
8) Or: My persona preference: Pick up your Bolo while it’s still hot, slice it open with a long and sharp blade, slather it with the butter, grab a couple of paper towels (or a bib…) and…
P.S.: To Aurene~!