Bolas and Portugal…the 2 go hand in hand. To accompany group tastings on Fridays and Saturdays, our much-valued cook, Adelaide, prepares ham and bacon bola, a perfect finger food to compliment our Tawny and LBV! This Portuguese masterpiece is a rich bioche-like bread with a savory filling. Ah….but bolas are not limited to only ham and bacon as a filling; chicken, ham, sardine, tuna, and ham/bacon/chourico/chicken all together, and, of course, bacalhau bolas are for sale in Portugal’s many panaderias, pastelerias and confeitarias. Finely chopped onions and parsley are sometimes added to the filling, adding another flavor dimension and extra moisture. Mouthwatering and addictive and I look forward to my daily bola fix when I am at the quinta.
Here is a recipe and photos to inspire you to make bola, to serve with a glass of Quinta do Tedo port. Cheers !
Adelaide’s Bola de Fiambre and Bacon
(Her parents and grandparents had a bakery in nearby Folgosa, she has bola making in her blood!)
500 gm/4 ½ cups flour
3 medium eggs
50 gm/1/4 c soft margarine (makes a more tender bread)
125 ml/½ c olive oil
5 gm fresh yeast /1 pkg dried yeast
125 ml/ 2/3 c warm milk
1 tsp salt
cooked ham and uncooked bacon slices
Mix yeast with a pinch of salt and warm milk to proof; add to flour, mix in eggs, margarine, olive oil and remaining salt. Work with bread hook in mixer or by hand (great arm workout) for about 10 minutes, until dough is smooth and shiny. Let dough rest in a warm place until doubled, for about 2 hours (Adelaide covers the dough with blankets). When doubled punch down dough and divide into 2 pieces and roll out to fit generously pan. Place 1st rolled-out dough layer in well-oiled baking pan. Cover with cooked ham and uncooked bacon slices and cover with 2nd layer, salt and pepper if desired. Make decorative border and apply egg yolk wash. Preheat oven to 190C/400F and bake for about 20 minutes or until beautifully browned. The bola’s wafting savory smell may prove irresistible once out of the oven; it will keep, however, for days when the bola’s flavor will develop and even improve.