Monday, May 24, 2010

RECIPE - Souza Leão Cake (Bolo Souza Leão)

One of Pernambuco's most well-loved gifts to the cooking traditions of Brazil is this decadently rich custard-cake, Souza Leão Cake (Bolo Souza Leão). Invented in the 19th Century by someone in the Souza Leão family, on one of their eleven sugar plantations, this cake is now served at wedding receptions, birthday and anniversary parties, and even funeral receptions around Brazil.

Their are innumerable variations of this cake, and many, many recipes for it, but this one, from Viagem Gastronómica Atraves do Brasil, was given to the author of that book by dona Rita de Souza Leão Barreto Coutinho, of the Moreno Plantation branch of the family, who is seen in the center of the photo at right seated between Izabel de Souza Leão Veiga and Eudes de Souza Leão Pinto, from the same branch of the family.

Unlike Luis Felipe cake, a similar custard-cake which requires only ingredients easily obtained in North America and Europe, Souza Leão cake uses a manioc dough called puba which means it is difficult to make outside Brazil. Puba is made from manioc that is allowed to ferment, covered with water, for seven days. After fermentation, the manioc is drained, washed thoroughly, and then grated. Finally the grated manioc is squeezed to remove all liquid from the pulp, wrapped tightly and refrigerated for up to one week. At this point, the puba is ready to use.

So, notwithstanding the possibilities of problems in finding puba, you might enjoy reading this recipe which has a long history, and I'm sure a longer future ahead of it.
RECIPE - Souza Leão Cake
Makes 22 portions

2.2 lbs. (1 kg.) granulated sugar
2 cups cold water
2 cups unsalted butter
1 tsp. salt
2.2 lbs. (1 kg.) manioc dough (puba)
16 egg yolks
3 cups coconut milk
3 cinnamon sticks
1 tsp. ground cloves
1 tsp. ground anise seed
Preheat the oven to 425F (220C). Grease a large round cake pan, with high sides, with softened butter.

In a saucepan, dissolve the sugar in cold water, heat over high heat and, stirring constantly,bring to a boil. Stop stirring at this point, and cook the syrup to soft-string stage. Do not let color or caramelize. Remove from heat, and stir in the unsalted butter and salt. Let cool completely.

Place the manioc dough in a large bowl, then add the egg yolks one at a time, alternating with small aounts of coconut milk, making sure that each is incorporated before adding more. Finally, add the cold sugar syrup and mix everything completely. Pour the batter through a fine sieve, then add the spices.

Pour the batter into the greased cake pan, place the pan in a roasting dish and pour hot water into it to the height of the top of the batter and place in pre-heated oven for 50 minutes, or until it is golden and a toothpick inserted into the center of the cake comes out clean.

Remove from heat, and let cool in the cake pan. When only warm, unmould the cake onto a serving platter and let cool completely, serving from the same platter.

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