Wednesday, 4 December 2013

Broas castelares a cake is for now not just for Christmas


You can scroll the four corners of the world, through books, recipes and ingredients,looking for different slants on traditional recipes but you know that certain recipes cant be messed with and one must go back to the original source of the recipe"Cozinha Tradicional Portuguesa" 
In this case I was looking for Portuguese cake recipes with sweet potato. And that´s how I came to find the Broas Castelares - Portuguese Sweet Potato Cakes.
These are small oval cakes made for the Christmas period in Portugal.These delicious broas are now not only sold all over Lisbon and Estremadura province,where they originated, but all over Portugal.They are sold both before and well after the Christmas season,but there does not seem to be any rhyme or reason why these little broas have become Santas little seasonal saviours.
This is the first time I have made these, and here I have a small confession. I have learnt from experience how Portuguese cakes, pastries and sweets are overloaded with sugar so I knew I had to make some adjustments to the original recipe, in order to adapt them to my not so sweet Gallic tooth.
Traditionally they are very sugary, which as I mentioned is usual in Portuguese sweets. The dough is dense and yet soft and slightly moist. I therefore have to confess, only for this reason, to having adjusted the recipe. I lessened the sugar and used less honey, and added a bit of salt to enhance the flavour which becomes much milder when the amount of sugar is reduced. And that´s exactly what I did this weekend, to continue making the most of my batch of sweet potatoes and mitigate the misery of an unpredicted cold spell.By coincidence, as I dusted my little broas, Big broa was lightly dusting Lisboa with a snow shower. Spoon more, spoon more, toujour spoon more....

Broas Castelares - Portuguese Sweet Potato Cakes
400 g sweet potatoes
250 g caster sugar
2 tbs honey
1/2 tsp salt
225 g yellow corn flour (thinly ground)
50 g plain flour
75 g ground almonds
2 eggs
Zest of 1/2 orange
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1 yolk for the glaze
Confectioners sugar to dust

Preheat the oven to 240º, 475f, gas mark 9.
Make a small cut into the potatoes and boil them until tender. Wait a bit for them to cool and then peel them and puree the pulp.
Measure out 400g pulp and mix with the sugar. Heat gently for 5 minutes, stirring to prevent from burning. Remove from the heat and let it cool a bit.Add the remaining ingredients to the sweet potato mix and take to heat once more, stirring until it comes to a boil. Remove from the heat and cool completely.Grease and flour a baking sheet.
Shape the sweet potato dough into oval, flat cakes, brush with the egg yolk and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until golden brown. Remove from the oven, let the cakes cool completely on top of a wire rack and then dust them with icing sugar.


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