Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Bolinho de Chuva. Rain never tasted so good!

              If you live in Brazil, I bet you really miss donuts. If you live elsewhere, I bet you would love to have a recipe which resembles donuts and requires half the work involved in making donuts from scratch. So here for your tasting pleasure, I introduce Bolinho de Chuva. (Bow-lean-yo) (dgee) (Shoe-vuh).
              This roughly translates into "little rain cakes," and there are 2 main reasons behind it's name. The first reason is because when the batter is dropped into hot oil, it quickly forms what resembles a rain drop. For beginners such as myself, the rain drops even end up with tasty little crunchy tails. I think I love these things just for their delicious tails. I love crunchy stuff.
               The second popular story with these cakes is that often times when it is rainy and chilly outside here in Brazil, parents and grandparents whip up a batter of this stuff and serve it warm to their kids, warming up their bellies and keeping them happy as they are trapped indoors staying warm and dry. So these treats just started getting referred to as rain cake. Pretty cute.
               If you plan to try these out I will say 2 things: The ingredients are super simple and easy to have handy in the house, BUT, plan on throwing away the first few that you make because they will most likely either burn or will resemble more of a fat funnel cake than anything else. You have to make sure the oil does not get too hot, and you have to work on a technique that will allow you to get ball shaped cakes, not snake like. This recipe makes a big batch of about a dozen or so though, so it's ok to play around a little. I would best describe the taste as a mix between funnel cake and donuts rolled in sugar. I personally like these without the sugar and cinnamon coating, but everyone likes different things. These are also FABULOUS when made with a filling, which I have not yet done.

On to the little cakes:

You will need:

  • 1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tbsp baking powder
  • 2 1/2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup milk
  • Oil for frying, about an inch and a half maybe of oil, more or less
  • extra sugar and cinnamon for rolling the cakes in
  • medium pot or iron skillet for frying
  • 2 medium sized bowls for mixing ingredients
  • medium spoon
  • paper towels or some kind of towel to dry cakes on
  • A bunch of kids or hungry people to help you eat them


1. Beat eggs with sugar, one egg at a time, constantly beating until thick and  dark yellow.

2. In separate bowl, mix flour, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.

3. Alternate adding flour mixture and milk to sugar mixture. You'll end up alternating 2-4 times, just stir after each time you add something and add the next, stir, etc. etc.

4. Mix well.

5. Pour your frying oil into the pan and put over medium heat. You want it to get pretty hot, but if you put it on high heat, you will definitely end up with burnt cakes that are gooey in the middle. If you see the oil start to smoke... you've gone to far!

6. This is the part that takes practice. With your medium spoon, take what would be about a tablespoon full and gently place the mix into the oil. Don't move your spoon at all while doing this. Try and get the majority of mix from the spoon into the oil at the same time, and any drizzles that comes afterwards need to be firmly held into the ball in the oil to keep it from drifting away from it and creating a lizard tail. Most likely you will end up with tiny little tails coming off of each ball, which is totally normal.

7. Allow the cakes to fry for about a minute.. maybe less, before you flip them over to the other side to fry. Once they have reached a golden to light brown color, they're ready.

8. Take each one out and place on a paper towel (I use old pillow cases because I think paper towels are such a waste of money). Let them dry there and cool off a little.

9. Roll them in a cinnamon/sugar mix and enjoy. You might want to make just half with sugar/cinnamon to see which you prefer. Some people find the cinnamon/sugar version to be way too sweet. You decide.

10. Let them stay uncovered as long as possible. Once you cover them they will begin to get soft and lose their crunch.

11. Serve with coffee or hot chocolate. Especially on a cold or rainy day!

Note: People often coat things with the batter before dropping it into the hot oil. Pieces of banana coated in the batter and fried are phenominal! I have also seen people coat chunks of chocolate, jelly, and caramels.

When mixing the batter, things like raisins, nuts, etc. can be added before frying for different flavors and textures. The options are endless!

Boa Sorte! Good luck!

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