Local Heart, Global Soul

July 4, 2013

Zeeuwse Bolus: Zeeland’s Sweet Treats…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

From yesterday’s post you’ll have discovered that Himself and I are sitting in a friend’s garden in the small town of Veere in the Dutch province of Zeeland.

The weather is fine and sunny but our coats are still on due to a biting wind, so a hot cup of Rooibos tea and some fortification by way of food is most welcome.

Our friend duly presents us with a well known local delicacy certain to do the trick: a sticky, sweet “Zeeuwse bolus”  which is a type of bread rolled in cinnamon and treacle and then rolled into a spiral shape.

The result is softer and less bready than actual bread in texture, an ultra sticky confection that will stick to your ribs and put your teeth into shock mode with a mega dose of sweetness.

(There seems to be a lot of treacle in this particular one) I’d say that the sugar quotient of a Bolus would be on a par with for instance a Greek Baklava. Of course this is just an indication of the ones we had… each Zeeland baker has their own secret recipe and flavours and levels of sweetness differ a bit accordingly. Suffice to say that in the past when I wasn’t watching what I ate,  I *could* have wolfed down two cinnamon rolls  (albeit with a large dose of guilt) but although a Bolus is a close cousin of the cinnamon roll, I’d personally have difficulty even contemplating a second after finishing a first.

Wikipedia tells me:  A “bolus” is a sweet pastry of Jewish origin from the Dutch province of Zeeland. They are made by baking a type of dough in a spiral shape and covering it with treacle and cinnamon. The shape of a bolus differs between bakers. They are often eaten with coffee, and the flatter underside is covered with butter. 

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The bolus was first created in Zeeland in the first half of the 17th century by Sephardic Jewish bakers. There are signs of the Portuguese Jewish community that inhabited Zeeland at the Jewish cemetery in Middelburg.

Later bakers from Zeeland perfected the art of the bolus, sometimes using steam ovens to keep the cinnamon pastry tender.

Since 1998 every year during the “bolus week”, on the Tuesday of the 12th week of the year, the Bolusbaking Championships Zeeland are held, organised by the Dutch Bakery Centre.

Participating bakers may get eight boluses judged. A jury consisting of two bakers and two Zeelandia employees choses the best ten products and the winner gets chosen from these by the audience. The winner receives the Bolus Trophy and gets to call themselves “Best Bolus Baker” for a year.

The bolus is seen as an originally Jewish pastry and has been spread all over the globe during the diaspora. In New York they are sold in many delicatessen, usually in a sweeter and larger version. Boluses also get sold in Jerusalem, Moscow and in Paris and the south of France.

The word bolus comes from Yiddish. The Dutch Van Dale etymological dictionary says that the word bolus or boles is the plural of bole, which comes from the Spanish bollo meaning bun, or bola which means “ball”.

I went looking for an as authentic a Zeeuwse Bolus as possible and found a recipe (dutch language only) from dutch baker Piet Daane,  however the Dutch text also tells me that “this isn’t the official recipe as theirs is top secret”, so I decided to leave the link here but give you another recipe for it that’s a step-by-step recipe already in English. (hey why reinvent the wheel? ) If anyone still really really wants a translation of the Dutch version just let me know and I’ll scribble it out for you.

http://www.thecooksbelly.com/2013/02/zeeuwse-bolus-dutch-cinnamon-ecstacy.html  (please note that Will has iced his version with a lemon, that’s definiately not done in any authentic Dutch version of the recipe, but hey, each to his own)

http://www.zeeuwsebolus.nl/recept.htm  (Dutch language text only). (note the word “hier” (here) underlined in red in the middle of the text, if you click on that you’ll get step-by-step photographs of Bolussen being made in a commercial Dutch bakery)


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