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|2 ½ tsp||dry, active yeast|
|150 g||caster sugar|
|250 ml||water, lukewarm|
|450 g||plain flour|
|225 g||butter, at room temperature|
|2 medium||eggs, beaten|
|200 g||mixed peel, chopped|
|8||balls preserved ginger, drained but reserve syrup|
|2 tbsp||soft brown sugar|
|2 tsp||ground cinnamon|
|150 g||ground almonds|
|4 tbsp||water or use 3 tbsp water plus 1 tbsp orange flower water|
|‘hundreds and thousands’ aka sugar sprinkles, for decoration|
In a bowl, mix yeast with 1 tsp of sugar and the warm water. Cover with cling film to activate yeast; bubbles should form after about 15-20 minutes.
Sift flour and salt into a large bowl and make a well in the centre. Pour yeast mixture into well and mix roughly. Cover bowl and leave for 15 minutes to start to rise.
Soften about 50g of the butter and mix in to the flour mixture together with the eggs. Beat until
smooth. Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until no longer sticky. Transfer to a greased bowl and cover again. Allow to rise in a warm place for at least 45 minutes, until doubled in size.
Lightly chop the mixed peel and finely chop the ginger. Mix together in a bowl and add brown sugar, cinnamon and almonds. Mix well to distribute.
Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and roll out until ½ inch or 12mm thick. Spread half the butter over the entire surface and fold dough in half. Roll out once more until ½ inch or 12 mm thick and spread remaining butter over the surface. Fold in half again to form a rough triangle. Divide into four equal portions. Roll each portion into a ball and then roll out to again to an 8 inch, 20 cm round; you may need to make them a little larger to tightly fit the tins. For reasons of space, you may prefer to roll out no more than 2 at a time.
Grease two 8 inch, 20cm cake tins (I suggest using loose-bottomed tins to ease removal) and fit a round of dough tightly into the base of each. Divide the filling mixture between the two tins and spread out fairly evenly without pressing down. Roll out the remaining rounds as before and use to cover each of the cakes.
Cover and leave to rise in a warm place for about 45 minutes.
Preheat oven to Gas Mark 7, 42°5F, 220°C.
In a saucepan, place remaining sugar, the remaining water (and orange flour water if used) and the reserved syrup from the ginger (otherwise use 1-2 tbsp) and boil for about 10 minutes. Brush the top of each cake with a portion of the syrup and bake for 30 minutes.
Remove cakes from oven and brush with another portion of syrup. Return to oven to bake for a further 30 minutes. Immediately brush again with remaining syrup and decorate with ‘hundreds and thousands’. Allow to cool for about 10 minutes and carefully remove from tins. You may need to run a knife around the sides to release; exercise care if using non-stick tins as they can sometimes be easily damaged. Allow to cool completely and cut into wedges to serve.
About the recipe:
Bola and Bollo translates as ‘Ball’ in the respective languages. First known in Europe on the Iberian peninsular, it apparently moved to Italy with Jewish immigrants at the time of the Spanish Inquisitions. The name is believed to derive from the balls of dough created at a late stage in the recipe. Because of layers of butter within the finished, uncooked dough it usually separates in parts into distinct layers of soft yeasty pastry broadly similar in texture to that of a light bun. Often reserved for special events, religious holidays and celebrations.
ca. 2 hrs 30 min
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