Friday, October 31, 2008

Recipe: Bolos Levedos Acorianos (Portuguese Sweet Muffins or Portuguese Pancakes)

Okay, allow me to let you in on a little secret. Big, snazzy New York City burger joints are scoring high praise and big dollars with their burgers that are gently nestled in Portuguese rolls that are shipped in from my hometown of Fall River, Massachusetts. Of course they're using good beef, but what is really setting these burgers apart are the Portuguese sweet muffins. I blogged about it a little while back, you can find that post here.

The people from the South Coast towns of Massachusetts and Rhode Island have always enjoyed these rolls and they're available in most markets. We call them Portuguese sweet muffins or Portuguese pancakes, but their real name is "bolos levedos" (sounds like "bhoulzsh levezsh"). Of the varieties you get in the market, some are good and some could be better. The best ones I ever had is when I visited the town of Furnas on Saint Michael in the Azores. Now those bolos levedos are something. Larger and more tender than the American variety and just a little more special. It could of course be the locale, but I'm also betting on the Portuguese butter and a few other things.

We always have a supply in my house. We use them for breakfast sandwiches, hamburgers, fish sandwiches or just toasted with some butter or guava jelly. Recently, I decided I wanted to make them for myself and set out to do so. I wanted something closer to what I got in Saint Michael and I'm certain I was able to do that. I found the recipe I based mine on on a Portuguese cooking website. With the help of a good friend and her mom whom are both fluent in Portuguese I was able to translate the instructions and recipe amounts. I made some pretty big adjustments and got exactly what I was looking for. So now I can make my own bolos levedos Acorianos and anyone out there who really wants them can have the best hamburger buns in the world. These things are addictive, you've been warned.

Bolos Levedos Acorianos

1/2 cup whole milk (70-80°F)
1/2 cup + 1 TBS sugar
2-1/2 tsp instant yeast
4-1/3 cups unbleached bread flour
2 eggs (beaten)
9 TBS sweet butter (softened)
1/2 tsp zest of lemon (grated then minced fine)
2 TBS vodka (if you can get Portuguese moonshine use that, but I imagine everyone can't get it like we can!)
1/8 tsp salt
A little water as necessary.

Mix the instant yeast into the warm milk and set aside.

Sift the flour and sugar into a large bowl.

Form a well in the middle of the flour/sugar combination add the milk/yeast combination and mix it in a little. Add the eggs, butter, lemon zest, vodka and salt. Mix together until it forms a rough dough ball. If you need to add a few drops of water to make it gather into a ball, do so in small increments. Once the ball forms, cover the bowl and let the dough rest for 15 minutes. This allows the dough to hydrate evenly.

Turn the dough ball out on to a floured surface and knead for 12 minutes. If you need instruction on kneading refer to the instructions on kneading in the homemade naan recipe here.

After kneading cover the dough with plastic film and allow it to rest for 10 minutes.

Gently form the dough into a ball and place in a lightly oiled container that will allow it to increase to twice its size. Press the dough down gently and then cover with the container cover or plastic wrap. Mark the container with tape where the dough is and allow it to rise to twice its size (30 minutes to 4 hours).

Turn the dough back out onto your floured surface and divide in to 9 equal sized pieces. Gently form each piece into a smooth ball and cover with plastic wrap and let rest 15 minutes.

Pat each ball into flat patty. Let rest 15 minutes covered with plastic wrap.

Place a comal or flat griddle over medium-low flame and allow it to heat up.

Flatten and expand each piece of dough again. Let rest 15 minutes or more covered with plastic wrap. You want it to rise a little bit again.

When they are ready, place a patty on the heated comal or griddle. Cook it SLOWLY on medium-low heat, or the outside will burn before the inside is cooked properly. Turn over when nicely browned, remove when evenly browned on both sides and cooked through. It'll take a little testing at first but is easy once you sort it out. Eventually, if your comal or griddle are large enough you can cook four at a time.

You now make the best hamburger or fish sandwich buns in the world. You can also use them for breakfast by splitting them, buttering them and toasting them on a comal or griddle. Add your favorite jelly. My wife toasts them this way and then makes a sandwich of fried egg whites, cheese and split sausages. Those things are great!

Bolos Levedoes are very versatile and can be used a number of ways!

Recipe: Bolos Levedos Acorianos from Chop Onions, Boil Water by Henry Krauzyk


  1. Awesome recipe. They were delicious. I say "were" because they were gone in about a day! But I beg of your help! My vavo used to make something we called (forgive the spelling) boule. It was like a cornmeal pancake and we smothered it in butter at ate it with cubed pork butt. My vavo has long since passed and now I have no idea how to make it or even how to look it up. help help!

  2. Thank you for your kind comments. I'm happy you enjoyed the recipe. I like them as well and NOTHING beats homemade! The dish you mentioned was it yellow or white in color? More like a bread or more like a polenta? Let me know and I'll track it down for you. It already sounds like "popish". Does that sound familiar?

  3. Hello Bonnie the word your looking for i think its called: Broa; also some parts of Portugal including Azores they call it: Pao De Milho; i hope this was helpful...

  4. Henry!!! Thank you so much for this recipe! I'm a displaced Azorean in Miami and Bolos Levedos is my morning go to for a few weeks after returning from RI but once they're gone...I'm sad..Thanks for giving me the opportunity to make them for myself! I too am looking for the "Boul" recipe. It's the flat bread we eat with codfish..not necessarily pao milho..but same flavor just flat and lighter. My Avo use to make them in a pan on top of the stove...Help???

  5. Hey Laurie! I'm glad the recipe helps! It's great stuff. Here, in New York City and Now Los Angeles they are using these and small masas at hamburger buns for $$$ burgers. They are delicious. I'm going to look into the pan bread you mention. I'll let you know!

  6. Thank you, thank you! I find it really funny that here in NYC these people are raving about the "Buns that kind of taste like Hawaiian Bread"-WHAT?!
    I've been tweaking with some recipes, but the secret ingredient is the vodka.
    I'm from S.E. MA and every time I go back home I pick up a BUNCH of bolos to take back to NYC with me.
    Being a pig, I eat them up in about a week, so I'm going to make these at will...
    Bless you.


    1. Thanks for your comments! We also use them for fried fish sandwiches and the sweetness of the bread certainly makes it delicious.