“Rotten” Cake (Bolo Podre)

Some names for recipes just plain have it wrong. Welsh rabbit, for example – there’s not a long-eared, floppy-tailed little bunny within miles. Canadian beaver tails? They’re nothing but a flattened wad of dough, fried, then dusted with sugar. And Buffalo wings? Next time you see a bison flying overhead, let me know (We know this dish is named after the city, not the animal, but you get the idea). As for spotted dick, we’re not even going to go there.

We’d like to add this recipe to the list of misnamed dishes, as there’s absolutely nothing rotten about it – neither its state of preservation nor its flavor. Plus, it’s not really a cake either. It’s cool, creamy, and absolutely delicious. That’s all you need to know.

This recipe is for bolo podre as it’s served in the city of Belém, in Brazil’s Amazonian rain forest. In other regions of Brazil and in Portugal, the same name is used for entirely different cakes, so if you’ve reached here by Googling bolo podre, make sure this is what you want before you cook it.
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RECIPE – “Rotten” Cake (Bolo Podre)
makes 1 large cake

1 cup granulated white sugar
2 lbs grated coconut meat – packaged unsweetened or fresh
1 2/3 cup pearl tapioca
1 can sweetened condensed milk
3 cups whole milk
3 cups coconut milk, commercial or homemade
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Mix together the white sugar, the whole milk and the coconut milk, and stir briskly until the sugar is completely dissolved. Reserve.

Sprinkle the tapioca over the mixture and let it hydrate completely. Stir in the grated coconut. Mix completely.

Fill a rectangular or tube-shaped cake pan with the mixture, packing it down to eliminate air bubbles. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.

Unmold the cake onto a serving platter, sprinkle additional grated coconut over if desired, and serve cold.

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