Bola de Berlim: history of a portuguese pastry arrived from Germany

By : May 7th, 2021 Gastronomy 0 Comments

The Berlin ball (Bola de Berlim) is a very traditional cake in Portugal, usually sold on the beach.
In fact, there is something German about these balls. The truth is that the basis of this recipe was brought by some German Jewish families who, at the time of World War II, found refuge in Portugal. Germanic lands are better known as “Berlinesa” (Berliner / Berliner Pfannkuchen / Berliner Ballen).
But don’t think that this cake stays true to the original recipe. The filling of a sweet based on red fruits has been replaced by one of the most common and appreciated sweets in Portugal – the egg cream.
This, not to mention the more than many varieties of filling that have appeared in recent years. In addition, Berlinesas are smaller and are usually sprinkled with a finer sugar than that used in Berlin balls.

Over the years during the Second World War, from 1939 to 1945, several thousand refugees fled to Portugal – an officially neutral country – in order to travel to other countries and continents by transatlantic ships. Many German Jewish families, for example, found a temporary shelter in our country – before moving on to a new life, either in the USA or, later, in the newly founded state of Israel. Anyway, during the period they lived here and while waiting for the necessary papers to leave again, these refugees had to work to support families

Many Jews became employees of national companies, such as pastry shops and cafes. For this reason, several of these spaces, especially in Lisbon and Porto, started selling typical Germanic sweets, including the Berlin ball.

Taking into account the size and the round shape (ideal for grabbing with one hand), Berlin balls started to be sold on the street. Later, they arrived at the beaches

For mass
600 g of type 55 flour
150 ml of semi-skimmed milk
100 g of sugar
100 g of margarine
30 g of fresh baker’s yeast

4 eggs
½ teaspoon of fine salt
For the cream
500 ml semi-fatty treat
125 g of sugar
75 g of type 55 flour
4 egg yolks
1 lemon peel
½ l vegetable oil (for frying)

1 – In a bowl, place the sifted flour.
2 – In the center, make a hole and add the warm milk, sugar and yeast, stirring with your hands until it dissolves.
3 – Make another hole and add, now, the eggs, the margarine and a pinch of salt.
4 – Wrap and slowly add the flour.
5 – When the dough is homogeneous, knead it on a bench, sprinkled with flour.
6 – Put it back in the bowl and cover with cling film. Let it rise until it doubles in volume.
7 – Divide the dough into 15 equal parts and shape it into a ball shape.
8 – Arrange on a floured tray and let it rise again, until it is twice the size.
9 – Meanwhile, in a bowl, mix the sugar, flour and egg yolks, adding a little cold milk. Reserve.
10 – Boil the remaining milk with the lemon peel and pour over the mixture, stirring constantly.
11 – Bring to the heat, until it thickens. Remove, pour into a tray and let cool.
12 – Fry the balls of dough in oil, turn them halfway through the frying and drain.
13 – Pass through sugar, cut the balls in half and fill with the cream.


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