I still remember the smell of warm “bolo de arroz” coming out of the bakeries in the early morning. I’m talking about the traditional muffins, made with rice flour. It seems nowadays those are more difficult to find, and many of the so-called “bolo de arroz” are actually made with wheat flour. I had the same problem when I was in the quest for the recipe to make the muffins and my online search disappointingly only brought a few results with a mix between wheat flour and rice flour. Some didn’t even asked for any rice flour at all. How can one make a rice muffin without rice as the main ingredient?
Do you think I resigned? No way! I needed to reproduce my beloved rice muffins with the same flavor. So I start to think about those attributes I have registered in my mind. And I thought about the soft and airy texture, the pale yellow color, the smooth lemony fragrance and the crispy top crust with sugar. Oh the top was my favorite part with the granulated sugar attached. Not powdered sugar, as we see in many bakeries. Since that was my absolute preferred part of the cake I usually would save it to eat for last. Typical.
Unwrapping the emblematic paper around the cake was another delight, part of the imaginary of eating a truly portuguese rice muffin. Unrolling the paper that normally would have written “Bolo de Arroz – Fabrico Proprio” or “Bolo de Arroz tradicional” and you’ll be assured that was a real rice muffin.
Breakfast or snack, the perfect time to eat one of these is exactly anytime. They are simple. There’s no cream and seriously there’s no need for anything else. No wonder it is the choice of people with special dietary needs. They are gluten-free (if made only with rice flour of course) and not too sweet. I remember it was commonly served after doing a regular check-up. A rice muffin and a glass of warm milk, the delectable breakfast after a few hours with an empty stomach. Nothing else would taste better.
I probably should have made these in a popover pan, to be more similar with the traditional ones. But I couldn’t wait to go buy one, so this time I made it in a muffin pan and using a few silicone molds as well. They didn’t ended as high as the “real” ones, although it rendered many more. Since I wasn’t happy with any recipe I bumped into, I developed my own using exclusively rice flour. And after the first bite, while still warm (it was impossible to wait, but there’s no regrets), I think I’ve found my “bolo de arroz” revisited. It has precisely the same aroma, taste and everything in between. If only you could have seen me doing the happy dance…
Portuguese Rice Muffins (Bolo de Arroz)
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 20 minutes
Makes 18/ 19 muffins
6 tbsp butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup whole milk
1 egg yolk
2 cups brown rice flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
pinch of salt
Zest of 1 organic lemon
Juice of 1/2 lemon
granulated cane sugar to sprinkle on top
Pre-heat oven to 350 F degrees. Prepare a muffin pan with paper baking cups and/or line a baking sheet with individual silicone muffin molds.
In a large bowl of a stand-mixer (or hand-mixer) whisk the butter with the sugar about 3 minutes, until creamy.
In a small pitcher, mix the eggs and egg yolk with the milk, lemon zest and lemon juice and add to the previous mixture.
In another bowl, whisk the rice flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and slowly add to the batter, beating until well blended.
Pour the batter half way into each of the muffin cups. Let it rest for about 20 minutes.
Sprinkle granulated cane sugar on top and bake for 20 minutes.