This desert is made of naturally rising rice flour that originally comes from Goiás, though it is now prepared in other cities across the Goiás and Mato Grosso states. The peculiarity of this desert is its artisanal preparation, though this is disappearing due to the presence of industrial versions of the product that are available on the market. The traditional preparation differs from industrial methods both in the sensory qualities obtained and the prime materials used.
According to testimony from the people of Goiás and scholars, the clearest difference between the products is the slightly acidic flavor in the traditional product that is due to the fact that the rice is left to ferment for three or four days in milk, a practice which has been lost over the years.
Some who know the product say that the traditional recipe for this rice cake dates back to the days of slavery, when plantation owners sent their rice to be processed in the city. The grains that fell on the floor during processing were gathered and eaten by the slaves, and one of the dishes that they came up with was bolo de arroz, though another version of this desert is also produced in Portugal.
The recipe calls for the rice flour to be left in milk for three or four days so that it ferments, after which the other ingredients are added (including eggs, sugar, grated cheese, oil and anise). Over time this recipe has been modified, and today the producers buy the rice flour in supermarkets and use chemical raising agents and curds, so as to reduce fermentation time to a mere 12 hours at the most.
This desert is part of the gastronomy and daily life of Goiás (which used to be known as Vilas Boas) and has indigenous origins that were influenced by the Miners and people from Sao Paolo who came to this area at the end of the 18th century in search of gold. Even today these rice cakes are still strongly tied to the local identity.
This product is also produced in Cuiabá, with significant differences in the ingredients, as they also add cassava and coconut to the rice and milk, but they do not use cheese or curds. In Crixás some people wrap the cakes in banana leaves, which is another local peculiarity.
Today there are between four and six people from Goiás who regularly produce bolos de arroz following the traditional recipe, but the supermarkets and pastry shops also produce a more “commercial” variety.
Image: Kassia Ferraz