Every region in the Netherlands has a specialty and Zeeland is no different. Their pastry claim to fame is the bolus. A sweet sticky pastry with just a hint of cinnamon. My sister and I have been eating boslussen for as long as I can remember as my grandfather, a true Zeeuw (Zeeland Dutchmen) always made these for us when we came to visit.
I can’t take full credit for this recipe since a proper bolus recipe is under lock and key for most bakers and the achieving the correct stickiness to bread firmness is an art form. Another site did some extensive testing and I happily made use of their research, along with my Opa’s (Dutch for grandfather) handed down recipe, we have what comes to close to my childhood favorite.
210 ml milk
35 g unsalted butter
350 g high gluten flour ( Note by Hannah: bread flour is the highest gluten flour I can find on my grocery shelves in the US. )
4 g salt
- 7 g instant yeast
400 g dark brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
Warm the milk and butter, do not let this come to a boil or even scald. Just warm.
Mix together in a large bowl the flour, salt and yeast. Add the milk, butter and and egg and start mixing. If you have a mixer with a dough hook by all means use this. After the dough comes together keep mixing for another 5 minutes if using a mixer and 8 if you are doing this by hand like me.
Here comes one of the essential parts of the process.
Place the dough in its bowl in an un-warmed oven with a large bowl of hot hot water underneath it. Let this rise for 15 minutes.
In the meantime mix together the brown sugar and cinnamon.
After the first rising time, pull the dough out and separate into 10 balls. Roll each ball in the sugar mixture. The more you get worked in there the yummier the bolussen will be.
Once rolled, place on a baking sheet with baking paper. Place again in the cool oven with a bowl of hot water underneath for 15 minutes.
Prepare your rolling space, my Opa’s big trick is to roll the bolussen out on a kitchen towel (a clean one obviously but it will get very dirty and sticky). Since I cannot put pins directly into my counter top I use a big cutting board to pin my kitchen cloth to.
Pull the balls out after 15 minutes and start pre-warming your oven to 250C. Remember to remove your bowl of water in the bottom as you might crack this once the water has evaporated because of the heat (don’t let my mistakes be your mistakes). The sugar on the balls may already be starting to melt and that is ok just means it is stickier for more sugar to attach to. Roll each ball out on a layer of sugar to to approx 30 -35 cm. The more sugar you can work into these the better they will be.
Once you have rolled out in the sugar, grab the tip of the long roll with your left forefinger and thumb. Now holding the other end with your right hand twist the with your right hand going clockwise around your left fingers. It is not as difficult as it is to describe but again according to my Opa you must twist to the right. A counter-clockwise bolus is not a bolus.
Once you have formed the bolus place back on that same baking sheet and continue on with the next one. Once all are evenly spaced on your baking sheet cover these with a warm damp cloth and set aside for the final rising round in a warm damp place. Some have an oven/range that keeping them on the stove top near the vent will work. I move mine into the bedroom or bathroom where is it is warmer and more humid. Let the bolus sit for 45 minutes.
45 minutes are up, pop the bolussen in the pre-warmed oven with yet another bowl of warm (not as hot) water. Cook the bolussen 6-8 minutes! This may take some trial and error to get the perfect cooking time.
Once cooked pull these out of the oven and carefully (melted sugar is very hot) match the bottom sides of the bolus making pairs transferring onto a plate. You may want to wait a good 10 minutes before eating as that sugar will be too hot to eat immediately.
Pull one half of the bolus off and smear with a bit of real butter and enjoy!