Start Your Day the Brazilian Way, With a Cake

Start Your Day the Brazilian Way, With a Cake

You may think cornbread is the best of what cornmeal has to offer us in terms of baked goods–it’s sturdy, gritty, and great with chilli–but this crunchy bit of maize has a sweet side it would like to show you. (And we’re not talking about sweet cornbread, an abomination.) This dish veers away from bread and straight over to cake. It’s called “bolo de fubá com quiejo,” and it’s about to be your new favourite breakfast slice. (Did I mention it’s made with parmesan cheese?)

Bolo de fubá com quiejo is a Brazilian treat that translates into English as “cornmeal cake with cheese.” Bolos are hugely popular for breakfast in Brazil, and it took all of one short visit for these morning cakes to be popular with me too. This cornmeal cake is a relative of American cornbread, but don’t expect a dry, savoury bread with noticeable cornmeal bits getting stuck in your molars. Instead you’ll get a fluffy, delicate crumb, with a subtle sweetness. The cornmeal in this cake has a buttery, milky flavour, and it’s perfect with a strong cup of coffee.

The regular bolo de fubá is lovely, but it’s the “com queijo” (with cheese) version that I fell in love. This sweet corn cake is infused with salty parmesan cheese, but manages to not taste overly salty or too heavy. The umami-laced, aged cheese bits disperse throughout the batter and lend a rich dairy flavour, bouncy texture, and round, buttery finish. It’s a damn good cake.

The Brazilian bolo is traditionally baked in a tube pan or bundt pan, but my version below has been scaled down to be a single loaf. I just don’t go through cake fast enough, but you can always double the recipe if you want an impressive bundt. Just keep in mind the baking time will be longer for a double batch.

There are two schools of bolo batter that I’ve come across, one style uses whipped egg whites to lighten the batter, and the other is leavened with just baking powder. Both result in scrumptious cakes, the former requiring extra steps for more aerated results, and the latter being faster and lower maintenance, but with less height in the final product. The recipe below is the baking powder type.

Put all of the dry ingredients and the grated parmesan cheese into a medium-sized bowl. Whisk the wet ingredients together in a measuring cup. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry mixture and whisk until combined. Let the batter rest for 10 minutes so the cornmeal can absorb some of the liquid. Pour the batter into a parchment-lined loaf pan and bake at 180°C for 40-45 minutes. The cake should be golden brown and spring back when touched in the centre. Enjoy a slice for breakfast dusted with powdered sugar, or take a cue from the Brasileños and drizzle it with sweetened condensed milk.

Bolo de Fubá com Quiejo


  • 1 cup fine cornmeal
  • ½ cup flour
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ⅓ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • ⅓ cup oil
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 180°C. Butter an eight by four-inch loaf pan and line it with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, mix the cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and parmesan cheese together. In a large measuring cup, whisk the oil, buttermilk, eggs, and salt. Pour the liquids into the bowl of dry ingredients and whisk until well combined. Let the mixture sit for 10 minutes. Pour into the prepared loaf pan and bake at 180°C for 40-45 minutes, or until the top springs back when gently touched. Cool completely and serve with a dusting of powdered sugar or a drizzle of sweetened condensed milk.

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