Bola with Ham Bola with Ham

Photography: Edward Pond

The Douro region is well known for bola, an olive-oil-based pastry filled with onions and ham, meat or salt cod, and served as an hors d'oeuvre. Presunto, Portuguese cured ham, is most similar to Spain's serrano ham. If you can't find either, use a dry-cured or smoked ham. The dough is oily and soft but quite easy to handle.

  • Portion size 16 servings
  • Credits : Canadian Living Magazine



Sprinkle yeast and sugar over 1/4 cup (50 mL) lukewarm water; let stand until foamy, about 10 minutes.

In stand mixer, whisk flour with salt. Using dough hook on slow speed, work in yeast mixture and 1-1/2 cups (375 mL) lukewarm water; beat until smooth. Beat in egg yolks. Beat in butter, a bit at a time; beat on medium speed until dough is smooth and elastic but quite soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Scrape down side of bowl. Seal bowl with plastic wrap and cover with tea towel; let rise in warm place until doubled in bulk, about 2 hours.

Spread 2 tbsp (25 mL) of the oil over 15- x 10-inch (38 x 25 cm) rimmed baking sheet. Generously oil work surface and hands. Push down dough in bowl, gently working into ball. Scoop about two-thirds onto baking sheet; flatten and stretch to cover entire sheet evenly. Let rest for a few minutes; stretch again to cover sheet. Spread about 2 tbsp (25 mL) of the oil over dough. Leaving scant 1-inch (2.5 cm) border, lay presunto flatly over top.

Flatten and stretch remaining dough into 13- x 8-inch (33 x 20 cm) rectangle; place over filling. Roll rim of bottom dough over edge of top, pinching to seal all around. Pat to even thickness all over; spread 2 tbsp (25 mL) of the oil over top. With tip of knife, prick 3 or 4 small vents.

Bake in 400°F (200°C) oven until golden brown on top and bottom, 30 to 40 minutes. Let cool on pan on rack. Cut into squares.

Nutritional facts Per each of 16 pieces: about

  • Sodium 354 mg
  • Protein 7 g
  • Calories 254.0
  • Total fat 13 g
  • Potassium 91 mg
  • Cholesterol 43 mg
  • Saturated fat 4 g
  • Total carbohydrate 27 g


  • Iron 14.0
  • Folate 38.0
  • Calcium 1.0
  • Vitamin A 4.0
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Bola with Ham