Are you looking to bake something new and sweet for the High Holidays? In the weeks before Rosh Hashannah and Yom Kippur, my Savta’s/grandma’s house is filled with the sweet scents of cinnamon, sugar, honey and roasted nuts. A staple recipe during this time is “Bolo,” which originated in the Jewish communities of Libya. Bolo is a lightly sweet bread, stuffed with crushed nuts, raisins and spices.
My maternal Sabba/grandpa came to Israel from Libya, and every year, my Savta would make this staple Libyan bread for the Yom Kippur break fast. For me, Bolo bread is like a second Havdalah at the end of Yom Kippur: the scent of the cinnamon, the sweetness of the raisins, and its bright, light color are comforting and nourishing at the end of a meaningful physical and spiritual journey. Bolo are easy to make and can be modified to your taste.
However you like to break your fast, I wish you a meaningful Yom Kippur – and G’mar Chatimah Tovah.
Bolo: Sweet Bread for break fast
For the dough:
- 1 package dry yeast (1 tablespoon)
- 3/4 cup dairy or plant-based milk (you can also substitute for water or orange juice)
- ½ cup cooking oil
- 1/2 cup sugar, divided
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 4 cups flour
- Nut and spice mix – see optional mix, feel free to make your own combination as you like! Some use Anise, cloves, and different nuts as well – or omit/ change according to dietary/ allergy restrictions.
Nut and spices mix (optional):
- Walnut pieces
- Pecan pieces
- Sliced almonds
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 egg, room temperature
- Sesame seeds
- Warm your milk to a lukewarm temperature then transfer to your mixing bowl (all ingredients will end up here so make sure to choose a large enough bowl). Mix in half the sugar and the yeast. Set aside for about 5 minutes or until the yeast is nice and bubbly.
- Whisk in the eggs, vanilla, salt, and remaining sugar then whisk in half the flour to create a smooth paste. You can also use a mixer (hand or stand) if you want and use the dough hook.
- Add the oil and mix once more. Add the nuts and raisins mix and the remaining flour and mix again, now with either your hands or the mixer. Knead/run the mixer on medium speed for 5-7 minutes or until the dough comes together, is smooth and will not stick to your finger when pressed lightly. You can sprinkle a couple teaspoons of flour on the edge of the bowl to discourage the dough from sticking, or if the dough is still too wet.
- Spray your bowl with some oil to prevent sticking while rising, then cover and place in a warm place to rise for one and a half to two hours, or until doubled in size.
- Once the dough has risen, punch it a few times and knead to remove all the air. On a greased surface, cut the dough into 12-14 pieces, depends how large you would like the buns to be. Shape them into a ball or elongated shape, and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Cover and set aside for another 30 minutes in a warm spot, to let rise again.
- Once the buns had risen again, brush them with the egg and sprinkle some sesame seeds for decoration. Bake at 350F for 18 to 20 minutes or until the buns are lightly golden – and your house smells amazing!
- Buns can be stored in an airtight container/ bag, in room temperature for 3-4 days, placing them in the fridge will keep them up to a week, and when warmed they will still taste good and will be soft and tasty. They will freeze well for up to 2-3 months, thaw in room temperature first and then warm before serving.