My fiancé is a quarter Portuguese on his mother’s side, who was half. When my fiancé was 13, she passed away somewhat quickly from cancer, so I’ve never had the pleasure to meet her. One of the things that he’s so proud of the heritage she gave him, which is half Portuguese and half Italian (for those keeping track, the other half is Irish).
A few months ago, we went to breakfast at Cookware Cafe in Chatham and had breakfast sandwiches on bolo leveo, which come to find out is like a sweeter english muffin or a fluffier pancake, and he calls it Portuguese Muffin. My fiancé was shocked that I hadn’t heard of them before, given that he grew up with them in Massachusetts. While we were there, I decided that I would make them for Christmas for his family in memory of his mom (plus they’re absolutely delicious).
When we got a little closer, I went through a recipe box that my fiancé has that had belonged to his mom. In it, I found a few different sweet bread recipes that she used and what I’ve made below is a very similar version.
These ended up turning out perfectly – just like the ones we had in Chatham. They were sweet, soft and flaky with the perfect chewy crust, which I know is what my fiancé likes about them and I have no doubt his mom did too.
1 (.25) envelope dry yeast
1/4 cup warm water
6 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup white sugar
1/4 cup butter, melted and cooled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 cups milk
In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water with a pinch of the sugar. Set aside to ferment, about 10 minutes.
Transfer the yeast mixture to a large bowl, and stir in the sugar, eggs, salt, flour, and milk until the dough comes together. Stir in the melted butter, then turn the dough out onto a floured surface, and knead for about 10 minutes, or until smooth and elastic.
Cover dough with a cloth and set aside to rise until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.
Divide dough into about 15 to 20 pieces, and shape them into flat round muffins about 1/2 inch thick. Place a cloth on the table and dust it with flour. Arrange the muffins on the cloth, allowing space for rising. Allow them to set for 1 1/2 hours.
Place the muffins in a heavy ungreased skillet ideally cast-iron) or a griddle, and cook over low heat. Fry them until golden, which will be 3-5 minutes on each side.
Yield: 20 Portuguese muffins