Author Archive: Maria Lawton


Biscoitos are made year round and are always available to enjoy with a good cup of coffee or tea…
Growing up my cookie jars were always filled with biscuits and I wouldn’t have wanted it another way.
Once you try these you’ll understand what I mean.
They are so special I hope you enjoy them with your family and when you do make sure to enjoy one for me too!! xox

Biscuits….Biscoitos de Nata
Makes 4 dozen biscuits

8 cups of flour
2 cups of heavy cream
2 cups of sugar
4 large eggs
2 teaspoons of baking powder
1 1/2 cup of butter *have at room temperature
1 tablespoon of lard/shortening *have at room temperature
1 teaspoon of salt
Zest of 1 lemon
Preheat oven at 350, and lightly grease baking trays

-In an extra large bowl combine the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix well and leave aside.

– In a separate large bowl, using a hand mixer, cream together the 3 sticks of butter and lard/shortening. Mix in the sugar and eggs and beat together at a high speed until creamy. Then add the heavy cream and beat for another 2 minutes. Once everything is well incorporated, mix in the lemon zest and leave aside.

-Next you will make a well in the bottom of the bowl of flour by pushing the flour to the sides of the bowl. Then, you’re going to slowly pour the creamy mixture in to the well. Using a mixing spoon, start blending them together until the dough gets too hard and then you will need to knead the rest by hand. Take the dough out of the bowl and place on to a floured surface and continue to knead until you can form the dough into a large ball. Now you can start and take pieces of dough and roll out into a small size ball or into shapes such as a wreath…It’s up to you…no right or wrong.
place in oven for 15-20 min +/- depending on your oven or until there a golden color.

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Malassadas is called by a lot of names: Filhos, Portuguese Donuts, Fried Dough or Beaver Tails.  The name may vary but one thing we all agree on is that they are delicious!!!
Growing up my mom would make malassadas just for special occasions. Her malassadas would be light and airy with a hint of lemon. Sometimes she wouldn’t the dough but instead make little balls of dough, which was like our version of donut holes. I remember eating them as quickly as they were being made.
Since I have posted this recipe before I was given a couple of great suggestions that I need to pass along…xoxo
1. From Bibiana… instead of using milk use cooking oil to dip your fingers when working the dough.
2. From Anna…Let the dough rise in a oven with door closed and light on… No drafts to worry about and the light gives it a little warmth.

Here’s My Aunt Lilia’s Version of
Malassadas/Fried Dough

Makes about a dozen
3 cups of all purpose flour
½ teaspoon of salt
7 Large eggs at room temperature
1 stick of butter, melted
¼ cup of sugar
2 envelopes of active yeast ¼ oz in each envelope
¼ cup of lukewarm water to dissolve the yeast
Zest of 2 lemons
Milk as needed for dipping hands
3 cups of oil for frying
3 cups of sugar for dredging
Cinnamon for sprinkling* optional

In a small bowl dissolve the yeast packets with the ¼ cup of lukewarm water and leave aside.
In a small saucepan melt the stick of butter and leave aside.
In a large bowl beat together the eggs, sugar, butter and lemon zest until creamy. Then add in small intervals the flour and salt and continue to mix well. Lastly, you will add the dissolved yeast into the mix and blend well. Knead the dough by hand until everything is well incorporated.
On the few occasions that I have made this recipe, the batter was a little on the wet side and I did need to add a few tablespoons of flour to the mix during the final kneading..
You will cover the large bowl with some kitchen towels and place the bowl in a warm place, free of drafts, and wait till the dough doubles in size.
*This can take an hour or two depending on the weather. If it’s a cold day expect it to take a little longer. My Aunt Lilia suggested that I turn the oven on in the kitchen and have the bowl of dough near by. The extra heat will help in those extra cold days to make it rise faster.

Directions for frying:
Once the dough rises and doubles in size, you are now ready to fry the dough.
In a large, deep pot such as a dutch oven, heat the 3 cups of oil over low heat. Using a small bowl of milk to dip your hands, take about 1 tablespoon of dough in your hand. The dough is on the sticky side so make sure you have enough milk on your hands to stretch out the dough until it is round and thin. Then drop it into the oil very gently, make sure to turn them on both sides until they are a golden brown.
* It’s very important to make sure that the oil does not get too hot. What will happen is that the outside of the Malassadas will fry up quickly and also begin to burn but the inside will stay raw and undercooked. So be very careful and keep a close eye.

As soon as they are done frying I always place them first on a tray lined with paper towels so that any excess oil can be absorbed. Then I have another deep-sided tray filled with sugar ready, and while the Malassadas are still warm, dredge them through the sugar; you can also sprinkle some cinnamon if you like. I wasn’t raised with that, but I have heard that sometimes they would also add it.

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Portuguese Sweetbread

Ann's sweetbread
Any special celebration would not be complete unless there was sweetbread to enjoy.
I can honesty say that making sweetbread was the hardest for me to learn.  I couldn’t understand why I could bake bread but had such a difficult time with
sweetbread. It wasn’t until my aunt explained that sweetbread dough is supposed to be wetter than the usual bread dough and she hit it on the nail: I had been adding more flour because I thought the dough was too wet.
That explains why my the loaves were heavy and not light! But that’s how we learn, and most important we don’t give up!!
Here’s a recipe of sweetbread from my friend Ann’s family..

SweetBread (Massa Souvada)
6-8 loaves…**depending on the size of baking pans
Prep time: 8 hr
Cook time: 40 min

1/2 cup of shortening (or lard)
3 pkg ( 1/4 oz envelopes) dry active yeast
1/2 cup of lukewarm water
2 cups of whole milk
2 cups of granulated sugar
1/2 cup butter
3/4 tsp salt
10 cups of all purpose flour
8 eggs * at room temperature

Egg Wash
1 egg
1 tablespoon of water

1 In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in water and let rise to double in size.
2 In a larger bowl, mix all dry ingredients together.
3. In saucepan, melt butter and shortening in milk and cool to lukewarm.
4. In a medium bowl, beat eggs and sugar together.
5. Create a well in the large bowl of dry ingredients, add the eggs and sugar, melted butter and milk and last add the yeast. Mix all ingredients together and knead until dough is nice and smooth (at least 20 min). Dough tends to be on the wet side so resist the urge to add much more flour. Let rise until double in size, usually six to eight hours.
6. Punch down, deflating the dough. Form individual breads and put in buttered and floured pans ( any shape or size will do).

The dough should fill only half the pan. Let rise again until dough doubles in size, filling the pan.

7. Brush top of dough with beaten egg.

8. Bake at 325 degrees-preheated oven for 40 to 60 minutes (adjust longer cook time for larger loaves).
The bread should be golden brown.

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