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Portuguese Sweet Easter ❦ Bread Folar de Páscoa

This beautiful show stopper, is the centre of a Portuguese, Roman- Catholic Easter.

No table will be without one.

Typically, on Palm Sunday, godchildren bring their godmothers violets. On Easter Sunday she gifts them this beautiful sweet bread. The bread has a hard boiled egg in the centre and a cross. Symbolizing resurrection and rebirth.

There is a legend, as old as time, relating to the folar being gifted.

It goes like this... Legend has it that, in a Portuguese village, there lived a young woman named, Mariana, whose only desire in life was to marry early. She prayed so much to Saint Catarina that her will was fulfilled and soon two suitors appeared: a rich nobleman and a poor farmer, both young and handsome. The young woman again asked Saint Catarina for help in making the right choice. While concentrating on her prayer, at home, Amaro, the poor farmer, knocked on the door, asking for an answer and setting Palm Sunday as the deadline. A little while later, on that same day, the nobleman appeared to ask her for a decision. Mariana didn't know what to do. When Palm Sunday arrived, a neighbor was very distressed to warn Mariana that the nobleman and the farmer had met on their way home and that, at that moment, they were fighting a death struggle. Mariana ran to the place where the two were facing each other and it was then that, after asking Saint Catarina for help, Mariana chose Amaro, the poor farmer. On the eve of Easter Sunday, Mariana was tormented, because she had been told that the nobleman would show up on her wedding day to kill Amaro. Mariana prayed to Santa Catarina and the image of Santa, it seems, smiled at her. The next day, Mariana went to put flowers on the altar of the Saint and, when she got home, she noticed that, on the table, there was a big cake with whole eggs, surrounded by flowers, the same ones that Mariana had put on the altar. She ran to Amaro's house, but she met him on the way and he told her that he had also received a similar cake. Thinking it was the nobleman's idea, they went to his house to thank him, but he had also received the same type of cake. Mariana was convinced that everything had been the work of Saint Catarina. Initially called folore, the cake eventually became known as folar and became a tradition that celebrates friendship and reconciliation.

Portuguese Sweet Easter ❦ Bread Folar de Páscoa

Makes one folar

About an 2 1/2 hours total (time includes rising)

400 g. Plain flour, plus more for board, kneading and shaping

3 Eggs, 2 whole for bread and 1 egg yolk, beaten, for brushing bread before baking

100 g. Granulated sugar

50 g. Butter, softened

1 Sachet instant dry yeast, ( Commercial packets contain 1 tsp. about 12 grams)

60 ml. Warm ( not hot!) milk, any fat percentage

1 tsp. Ground cinnamon

1 tsp. Ground fennel seed

1 tbsp. Honey, plus more to finish

1 pinch of salt

1 Orange, zest only

To finish:

3 Hard boiled eggs in their shells, to be placed atop bread

(feel free to dye your eggs, as I did)

Honey to brush finished cake to make it shiny

1. Line a baking sheet with parchment/ non-stick baking paper. Set aside.

2. In a large bowl, dissolve yeast with warm milk. Add eggs, sugar, honey, fennel, cinnamon, orange zest and butter.

Beat until well incorporated.

3. Add flour and salt. Mix well. Dough will be soft. Leave in bowl and cover with a tea towel, in a warm draught free room. Leave to rise, about 1 hour.

4. After 1 hour, tip dough onto a generously floured surface.

Knead the dough for about 1 minute. Adding a bit of flour if necessary.

5. Break off a bit of dough to form two ropes. These will be the cross on top of the bread.

6. Shape remaining dough into a ball and smooth. Place on baking sheet.

7. Place eggs in centre of dough and press them into dough slightly. Place the two reserved dough ropes atop bread and eggs to form a cross.

8. Let bread rest for 30 minutes before baking at this point.

9. Meanwhile preheat your oven to 180ª C/ 350ª F.)

10. Brush bread with beaten egg yolk, and place in centre of preheated oven for 45 minutes.

Bread will be golden brown, if in the first 15/20 minutes it seems to be browning too quickly, tent with aluminum foil, and remove again during last 5 minutes.

11. Remove from oven, let cool slightly and brush with honey for a gloriously shiny finish.

Peace, love and friendship to you all.

Happy Easter


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