Bread of God: a Delicious Portuguese Dessert
El pâo de Deus, or “the Bread of God,” is a dessert that originated from Portugal. This bun has a light consistency and a spongy texture that has some grated coconut on top, which was an ingredient that was added later on.
This bread used to be eaten on All Saints’ Day. However, now many eat it throughout the year both in its place of origin and in other countries such as Brazil and Venezuela, where they were settlements of Portuguese communities.
Many people claim that it’s more than a 200-year-old dessert. They also say that coconut was added to it after the Portuguese settled in Brazil and people begin to add new flavors and they were assimilated in their tradition. However, this still hasn’t been confirmed by historians.
What’s definitely true about this dessert is that there are several recipes that might include some lemon juice or liqueur.
How to Make an Authentic Bread of God Recipe?
Ingredients for the dough (12 servings)
- A pinch of salt
- 1 stick of butter (100 g)
- 2 medium-sized eggs
- ¾ cup of sugar (15g)
- ½ cup of milk (125 ml)
- 4 cups of whole wheat flour without yeast (480 g)
- 2 tablespoons of fresh bakery yeast (30 g)
- Optional: grated lemon or orange, 3 tablespoons of rum (45 ml), and vanilla essence.
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Ingredients for the Topping
- 1 medium egg
- 1 cup of shredded coconut (100 g)
- 2 tablespoons of powdered sugar (30 g)
- 2 tablespoons of white sugar (30 g)
Preparing the Dough
- Pour the milk in a baking bowl and heat it in the microwave for a couple of minutes. There is no need to bring it to a boil. Only heat until it’s lukewarm.
- Add the yeast to the warm milk. Stir the milk thoroughly with a spoon. Next, add half a cup of flour (60 g).
- Beat by hand until you get a mixture without any lumps. Cover the bowl and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
- In the meantime, put the butter in the baking bowl and melt in the microwave.
- Put the flour in a separate bowl while leaving some space in the middle to add two cracked eggs (don’t beat them) and the melted butter. Also, add the sugar and yeast that was prepared earlier.
- Mix them with the hand blender to form the dough. Roll the dough into a ball and let sit at room temperature by covering it with a damp cloth, for a couple of hours. As it sits, the dough will increase in size.
- Once this time has passed, quickly sprinkle a little flour on the surface where you’re going to knead it.
- Bake for about 5 minutes, to give it some flexibility. It should be soft enough in order for it be handled easily.
- Now, in the center of mass, open a hole (not too deep) and add a pinch of salt. Close it and knead for another 5 minutes, constantly.
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Baking the Dough
- Next, separate several parts of dough and roll small hand-sized balls. Then, lightly flatten them a little to give them the appearance of a sweet bun. Set to the side.
- In order to prepare the topping, mix a cracked egg in a bowl (without beating it), white sugar and grated coconut. Refrigerate until it is time to be used.
- Put the vegetable paper on a baking tray and, at the same time, preheat the oven to 180 ºC.
- Place the bread along the tray and brush them with a beaten egg. Immediately, add the mixture of coconut, sugar, and egg on top (1 tablespoon per sweet bun is enough). It’s necessary to distribute the coconut mixture in a fashion that doesn’t fall into the bread.
- Place into the oven for half an hour.
- Once browned, take them out and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
They can be served hot or once they have cooled down. It will all depend on your own taste. However, it should be noted that in Venezuela people often eat their Bread of God with coffee or they have it stuffed with cheese from cow’s milk (one that’s low in salt).
Some people make their Bread of God with cream fillings and others with jam. Even though these options are delicious, they can turn out to be a little gooey for some people.
It’s up to you to experiment and choose what you like!