Tuesday, April 28, 2009
Easter Sweet Bread
When people ask me what is so great about Fall River, I usually answer the food! Of course Fall River owes much of it's identity to the Portuguese immigrants who first came here in the 1890's. Today, the flavors they brought with them dominate our restaurants and bakeries.
One of the great pleasures of living in Fall River is the ability to get fresh baked Portuguese sweet bread from dozens of bakeries around the city. And the sweet bread from each bakery is always just a bit different from the others which makes you want to sample them all!
If you've never had sweet bread, it is usually bought in round loaves that have the thinnest of crusts, really almost a skin. The bread itself can be dense like a pound case but is more usually very light and airy. It's sweet flavor seems to reach perfection with a bit of butter and is incredibly good toasted or grilled.
As Easter approaches each bakery begins to ramp up its production of Easter sweet bread, which will appear on tables and in Easter baskets all over the city. For the holiday unshelled eggs are added to the bread. The eggs may be hard boiled ahead of time but sometimes they actually cook while the bread is baking. The addition of the egg is a Portuguese tradition symbolizing new life and the resurrection of Christ. The bakeries often cook sweet breads of all different sizes. Larger breads may hold as many as four eggs, while a small bread, like the one pictured above, holds just a single egg. It's amusing to hear people walking into the bakeries ordering 4-eggers and 2-eggers and 1-eggers!