Living in Rhode Island can be very tempting to someone who is totally addicted to chocolate and pastries. Rhode Island is the land of yummy bakeries ~ all sorts of mouthwatering ethnic bakeries. Italian, Jewish, Portuguese, Irish, Greek and all American bakeries. There are so many tantalizing bakeries in my area alone, that it is almost impossible to drive by one without my car turning into the parking lot by itself. Because they all have their own religious traditions, their specialties depends on the season or a particular holiday. For example, March is a huge pastry month. Why? Because there are so many religious holidays in March this year!
Easter (March 23rd) has so many traditions that's it hard to know what the original religious foods were.
There are Easter Eggs and Bunny Cakes, Roasted Lamb and Baked Ham (where did the pig come from?) and the all-time beloved symbol of the Easter holiday ~ PEEPS! Did you know there's a whole book dedicated to Peeps? I kid you not!
Because I'm a hopeless bakery addict, I wait all year long for Portuguese Sweet Bread with Easter eggs.
This heavenly specialty is made by Portuguese bakeries all over Rhode Island and around the Fall River area of Massachusetts.
I remember waiting for my mother to come home from work during the Easter season with a huge Portuguese Sweet Bread. Nestled into the shiny round bread was at least 4 colored hard boiled eggs. I was always amazed at how these eggs made it into the bread. It wasn't until I was much older that I learned they are hard boiled first, then colored ~ or not ~ and baked into the sweet dough. It was a real treat to find the eggs and a wise mother made sure she ordered one with just the right ratio of eggs to children in the family!
When we opened our bakery in New Hampshire just before Easter 19 years ago, I decided that I would carry on the tradition of baking colored Easter eggs into my authentic hand-crafted Portuguese Sweet Bread. I was shocked when my customers had no idea what this delicacy was, but after one loaf they were hooked! We had so many orders I wasn't sure we could fill them all. We eventually got every one of them baked and delivered, but not without doing a 24 hour baking marathon! I still have the original recipe that came to me by way of an elderly Portuguese woman 30 years ago. To this day, it brings back fond memories.