guest writer Mrs. Angry Eater
In late 2021 The Sisquoc Baking Company wanted to add a Portuguese Sweet Bread to it’s holiday menu. Customers had been requesting sweet treats for their Thanksgiving and Christmas get togethers, and after the past two years family bonding has felt more important than ever. My grandmother had passed away in September (not pandemic related) and while we were going through some of her things we found her recipe card for Portuguese Sweet Bread in one of her boxes, and then we found another, and then another… until we came up with a total of six recipes for the same classic bread. She was a big believer in if you can have one of something, why not have more. My mom told me that when she and her siblings were younger my grandparents would have them practice their typing skills by copying my grandmother’s recipes.
When my grandmother was a young teenager she immigrated from the Azores, an island group off the coast of Portugal, to the United States. She came by herself and navigated her way from New York to the Central Valley of California. She never made it back to the “old country” as she called it, but embraced her new home in the United States and started her family and a lifetime filled with stories, some happy, some sad, but all of them memorable.
This post isn’t meant to be a biography or a eulogy, just a tiny slice of her that I wanted to share with our readers. This particular bread holds special memories for so many people, everyone’s grandma makes the best one, and nothing feels quite like home like a warm slice of nostalgia. We had it at our Thanksgiving dinner, and even though she wasn’t sitting at the table with us, she didn’t feel as far away for that meal. I hope those of our readers who had an opportunity to try it this holiday season were as filled with with happy memories as we were this year, because it was definitely an adventure bringing it to you all.
We had so many orders that it was hands on deck the morning before Thanksgiving. I got up early and headed to the bakery (it’s in our house, so a very short commute) pre-coffee, and pre-normal waking hours, my father-in-law was calling in reinforcements, and we all got to work rolling balls of dough that would become sweet bread rolls and mini loaves of bread. There were so many rolls, I think I lost count, we just kept filling the pans. They were later sold at the local farmer’s market and delivered to people’s homes.
I like to think that in the middle of all the chaos when we were (figuratively) elbow deep in 50 pounds of dough, that my grandma was looking over us and laughing… but also proud that her recipe is living on in the hearts and minds of a new generation.