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Fresh Portuguese Sweet Bread

Posted on May 23, 2009

The following is a guest post by Kris Bordessa originally published in Big Island On The Cheap

Portuguese immigrants to the Hawaiian islands brought with them the old world style of baking in a wood-fired stone oven called a forno. In an effort to preserve this tradition, the Kona Historical Society has created a replica of a traditional forno in a field below the old Greenwell Store (now a museum) in Kealakekua. Every Thursday morning, volunteers light a fire in the forno in the wee hours, and by 10 am the action begins as more volunteers help to prepare the dough for pao doce, a traditional Portuguese sweet bread.

The dough sits nearby, rising as the baker waits for the oven to reach the proper temperature.

Once the oven is close to the appropriate temperature, the baker weighs out pieces of dough.

She’s surprisingly accurate!

Now everyone’s invited to participate. The measured dough must be further divided into seven equal portions and rolled into smooth balls of dough.

As each pie tin is filled, it is set aside for one last rise.

The forno cooks 30 loaves at a time.

In no time, the air fills with the aroma of freshly baked bread.

The baker sets the cooked pao doce out to cool, and then packages each loaf for sale.

As you can imagine, the loaves go very quickly!

Watching or participating in making the loaves is free. The fresh, warm bread is sold immediately, and at $5 a loaf, it’s a bargain. The funds from the Thursday bread sales go to support the Kona Historical Society. The posted hours for this event are from 10 am to 1 pm every Thursday, but I’ve arrived during the latter part of this window only to find the bread sold out. If your heart is set on fresh bread, get there early!

Explore Kona Coast.

Explore Leonard’s Bakery.

About The Author

Kris Bordessa, formerly of Hawai‘i and now living in California’s Gold Country, is the author of several books. She has written about Hawai‘i for publications like Hana Hou!, Hawai‘i Westways, Disney’s Family.com, FamilyFun, Islands, and more.

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