Gluten-Free Portuguese Masa
I did a little happy dance when I tasted the result of this recipe, and with a joyful smile my boyfriend joked that I have now become a woman. In any other circumstance would have sent me into a feminist tirade. But it is a strange right of passage I am happy to embrace. My mother, tias, and grandmother all have their recipes for masa sovada, and now I have mine. Masa is a Portuguese sweet bread made in my family every year around Easter. For the holiday we wrap the risen dough around painted, hard-boiled eggs and eat them Easter morning. Scented with lemon, anisette and (in my grandmother’s recipe!) whiskey, it’s eggy and sweet. Recipes all vary in their density; the kind you purchase in stores is usually very light and fluffy. But my mother’s was always a bit denser, so that’s the kind I grew up appreciating and wanting to replicate. And because gluten-free breads are generally denser anyway, this was also a matter of necessity. I’m in possession of three recipes: my Avo’s (grandmother), my Tia Albertina’s (great-aunt) and my Tia Vidalia’s (aunt). I’ve made the recipe with my mother, but never attempted to make this bread both gluten and milk free. And it came out deliciously! Lots of Notes: I researched a decent blend of flours to estimate a bread flour – because of the proportions I was using, I made 8 cups of flour but only needed five. I used almond milk but also regular butter, which doesn’t seem to affect my stomach in smaller doses due to the lack of milk protein that’s found in other forms. If you need it completely dairy free substitute with butter flavored Earth Balance, not shortening. This recipe is not completely gluten-free because of the whiskey. Omit if you’re going completely GF. Also, most recipes call for a lot of kneading because kneading helps to develop the gluten. So with this just knead until smooth so that your loaves come out a bit prettier than my test loaves did! Oh, one last thing! I like to follow my grandmother’s lead and leave these overnight in a warm place. So I turned my oven on just to 150° and as soon as it was warm turned it off. I then wrapped my breads in tea towels, then the entire cutting board in a bath towel and put it in the oven overnight. They rose perfectly and we ready for baking by breakfast! One last thing, actually! I didn’t put the eggs in this, but will next week when I make it for Easter. Literally just prepare your hard-boiled eggs, make sure they’re dry and hide one in each loaf of bread right before baking!