Angels at your table - pao de deus

There’s a strong history of patisserie in Portugal dating back to the Middle Ages,where nuns would supplement Convent incomes by baking, fervently. The Portuguese make a religion of their pastries, celebrating saints’ days with little cakes of all kinds, filled with custard or scattered with flaked nuts.If you make a pilgrimage to any neighbourhood coffee shop you can see a history of the culinary cloth sprawled across the counters in shades of cake, biscuit, bread and bun.This history has changed very little over the centuries and seems to remain for ever and ever,amen.The Pão por Deus ( bread for god´s sake) celebration is a Portuguese tradition celebrated all over the country the same day as Dia de todos os Santos (All Saints day)There are a number of customs which may vary throughout the many regions of Portugal.For instance in Leiria it is known as Dia de Bolinho ( the day (to ask) for cake).There are records of Pão de deus in the 15th century.On the 1 November 1755 in Lisbon,after the vast majority of the city´s residents had lost everything to the great Lisbon earthquake the survivors had to ask for this bread in neighbouring towns.
Pão de Deus
These buns promise a lot and deliver just as much: heavenly light dough, topped with sweet coconut.They bear a great similarity visually, I think, to baked apples.

Makes 12 
For the dough
10g instant dried yeast
300ml full fat milk, lukewarm
500g strong white flour
1 tsp salt
25g caster sugar
50g butter, softened

For the topping
150g desiccated coconut
150g caster sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
30g butter, softened

For the glaze
1 large egg
1 tbsp caster sugar

1 Stir the yeast into the lukewarm milk and leave for a couple of minutes. Stir the flour, salt and sugar together in a large bowl, then add the milk and yeast mixture and the softened butter. Mix together thoroughly then knead for 10 minutes, until smooth and elastic. Leave to rise in a bowl covered with clingfilm. It’s ready after 90 minutes or so, once it has doubled in size.

2 Once risen, divide the dough into 12 equal pieces and roll into balls. Pinch the dough underneath to give a smooth top surface. Set the buns on a lightly greased baking tray and cover with clingfilm. Leave to rise for an hour, or until twice their original size, by which time they should feel spongy and soft.

3 While the buns rise, combine the ingredients for the coconut topping and whisk the egg and sugar together for the glaze. Preheat the oven to 180C/350F/gas mark 4.

4 Brush the buns with egg glaze, add a heaped tablespoon of the coconut mixture of each, and bake for 25 minutes in the middle of the oven, until the dough is tan and well-risen and the topping is golden – check after 15 minutes and if the tops are darkening, cover loosely with foil . Leave to cool completely before eating.


  1. Lovely post - trust the Portuguese to have a sticky bun for All Saints! Bless!

  2. We picked these out of a display in a little bakery in Porto and were blown away. Even in a country full of interesting bolinhas, the Pao de Deus stood out.


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