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.
Next week I’ll be trying a slightly different process and doubling the yeast to see if I can achieve a slightly lighter version of the bread, but I am extremely happy with this recipe and recommend it as a gluten-free replacement to this traditional holiday favorite.
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 find it helpful to have blends at the ready so was not concerned. And I use 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.
Also, most recipes call for a lot of kneading, but kneading helps to develop the gluten. With gluten-free, not as much kneading is needed. But I would suggests kneading 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 got warmed 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 perfectly prepare your hard-boiled eggs, make sure they’re dry and hide one in each loaf of bread right before baking!