“Pao de Deus” and a Chocolate & Pear Log

Another Easter has arrived and with it an array of foods that evoke so many memories to me. As a youngster, Easter was always a great time. The days were longer, warmer, Summer wasn’t a distant memory anymore and we had two full weeks of school break. This was also a time to feast, after months of frugality or of Catholic fastening. The dearest memory I have of Easter is of the rows of “Pao de Deus” (Bread of God) which were created in my grandmother’s patisserie. This delicious golden sweet bread was always a favourite for tea or toasted for breakfast on Easter Sunday. I loved picking the toasted desiccated coconut topping first, then with my fingers pull the soft dough in shreds, and slowly eat it. Equally special was also the chocolate log, dark of sweet chocolate with white chantilly in the middle which normally was eaten for pudding after lunch. The log was decorated with colourful sugar almonds which resembled precious stones and would come packed in a white card box with a fantasia ribbon. Soft, velvety, delicious. Today I present you with a classic recipe for “Pao de Deus” and a twist on the ubiquitous log: This version is filled with a chocolate and nutmeg ganache and pears which have been stewed in Port. Happy Easter everyone!

Pao de Deus (Bread of God)

Ingredients

500g of a strong bread flour

125 ml of warm whole milk

1 tbsp of dried yeast

3 eggs

175g of sugar

1 tsp of cinammon powder

1 tsp of cardamon powder

For the topping

120g of desiccated coconut

50g of sugar

1 egg white

Preparation

Pre-heat the oven at 200 ºC.

Place the flour in a bowl and make a well. Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk. Add it to the flour and mix. Set aside for 10 minutes.

In a bowl, whisk the eggs, with the sugar, the cinnamon powder and the cardamom powder. Add this mixture to the flour, with your hands combine everything very well. If it is too wet add a bit more flour. Place the dough in a floured surface and kneed for 10 minutes till the dough is soft and silky. Place the dough in a bowl, cover it with a cloth and let it rise for 2 hours.

Whisk the egg whites till they form soft peaks, add the sugar, the desiccated coconut and continue beating. Set aside.

Place the dough in a buttered baking tray and cover the top with the desiccated coconut mixture. Bake in the oven for 45 minutes. Remove from the oven and let it cool in a wire rack before serve it in slices.

Chocolate & pear log

Ingredients

3 eggs

180g of sugar

100g of unsalted butter

1 tbsp of cornflour

1 tsp of baking powder

100g of dark chocolate (with at least 71% of cocoa solids)

For the filling

4 pears without skin and stones

50g of sugar

100 ml of red Port wine

1 tsp of cinnamon

1 tsp of nutmeg

1 tbsp of water

100 ml of double cream

100g of dark chocolate (with at least 71% of cocoa solids)

Preparation

Pre-heat the oven at 190 ºC

Melt the butter with the chocolate in a bain-marie and set aside to cool down completely.

In a bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar, add the butter with the chocolate and beat well. Mix in the cornflour and the baking powder. Butter a deep baking tray and line it with parchment paper. Place in the cake mix and bake in the oven for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven. Place a slightly damp cloth on a flat surface and flip the cake onto it. Peel off the parchment paper. Let it cool down.

Stew the pears for 15 minutes on a low heat, together with the sugar, the Port, the water the cinnamon and the nutmeg. Remove from the heat and let them cool down completely.

Chop the chocolate in pieces and place them in a bowl. Warm the cream on a medium heat, when it starts bubbling on the edge of the pan remove from heat. Pour over the chocolate and mix well, till all pieces are melted and the cream has thickened, set aside to cool down.

Spread the chocolate ganache on top of the cake, followed by the pears. With the help of the cloth, gently roll the cake. Sprinkle with icing sugar and place it in the fridge.

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