today is discovery day, the anniversary of ferdinand magellan's "discovery" of guam in 1521. of course, one should question how he could have discovered an island that was clearly already found and inhabited, but eh, anything for another holiday, right?
although magellan sailed under the spanish flag as a citizen of said country, he was actually portuguese. the portuguese explorers of the 15th through 18th centuries were a prolific and busy bunch, covering most of the pacific--vasco da gama landed in india, jorge alvarez in china, magellan in the marianas and the philippines, pedro fernandes de quieros in vanuatu, cristóvão de mendonca in australia, everyone in malacca....suffice it to say, the portuguese made their presence known.
i could probably make a case for the argument that the greatest contribution the portuguese made to asia was the introduction of potash, which is an important component for iron-making, and therefore the making of guns and firearms, but ugh, borrrring. however, potash in another form and completely different strength is a leavening agent, a form of baking powder. so, i rather weakly bring you the idea that the most important thing that the portuguese brought to asia is bread. not just any bread, but sweet bread, and sweet cake. in almost every major asian culture where the portuguese were found, sweet bread and sponge cake are staples in the cuisine. you will find these items in countries where wheat isn't even produced, where lactose intolerance is the norm, where the portuguese words for bread, pao and pan, are the same words in asian languages. now that's power, nenes.
*yawn*. blahblah. magellan was only on guam long enough to burn down a village, kill a few folks and steal a bunch of food, so there isn't actually any direct influence on the baked goods here. the major influence in the philippines was through spain, but i do believe that the sweet yeast breads that are common throughout the country actually originated with the portuguese explorers. pao doce/pan dulce, or, "sweet bread", is a mildly sweet, eggy and quite soft (unlike the more brioche-like spanish version) and is the base for many filipino confections.
for the next few days, i shall explore the lovely world of portuguese sweet breads in asia and the pacific, because it's my blog, fools.
i'm also doing this because i'm convinced that there are so many traditional recipes that are endangered by homogenization and modern conveniences, they need to be not only written down but made available to anyone who wants "the real thing". while i don't claim that any of these recipes are authentic, they are as close to what i remember as the real deal. the first of these recipes is for something rather ironically called spanish rolls, which i am absolutely convinced is endangered, because i had difficulty obtaining each and every one of the six recipes i *did* find, and only one of them was a keeper (and that was tweaked endlessly). these are soft, tender, and slightly elastic rolls, pale yellow from egg yolks and butter, sweet from sweet butter and sugar incorporated in the dough, and from the sweet butter and sugar mix spread upon the dough. they are then formed, and rolled in breadcrumbs before baking. fresh out of the oven they are irresistible, and truly complemented by a café con leche or thick, rich hot chocolate.
1 to 1 1/2 packets of yeast
1/4 c warm water
1/2 c milk
1/2 c melted butter
1/3 c sugar
4 egg yolks
1 tsp salt
3-3 1/2 c all purpose flour
3/4 c breadcrumbs
1/2 c brown sugar
1 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
dissolve yeast in warm water. in a bowl, combine milk, butter, sugar, egg yolks and salt. blend well then add the yeast mixture and enough flour to make a moderately stiff dough. transfer dough to a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic. place dough in a greased bowl, cover and let rise until double in bulk.
punch down dough then divide into equal pieces. combine all the ingredients for the filling. roll out each dough into a small rectangle. brush with butter then spread with some of the filling (or you can just sprinkle a little sugar on the butter or omit this step). roll up, then cover in breadcrumbs. place seam side down on greased baking sheets. let rise until doubled in bulk again then bake in a preheated 325˚F oven for 20 minutes or until lightly brown.
similar, but not the same: kt from blue and yellow kitchen's cheese rolls. sweet and savoury, and thoroughly addictive.