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2000s Recipes + Menus

Portuguese Honey Bread

Makes 6 small loaves
  • Active time:40 min
  • Start to finish:2 1/2 hr
December 2006
We like to bake this lightly spiced bread, filled with bits of flavorful candied fruit, in small loaves—perfect for gift-giving. Mild honey lends sweetness, while molasses adds notes of caramel.
  • 2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for buttering pans
  • 3/4 cup dried cranberries or dried sour cherries
  • 3/4 cup chopped mixed fine-quality candied fruit such as pear, citron, and candied orange peel (not a supermarket brand; 1/4 lb)
  • 1/4 cup Port
  • 1 1/4 cups walnuts (4 1/4 oz)
  • 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 teaspoons active dry yeast (from two 1/4-oz packages)
  • 1/4 cup warm water (105–115°F)
  • 3/4 cup molasses (not blackstrap)
  • 1/2 cup mild honey
  • Special equipment:

    6 (6- by 3 1/4- by 2-inch) metal loaf pans (2- to 2 1/4-cup capacity)
  • Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 325F. Butter loaf pans.
  • Bring cranberries, candied fruit, and Port to a simmer in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and set aside, covered.
  • Pulse walnuts in a food processor until just coarsely chopped. Add flour, salt, baking soda, and spices and pulse to combine.
  • Beat together butter (2 1/2 sticks) and sugar in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 4 minutes in a stand mixer or 6 with a handheld. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating well after each addition.
  • Stir together yeast and warm water in a small bowl and let stand until foamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn't foam, discard and start over with new yeast.)
  • Add one third of flour mixture to butter mixture and mix at low speed until combined, then add molasses and mix until incorporated. Add half of remaining flour mixture and mix until combined, then add honey and mix until incorporated. Add yeast mixture and remaining flour mixture and mix until combined, then stir in candied-fruit mixture.
  • Divide batter among pans, smoothing tops. (Do not let batter rise.) Bake until a wooden pick or skewer inserted in centers of loaves comes out clean, 50 to 60 minutes. Cool in pans on a rack 10 minutes, then remove loaves from pans and cool completely on rack.
Cooks’ note:
  • Breads keep, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and then foil, at room temperature 1 week.