THE RECIPE BOX – Melo family serves up traditional Portuguese recipes at local bakery

THE RECIPE BOX – Melo family serves up traditional Portuguese recipes at local bakery

CUMBERLAND – Angelina (Angie) Melo met her husband Emanuel while they were in high school and the pair became sweethearts. They are raising two daughters and also raising up a business in town, the Colonial Bakery, with over a century of history in Valley Falls.

The bakery is located at 185 Broad St., and was originally owned by the Gonsalves family, who purchased the building in 1914. Old family recipes for the production of Portuguese breads and pastries, along with the hands-on tutorial the Melos received when they first became owners more than 20 years ago, result in what I consider the best Portuguese rolls in this area. I will go on record stating that as my opinion.

“We always wanted to have our own business. Franchises we had looked at were just too expensive and this bakery was for sale, (in our youth, we had no children yet) it just felt right,” said Angie.

So the couple took a chance. “Every weekend my mother, Beatrice, would come and make the sweet bread.” Angie learned by watching her mom. “I learned about the differences a sugar could make, or a grain.” Beatrice did everything by eye. “Do not measure!” she would say. Sometimes the consistency is off and you add a little more of this or that, Angie said.

“I did not grow up in Cumberland (she grew up in Providence and Manny grew up in Pawtucket) but I love the small town feel in this valley,” she said. “I fell in love with the history, this little dinosaur of a business,” she shared.

Though she does not sugarcoat the challenge of running a small business today, her hours are long and family helps out a lot. With Easter coming up she will work six days a week from 7:30 a.m. until at least 6 p.m., taking orders for all the Portuguese specialties such as rice pudding, flans, custard tarts, sweet bread and olive oil bread.

“I will not cook an Easter dinner. We go out,” Angie said with a smile. But the shelves of this quaint little neighborhood bakery will be filled with all the treats to set upon your table. And do not forget to try the Portuguese rolls!

The rice pudding recipe is a traditional Portuguese recipe that Angie learned from her own mom. “Do not get discouraged if it does not come out right the first or second time,” she said. It took her a few times before getting it just right. “I always think of her (Mom) when I make it with my daughters,” she said. Happy Easter!


Portuguese Rice Pudding

Ingredients:

1 cup uncooked rice (med. grain such as River Rice)

3/4 cup water

1 cup sugar

3 & 1/2 cups milk

3 egg yolks

Pinch of salt

Zest of 1 lemon rind

Cinnamon (for dusting)

Directions:

• Rinse the rice a couple of times to clean thoroughly.

• Put 3/4 cup water in a saucepan, bring to a boil.

• Add the rice and cook until most of the water evaporates.

• Next, add the milk, slowly but stirring constantly (the secret is to never leave the rice) then test the grain for doneness. It should be cooked, but not mushy.

• While rice is cooked but still “loose,” add the sugar and a pinch of salt.

Next, beat the three egg yolks into three tablespoons of milk and add that quickly (to temper) – stirring constantly – to the rice pudding mixture. • Continue to cook until the egg mixture is cooked and incorporated.

Serve in a nice glass dish and sprinkle with cinnamon just before serving.

Note: You can always add a little more milk to the pudding if it is too thick.

Savannah Melo, of Cumberland, helps ready the Colonial Bakery shelves after school during Easter week. Her parents, Angie and Emanuel Melo are preparing the sweet breads, flans, and many other seasonal treats.