Merry Christmas Eve! In Portugal, Fatias Douradas (Golden Slices/French Toast) is traditionally served on Christmas Eve as a dessert as opposed to breakfast. It is also known as Rabanadas. To make the Fatias Douradas extra special, I used a loaf of Massa Sovada, a Portuguese Sweet Bread rich with eggs and spices. It isn’t required to make the Fatias Douradas, but I really enjoyed the flavor it provided. The cinnamon and lemon zest scented bread is a perfect base for French Toast. I have included the recipe to make the Massa Sovada, but you can also find the loaves sold at Portuguese markets if there is one near you. Massa Sovada is also popular during Easter (occasionally with hard boiled eggs baked into the loaf).
The bread is also delicious on its own and will stay fresh for up to 2 days wrapped tightly. To use it for Fatias Douradas, allow it to stale first so it is able to soak up the egg milk mixture without getting soggy.
I have seen Fatias Douradas made two ways. I used the instructions listed in The New Portuguese Table: Exciting Flavors from Europe’s Western Coast by David Leite: beating together eggs, milk, and a little salt. I have also seen recipes that dip the bread in the milk first, then in the beaten eggs.
Fatias Douradas (Portuguese French Toast)
Adapted from The New Portuguese Table: Exciting Flavors from Europe’s Western Coast
8 slices French Toast
Massa Sovada (Portuguese Sweet Bread):
1/2 cup whole milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
2 tablespoons water, lukewarm (105-115 degrees F)
3 large eggs, divided
1 large egg yolk
4 cups all purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Zest of 1/2 small lemon
Fatias Douradas (French Toast):
5 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
2 tablespoons corn oil or unsalted butter
Powdered sugar, ground cinnamon, and honey for serving
To make the Massa Sovada: In a small saucepan, whisk together the 1/2 cup milk, butter, sugar, and salt over medium heat. Heat just until it begins to steam, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Allow to cool until 105-115 degrees F, lukewarm.
In a small bowl, sprinkle yeast over the warm water and stir to combine. Allow to sit until frothy, about 10 minutes.
In the bowl of a large food processor fitted with a dough blade or a large bowl, beat two of the eggs and the egg yolk until light, about a minute. Add the lukewarm milk mixture and yeast with water. Mix in flour, cinnamon, and lemon zest until dough comes together. On a lightly floured surface, knead dough until smooth and elastic. If too sticky to handle, add a little more flour. Add the dough to a lightly greased large bowl, turning to coat. Cover and allow to rest until doubled, about 2 hours.
Grease a springform pan or baking dish that is 6 3/4 inches wide and 3 inches high with butter.
Punch down and knead the risen dough on a lightly floured surface. Form into a ball, smooth on the top and seams tucked underneath. Place smooth side up in the prepared baking dish. Cover with a cloth and allow to rise until doubled, 2-3 hours.
Place rack in the lower third of oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.
In a small bowl, beat remaining egg until smooth. Use a sharp knife to make a 1/4 inch deep slash across the center of the risen loaf. Brush with the beaten egg. Bake in preheated oven until deep brown, 40-50 minutes. Interior should be 190 degrees F. If desired, brush the loaf with egg again about 30 minutes into baking. Allow to cool in baking dish 20 minutes before removing to wire rack to cool completely. The Massa Sovada is best for French Toast when 1-3 days old.
To make the Fatias Douradas: In a large skillet, heat oil or butter over medium heat.
Cut the bread into 1 inch thick slices. In a wide shallow bowl, beat together 5 eggs, 1 cup milk, and salt until well combined. Soak the bread slices on each side, about 30 seconds, in the egg milk mixture and fry in heated skillet until golden, about 3 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining slices.
Serve the slices warm with powdered sugar, ground cinnamon, or honey.