Portuguese Honey Bread for IHCC’s Bread Basket

November 19th – 25th: Bread Basket!
Pass the Bread Basket because we LOVE bread at I Heart Cooking Clubs. Make any Ruth Reichl bread recipe and/or make any Ruth Reichl recipe with bread.
I didn’t make “plain fresh bread” for this week’s IHCC theme.   Instead I made something that might become a holiday classic in your home.  This is a quick bread/yeast bread hybrid.  The flavor is reminiscent of ginger bread, but a bit milder.  It combines all of holiday spice into a perfect bready bite.

Portuguese Honey Bread

From Gourmet Today

“Dense with dried fruit and nuts, this makes a wonderful addition to the morning bread basket. It’s sweet but not overly so, and it requires neither butter nor jam. The little loaves are great for holiday gift giving. You’ll notice that the recipe calls for both yeast and baking soda—that’s because honey and molasses are very acidic, which can affect the leavening; the soda neutralizes the acid.”


  • 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
  • 1/4 cup Port
  • 1 T. active dry yeast
  • 1/4 cup warm water (105–115°F)
  • 1 1/4 cups walnuts
  • 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
  • 2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, softened, plus additional for buttering pans
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup molasses (not robust)
  • 1/2 cup mild honey


  1. Put rack in middle position and preheat oven to 325°F. Butter loaf pans.
  2. Combine cranberries, candied fruit, and port to a simmer in a small saucepan. Remove from heat and set aside, covered.
  3. 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.)
  4. Meanwhile, pulse walnuts in a food processor until just coarsely chopped. Add flour, salt, baking soda, and spices and pulse to combine.
  5. Beat together butter 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.  Add one third of flour mixture to butter mixture and mix at low speed until combined,.  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.
  6. Divide batter among pans, smoothing tops.  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.

Yield: 6 small loaves

Active Time: 40 mins.

Start to finish: 2 1/2 hours (includes cooling)


Cook’s Notes

  • Disposable foil mini loaf pans are available in many supermarkets.
  • The breads keep, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap and then foil, at room temperature for up to 1 week.

I used this pan:The recipe made these four small loafs plus one slightly bigger one.

I concur with the recipe’s hednote that these would make great holiday gifts.

Next week’s theme for IHCC (November 26th – December 2nd) is another Potluck.  Make any Ruth Reichl dish OR make any dish from any of the other previously featured IHCC chefs.

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