Pão alentejano is a traditional bread from the Alentejo region of Portugal and is a staple of the local cuisine.
It is made from wheat flour (without the use of mixes and above all without the use of durum wheat), yeast (bread dough with yeast or “acrescento”), salt and water; it is then cooked in a wood burning oven.
It is a “pão de testa” which literally means bread “with a forehead”: it is folded over so that one end is higher than the other. Its crust is light brown and the inside white, it can weigh from 1 to 1.5 kg.
According to history the Romans introduced wheat to the Alentejo area (making this area Rome’s “granary”), while the Arabs played an important role in making this bread so popular that it became a staple of the region.
Unfortunately, nowadays the name “Pão Alentejano” is used for many products that do not follow the traditional recipe and are the result of industrial production: supermarkets and chain bakeries make life impossible for small family-run or local businesses. The types of wheat used today are basically the same all over, so it is hard to find the real traditional product; moreover, many times vitamins or enhancements are added which have nothing to do with Alentejo’s traditions. These are just some of the reasons this product needs to be protected.
It is eaten along with any sweet or savory dish.