Mary's Sweet Bread
10 Mark Street
Pawcatuck, CT 06379
(860) 599-0340

Mary's Sweet Bread

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DateNameSource Category
2/2/2009Farmers' markets crop up in the areaThe Stonington-Mystic Times From freshly picked strawberries to home-baked pastries, the recently opened farmer’s market... Newspaper Articles
2/2/2009Baking Bread to Make DoughThe Stonington Times Pawcatuck -- On a hot, humid day, when most are finding solace in a swimming pool or air-con... Newspaper Articles
4/3/2008A Sour Ending to a Sweet Thing? Mary’s Sweet Bread bakery struggles to stay openThe Stonington Times Tucked away on an unassuming side street along the Pawcatuck River, on the bottom floor of a... Newspaper Articles
8/17/2007Farmers' market offers more than produceThe Westerly Pawcatuck Press WESTERLY - Drive along Main Street from Friday to Wednesday during the summer and you’ll see... Newspaper Articles
7/25/2007Doesn’t Come FresherThe Providence Journal-Bulletin WESTERLY Going to the Westerly-Pawcatuck Farmers Market is like visiting the garden to see w... Newspaper Articles
7/17/2007Free Samples Banned At Farmers' MarketThe Day Stonington — No more free slices of Portuguese sweet bread. No more tastes of salsa and dip.... Newspaper Articles
7/2/2006Baking A Loaf, Making A LivingThe Day Marketplace Raised in a traditional Portuguese family, Mary Soares' life revolved around what was happen... Newspaper Articles
4/16/2003Resurrection of a family traditionThe Day It was a ritual when Mary Mattos Soares made her Portuguese sweet bread. Every detail had... Newspaper Articles
5/17/1987FARE OF THE COUNTRY: Sweet Bread, Portuguese StyleThe New York Times Some Sunday mornings in the country, when work does not call, we set out the margarine, the ... Newspaper Articles
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2/2/2009 The Stonington-Mystic Times
Farmers' markets crop up in the area
From freshly picked strawberries to home-baked pastries, the recently opened farmer’s markets in Mystic seem to have it all. Familie... (more)
2/2/2009 The Stonington Times
Baking Bread to Make Dough
Pawcatuck -- On a hot, humid day, when most are finding solace in a swimming pool or air-conditioned room, Mary Soares, "the bread l... (more)
4/3/2008 The Stonington Times
A Sour Ending to a Sweet Thing? Mary’s Sweet Bread bakery struggles to stay open
Tucked away on an unassuming side street along the Pawcatuck River, on the bottom floor of an average-looking house, there is a bake... (more)
8/17/2007 The Westerly Pawcatuck Press
Farmers' market offers more than produce
WESTERLY - Drive along Main Street from Friday to Wednesday during the summer and you’ll see the same old brick buildings and be met... (more)
7/25/2007 The Providence Journal-Bulletin
Doesn’t Come Fresher
WESTERLY Going to the Westerly-Pawcatuck Farmers Market is like visiting the garden to see what’s ready to pick. Except there are... (more)
7/17/2007 The Day
Free Samples Banned At Farmers' Market
Stonington — No more free slices of Portuguese sweet bread. No more tastes of salsa and dip. No more chunks of fresh tomato. No more... (more)
7/2/2006 The Day Marketplace
Baking A Loaf, Making A Living
Raised in a traditional Portuguese family, Mary Soares' life revolved around what was happening inside the four walls of her parents... (more)
4/16/2003 The Day
Resurrection of a family tradition
It was a ritual when Mary Mattos Soares made her Portuguese sweet bread. Every detail had to be just right. Her husband and si... (more)
5/17/1987 The New York Times
FARE OF THE COUNTRY: Sweet Bread, Portuguese Style
Some Sunday mornings in the country, when work does not call, we set out the margarine, the strawberry jam and the apple butter, and... (more)

Resurrection of a family tradition

Mary Soares relaunches her Portuguese sweet bread in time for Easter

By ANN BALDELLI
Filed under: Newspaper Articles
The Day
4/16/2003

It was a ritual when Mary Mattos Soares made her Portuguese sweet bread. Every detail had to be just right. Her husband and six children had to be asleep in their beds. Doors and windows of the family's home on Owen Drive in Stonington had to be shut tight. Only then would Soares pull on her apron over her robe and wrap a kerchief around her head. She'd pull out her over-sized white enamel basin and dump the contents of a 5-pound sack of flour into it. Next, she'd ready the sugar, yeast, eggs, butter, and shortening. By morning time, the house would be warm and fragrant with the smell of sweet bread. Seven fresh loaves would be lined up, cooling on the kitchen counter. "We never knew when she was going to make it, it was always a very deep, dark secret," says daughter Mary Soares, who's 54, and continues the tradition of making her mother's sweet bread. "She told us, if anyone knew she was making it, it would give the 'mal olho' (the evil eye) to the dough and the bread wouldn't rise." The late Mary Mattos Soares, who would celebrate her 84th birthday today if she were still alive, was superstitious. Like other Portuguese women, she learned the art of making sweet bread from her mother, and her mother learned it from her mother, too. "It was handed down, from one generation to the next," says Soares, who is making the bread and selling it at local venues, including the A&P in Mystic, Puritan & Genesta in downtown Mystic, and Seafood Etc. in Pawcatuck. She'd sold the bread in the past, but cut back about five years ago, after getting divorced and taking a job at Foxwoods Resort Casino. Now, she baking bread full time, in a licensed commercial kitchen in the basement of her Pawcatuck home. The 2-pound loaves of Mary's Portuguese Sweet Bread cost $5.99 each. "Sometimes someone will come in the house and say, 'Oh, it smells so good in here,' and I tell them, 'Oh, I baked 60 or 80 or 100 loaves of sweet bread today,' " says Soares. The mother of five and grandmother of eight was the first to write down the family's sweet bread recipe, but she declines to give it away. "It's a recipe that even The New York Times couldn't get out of me, although I don't know why, because I've given it to all of my siblings," she says. "None of theirs comes out the same." Mary Soares breaks all of her mother's rules. She makes it during the daytime and doesn't care if anyone knows when she'll be mixing, kneading and baking. In summertime, she leaves the doors and windows open while she's baking. Her mother never measured a single ingredient. "When she decided to teach me, she couldn't do it anymore," says Soares. "She'd worked as a weaver at the velvet mill, and she'd pin velvet on reels, and her arms and fingers were shot. She had arthritis." She taught her daughter to knead the dough in the formation of a cross -- over and over and over again -- working the dough nearly an hour to get it into a pliable, cohesive mass. Today, Soares uses a commercial mixer, but is true to her mother's seven original bread pans. She has five ovens, and can mix enough dough to make 14 loaves at a time. "People say it's hard to make, but for me, it's like brushing my teeth. I can do it with my eyes closed," she says. "My mother used to worry that if you didn't do things her way, the yeast wouldn't rise. "For her, making the bread was a ritual and the yeast, it was magic to her." Soares' sweet bread has a cake-like consistency, and slices perfectly for French toast or the toaster oven. Decades ago, when she first began making the bread, Soares never imagined it would be a way for her to make a living. "Back then, the furthest thing from my mind was that bread with my name would be in stores and restaurants some day," she says. "But it's the one thing I know I'm good at. The sweet bread is my pride and joy." Soares' goal is to sell the bread at farmers' markets and community events and find more stores willing to stock it, too. Already, Montage Bridal Salon in Mystic is offering it, as well as Dynamic Physical Therapy in Pawcatuck. "People go in and it's the last thing they expect to see, but they are thrilled, and they buy it," says Soares. "People just like sweet bread."