For those who love the Algarve for the healthy lifestyle it offers — long sunny days perfect for outdoor activities, unspoiled natural landscapes and a restaurant scene with many balanced options –, now you can have your bread and eat it too, courtesy of Pão do Sol.
Founded by Porto native Maria Lobo and her German partner, David Waldbauer, Pão do Sol (meaning ‘bread of the sun’ in Portuguese) is a local micro bakery serving tasty, healthy and organic gluten-free loaves, from the bestseller sweet-potato and maize bread to a simple four-ingredient loaf made with buckwheat, flax seeds, water and salt. Available at the Aljezur farmers’ market (reforma agrária) on Saturdays and at Viv’o Mercado in Lagos every Wednesday (between April and October), the loaves are made using artisanal techniques and wild yeast dough, providing a healthy and easy-to-digest alternative to regular bread.
With a degree in Human Resource Management and a master’s in Marketing, Maria left Portugal for the UK to pursue her passion of working in the healthy and vegan food industry. Three years ago, she moved back to Portugal to work in the kitchen of permaculture farm Vale da Lama in Odiáxere — there she met David, who was volunteering at the farm, and the idea of baking organic, gluten-free bread began to leaven between the two after a few conversations. Today, they are partners both in business and in crime, making their loaves with selected organic ingredients, many of which locally produced, such as almonds, carob, dried figs and Algarve maize. “We interact with local producers, we knead the bread by hand and do everything according to artisanal methods. Our bread is very simple, it has a maximum of five to six ingredients,” says Maria, adding that Pão do Sol produces between 150 to 200 half-a-kilo loaves every week in the summer.
The couple began selling their bread at a friend’s stand in the Aljezur market in the summer of 2017, but the clients’ response was such that they soon felt the need to open their own stall. “There’s more and more people with food allergies and intolerances, and we decided to bake wheat-free loaves for those who have some kind of sensitivity or simply just feel better not eating wheat. We’re not celiac, but we feel better eating gluten-free,” she notes. Besides the Aljezur and Lagos markets, Maria and David also deliver their loaves to private clients, a natural shop in the Aljezur centre and a few select restaurants. David is in charge of most of the production, dedicating two to three days per week in the winter and four to five in the summer to kneading, leavening and baking the tasty rolls.
A true labour of love, Pão do Sol’s bread is as visually stunning as it is delicious. It is hard to escape the appeal of the micro bakery’s marble bread (half carob, half buckwheat) or the doughy texture of their sweet potato and maize loaf. For their flourless bread, they soak a number of different seeds, which are then used to make a paste. The next step is to ferment the seed paste for a long period of time, and finally bake it in moulds to create a deliciously light bread. According to Maria, the demand for flourless bread is growing by the hour, and the couple is happy to experiment with new recipes to meet clients’ needs.
However, despite their success, Maria and David’s goal is to keep things small and simple: “Our concept is going back to the old ways of production and selling. We don’t aim to be industrial, we want to maintain our quality and a certain elegance in the way we make our products.”
For more information on how to order Pão do Sol’s bread, please visit the project’s Instagram page: www.instagram.com/paodosol.bakery
By Ana Tavares