Lots of dough
Lucia’s owner says she bakes what she loves
By Linda A. Odum firstname.lastname@example.org
It takes some exploration to find Lucia’s Portuguese Bakery in Nashua.
But it is worth the trip down Temple Street to the narrow, one-way Scripture Street for the authentic Portuguese rolls, sweet bread and other delights, especially for anyone who has only tasted what is found at the larger grocery store chains. This is the real thing.
The bakery has been in this location for around 35 years. The previous owners, Judite and Carlos Ferreira, named it as a thank-you to the attorney who helped them find the building. Current owner Judite Correia took over seven years ago, and says this is the oldest building being used as a bakery in town: “I heard the brick oven is over 100 years old,” she said.
Correia grew up in Portugal until she was seven years old. Then her family moved to Mozambique, Africa, where her father taught farm skills. Twenty-five years ago, the family came to the United States.
Even though Correia grew up watching her mother bake at home, she never saw herself in this business. In hindsight, she now understands how the help she gave her mother was the education for what she sees as her life’s calling.
“This is not just a business, but something I was thirsting for,” she said.
Correia worked as a trainer at Teledyne, and spent her off hours at the bakery, unpaid, to learn the trade. After a year, she took over. Now it is a family business. Her mother pitches in when things get busy to make the bakery’s signature bear claws and help with the rolls. Her daughter, Patricia, loves to make the cookies, and her husband, Joao, comes in early to clean and help with the breads.
Some of the menu items are available each day, while others depend on what Correia is in the mood to bake. For example, when customers point out the absence of chocolate items in the display case, she tells them, “I’m not crazy about chocolate. I bake what I love.”
Every day customers will find a bin full of fresh Portuguese rolls and a display case of Vienna and French bread, as well as linguica rolls (a Portuguese sausage wrapped in bread dough). A popular item is the sweet bread. Correia says a lot of customers use it for French toast, but in Portugal it is dessert bread served at parties with a sharp cheese and coffee, tea or port wine. She bakes many items, such as the bear claws, rice cups (lemon-flavored cakes made with rice flour), and macaroons, because they were what the bakery made when she bought the business.
Correia makes her rye and seven-grain breads on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. For Christmas, she offers King’s bread, which is shaped in a large ring and full of nuts and candied citrus, pumpkin and figs.
“It’s meant for a king, and that’s Jesus,” she said. (The candied pumpkin is a Portuguese item that is hard to find in this country.)
It is hard work for Correia. On cold days she might arrive as early as 1 a.m. to give that day’s bread dough time enough to rise.
“Baking takes time,” she said. “Good baking takes good time. There is no money in dough.”
To Correia, the bakery is “more than just money. This is a place that I call home. It is a business with a heart.”
Owner Judite Correia with her signature rice cakes. Linda A. Odum photo.
Lucia’s Portuguese Bakery
Where: 12 Scripture St., Nashua
Hours: Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
More info: To order a King’s bread or any other baked goods for the holidays, call 882-3099.