Have you ever had Portuguese Sweet Bread? There is a town not too far away from me with a huge Portuguese population. We get to take part in some of the festivities like the Blessing of the Fleet and the Lenten fish fries. We have always had Linguica (Portuguese sausage) in our markets and as a special treat, we get to buy Portuguese sweet bread and make toast.
As a kid, we only ate sweet bread as toast, it wasn’t until adulthood that I realized you should do so much more with it (like make rolls and serve burgers and sandwiches on it). Because the home-made loaves are available only once in a while I wanted to see if I could make it myself. Of course you say, but somethings are more practice of technique than list of ingredients.
This was my first batch of sweet bread, but it won’t be my last. I’m thinking the more you make this, the better it gets (like lasagna). You start to learn tips and tricks to make the dough lighter and airy-er (is that a word?). My first attempt was… well I’m going to file it under ‘not bad’. It tasted great, but it wasn’t the light crumbly sweet bread that I like. Mine was a bit too dense, I don’t think I kneaded it enough.
I’ll be honest. I made it on my busiest day of the week. I forgot about it at one point and let it rise three hours instead of two, then I only let it rise one hour instead of two because if I didn’t bake it then It wasn’t going in the oven.
I used the recipe from Macheesmo, because it looked just like sweet bread is supposed to look. And I noticed it was the same as Taste and Tell’s Recipe so I felt pretty confident. I’m sure the recipe will work, but my technique needs practice; I will keep trying. I love home-made bread (and so does my dad) and no home-made bread is better than your own once you have it perfected. I might have to call in a favor to a Portuguese grandmother that I know… her sweet bread is the best! Enjoy~
- ½ cup unbleached bread flour
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 2¼ teaspoons instant yeast
- ½ cup water, at room temperature
- 6 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup powdered milk
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 2 tablespoons vegetable shortening
- 2 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon lemon extract
- 1 teaspoon orange extract
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 cups unbleached bread flour
- About 6 tablespoons water, at room temperature
- 1 egg + 1 T water (to make egg wash)
- To make the sponge, stir together the flour, sugar, and yeast in a small bowl. Add the water and stir until you make a smooth batter. let sit at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the sponge gets foamy.
- To make the dough, combine the sugar, salt, powdered milk, butter, and shortening in a 4-quart mixing bowl (or the bowl of an electric mixer). Cream together with a sturdy spoon (or the paddle attachment) until smooth, then mix in the eggs and the extracts. Knead by hand (or switch to the dough hook attachment) and mix in the sponge and the flour. Add the water, as needed, to make a very soft dough. The finished dough should be very supple and soft, easy to knead, and not wet or sticky. It will take 10 to 12 minutes with the electric mixer and close to 15 minutes by hand to achieve this consistency. (Dough with high amounts of fat and sugar take longer to knead)
- Lightly oil a large bowl and transfer the dough to the bowl, rolling it around to coat it with oil. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap.
- Let rise at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and divide it into two equal pieces. Form each of the pieces into a boule (round loaf). Lightly oil two 9-inch pie pans and place 1 boule, seam side down, in each pan. Mist the dough with spray oil and loosely cover the pans with plastic wrap.
- Proof at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, or until the dough fills the pans, doubling in size and overlapping the edges slightly.
- Very gently brush the loaves with egg wash. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with the oven rack on the middle shelf.
- Bake the loaves for 50 to 60 minutes until very dark brown (think dark wood colored).