Portuguese Sweet Bread

This month’s book: Alena by Rachel Pastan
PortugueseBread
I have a confession readers. I am scared of yeast. Or at least, I am scared of making things with yeast. They never seem to come out right. I made a challah bread from Smitten Kitchen which came out more like matzo. Croissant like crostini. sticky buns which tasted fine but were dense as bricks. Nigella Lawson’s amazing chocolate whirlygig buns are flat and misshapen.

But I am starting to get better. Part of the problem is my drafty house. Initially, I would keep breads in the laundry room in rise. The hot water heater is there and the room is normally quite toasty. However, I have found that the double oven is really the best place for me. I place the bread, covered with a greased sheet of wazed paper and a towel, in the top oven. I add a tray of boiling water underneath.

For the second rise, I reboil the water and replace it. 15 minutes before the rise should be complete, I turn on the lower oven. Some of the heat permeates up and keep the dough warm and happy.

Or maybe I should attribute the success of this bread to the recipe? It did create a loaf with a tight, even crumb. It isn’t overly sweet or heavy. I think it is like a love child between a brioche and a quick bread. Dense enough to slice and use for toast. Rich enough to enjoy for breakfast or tea. Enjoy with butter and marmalage, Nutella, jams and jellies, and more. I’m sure it has some savory applications but I haven’t tested those out yet.


Portuguese Sweet Bread
Copied faithfully and followed also exactly from One Perfect Bite
2 1/4 tsp (1 package) active dry yeast
1/4 c warm water
1/2 c skim milk
1/4 c butter
2 eggs
1/2 c sugar
1/2 tsp salt
3 – 3 1/2 c flour
Sprinkle yeast over warm water and set aside for approximately 10 min.Place milk and butter in microwave. Heat gently until butter is just melted.

In a mixer or a large bowl, combine eggs, sugar, and salt. Add milk and yeast mixtures. Stir to combine.

Begin to add flour gradually, in 1/2 c increments. Once the dough comes together, you make switch the dough hook if using. Dough will be fairly sticky. Knead for 10 minutes until dough becomes smooth and elastic. This will take less time if using a dough hook.

Plop dough out onto a plate or counter. Grease mixing bowl and return dough to bowl. Cover with greased waxed paper and damp towel. Set aside in a warm, draft-free place for 1 hour and 45 min. The dough should double in size.

Punch dough down in the bowl and knead for 3 minutes. Dough will become fairly dense. When it becomes smooth again, move dough to a greased 9″ pie pan. Cover and set aside for another 1 hour and 45 min.Slightly before the bread has doubled again in size, preheat oven to 350°F. Place dough in oven and bake for 30-35 minutes. Crust will become golden brown and bread will sound slightly hollow when tapped.

Remove from oven and allow to cool in the pie pan for 10 min. Using a rubber spatula, loosen edges and place bread on a wire rack to cool completely. Go sit in the other room so you don’t rip it open and eat it. Once cooled, slice and serve.

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