Portuguese Sweet Bread

At my church in California, we used Kings Hawaiian Bread for communion.  Taking a small piece from the sweet loaf was a wonderful reminder of the sweet sacrifice made for me.  I really wanted to try this recipe, but put it off because its a 7 hour process.  Seven. Hours.  But I had a free day and thought, “what the heck?”.

This recipe is from The Bread Bakers Apprentice.

No substitutions were made.

portuguese sweet bread 1

Portuguese Sweet Bread

Sponge
1/2 c unbleached bread flour
1 tblsp granulated sugar
2 1/4 tsp instant yeast
1/2 c water, room temperature

Dough
6 tblsp granulated sugar
1 tsp salt
1/4 c powdered milk
2 tblsp unsalted butter, room temperature
2 tblsp vegetable shortening
2 large eggs
1 tsp lemon extract
1 tsp orange extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
3 c unbleached bread flour
6 tblsp water, room temperature

Egg Wash
1 egg, whisked with 1 tsp water until frothy

To make the sponge, stir together the flour, sugar and yeast in a small bowl.  Add the water and stir until all the ingredients are hydrated and make a smooth batter.  Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and ferment at room temperature for 60 to 90 minutes, or until the sponge gets foamy and seems on the verge of collapse.

To make the dough, combine the sugar, salt, powdered milk, butter and shortening in a 4 quart mixing bowl (or bowl of an electric mixer).   Cream together with a sturdy spoon ( or the paddle attachment) until smooth, then mix in the eggs and 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 usually take longer to knead because the gluten requires more time to set up.)  The finished dough should pass the windowpane test and register 77 to 81 degrees.  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.

The most reliable method to determine when gluten development is sufficient is called the windowpane test, sometimes referred to as the membrane test.  This is performed by cutting off a small piece of dough from the larger batch and gently stretching, pulling and turning it to see if it will hold a paper-thin, translucent membrane.  If the dough falls apart before it makes this windowpane, continue mixing for another minute or two and test again.

Ferment at room temperature for approximately 2 hours, or until the dough doubles in size.

portuguese sweet bread 2

Remove the dough from the bowl and divide into 2 equal pieces.  Form each of the pieces into a boule.  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.

To form at Boule (Ball)
a. Gather the dough to form a rough ball.
b. To create surface tension, stretch the outside of the dough into a oblong shape, being careful not to squeeze out the gas trapped in the dough any more than necessary.
c. Repeat this stretching motion, bringing the opposite ends together to make a ball. Tighten the surface tension by pinching to seal the bottom of the dough where the creases converge.
d. Seat the boules aside for proofing or to rest for further shaping.

Proof at room temperature for 2 to 3 hours, or until the dough fills the pans fully, doubling in size and overlapping the edges slightly.

Very gently brush the loaves with the egg wash.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with the oven rack on the middle shelf.

Bake the loaves for 50 to 60 minutes, or until they register 190 in the center.  After 30 minutes, check the loaves and rotate 180 degrees, if necessary for even baking.  Because of the high amount of sugar, the dough will brown very quickly, but don’t be fooled into thinking it is done.  It will get darker sa the center gradually catches up with the outside, but it will not burn.  The final color will be a rich mahogany brown.

Remove the bread from the pie pans and place on a rack to cool  The bread will soften as it cools, resulting in a very soft squishy loaf.  Allow the bread to cool for at least 90 minutes before slicing or serving.

portuguese sweet bread 3

cartoon-strawberry-9The name says it all, this is a sweet bread.  Personally, I think its a little too sweet, but then I slathered on some butter and it all evened out.  There is a suggestion in the book to use this bread as french toast, this WILL be happening soon.  I would also like to try and use this dough for either dinner rolls or sandwich rolls.

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One thought on “Portuguese Sweet Bread

  1. Pingback: Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding | Strawberries and Yogurt

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