Our friend, Susan, is celebrating the first anniversary of her event, YeastSpotting, today. Stop by and see all the glorious breads that have been made for the occasion.
No visit to Cape Cod would be complete without sampling Portuguese sweet bread. It was brought to the cape by the wives of Portuguese fisherman and the eggy, sweet bread quickly became a favorite of locals and visitors alike. Fortunately, the Portuguese established enclaves outside of Provincetown so the bread is also available to those who are not on vacation. Bob and I spent several decades on the east coast and did a lot exploring in ethnic communities of the area. One of our favorites was a stretch of sidewalk that twisted its way through several blocks of the Ironbound section of Newark, New Jersey. The area was an almost imperceptible blend of Italian and Portuguese families who refused to leave the area. Ferry Street was lined with restaurants and bakeries, some of which were truly wonderful. Bob and I would meet for lunch here several times a month. The area had an old world charm about it and I loved to market here. Round loaves of peasant bread with crackly crusts and soft crumb were stacked in bins next to discs of the the sweet bread we so enjoyed. We retired to an area in which the Portuguese population is minuscule, so I had to learn how to make the sweet bread or do without it. I used an old James Beard recipe as my starting point, but it's evolved over the years. My bread now contains lemon and blueberries and the traditional shot put has become a loaf. The loaf is easier to manage when there are only two people in the house. I slice and freeze the bread in slices that can be pulled from the freezer when they're needed. This bread makes wonderful toast and I like to keep some in the freezer for guest breakfasts and afternoon tea. The bread is easy to make and the marriage of lemon and blueberry takes an already lovely sweet bread to another level..
Lemon and Blueberry Sweet Bread
5 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 cup + 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
1/2 cup warm water
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup warm milk
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
4 large eggs, divided use
1 tablespoon salt
1 cups dried sweetened blueberries
4 to 4-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1) Place yeast, 1 teaspoons sugar and warm water in a large bowl. Let sit until foamy. Combine butter, warm milk, reserved cup sugar and lemon zest in a small bowl. Add to the yeast mixture and stir to combine. Add 3 eggs, lightly beaten. Whisk in salt. Add blueberries. Using your hands, knead in flour, a cup at a time, to make a soft dough. Turn onto a floured board and knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Shape into a ball. Place into a greased bowl, turning to coat surface. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubled in bulk. This is a slow rising bread.
2) Punch down dough and divide into two pieces. If making round loaves shape into balls and place in two greased 9-inch cake pans. If making loaves, shape into loaves and place in two 8-1/2 X 4-1/2 X 2-1/2-inch bread pans. Cover with plastic wrap and allow to rise until doubles in bulk. Remember this is slow rising bread. While bread is rising, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Beat reserved egg; glaze loaves with egg. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, or until bread is a dark, shining color and sounds hollow when rapped. Cool on racks. Yield: 2 loaves.