Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Portuguese Sweet Bread

From the kitchen of One Perfect Bite...Expectations almost always do me in. I've made Portuguese sweetbread for over 40 years now using the James Beard's recipe which I keep, here. The recipe makes a loaf with a tight crumb and brioche-like mien that is both rich and sweet, but I've long suspected bears no resemblance to the bread that's actually sold in Provincetown. I was looking forward to trying several loaves of the "real" thing while we were on the Cape this summer, but, as it happened, we sampled only one. I had expected too much from the bread and the spongy commercially packaged version I found was a real disappointment. I can hear my mother's voice coming from the recesses of memory now whispering, "Say something nice, Mary". So, out of respect for my mother, I'm going to fallback on my old standby for bread that disappoints and say, "It makes great toast". I've made a lot of toast in my lifetime. Now I'm perfectly willing to concede that mine is a minority opinion. Thousands of these loaves are sold every summer, so the fault probably lies more with my expectations than the bread itself. l had hoped to find a bread that would kindle memories of Portuguese peasant kitchens and that didn't happen.

Now, I don't give up easily. If I couldn't buy it, I would make it and so I began a search for the quintessential Cape Cod cookbook, one that had a recipe for Portuguese sweet bread that used ingredients found in a peasant, as well as a castle, kitchen. I found the book and recipe I was looking for in the Journey Around Cape Cod and the Islands Cookbook, by Heather and Martha Zschock. The recipe I'm sharing today appears exactly as it was written. I've made no changes to the ingredient list, but I did depart from their instructions when I made my loaves. The dough for this type of bread can be very sticky and hard to work. I decided to let my stand mixer do most of the work for me. I mixed the ingredients using the paddle attachment. When the dough became shaggy I switched to the dough hook and continued mixing/beating until the dough began to climb the hook. At that point, I turned it onto a floured work surface and manually worked the dough until a smooth ball was formed. I followed the recipe from that point on. I really like this bread and highly recommend this recipe to you. Here is how the bread is made.

Portuguese Sweet Bread...from the kitchen of One Perfect Bite courtesy of Heather and Martha Zschock

2-1/4 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/4 cup hot water
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup butter
2 eggs
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 to 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1) Sprinkle yeast over hot water and stir to dissolve. Let sit for 10 minutes, or until mixture begins to look a bit foamy.
2) Combine milk and butter in a small saucepan and heat to melt butter. Let cool slightly. Pour into large mixing bowl.
3) Whisk eggs, sugar and salt into milk mixture. Add yeast and gradually add flour, mixing until mixture forms a ball. Dough will be very sticky at this point,so flour your hands before beginning to work the dough. Knead on a lightly floured surface for about 10 minutes, or until dough is smooth, soft and elastic.
4) Oil a large mixing bowl. Add dough and turn to lightly coat all surfaces. Cover bowl with a warm damp towel and allow dough to sit until it has doubled in bulk, about 1-1/2 hours.
5) Punch dough down and turn it onto a lightly floured surface. Knead for 3 minutes. Grease a pie pan, form dough into a ball and place in center of pan. Cover with a warm damp cloth and let sit until dough has doubled in bulk, about 1-1/2 hours.
6) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Bake loaf in center of oven for 30 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven, let sit for 10 minutes before transferring loaf to a wire rack to cool completely. Yield: 1 loaf.

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One Year Ago Today: Basque Piperade

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Four Years Ago Today: Baked French Toast with Cardamom and Apricot Preserves



Que belo pão! Ficou maravilhoso!

David said...

Mary, We don't do much baking...mostly because we'd eat the results! We've eaten Portuguese Sweet Bread when we lived up in New England...very nice indeed! If I could only have a slice for lunch... Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types said...

I would be proud to serve a loaf of bread this beautiful - it is absolutely stunning! I'm going to have to add this one to my collection of bread recipes.

Anonymous said...

it does sound like a rich dough, I use a recipe quite like this for my sweet rolls, I never thought of making a loaf, what great toast or bread pudding this would make!! I love when you mentioned your Mum, we still try to please our mums , lol

Tricia @ Saving room for dessert said...

Well it is completely gorgeous! What a beautiful loaf. A must put this on my list of must try soon! I just adore baking.

Susan Lindquist said...

Looks perfect and I can practically smell that warm yeasty bread smell, but a question ... does it make good toast, too? Wink, wink ... grin.

~~louise~~ said...

I adore Portuguese Sweet Bread Mary. So much so that I actually baked it, ONCE!

Yours looks heavenly and has inspired me to try it once again as soon as we cool off a bit around here.

Thank you so much for seeking out this recipe and sharing it...

Sue said...

I can tell just by look at this beautiful bread that I would LOVE it! It reminds me of pan dulce (Mexican sweet bread)which is a favorite treat of mine.

A Sunflower Life said...

I love Portuguese sweet bread. When I lived in Gloucester, Massachusetts I would buy it at the Portuguese bakery. My guess is I would have been disappointed in the commercially made one, too. Can't wait to try it myself.


Your trip must have been wonderful.


Ginny Hartzler said...

This looks absolutely lovely!!!!!


The Portuguese sweet bread looks yummy! I love baking bread, so thank you for the récipe!
Big hugs,

Red Nomad OZ said...

Haha! As a great toast-maker from WAY back, I appreciate ANY bread recipe that works!!! Look forward to this one!

Bites from life with the barking lot said...

Hi Mary, Happy almost August!! I hear you on the toast... this bread is on my to do list...thank you.

Kim said...

I kinda love this bread when I go to portuguese restaurant! Actually, I love it... I will give this recipe a try for sure!

Angie's Recipes said...

A very beautiful sweet bread, Mary. I would love a couple of slices for the breakfast.

Tanna said...

I don't think I've EVER seen a more beautiful wedge of bread!!! Oh, my! If I made things like this, I'd weigh a ton. I never know when to stop. ;) blessings ~ tanna

JG said...

This reminds me of Babka, Mary. The commercially baked/ packaged breads are not as tasty as the Babkas sold in the smaller Polish bakeries or baked at home. There are so many visitors to the Cape during the summer, grocery stores/ restaurants are brimming with famished customers. :)

Unknown said...

Excellent recipe--thanks. I made it a few weeks ago and gave my friend the recipe. I am making it again today (phase 2 rising) and used brown sugar this time. I also made 2 smaller loaves instead of one. I nearly ate the whole thing last time. Thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

I made this bread today. Beautiful loaf.
It's very good however not as sweet as other recipes I've tried. But, this was so easy to make that it's a keeper. Thanx.

Unknown said...

This looks great, I am both from the cape and Portuguese. I remember my great grandmother and my grandmother making sweet bread wen I was a small child and I especially loved the small breads with whole egg baked in the middle. If your in search for a really great recipe try the sweet bread recipe in the Bread maker's apprentice. A good book for all things bread. Toni

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