p3: Portuguese Sweet Bread

#5, Portuguese Sweet Bread

picH3zEcEIt’s the second week away from my trusty stand mixer, so I’m attacking another hand-kneading adventure for my bread making. For this one, I thought I’d try something on another level, one of the Enriched bread recipes. With the added butter and sugar, gluten usually takes longer time and effort to develop, not to mention the dough usually starts off much more sticky (not gonna be smooth hand working).

My page-flipping easily brought me to a bread that had been standing out to me for a while, Portuguese Sweet Bread. It was a rather perfect fit too, being one of the few ones in the book calling for powdered milk (being able to put my recent purchase to use), not to mention it involved an option to let the dough sit and retard in the fridge for a day before proofing and baking. Something I’ve been wanting to try, and with a recipe that called for me to divide in half, my situation actually allowed me to bake off one day-of for immediate consumption and let another retard for the next day to see if there was any difference (point in fact, not really that I’ve seen… guess it fits more with baguettes and rye and such for effects).

20150510_165240As for the bread itself, the name sounds unique but you might already be familiar with it, also being known as “Hawaiin Bread.” It’s also quite similar to some of the sweet breads seen in a good Mexican panadeira (like the Conchas). An interesting aspect to it, besides just adding butter, eggs, and sugar, is that the recipe also uses Extracts for flavoring. Now, the recipe calls for a combination of Orange, Lemon, and Vanilla, but I sadly did not have access to the citrus-based alcohols. So instead I thought I’d have some fun and just use the same amount of extract (3tsp or 1 Tb) of Almond and Vanilla, give me that nice amaretto-ish aroma.

Now all that’s left is to make a bread which I’m sure will make some awesome French Toast… if it lasts that long.

3½ cups/15.75 oz Bread Flour
1½ Tb/0.75 oz Sugar
2¼ tsp/.25 oz Dry Yeast
½ cup + 6 Tb/7 oz Water, Room Temp
1 tsp/0.25 oz Salt
¼ cup/1.25 oz Powdered Milk
2 Tb/1 oz Unsalted Butter, Room Temp
1 Tb/1 oz Shortening
2 large/3.3 oz Eggs
1 Tb/0.5 oz Extract of Your Choice (Vanilla, Citrus, Almond, etc)
1 Egg+1tsp Water for Egg Wash


  1. Stir together ½ cup(2.25oz) Flour, 1 Tb(0.5oz) Sugar, Yeast, and ½ cup(4oz) Water in small bowl until it forms a smooth batter.20150510_153649
  2. Cover plastic, ferment 60-90 Minutes, until sponge is quite foamy and seemingly on verge of collapsing.20150510_165339
  3. Combine remaining sugar, Salt, Powdered Milk, Butter, and Shortening in bowl and cream together with electric mixer or hands (spoon only works with non-smooth bowls that the fat can easily cling to the sides on) until smooth.20150510_165311
  4. Mix in Eggs and Extract with spoon to make even batter.20150510_165654
  5. Add your sponge and remaining flour, kneading it in by hand, dribbling in enough of the remaining 6 Tb of water until make a soft (and sticky) dough.20150510_170329
  6. Turn onto flour-dusted counter, kneading until the dough is easy to knead, supple, and no longer wet and sticky, at least 15 minutes when done by hand (10-12 via machine).20150510_173500
  7. Lightly oil large bowl, transfer dough, rolling to coat and covering with plastic. Bulk ferment 2 hours, until doubled in size.20150510_193943
  8. Remove, dividing into equal parts, shaping into a boule as described in Casatiello.20150510_194109
  9. Lightly oil two 9” (or smaller it seems) pie pans, place one boule in each, mist with spray oil, and loosely cover in plastic wrap.20150510_194412
  10. Proof for 2-3 hours or, conversely, move into the refrigerator overnight and let warm up to room temp for 5-6 hours next day, until it doubles in size and ideally fills the pan fully.
  11. Preheat oven to 350F
  12. Whisk the egg and water for the Wash together until frothy, very gently and thoroughly brushing the loaves with it.20150510_214346
  13. Bake for 50-60 minutes, until a richly deep mahogany and the center registers 190F with a thermometer.20150510_221510
  14. Remove, let cool on rack to end up with a soft, sticky loaf for ideal sandwich making; or slice and enjoy immediately with butter for an amazing chunk of bread for dessert.20150511_171046

What Have I Learned This Time?

I should have made more… or hid it much better from myself, because this guy is sooooo hard to keep myself from eating.

Either  I need to measure pie pans differently to consider what ‘9 inches’ is, I need an actual metal pan instead of these glass ones (which so many bakers hate), or something was off with my dough in not fermenting large enough… but I highly doubt that, I mean look at that giant ball!

If you mix everything for Portuguese Sweet Brea together besides the sponge, then lick it off your fingers, it tastes like cookie dough! A shame I had to add yeast and turn it into bread!


20150510_171254Not only do I have to read recipes carefully, I can’t trust the water section; put simply, I made a boo-boo and mixed the flour and water into the creamed mixture first instead of flour and sponge. So I added ALL the water in, only to find out while looking back that I’m not necessarily supposed to need all 6 of those tablespoons, just enough to get a certain texture… which makes me think, especially with HOW sticky it was when I started kneading, that I probably had too much and thus had to work in extra bread flour to compensate a bit.

That said, I figured out a couple good techniques for dealing with difficult and sticky doughs for kneading! First, got the hang of using a bench scraper in my right hand to keep prying it from the counter and folding back in on itself before pushing forward with my left palm. Secondly, as it got a little firmer and more handle-able, I tried out a one-handed trick I saw on Cooking with Julia and Friends. Grabbing, pulling and lifting one end with the hand, I slam the heavy end HARD on the counter, fold and push together before grabbing the side and doing it again. It felt like the heavy handling helped to break and develop that gluten down at a good, quick rate (though it could just be because I was getting close to the end anyways).


God dammit I didn’t bake it long enough! This is the second recipe where, now as I’m rereading it while typing this up, that I pulled it out of the oven very soon… it calls for 50-60 minutes, but I only cooked it 30 (I did a similar thing with the Wheat Loaves, though luckily their small size and the increased oven temperature saved me I think). That said, it actually came out quite perfect… so I’ve also learned that some of these cook times might be longer than what I myself like for bread. If I continued It’d probably be a little drier, blech.

Any Thoughts?

Not really. Though I will look forward to having a dough hook again for these wet and sticky breads! Oh, and I just love that thick, sweetly brown crust here.


Does the Dough Like Me Yet?

Despite grudgingly working together with me in the end, it apparently thinks I’ve been getting too full of myself and slapped me a reality check.