I never used to like sweet bread but as I’ve gotten older it’s really sort of grown on me. Especially for toast with jam and French toast and things of that nature. This Portuguese Sweet Bread is very similar to Hawaiian Bread and can easily be substituted into those recipes. While not all Azores Sweet Bread recipes call for milk, this one does as this is how the Portuguese portion of my family fashion their loaves. If you prefer to use water it may easily be substituted for milk.
Portuguese Sweet Bread
Yield 2 loaves
- 1/2 cup milk
- 4 tablespoons butter, cut into pats
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 3 1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
- 1 tablespoon instant yeast
- grated peel (zest) of 1 medium lemon
- 2 large eggs + 1 large egg yolk, white reserved
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- Combine the milk, butter, sugar, and salt in a microwave-safe cup, or in a saucepan. Heat to lukewarm. Set aside.
- In a mixing bowl, the bowl of your stand mixer, or the bucket of your bread machine, combine the flour, yeast, and stir to combine.
- Add the milk mixture, stirring first to make sure the sugar and salt aren't left in the bottom of the cup or pan.
- Add the eggs, plus one yolk, and the vanilla. Mix and knead until the dough is smooth; it'll be very sticky at first. If you're using a stand mixer, beat with the flat beater for about 3 minutes at medium-high speed; then scrape the dough into the center of the bowl, switch to the dough hook, and knead for about 5 minutes at medium speed. It will have formed a ball somewhat, but will probably still be sticking to the bottom of the bowl. If you're using a bread machine, simply let it go through its entire cycle, and skip to step 6.
- Lightly grease the mixing bowl, gather the dough into a ball, and place it in the bowl. Cover, and let rise, about 1 1/2 to 2 hours. It will more than double in size. If you're using a bread machine and the dough hasn't doubled in size when the cycle is complete, simply let it rest in the machine for another 30 to 60 minutes.
- Lightly grease two 8 x 4" loaf pans.
- Gently deflate the dough, and divide it in half. Shape the dough into two loaves and place into the prepared pans. Cover the dough gently with lightly greased plastic wrap or tented foil.
- Let the dough rise in the pans for about 2 hours, until it's again nice and puffy. Toward the end of the rising time, preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Mix the reserved egg white with 1 tablespoon cold water, and brush some onto the surface of the loaf; this will give it a satiny, brown crust.
- Bake the bread for 15 - 20 minutes, until it's a medium golden brown and its internal temperature registers 190°F on a digital thermometer.
- Remove the bread from the oven, and gently transfer it to a rack to cool. Cool completely before slicing. Store at room temperature. You may also freeze the loaves for freshness for about 30 days.
The dough will be very sticky at first but will tighten up as the flour has more time to absorb the water. Wet dough also makes it easier for the yeast to rise and double in size over a drier dough so resist the urge to add more flour if the dough seems too sticky heading into the first rise. Also, if you prefer not to use milk, it may easily be substituted for water.