Wednesday, December 30, 2009

BBA Challenge Bread #27—Portuguese Sweet Bread


This took forever to make (OK, not really) but it was worth it—bread #27 Portuguese Sweet Bread.

I'm baking my way through Peter Reinhart's award winning book, 
The Bread Baker's Apprentice, along with 200+ other amateur bakers (maybe not that many anymore-it's hard to telll!). Want to join in the madness, or just learn more about this semi-crazy undertaking? Check out the following links:

I made this bread over a month ago, but I still remember how good it tastes. Sweet (duh) but not cloyingly so, soft, fragrant, with hints of lemon and orange. Absolutely delicious.

Call me unsophisticated, but I've always loved Hawaiian bread—you know the round squishy loaf in the orange and brown plastic. I could eat my weight in that stuff when I was a kid. I would say that Peter Reinhart's formula is the grown-up version of that bread. Much less sweet, more complex flavors and full of wholesome, homemade goodness, unlike the packaged stuff which probably has 43 ingredients, two-thirds of which are unpronounceable or really bad for you. So let's take a quick look at the process.

This starts with a sponge of flour, sugar, yeast and water. You let that sit for 60-90 minutes then finish mixing up the dough.

There are quite a few ingredients in this one, but they all help make the bread as yummy as it is.


Enriched with butter, shortening, eggs, and powdered milk, you can see why it comes out so soft.


The wonderful aroma and flavor come from the three extracts—lemon, orange and vanilla. Mmm...

Check out this dough:

PSB-shaggy dough

It starts out all shaggy and rough, but after some kneading in the mixer and a quick finish by hand, it comes out smooth, soft and supple.

PSB-smooth dough

Now you let it ferment until it doubles, which according to the book, should take two hours. Try over three. And even then, I don't think it had completely doubled. So I divided the dough in two and shaped them into boules. You're supposed to put them in 9-inch pie pans—which I did—and they're supposed to "fill the pan fully, doubling in size and overlapping the edges slightly."


Look at this:
PSB-in dish

Clearly even if this doubled, it wouldn't fill the plate and overlap the edges. And it didn't. 


It's supposed to take 2-3 hours to reach this point, but it was at least 4. I called it good and brushed them with egg wash and popped in the oven for about 40 minutes. Oh my goodness. These smelled so good baking and the COLOR.

Wow, the color is just incredible. The combination of sugar in the bread and egg wash made for the most gorgeous crust. And the crumb is beautiful, too.


Now, this was super delicious all on it's own. But let me tell you. This makes the best French toast!

I utilize a slight modification of the method I saw Alton Brown use on Good Eats. You dip the bread in the egg mixture then let it sit on a rack to let it soak in. I sprinkled mine with some Penzey's Baking Spice for an extra jolt of spice-a-licious-ness.


Then I fired up our two-burner griddle—a Christmas present to Dwight a few years ago—and greased it with, what else—butter.


OK, now I want French Toast!



  1. I am absolutely amazed by this post...can't wait to make this bread~ I was sold on the citrus flavors...

  2. I'm ready to make this one again after seeing your post. Beautiful!

  3. Wishing I was a bread-baker so I could have that french toast, which I can just imagine was soooooo amazing! I love me so french toast!

  4. Beautiful post...can't wait to get to this one!

  5. The French Toast looks sooooo yummy!

  6. Thanks everyone! I'm making it again right now. After finally writing up the post and revisiting the photos, I just had to have it again. :)

  7. Great job! Isn't that a wonderful bread? I'll have to try French toast with mine next time. It would make great bread pudding, too.

  8. Looks so moist. I'm a little apprehensive about the lemon and orange extract in this one. They always smell like furniture polish to me. I may use lemon and orange zest instead. The french toast shot is killer!

  9. Phyl - It would make GREAT bread pudding! I saw your 12 bread post and have bookmarked the Mark Sinclair recipe. I'll have to give it a shot.

    Cindy - I feel the same way about most citrus flavorings, but it's surprisingly subtle in this bread. It's noticeable but not overwhelming. I'm sure you could either cut back or skip it altogether, just add more vanilla. I'm sure that would be wonderful, too. The French toast is totally killer!

  10. Amazing French Toast. Absolutely beautiful crust. I'm surprised I haven't made French Toast with any of the breads in the challenge so far, though this one was particularly delicious and deserving of it. Too bad it's all gone. Maybe I'll have to make it again- It wouldn't be the first time you've inspired me to re-do a bread!

  11. Daniel - It's definitely worth doing again! Because of the time involved, I took a risk and made the bread up to the shaping and put it in the fridge overnight. That way I could pull it out first thing in the AM and have bread at a reasonable hour, not 10:00 o'clock at night. :)

  12. I agree: this was a really yummy bread. Your French toast looks amazing. I have to try that, too!

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  14. hello aunt kelly...this is K your favorite niece and hanah (you know my cousin right?) Well, we were going to make Whoopie Pies, but don't know a GOOD recipe for them...we were wondering if you had a good recipe for that or knew of one. If you do e-mail us back as soon as you can on this e-mail account. Sorry is this is llllooooonnnnngggggg! haha.

    Love you & Uncle Dwight much,

    ~K~ and Hanah

  15. Beautiful job on this bread. Your crust is gorgeous. I never was a huge fan of the hawaiian bread at the grocery store so that's why I've been so hesitant and not looking forward to this one. I'll make it this weekend. Hoping for the best. :)

  16. Thanks, Donna! I think you'll be pleasantly surprised by this one. It's a thousand times better than supermarket Hawaiian bread! Can't wait to hear how yours turns out.


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