this is the closest thing i know to heaven. portuguese sweet bread. another recipe based on one from my husband's mother's portuguese family. this bread is light, fluffy, delicate, chewy and tender with a fine crumb. mmmmm.
in my husband's family it was sometimes made with lemon peel. meyer lemon peel from their tree at the family house on the central coast of california. i like it best unadorned, warm from the oven with a slab of butter melting in the center. brilliant with tea.
i must warn you, the aroma while this bakes is heavenly. also it is gloriously fun to knead, and very easy to handle once you get past the gloppy stage. but the rising can take some time. it pretty much always comes out well, now matter what i've done or haven't done.
portuguese sweet bread
2 loaves, traditionally rolled into a round pan, but i also make one in a loaf pan to slice up the next day for toast.
2 packages active dry yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1/3 cup warm water
combine yeast with sugar and warm water in a small bowl and allow to proof for 10 minutes.
1 stick butter, sliced
2/3 cup warm milk
3/4 cup sugar
3 eggs, lightly beaten
2 and 1/2 teaspoons salt
4 to 5 cups of flour
1 more beaten egg (for brushing on top of the dough just before baking)
warm the milk in the microwave in a large glass measuring cup (if you've got one) until nice and warm but not boiled (usually about a minute, but microwave ovens are highly variable)
add in the sliced stick of butter to the warmed milk, add the sugar and stir thoroughly.
in a large bowl combine the milk/butter/sugar mixture with the yeast mixture and blend well. add in 3 lightly beaten eggs and the salt. stir to combine. now add in the flour, 1 cup at a time with your trusty dough whisk or with your hands or a wooden spoon, failing all else. you probably won't need all 5 cups flour i usually use 4 and a half, depending on the humidity level of the flour, etc. the dough should be really sticky and gooey. this is the gloppy stage. transfer the giant mound of sticky dough onto a floured surface. knead until it is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. shape into a ball and place in a buttered bowl. cover bowl with plastic wrap and let rise again, preferably in a warm draft-free place, until doubled in bulk. (in cold winter days i sometimes turn my oven on to 150, then shut it off, then open the door for 2 minutes and place the dough to rise in there. an elaborate, but effective, dough rising ritual).
once it is doubled, punch it down (the funnest part of making any dough) and shape into balls or a loaf and place in buttered dishes/pans. allow to rise again in that same warm, draft-free place, loosely covered.
when nearly ready. preheat the oven to 350 degrees farenheit. beat that last egg. brush it gingerly on top the loaves. and then place them in the well-heated oven for about 30 minutes for the round rolls and about 35 minutes for the log shaped loaves. they will have a nice rich shiny surface when done, and will have a wonderful hollow sound when rapped with your hand.
allow to cool, then enjoy with some butter and a nice cup of tea. a real crowd pleaser.