Monday, August 16, 2010

Bread Baking Babes: Exploring the Portuguese Sweet Side

When Tanna first emailed me with a question about her bread for this month, Sweet Portuguese Bread

BBB logo august 2010

I almost peed my pants with excitement! You see, next to dark rye bread, Anadama bread and the perfect French baguette, there is no other bread in this world I love more than Sweet Portuguese Bread.

You see, I have had an almost 45 year love affair with Sweet Portuguese Bread ever since the first time my Auntie Nora took me to one of the many Portuguese bakeries Fall River, MA to help pick up the rolls for weekends at the summer house on Long Lake.

I remember walking into the bakery with the windows all steamed up from the summer heat, standing in line with all the other ladies from New Bedford, Fall River, Tiverton, and the surrounding communities waiting for our turn, the sweet lady behind the counter who would always give me a roll or cookie to "munch on" while I waited for my Aunt to have her rolls and desserts wrapped. I would then sit in the front seat all the way back to the summer house with a big box of still warm buns in my lap. Those buns were so yellow from the eggs and soft, shiny and melt in your mouth good.

We would have those rolls with fresh chunks of lobster in a light mixture of mayonnaise and lemon juice while sitting out on the back deck watching the sun go down over the lake and further out the distance the Atlantic Ocean.

The recipe that Tanna had us follow was an almost perfect match for those sweet rolls I remember from my childhood summers. The rolls I made from the dough (sorry Tanna, I wanted to be 10 again) were sweet without being over sweet like so many recipes for Sweet Portuguese Bread I've tried in the past. They were soft inside with a firm, slightly chewy crust that was dark brown, leading to a nice contrast to the yellowish insides.

I also strayed from the recipe by not marking the tops of my buns or long rolls like Tanna's recipe, again wanting to recreate the rolls of my childhood. Because you see, I had a special plan for my rolls of Sweet Portuguese Bread. I wanted lobster rolls.

There is a lobster pound down the street from my apartment where the lobster boats from Long Island Sound come in and off load their catch for the area restaurants.

lobster boats

This morning, on my way to my coffee shop, I stopped by and spoke with one of the guys on the boat about buying a lobster from them. He said to come back at 3pm when they were back and the restaurants had picked up their catch and if there was an orphan or "damaged" lobster, it was mine.

At 3:35pm this after a 1 1/2lb lobster found its way into my kitchen and into my steaming pot and about 12 minutes later I had a lovely pile of lobster meat.


While the lobster was cooling, I formed four round rolls and four long rolls from the dough that had been rising all afternoon and put them in my oven/proofing chamber for their final rise. After the rolls had baked and cooled,

portugese sweet bread

I pulled the lobster meat from the fridge, dressed it with a tablespoon of mayonnaise and squeeze of lemon.

I piled the lobster meat onto a sliced round roll, put a handful of Herr's Creamy Dill potato chips on the plate

lobster roll on sweet portuguese bun

and sat down to watch the final few holes of the 2010 PGA Championship. I could almost see the back deck of my Auntie Nora's when I bit into the lobster roll...

If you want to see what my fellow Babes did with their Sweet Portuguese Bread go visit the blogs over there on my side bar. You'll notice a few new names there too! Last month we welcomed four new Babes, Astrid, Elizabeth, Elle, and Susan to our ranks to help keep our group lively. You'll also notice that a few of us are on hiatus: Gretchen, Katie, and Monique. They will still join us from time to time to bake when their hectic lives allow. I'm trying to be a better Babe and bake more often as my crazy schedule allows as well.

If you want to be a Bread Baking Buddy, you can bake this fantastic tasting bread, post about it by August 29, and email Tanna, our Kitchen of the Month with a link to your post. She'll email you a nifty badge for your blog and include you in her round up.

Sweet Portuguese Bread
Note: Requires an overnight sponge

Over night SPONGE
72 grams bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons osmotolerant yeast (instant worked just as well too)
114 milliliters potato water, or whey or water (potato water or whey really make it extra tender & soft)

6 tablespoons butter, room temp.
30 to100 grams brown sugar
lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, room temp.
120 milliliters milk, room temp.
460 grams bread flour, I make approximately1 cup of the 460g whole wheat, you can use all bread flour if you like
2 tablespoons flax seeds, ground

Mix together the sponge the night before baking the bread. Leave sitting at room temp 8 to 12 hours.

Beat sugar and butter until creamy.
Add zest and salt and beat.
Beat in each egg separately and completely; mix will appear curdled.
Stir in milk and sponge.
Stir in 2 1/2 cups flour and beat vigorously (in a stand mixer it would clear the sides of the bowl, by hand lifting the spoon up should stretch the dough about a foot.)
Add remaining flour to make stiff dough. Knead 5 minutes or more to incorporate all the flour:
Dough should be smooth, soft and very supple with a slight stickiness. Looks a little like very thick cake batter or a brioche dough.
Shape into ball, oil bowl and dough ball.
Cover and allow to rise about 2 hours, should almost or triple in size.
Divide into loaves, shaped into balls.
Allow to rest 20 to 30 minutes before final shaping with rolling pin.
See photos for shaping.

For best demarcation of indents be careful to dust dough ball well with flour.

Shape and place into well oiled cake pans seam side down.
Allow to rise an hour to 2 hours; more than double in size.

Brush with egg wash if you want that beautiful glossy finish.

Bake 350°
50 minutes as two loaves
35 minutes as four loaves
mine took less

Brush with melted butter when hot from the oven.

Recipe a combination of recipes found in Tanna's books:
Advanced Bread & Pastry: A Professional Approach by Michel Suas pg 237
The Bread Bible by Beth Hensperger pg 368
A Baker's Odyssey by Gregg Patent pg 221
The Bread Book by Linda Collister & Anthony Blake pg 136
The Bread Baker's Apprentice by Peter Reinhart pg 215