Portuguese Sweet Bread

This is a recipe for a delicate round loaf that is delicious with butter, marmalade, jam or honey. The recipe is from the
book "Beard on Bread".  Author is James Beard/ 2005 /Alfred A. Knopf/ New York, pages 23 and 138-139

Joan Alcala

Ingredients for 2 round loafs
      2 packages active dry yeast
      1 cup plus 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
      1/2 cup lukewarm water
      1 stick (1/2 cup) softened butter
      1/2 cup warm milk  
      4 eggs lightly beaten
      1 tablespoon salt
      4 to 4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, approximately  

   Combine the yeast, 1 teaspoon sugar, and water in a large bowl and allow to proof. Proofing is testing the yeast to make sure it
is still active. To do this, pour the contents of the package into 1/2 cup of the warm water (about 100-115 degrees), add the sugar,
stir well and set aside. After a few minutes the fermentation of the yeast will become apparent as the mixture swells and small  
bubbles appear on the surface. Put the butter in the warm milk, add the 1 cup sugar and blend well. Add to the yeast mixture and
stir to combine the ingredients. Add 3 of the eggs, lightly beaten, and salt and mix well. Then add 4 cups of flour, 1 cup at a time,
kneading with your hands in the bowl, to make a soft dough. Turn out on a floured board and knead until the dough is smooth and
elastic, using only enough additional flour to prevent sticking. This should take about 10 minutes. Shape into a ball and  put in a
buttered bowl, turning the dough to coat the surface with butter. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in a warm, draft- free place
until doubled in bulk.
   Punch down the dough and divide into two equal pieces. Shape again into balls and place in two buttered skillets--ones that can
be used in the oven and that measure about 9 inches in diameter at the top. Or you may use two  8 1/2 x 4 1/2 x 2 1/2 bread
pans. Cover loosely and let rise again until doubled in bulk. Brush the tops with the remaining egg, well beaten, and bake in a
preheated oven at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes, or until the bread is a rich, dark, shining color and sounds hollow when
rapped on top and bottom. Cool on racks before slicing.


March 2, 2012

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