|Preparation time||20 min|
|Cooking Time||1 h|
|Ready In||6 h|
|Level of Difficulty||Easy|
Portuguese sweet bread is characterized by its soft, fluffy texture and slightly sweet taste. It is often enriched with ingredients such as eggs, butter, milk, sugar, and sometimes lemon zest or spices like cinnamon and nutmeg. These ingredients contribute to the bread's distinct flavor and aroma.
The process of making Portuguese sweet bread involves several steps. The dough is typically prepared by combining the ingredients and kneading them until they form a smooth, elastic mass. The dough is then left to rise, allowing the yeast to do its work and create air pockets that give the bread its light texture.
Once the dough has risen, it is shaped into various forms, such as loaves, rolls, or braids, depending on regional preferences and occasions. The bread is often decorated with a cross or other patterns on the top, adding a touch of visual appeal.
Portuguese sweet bread holds significant cultural and religious significance in Portugal. It is commonly associated with religious celebrations, particularly Easter and Christmas. During these occasions, families gather to bake and share the bread, carrying on age-old traditions.
Beyond religious festivities, Portuguese sweet bread is a staple in everyday life. It is commonly enjoyed for breakfast, toasted and topped with butter or jam. The bread is also a favorite accompaniment to coffee or tea and is often served as a dessert, either plain or as a base for sweet dishes like French toast or bread pudding.
In Portuguese communities around the world, the tradition of making and sharing sweet bread has endured. In areas with a strong Portuguese presence, such as the Azores, Madeira, and parts of the United States, bakeries specialize in producing this beloved delicacy.
The popularity of Portuguese sweet bread has also spread beyond Portuguese communities, gaining recognition among food enthusiasts worldwide. Its unique flavor, soft texture, and cultural significance make it a sought-after treat for those looking to explore different culinary traditions.
In conclusion, Portuguese sweet bread is a cherished part of Portuguese culture and cuisine. With its delicate sweetness, soft texture, and rich history, it continues to bring people together, both in Portugal and around the world. Whether enjoyed during religious festivities or as an everyday indulgence, Portuguese sweet bread remains a beloved culinary delight.
Milk & Butter Mix:
- Heat a sauce pan over medium heat, add the milk, sugar, shortening or lard, butter, salt and the zest of 1 lemon, stir well so everything is well conbined and bring to a boil.
- When it does come to a boil, remove the pan from the heat and put it aside until it is just luke warm.
- Add the flour, sugar, active dry yeast and the 1/3 cup of luke warm warm, stir until well conbined and put aside for about 10 minutes.
- Now, whisk the eggs well, add it to a large bowl, add the luke warm milk and butter mix to the bowl and stirl well.
- Next add the yeast to the bowl, and stir some more.
- Now add the flour, mix everything so it well incorporated and knead well for about 15 to 20 minutes.
- Cover the bowl with a kitchen towel, and with the oven OFF, place the bowl in the oven for 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, remove the bowl from the oven, remove the kitchen towel and drizzle 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil all around the edges of the dough.
- Now fold the dough from the sides over to the top, do this for about 40 seconds.
- Cover the bowl and place it back in the oven (make sure oven is OFF) for another 20 minutes.
- After 20 minutes, pour 1 tablespoon around the edges of the bowl and fold from all around to the top for another 40 seconds.
- Place the covered bowl back in the oven until the dough doubles in size (about 2 and 1/2 hours).
- Grease a 10 inch round baking pan with 1 teaspoon of vegetable shortening or lard all the way to the top of the pan.
- Cover the pan and place it in the oven while the oven is OFF for about 1 hour and 1/2.
- Remove the pan from the oven, and remove the kitchen towel.
- Preheat the oven to 305F or 150C.
- Brush the egg wash over the dough in the pan.
- With a kitchen scissors or a sharp knife, make 3 cuts on the top of the dough (a few inces a part).
- Place the pan in the preheated oven and bake for 1 hour.
Recipe & Photo Credit: DIYwithnancyg