Monday, June 14, 2010

Portuguese Sweet Bread (Päo Dôce)

Hey look! Andrew's making a second post!

When I signed onto this blog I assumed that I would have more time to myself than medical school apparently allows me, by which I mean that med school consumes my whole life. Posts will probably be few and far between for me, but Carolyn is probably a better cook than I am anyway, so she can take up the slack. However, I am now on summer "break" (read: full-time job, which feels like a vacation), so I hope to be able to post a little more this summer.

So now, after a fairly sizable absence following my recipe for barleywine (which, by the way, is delicious), I'm continuing my adventures with yeast and making bread. This recipe is courtesy of my grandfather (pours one out), and its unofficial name is thus "Grandpa John's Portuguese sweet bread."

My grandfather used to make this on Sunday mornings whenever we were visiting and he felt generous (as far as I know, except for this recipe and some ridiculous alcoholic concoction he called "Old Professor's Glögg," he didn't cook or bake much). I remember loving it as a kid, and for some reason I was jonesing particularly hard for some last week. This was my second attempt at this recipe; the first was three years ago when I lived in Germany, and it was more or less a failure. I didn't allow the yeast enough time to rise, and I accidentally squashed the dough just before I put it in the oven, so the loaves were incredibly dense and a little too moist. This time, however, it was a resounding success. The crust came out thin, sweet, and crunchy, and the interior was light, moist, buttery, and delicious.

Grandpa John's Portuguese Sweet Bread

Egg glaze
2 egg yolks beaten with 2 Tbsp. milk

2 pkgs. active dry yeast
1/2 cup warm water (100-110
degrees F)
1 cup milk
1/2 cup butter
1 cup sugar
1 tsp salt
2 eggs
4 Tbs. grated lemon peel (optional)
7 level cups flour

1. Dissolve yeast in the warm water and let stand 3-5 minutes.
2. Heat milk with butter until butter melts (DO NOT BOIL); pour into a bowl, and add sugar and salt, then cool until lukewarm. Add 2 eggs one at a time, mixing at each addition.
3. Stir in lemon peel (optional) and yeast.
4. Gradually beat in flour until dough becomes soft and pliant; turn this out onto a
lightly floured surface and knead until the dough becomes elastic and smooth (8-10 minutes).
5. Place kneaded dough in a greased bowl and butter the top of the dough lightly. Cover with a cloth and let sit in a warm place until the dough has doubled in size (1-2 hours).
6. Punch dough down and knead gently for a few minutes; split into two equal parts, shaping each into a round, slightly flattened loaf. Cover again and let sit until doubled in size (about 1 hour).
7. Preheat oven to 325
degrees F. Brush each loaf with egg glaze and bake until golden brown (35-40 minutes).

This is best when it's fresh and warm, but it keeps for at least a week and also does well frozen; just be sure to toast it to re-crunchify the crust. And yes, "re-crunchify" is a word. Don't dispute me, I'm gonna be a doctor.

Can be served with any toppings, sides, and beverages you like, but it's also delicious by itself.

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