Monday, November 12, 2012

Portuguese Sweet Bread with Honey

Eek, five months. Well I have two words for you.

1. Morning sickness, horribly severe, lasting from the beginning of July until the end of September (but as unpleasant as it was I did lose 10 lbs, and considering I started this pregnancy at a weight I was not happy with I guess it was a good thing)

 2. Low platelets (Anemia) which equals no energy. But I am still alive and kicking and finally tried this recipe which was DIVINE! I really wanted to try french toast with it, but it didn't last long enough for me to get around to it.

Anyway, here we go.
To make the sponge:
Combine 1 1/2 Tablespoons (1 1/2 packages) active dry yeast
1/2 a cup of warm water
1 cup warm milk (I like to heat mine in the microwave for 30 seconds)
1/4 a cup sugar
2 cups all purpose unbleached flour

Beat until smooth and then cover with plastic wrap and let sit about an hour.
To make the dough:
Stir down the sponge.
Add 8 Tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter at room temperature, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup honey
2 teaspoons of salt (note teaspoons, not tablespoons, most yeast breads call for at least a tablespoon so this is different)
3 large eggs, at room temperature
and then 1 cup of flour. Beat hard until creamy then add the remaining 2 1/2 to 3 cups of flour half a cup at a time. Note that since this is a sweet bread the dough should be soft and not as firm as a typical loaf of bread.
Knead 2-3 minutes, dusting with 1 tablespoon of flour at a time as needed if it starts to get sticky.
It will look something like this. Able to hold its shape, but still kinda "oozing" around!
Place in a greased bowl, cover with plastic wrap and let raise 1 1/2 hours.
Divide the dough into two equal portions and place on a large baking sheet (I used an airbake pan)  Let raise about 30 minutes. If desired you can brush on some egg beaten with water/milk for a nice shiny look. The dough did end up coming together, so I think next time I will either keep an eye on it and raise for less time, use two separate pans, or make three loaves instead of 2.
Bake at 375 F for 35-40 minutes.  Then transfer to cooling racks.