Of my bread cookbooks, The Bread Baker’s Apprentice has been least used. It’s just that most of the recipes take so long, and I haven’t been doing many new recipes lately. But I was flipping through it recently, and the Portuguese Sweet Bread caught my eye.
It wasn’t a recipe that required overnight or multi-day resting and fermentation periods, and that was nice, though I did have to buy lemon and orange extracts, which I didn’t have on hand.
I used my mixer to do the kneading, and due to not reading the recipe all the way though before beginning, I just dumped the eggs, sugar, and butter all in together before I realized it called for creaming the butter and sugar before adding the eggs. Oh well. It didn’t seem to hurt it any.
I also cheated a little by letting the dough proof not at room temperature, but in a warm oven for part of the time, speeding things up a little. With the eggs, butter, sugar, and extracts, I’m not sure that the extra time would have really resulted in a noticeable flavor improvement.
It says bake the loaves for 50 to 60 minutes, until the center reaches 190 degrees F in the center. I have dropped my thermometer one too many times, so I just went by color, which the book says should be a “rich mahogany brown”. I baked mine about 50 minutes, the lower end of the given time scale.
The bread was good. Not too sweet, and thus more versatile than I expected. It was excellent with marmalade, but also very good in a ham sandwich. It got high marks from my family, too. The recipe made two small boules, and I put one in the freezer, but the first loaf went so fast that I shouldn’t have bothered.
Next time I will not bake it so long, though. The crust tasted fine, not over-browned, but the inside was drier than it should have been. I’ll also probably bake it in a loaf pan, just because it makes more consistent slices.