Diana's Desserts - www.dianasdesserts.com

Portuguese Sweet Bread

Servings: Makes 2 loaves, or 12 small rolls
This is a traditional sweet egg bread made in Portugal and was brought to the United States and other countries by Portuguese immigrants.

Variations on shaping the loaves (see below).

Remember to tent the loaves with aluminum foil (to prevent over browning) after baking for 20 or so minutes if making the round or braided loaves, or 15 minutes into the baking time of the small rolls.

2 tablespoons active dry yeast
1/2 cup lukewarm water
1 cup milk
1/2 cup (1 stick/4 0z./113g) butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons salt
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
8 to 9 cups all-purpose flour

Egg wash:
2 eggg, lightly beaten with 2 teaspoons water

In a small bowl stir yeast into lukewarm water until dissolved. Let sit until small bubbles form around edges.

In a small saucepan scald milk and remove from heat. Add butter and salt, stirring until butter melts. With an electric stand mixer fitted with a dough hook or in a large bowl with an electric mixer (preferably heavy-duty), beat eggs with sugar until pale and foaming. Beat in milk mixture, then yeast mixture, until blended. Begin to add flour to egg mixture, beating constantly, until dough begins to come together. If dough is too heavy for your mixer, switch to a wooden spoon. When dough forms a ball, turn out on a lightly-floured surface and knead, adding flour as needed, to prevent dough from sticking. Knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.

Return dough to cleaned and lightly oiled bowl, cover with a damp cloth, and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 2 hours.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F/190 degrees C and lightly grease a baking sheet. Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead lightly, squeezing out any air bubbles. Shape into 12 small rounds (for rolls) or 2 large rounds and transfer to baking sheet. Brush with egg wash. Bake until firm and golden brown, 30 minutes for small rolls, 45 to 55 minutes for large loaves. Remove loaves to a baking rack and cool completely before serving.

Makes 2 large loaves or 12 small rolls.

For Braided Loaves:
Divide dough in half, then divide each half into three equal parts; roll into 14-inch ropes. Lay ropes side-by-side on greased baking sheet. Starting in middle, braid the dough. Pinch ends; turn under and pinch to seal. Continue with above instructions.

For Snail Loaves:
Grease a 9 x 1 1/2-inch round baking pan. Divide dough in half, roll each half of the dough into a 25 x 1 1/2-inch rope. Starting in the center of pan, twist the rope of dough while coiling it into a snail shape. Tuck end under; pinch with fingertips to seal. Continue with above instructions.

Date: September 21, 2006