My Grandmother’s Portuguese Sweet Bread

My Grandmother's Portuguese Sweet Bread

We all have someone in our lives that inspires in the kitchen.  That person may be an exceptional baker or even a celebrity chef, either way, their effortless skill makes you want to cook or bake just like them.

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My grandmother has been making Portuguese Sweet Bread for as long as I can remember.  As a young girl, she helped her mother make the sweet buttery bread, and as a young mother herself she perfected her bread baking art.  I have many fond memories over the years of helping in grandmas kitchen.  Although I can say that I’ve made her recipe for Sweet Bread many times, as an adult I really had no idea how to make it.  The thought of trying was terrifying.  She’d given me the recipe, which I would stare at longley, but with fear in my gut.  The true art of bread baking is not following a recipe to the T.  It’s one of feeling the dough and knowing when it’s time to stop kneading, or to add more butter.  It’s art in food form.

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With my longing to make her recipe on my own, we decided it was time to get together and pass the Sweet Bread torch, so to speak.  On a sunny summer morning, we woke up early to get started, still in our pajamas, we shuffled to the kitchen.  We gathered the necessities and got started.  Her words of bread wisdom flowed like magic from her lips and I scrambled to write down what I could and commit as much to memory as possible.  We kneaded, punched, twisted, beat and molded the beautiful buttery dough into bread perfection.  That day wasn’t just about making bread, it was about two people, grandmother and granddaughter, coming together and sharing a moment in the kitchen that will last forever.

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Anyone can hand you a recipe and tell you how great it’s going to be, but when someone invites you into their kitchen and shows you how to make it, with love in every stir and wisdom flowing from their lips, that is a recipe you’ll cherish the rest of your life.  Because of that day, in her kitchen, I no longer fear that recipe card, but rather pull it out and think of our bread baking day with joy in my heart and an eagerness to make bread.  There’s nothing like the face-to-face communication that’s shared in the kitchen to inspire you.

My Grandmother's Portuguese Sweet Bread | farmgirlgourmet.com #outofthekitchen

My grandmother just celebrated her 94th birthday and we still talk about the magic that happened in her kitchen that day.  She’s the one person that inspires me to be a better baker, cook, mother and friend.

I bake this bread with my daughter now and our kitchen is filled with conversation, laughter and dough nibbling.  I hope that she will have fond memories of our time together baking and want to share that with her own children someday.  Memories made in the kitchen are memories cherished for a lifetime.

My Grandmother’s Portuguese Sweet Bread

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 20 minutes

Total Time: 5 hours

Yield: 3 dozen

My Grandmother’s Portuguese Sweet Bread

My grandmother's Portuguese Sweet Bread recipe. If you love a sweet yeasty bread, than this is for you. Don't overwork the bread and make sure it's a tacky consistency for the first rise, not the typical dry dough of other breads.

Ingredients

  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 4 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 cups + 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 3 sticks salted butter, room temperature, divided, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 7 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/3 cup warm water
  • 2 packages yeast
  • 1 cup whole milk

Instructions

  1. Fill sink 2 inches with hot water and place the mixing bowl in the sink to warm it. Have ready thick hand towels for covering the bowl.
  2. Sift the bread flour and 2 cups of the all purpose flour into the bowl in the sink. Add the salt and stir lightly to combine.
  3. In the bowl of a mixer add 1 cup of butter (1 stick) and 2 cups sugar and cream together on low. Add 4 eggs and mix to combine. Add the remaining 3 eggs and mix to combine.
  4. Add the yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar to the warm water in a small bowl or glass measure. Cover with a plate and set aside to bloom the yeast. Make a well in the flour in the sink and pour in the yeast mixture. Don’t stir. Cover with the hand towels and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
  5. Add the milk to a small saucepan and bring just to a boil. Slowly add to the egg and butter mixture and mix until just combined. Add to the flour and yeast mixture and fold the flour into the egg mixture from bottom of the bowl to the top. It should be sticky and not completely mixed. Cover again with the towels and let rest for 10 minutes.
  6. Melt 3/4 cup of the butter and set aside. Sift 1/4 cup of remaining flour over the dough and using a spoon beat in a folding motion to incorporate into the dough. Continue adding 1/4 cup at a time until the dough is too thick to beat with a spoon. Use your hand to grab the dough from the bottom of the bowl, up the side and fold into the middle and punch down lightly. Repeat using more sifted flour and the melted butter until the dough starts to clean off your hands but is still slightly sticky and glossy. Cover with the towels again and place in a warm draft free location until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  7. Grab a lemon sized ball off the side of the doubled dough and form into rolls of choice. Place on a greased cookie sheet and repeat with remaining dough. Cover and place in a warm draft free location and allow to rise for 2 hours.
  8. Preheat oven to 325º F and bake rolls 1 sheet at a time for 15-20 minutes, until golden brown. Remove to a wire rack and brush with melted butter and cool.

Notes

The higher the fat content in the butter, the better. Tillamook is one of the highest I've found.

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