Monday, August 16, 2010

Sweet Bread Baking Babes Bake Portuguese

This month the Babes were given a sweet challenge by sweet Babe Tanna of My Kitchen in Half Cups…to bake Portuguese Sweet Bread. She usually goes with savory but created this bread to please a neighbor from the Azores and it is delightful!

You start with an overnight sponge, including potato water or whey, then make a rich milky sweet dough the next day,

shaping at the end by pressing down four times with a narrow rolling pin, dowel or broom handle (I used a piece of broom handle I found in the barn, first cleaning it well and wrapping it in plastic wrap) which gives a lovely shape with hills and valleys all around. Tanna has excellent illustrations on her site HERE.

An egg wash assures a glossy finish.

We loved this bread, first warm with butter, then toasted with butter and jam, then at room temperature with no adornments

and finally as the most delicious French toast you could imagine!

Sweetie loved it so much that I made it again, using whey instead of potato water, subbing some barley flour and whole wheat flour for a little of the bread flour and adding a little crystallized ginger and golden raisins the second time around for contrast. This is a slightly sticky dough, probably because of the brown sugar. For the second batch I used the full amount, but only 60 grams the first time.

It was a little sweeter and the crumb was softer, too. I like them both so well that it would be hard to choose which is best.

Many thanks for Tanna for choosing the perfect follow up to the Boot Camp bread! Once I read milliliters rather than liters for the liquid it was fairly easy to make, totally delicious and I will undoubtedly make it again often…both versions.

This is the perfect bread for being a Bread Baking Buddy! I can almost guarantee you will love it and anyone else who gets a slice or two will love YOU for making it! As long as you remember to start the sponge the day before, it is pretty easy to make and lovely to look at with the unique shaping. The recipe is below.

To find out how to be a Bread Baking Buddy and to get your Buddy badge:
1. * You have until the 29th to bake the bread and post about it on your blog with a link to the Kitchen of the Month’s post about the bread.
2. *E-mail the Kitchen of the Month with your name and a link to your post OR leave a comment on the Kitchen of the Month’s blog that you have baked the bread and a link back to your post.
3. *Kitchen of the Month will do a round-up of our Bread Baking Buddies at the end of the week and send you a BBB badge for that month’s bread.
4. *No blog, No problem - just e-mail the Kitchen of the Month with a photo of the bread you baked and you’ll be included in the round-up.

Do join in the fun! You have until August 29th. You know you want to!

Sweet Portuguese Bread: Massa Sovada
Mostly from A Baker's Odyssey by Gregg Patent p 221

Keep in mind this requires an overnight sponge.


Over night SPONGE:
72 grams bread flour
2 1/4 teaspoons osmotolerant yeast (instant worked just as well too)
114 milliliters potato water, or whey or water (potato water or whey really make it extra tender & soft) (about ½ cup)

6 tablespoons butter, room temperature
30 to 100 grams brown sugar
lemon zest
1 teaspoon salt
3 large eggs, room temperature
120 milliliters milk, room temperature
460 grams bread flour (second version used a flour blend...see notes below)
2 tablespoons flax seeds, ground
egg wash
melted butter when it comes out of the oven

Mix together the sponge the night before baking the bread. Leave sitting at room temp 8 to 12 hours.

Beat sugar and butter until creamy.

Add zest and salt and beat.

Beat in each egg separately and completely; mix will appear curdled.

Stir in milk and sponge.

Stir in 2 1/2 cups flour and beat vigorously (in a stand mixer it would clear the sides of the bowl, by hand lifting the spoon up stretches the dough about a foot.)

Add remaining flour to make stiff dough. Knead 5 minutes or more to incorporate all the flour:
Dough should be smooth, soft and very supple with a slight stickiness. Looks a little like very thick cake batter or a brioche dough.

Shape into ball, oil bowl and dough ball.

Cover and allow to rise about 2 hours, should almost or triple in size.

Divide into loaves, shaped into balls.

Allow to rest 20 to 30 minutes before final shaping with rolling pin.

To shape, press down firmly with a dowel, narrow rolling pin or clean broom stick. Then press down again to make a cross, press again between to make wedges and then between the other large quarters to make more wedges.

For best demarcation of indents be careful to dust dough ball well with flour.

Shape and place into well oiled cake pans seam side down.

Allow to rise an hour to 2 hours; more than double in size.

Brush with egg wash if you want that beautiful glossy finish.

Bake 350° - 50 minutes as two loaves, 35 minutes as four loaves (mine took less)

Brush with melted butter when hot from the oven (I skipped this step…it is already a pretty rich dough).

If you're really a sweetie, I suppose you might then dust this with sugar. Not me…there is plenty of sugar in the dough, although I can see that an extra dusting of confectioner’s sugar would make it a great dessert base to which you could add berries and whipped cream or ice cream for a very sweet treat.

For the second version I used 55 grams of bread flour and 17 grams barley flour for the sponge, plus some white whole wheat for part of the flour in the dough instead of using all regular unbleached bread flour which is what I used in the first batch. I used the full 100 grams brown sugar for the second batch, too. I left out the zest to give the ginger center stage. After the first rise I kneaded 1 tablespoon chopped crystallized ginger and ¼ cup golden raisins into the dough before dividing it into the two balls.

Otherwise version two was the same as version one. Both were delicious! The second version was just a bit sweeter because of the raising, but the ginger gave it some bite, too. The crumb was soft and almost cakelike. It made fantastic toast! Great French Toast too, I'll bet.


  1. Beautiful! I love your ginger raisin version too - very creative!

  2. I need my kitchen ... if I were home right now I think I'd be baking this again right now.
    Both of your breads look wonderful and I'm really kneading to do the french toast with grandkids ;-)

  3. I'm drooling, this wonderful bread... made into french toast, I'd think I was in foodheaven. Great loaves (all of them!!)

  4. Next sister down12:23 PM

    When I lived in Provincetown, I loved the Portuguese sweet bread from the Portuguese bakery. My very favorite way to eat it was with some gooey Brie and sliced fresh-picked strawberries.

  5. The French toast looks wonderful.... Ginger Raisin..... Yum!r

  6. Awww french toast.. and a ginger-raisin one... Have to remind myself the kids are all gone for the week and it's too much of a good thing for just the husband and me to eat.. or is it?
    Wonderful loaves Elle!

  7. Mmm, ginger raisin ... and French toast - I bet this bread is great in bread pudding too! I see another batch coming up soon ... great pics!

  8. I don't usually like French Toast but I think I'm changing my mind.

    And your version with crystallized ginger and raisins looks really great! How brilliant are you?

  9. Gorgeous colour on that loaf!

  10. beautiful color! we made french toast too, it was to die for!

  11. That ginger raisin version really has me drooling and I would be happy to test it out for French toast!

  12. Oooh! Looks absolutely beautiful! Must try this recipe!

  13. oh how diligent you have been, that ginger variation sounds gorgeous!

  14. What a fluffy crumb.
    Ginger with raisins sounds really good.

  15. Wow it looks wonderful, especially as french toast!

  16. Beautifully done, dear! I would love some of that French toast.