Let me introduce you to Lola, the luscious, sweet, soft bread from Portugal. Yep, she is as delicious as she is beautiful! A deep golden tan on the outside but within, this Portuguese bread is light, tender and airy. It’s enriched with butter, eggs and milk making this bread extremely addictive. Most of all. this Portuguese bread is not that hard to make.
In the kitchen of Marcellina in Cucina, there are a few serious loves and I’m not sure if they can be separated. But for fascination value it has to be yeast because it is so alive and powerful. Turning simple flour into a living, breathing being. Yeast baking is not that hard. First of all, be sure to have fresh yeast, even dried yeast becomes stale and inactive. Give the dough warmth and care. Though it seems like a long process, it is the resting and rising that takes up the bulk of the time.
This recipe, adapted from A Baker’s Odyssey by Greg Patent, is great because it make 2 loaves. Eat one fresh and freeze the other for later. And Portuguese bread make the best toast. I like to slice the second loaf, wrap it well in plastic before freezing it. Then you have sliced bread ready in the freezer for your morning toast. Maybe you could gift the second loaf to someone special. So, while this bread may take a little time and effort, the results are worthwhile. Most of all, everyone is going to love you because you made this Portuguese bread.
- 1/2 cup bread flour
- 1 package (2 1/4 teaspoons) dried active yeast
- 1/2 cup warm water
- 85 g unsalted butter at room temp
- 1/2 cup sugar
- finely grated zest of 1 lemon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs at room temp
- 1/2 cup milk at room temp
- 3 1/2 cups bread flour or as needed
1 large egg, beaten with 1 teaspoon water, for egg wash
To make sponge
- Mix together flour and yeast then stir in warm water. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and allow it to stand at room temperature for 8 to 12 hours. It will rise and then fall back on itself. It should have a pleasant yeasty smell.
To make the dough
- In the bowl of a stand mixer combine the butter, sugar, lemon rind and salt and beat with a flat beater for 3 or 4 minutes. Scrape the bowl then add the eggs one at a time beating well after each. It will look curdled but that's ok. Mix in the milk and the sponge. Add 2 1/2 cups flour and beat on low. Increase the speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes. Switch to a dough hook. Add 3/4 cup flour and knead on low speed for 5 more minutes until the dough is soft and supple. Sprinkle two tablespoons of flour onto a work surface, scrape the dough onto it. Knead the dough for a couple of minutes. The dough should be soft and a little tacky. If the dough still seems wet knead in 2 more tablespoons of flour.
- Clean out the bowl and rub with a little oil. Place the dough into the bowl and turn over to coat with oil. Cover bowl with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise for 2 hours.
- Divide the dough in half and then each half into 9 equal portions. Shape each portion into a ball.
- Coat two 20cm/8inch cake pans with non stick cooking spray. Arrange 9 balls of dough in each pan. Spray the tops of the dough lightly with cooking spray and cover loosely with plastic wrap. Allow to rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 180C/350F.
- Brush the loaves with egg wash and bake for 45 minutes or until the loaves are dark, golden brown and cooked through. The loaves will colour deeply but don't think they are done before time, it is the sugar in the dough that causes the deep colouration.
- Remove loaves from pans and allow to cool on wire racks.