Okay, so I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I have been obsessing about this bread for over 3 weeks now. I baked my last BBA bread (poolish baguette) on December 14 and turned the page to see what was up next. After I read through the ingredient list I was pretty sure this was not the bread for me. I have this thing about using lemon and orange extract. When I open that little bottle I am almost knocked out by the aroma. To me it smells like furniture polish.
Plus, it was another white sweet bread. We have already baked so many variations of these. I was craving something with whole grains and a hefty chew. However, the rules of our challenge are that we have to bake every bread in the Bread Baker’s Apprentice book, so I was determined to follow through. (I know, it’s not like the Bread Police would come and arrest me if I skipped one or went out of order, but I am a stickler for rules!) I just couldn’t seem to muster up the excitement for this bread. So I just thought about it every day for 23 days. I’d wake up in the morning vowing this would be the day I’d tackle it and then go to sleep that night promising myself I’d do it tomorrow. (Clearly I need to get a life, but that’s a subject for a whole other post!) I’m not normally a procrastinator, so I’m not quite sure what my problem was and why this weighed so heavily on my mind. Finally, yesterday morning I decided to get my act in gear and bake this bread.
The process begins with mixing up a sponge of bread flour, sugar, water and yeast.
This is left on the counter until bubbly and “seeming on the verge of collapse”. (I love this phrase!)
Next, sugar, salt, powdered milk, butter and shortening are creamed together until smooth. When I went to the cupboard to find my powdered skim milk, a big bag caught my eye. I had purchased some coconut milk powder, several months ago, for coconut cupcakes. I decided to substitute the coconut powder for the regular milk powder. I think when it comes to coconut there is no middle ground. You either love it or hate it. It’s sort of like that with cilantro. I am of the belief that the addition of coconut will improve almost anything. There! Just adding coconut milk powder was making me feel better about Portugese Sweet Bread already!
I just couldn’t bring myself to use the extract, so I decided to add orange and lemon zest, instead.
The smell of fresh lemon and orange zest makes me very happy. I was feeling really good about this bread now. My mood turned positively euphoric when I remembered that I had just bought a giant (32 ounce) bottle of vanilla bean paste. I was excited to crack it open and use it.
I mixed the dough in the machine. Total mixing time was over 20 minutes. I still could not get it to register 77º. I gave up at 22 minutes and 75º. Close enough!!
Look at those gorgeous vanilla bean flecks and bits of orange and lemon zest.
Next the dough is set aside to double in size. Then it’s divided into 2 pieces and each if formed into a boule and placed into a greased pie plate for the final rise. We are instructed to let the dough fully fill the pan. Mine took almost 4 hours, but it finally almost filled the pan.
It’s given an egg wash and baked for about 40 minutes and it comes out all golden brown. We waited about 45 minutes and then cut into it.
So after all that agonizing I am happy to report that I did not hate this bread. I can’t say it was my favourite either, but there is definately a time and place for this bread with it’s heady citrus aroma and pillowy softness. (In case you’re curious, the coconut milk powder imparted a very faint hint of coconut.) The second loaf was sliced and put into the freezer to be used for french toast.
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