#27. No need to dread Portugese Sweet Bread!

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.

P.S.  I’ve had several people ask me how they can be noitified by e-mail every time I post a new entry.  If you go to my home page (www.saltandserenity.com), just above the little monthly calendar is a small line that says, “Subscribe to SaltandSerenity’s blog by e-mail”.  Just click on that and you can enter your e-mail address and be notified that way.

10 thoughts on “#27. No need to dread Portugese Sweet Bread!

  1. Oggi

    I looove coconut and cilantro, maybe because I’m Asian.:-)

    Good to know you were not repulsed by the citrus flavor. Love the first photo, very pretty.

  2. Daniel

    That with the zests is a great idea. I had a false start because I didn’t have the extracts on hand, but am pretty sure I had the lemons and oranges on hand for it. Very pretty bread and beautiful backgrounds. Those aren’t your kitchen counters, are they?

    1. saltandserenity

      Daniel, the blue background is not my kitchen counter. I have a butcher block counter and a teak counter and I was finding those wood colours as backdrops for my photography was giving everything an orange/yellow tinge. I went online to an art supply company and bought several matting boards in various colours (big size 28 x 36 inches). I bought black, blue, white, yellow, gray and light green. I put a table beside my living room window where I get a nice filtered light and put one of the mat boards vertical and the other horizontal. It works very well and was a very inexpensive solution. Each large size mat board was only about $6.00. I put my camera on a tripod so I can shoot without flash and the effect with the colored boards makes such a difference.

  3. Frieda

    Beautiful bread and photography! I found you through Daniel’s blog. I can’t wait to make this bread and I like what you have done to change it up~

  4. Cousin Mark


    Hi Cindy,

    Long-time reader and first-time commenter.

    As far back as I can remember, I’ve liked reading about bread. Almost since you started your blog, I’ve been reading & enjoying it – I joined in time for the Artos and played a little catch-up for the Anadama (it seems like such a long time ago, doesn’t it?). Please know that I’m big fan of your work and I ask that you please keep that in mind when reading the rest of this post.

    Quite frankly, I’m worried. It seems that we’ve been mired on this Portuguese Sweet Bread for nearly a month. Is that it all there is? Is there no more? Does the bread alphabet stop part-way through the “P”s? Has your blog been cancelled by the network?

    If this really is the end, I’m concerned that your last bread wasn’t a favourite (particularly as compared to the other breads on which you’ve educated us).

    If you’d called it quits with a blaze of glory type entry (like the one where your otherwise delightful family reunion managed to knock out your oven and caused you to BBQ the Foccacia ), maybe I’d feel differently. Maybe there would be a sense of completion. Call it what you want – a mission accomplished, a “Let it Be” type swansong, a shot of Hawkeye’s helicopter leaving Korea or just Seinfeld sitting in jail – to different extents, it’s all the same thing … Closure.

    If this Portuguese Sweet Bread is where it ends, what kind of legacy have you left? It’s a bread featuring extracts reminiscent of furniture polish. There’s a better way to end things. I think you and your blog are both better than this.

    I believe we all need some kind of Potato Rosemary Bread in our future. I believe we should all look forward to knowing the rustic Pugliese Bread of Southern Italy. I believe in the Sourdoughs, the Ryes and the Pumpernickels! They are all still out there!

    I look forward to the return of the Salt and the Serenity. It is my sincere hope that they both return soon.

  5. Pingback: #28. Potato Rosemary Bread (for Mark) « Salt and Serenity's Blog

  6. Pingback: #28. Potato Rosemary Bread (for Mark) « Salt and Serenity's Blog

  7. Pingback: #28. Potato Rosemary Bread (for Mark) | Salt and Serenity

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