Mother's Sweet Bread
Here's a great family recipe for a delicious levied sweet bread; much like the well known Portuguese Sweet Bread, except I find it to be much more wholesome and richer. All you need is one.
As children, my mother use to make this only during Christmas and Easter, as a special treat. At Easter time she would place an egg in the middle of the shaped dough to symbolize the feast. Soon enough she made it more often as we loved it so much. It's best served hot out of the oven, just let it cool for about ten minutes. Serve with hot chocolate, coffee, or tea for a nice winter warm up; it's also great for dunking. During the summer, after it's completely cooled it can be cut in half and filled with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Any leftover can be placed in an airtight container or a zippered plastic bag. It will stay fresh for about two days. It can also be frozen, when needed, take one out, wrap it in a paper towel and place it in the microwave for about 30-60 seconds, take care not to overheat.
For best results read the whole recipe before you start and follow it carefully. The procedure in mixing the ingredients is very important as to how the bread will turn out. Use the best ingredients you can find.
1- Cup Milk
4 1/2- Cups All purpose flour
1/4 tsp of salt
4- Eggs, extra large at room temperature
1- Cup Sugar
1/4- Cup Butter
1- tsp. Pure Vanilla
1 1/2- tsp. Yeast
- Prepare the milk/butter mixture.
- Place milk in a medium bowl and heat in microwave for about one minute.
- Place butter in warm milk and allow it to melt.
- Add sugar to milk/butter mixture and stir to dissolve.
- Proofing the yeast.
- In a measuring cup, heat one half cup of water in microwave (around 105 degrees).
- Add yeast and one teaspoon of sugar. Stir gently with a spoon or a small whisk to dissolve.
- Let stand for about ten minutes until it rises to the top. The yeast is ready.
- NOTE: If it doesn't rise, try it again. Regulate the water temperature and make sure the yeast is fresh.
- Make the dough.
- Place flour and salt In the bowl of a stand up mixer with a dough hook attached and start the mixer at low speed.
- Add milk/butter mixture, dissolved yeast and pure vanilla.
- Add eggs one at a time.
- Beat until smooth and dough wraps around the dough hook. If the dough is too moist, gently add more flour until it become firm and smooth.
- Remove dough from the hook and bowl and place on a lightly floured surface. Knead by hand for about two minutes. Roll dough up in a ball.
- Cover dough with the same bowl and let it rest for 10-15 minutes.
- Shape the bread.
- Cut pieces of dough, one at a time and roll by hand forming a rope 3/4" in diameter. Cut to lengths of about 7" long and form into circles similar to a doughnut. Press the ends together with your fingers to join.
- Place on a lightly buttered and floured baking sheet about 2" apart as you shape each one.
- Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm non-drafty area. Cover with a towel.
- Let them rise until double in size.
- Bake the bread.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Brush with an egg wash; use only the egg yolk with a tablespoon of milk or cream.
- Place cookie sheets with the bread in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes or until they're golden brown. Rotate cookie sheets halfway through the baking process.
- Remove from the oven and let cool completely. Place on a serving tray, store, or freeze for later. Makes about two dozen.
You can substitute the vanilla with other flavorings including lemon or orange zest.